Electric Zoo New York â€“ to be held in Randallâ€™s Island Park, New York City on Saturday, September 5 & Sunday, September 6, 2009 â€“ releases the latest notable additions to the massive line-up. On Saturday, the festival kicks off with Buzzinâ€™ Fly label head and Everything But The Girlâ€™s Ben Watt, Deep Space dub master Francois K, pioneering Rhythm & Soundâ€™s Mark Ernestus featuring Milton Henry, Berlinâ€™s first lady of techno Cassy, and rising Detroit/Berlin transplant Seth Troxler. On Sunday, the newest additions include; a DJ set from British electropop band Hot Chipâ€™s Felix Martin & Al Doyle, Norwayâ€™s space-disco kings Lindstrom & Prins Thomas, and NYCâ€™s own burgeoning star Jason Jollins.
Okay…so in all my years of working in and around DJ culture, I never got the chance to hear Richie Hawtin spin. I wasn’t much into rave culture or Techno. I was mostly into the house sound with DJs like Roger Sanchez, Erick Morillo and Danny Tenaglia. Boy, now do I know what I’ve been missing! My favorite DJ is Terry Lee Brown Jr., who is the bridge between the former and the latter. Terry Lee Brown Jr brings the flavor of house, but also the sounds of Hawtin’s techno. I’ve now connected the dots and hope you will too.
For those of you who don’t know Richie Hawtin, he’s a legendary DJ/Producer who made music under the pseudonym Plastikman. Recently he’s been producing under his own name. He’s also responsible for input into the development of DJ tools like Stanton’s Final Scratch and–correct me if I’m wrong–has a hand in the online music store, Beatport.com. I think that’s true. Need to check my sources.
On this day, the crowd of young people who follow Richie showed up and were rewarded with an incredible performance. Hawtin created such energy with his music, it leaned into the spiritual realm all DJs who operate in Techno and its many offshoots. The minimal pounding beats, staccato fills, clicks, mind numbing leads and all sorts of intelligent sounds took your breath away. Everyone in the place, face forward toward the stage, hands slicing and fisting pumping in the air. On this day, it was Richie’s tribe of followers seeking the elements of life, love, joy and pain in his music.
Our new friend, Tiphany Parker, who’d we’d met the day before during the Underworld event, had also never experienced a Hawtin set. She was blown away as well. Richie just earned himself another new fan. I know she’ll be scouring Beatport and the other services for the rest of the week looking for Hawtin’s Plastikman tracks, while hoping to learn more about his history and the legacy he’s built in the DJ culture and Techno genre. I’m a new (renewed?) fan as well.
I thought I knew before, but I really didn’t. Even though I’ve heard Carl Cox spin at the long defunct Twilo, seeing Richie in the tent at the Virgin Mobiel Festival was a different experience altogether. Now, I can honestly say that I know why they use the term, “This IS Techno!” Because, with Richie…this REALLY IS Techno! It’s a way of life, just like Rock or Alternative. It has its roots, fashion, dance moves…everything. It’s a genre that will come and go but never die. We see new genres, like Electro, becoming the fad of the moment. But the contributions of Techno makes the sounds of Electro possible. A parent child relationship if there ever was one.
One final note. I have to personalize apologize to Richie, or anyone who reads this blog for that matter, for never making the effort, until now, to hear him tear it up. As someone who’s been in the electronic music scene for some 25-years, I should know better. I guess now, I do.