Enter with a bang… part 1

Food and techno don’t cross paths very often, but it’s a delight when they do. Some of the most renowned techno pio­neers and DJs are lovers of good food — being world trav­el­ers allows them this lux­ury. When I had the good for­tune to inter­view Richie Hawtin last month before Elec­tric Daisy Fes­ti­val, we dis­cussed not only what was sup­posed to be his ENTER. con­cept at the fes­ti­val, but also food. Really good food. And I real­ized he had been to nearly every restau­rant in the world that I needed to go to — Noma, Mead­owood, French Laun­dry, El Bulli — and then some.

The ENTER. con­cept which Hawtin is launch­ing as part of his res­i­dency begin­ning tomor­row (July 5)  at Space in Ibiza, is a grander idea, with more mov­ing parts, includ­ing a technology-driven area (remem­ber the Con­takt 2008 tour with The Cube?), and a sake room with sake that has never before been exported out­side of Japan. Turns out Hawtin is a trained sake som­me­lier, pur­su­ing the endeavor purely out of his love for the spirit. He’s com­pleted two stages of the four-stage process; all that’s left is to con­tinue to build his palate by tast­ing sake all over Japan. Iron­i­cally, in Japan, sake isn’t cool to drink, with the younger crowd eschew­ing the tra­di­tional bev­er­age for beer and hand crafted cock­tails. “Sake is what your Dad drinks,” Hawtin laughs.

While I did cover his stage at EDC (that never hap­pened due to high winds) for Vegas  Seven, there’s a lot that I couldn’t fit into that piece. So here’s the tran­script of the recorded part of our inter­view over sake and sashimi at Shibuya at MGM Grand.

Food­Plus­Techno: So tell me about ENTER.
RH: If we just start with the name enter, I feel that when you enter a club you’re really putting your­self under the con­trol of the DJ. That’s one basic con­cept, but Ibiza is a dif­fer­ent place. When they book their ticket antic­i­pat­ing, they’re already, by book­ing their ticket, they’re already prepar­ing to leave their nor­mal lives and they’re look­ing for an expe­ri­ence, they’re look­ing to escape into somewhere.

So ENTER. is about get­ting peo­ple a place where they can enter, hope­fully expe­ri­ence some­thing they’ve never expe­ri­enced before, first grounded in music, and hope­fully through the night also walk through door­ways they’ve never been through.

And that’s why we have a tech­nol­ogy area — things that wouldn’t hap­pen on Ibiza, and why we have sake. Club­bing goes along with drink­ing. It’s a very nat­ural thing to do in the club, and it’s always the same thing… I also feel that Japan­ese culture/design aes­thetic is kind of reflected in the aes­thetic of ENTER., of m-nus, of my music.

So for me, I believe that if I’m cre­at­ing this uni­verse and invit­ing peo­ple in, any­thing that I’m involved in  or into or I feel pas­sion­ate about — I don’t expect every­one to be into it — but it’s not a far reach to think that some of these peo­ple who like my music will also con­nect to other things that I feel con­nected to.

So that’s really the con­cept: to let go of one’s self, kind of get lost in a new expe­ri­ence and walk out the next morn­ing with some­thing that maybe changed you in a way, whether it’s the song, the sake, or the expe­ri­ence and that it’s sig­nif­i­cant enough that you remem­ber it for the rest of your life.

F+T: How does ENTER. trans­late to New York or Vegas?
RH: I think it’s a more basic ver­sion of… in Ibiza we have a whole club, we have 12 weeks, so we’ve got this large con­cept, so it’s a much more basic con­cept with EDC, but it’s an impor­tant one. A  lot of peo­ple are start­ing to get into elec­tronic music for the very first time, there’s a lot peo­ple open­ing these doors for peo­ple to walk through, but I don’t think there’s enough doors to allow kids to get into some­thing which I think is deeper than what’s to offer.

I really believe that every­thing that is out there right now — whether it’s Skrillex or Calvin Har­ris or Tiesto — a lot of that music is based upon the foun­da­tions that many of us have been doing and help­ing build for the last 25 years, and iIdon’t mean that to take away from any­one. We’re all part of this con­tin­uum, but kids -

You step through one door and then you may open another door and ENTER. is that stage that hope­fully is that door­way to that cel­lar door­way of the music. I don’t want to use the word “under­ground” but if you want to dig deeper, we’re there, and we hope to wel­come peo­ple to come in. and that’s why I’m pro­gram­ming it with what I think/feel is the cream of the crop of peo­ple who rep­re­sent the present, the future and past of elec­tronic music.

You’ve got me there who’s been around for 20 years, 25 years. You’ve got loco dice who’s been really heav­ily in the game for the last 10 or 12 years, Seth Trox­ler who’s, in a way, a young kid, new kid, but Seth Trox­ler was at my par­ties when he was 14 in Detroit 15 to 20 years ago. So there’s a con­tin­uum there. All of us do what we do really well, we have fun doing it, and we wanna invite peo­ple into that.

F+T: You under­stand what the scene of EDC is — are you play­ing as you or are you candy coat­ing a lit­tle bit?
RH: No, our stage is not candy coated. It’s like last year I did Plas­tik­man here, and it went over a lot of people’s heads, but we didn’t change it, but I do think that like see­ing EDC this year and see­ing the explosion…

I think it was really great to do Plas­tik­man here last year, but if i had done it again i would have done ENTER. first, because Plas­tik­man is like one step beyond. There’s no com­pro­mis­ing Plas­tik­man, like when you’re doing a live show any­way it’s really hard to com­pro­mise ‘cause you’re doing your own thing it’s like “here it is.” When you’re doing it as a DJ –I won’t say it’s eas­ier to com­pro­mise — but it’s eas­ier to be a bit more flex­i­ble, because you have all these things to pull from, and it’s like we have com­pro­mised I think a lit­tle bit.

Because here, I think we’re all play­ing an hour and 15 min­utes, an hour and a half, and min­i­mum we usu­ally play is two hours, some­times we’re play­ing three, four, five hours, but we’re actu­ally pro­gram­ming it a lit­tle shorter, to keep the momen­tum and the vari­a­tion a lit­tle bit more hap­pen­ing, a lit­tle more faster than maybe what would hap­pen in Europe, just to give the kids some­thing. Like you hear Skrillex and all these guys it’s like sound bites every sec­ond. we’re not gonna do that, we’re gonna do sound bites every hour, every hour fif­teen min­utes, of dif­fer­ent shades of what we do

F+T: What’s the dif­fer­ence between Amer­i­can and Euro­pean crowds?
RH: I think everyone’s atten­tion span is shorter, but I think Amer­i­can atten­tion span is worse than any­one. Where this music has come from, the pop­u­lar­ity has come from TV, and MTV, blip adverts, hip hop, rock and roll, it’s a bit of a mish mash of everything.

Where it’s the younger kids get­ting into over­seas — there’s a lot of like pass me downs, younger peo­ple get­ting it through their older broth­ers or sis­ters, it’s just such a his­tory there of the cul­ture. Part of the cul­ture has been about a slow groove and build­ing sto­ries but that sto­ry­telling of long dj sets has been a lit­tle bit lost in this explo­sion of EDM.

But I think we pro­grammed the stage so that it’s like a story any­way. It’s a story between DJs. I think some of the other stages aren’t pro­grammed as well because it’s really like here’s a 45 minute set, hour set, boom boom boom, ok and it’s chang­ing all the time. I think there’s many dif­fer­ent lev­els and sub­tle dif­fer­ences in what we’re doing here than what is nor­mally done here.

F+T: How is ENTER. pre­sented at EDC?
RH: So really at daisy we’re bring­ing our sound guys, our light­ing guys, our visual guys, we plug into what they have for their equip­ment, we give a dif­fer­ent visual feel­ing with those com­po­nents. We’re bring­ing peo­ple who have trav­eled with me for the past five or six years, kinda of the same team that does Plas­tik­man. We can plug into the same sys­tem as any of the other guys who are play­ing here and it’s sud­denly com­pletely dif­fer­ent. So it’s that, the pro­gram­ming of the djs we’ve invited, and I hope it’s also the feel­ing that peo­ple will get from see­ing us hang­ing out and play­ing together and not nec­es­sar­ily play­ing back to back, but being onstage with Dubfire…

we had a prob­lem in NY, they were like “no you can’t have every­body on stage!” We’re like “why?” and they’re like “you just can’t!”

for Plas­tik­man, ok, you don’t., but we’ve mostly pro­grammed only DJs. There’s no live shows, it’s sup­posed to be a party. We want to bring the party back. We orig­i­nally wanted a tent to be like… We couldn’t because it’s too warm here, but by the music and the light­ing and by us being together and hav­ing fun, we want to bring that immer­sive feel­ing, that club expe­ri­ence, it’s gonna  be hard to get, but i hope we at least be one or two steps closer to that [feel­ing] than every­body else, because every­body else is just voom voom voom

F+T: Was ENTER. a nat­ural pro­gres­sion after tour­ing Plas­tik­man last year?
RH: [ENTER is] nat­ural pro­gres­sion after Plas­tik­man. At the end of last year I knew Plas­tik­man was going to go hia­tus for a year, year and a half, and it grew out of that because I needed to do some­thing like this for some fes­ti­val shows. We needed a good team, so my light­ing and sound team from Plas­tik­man and all the shows we did before called Con­takt, we were used to doing these fes­ti­val things. and i had been doing it myself either as Hawtin or Plas­tik­man so we said why don’t we use that team and invite other DJs to use that team over the whole night and try to cre­ate some­thing a bit more cohesive.

Orig­i­nally it was just some stages at EDC and a cou­ple other thing, then Ibiza kind of snuck up behind us, and we were like, ‘should we do both? no that’s a bad idea,’ and then it just kinda hap­pened and Ibiza became an even big­ger con­cept than what we first thought.

But it’s all con­nected, like Vegas becom­ing an impor­tant hub for an elec­tronic music, rel­a­tively cheesy but an impor­tant hub, Ibiza has always been an impor­tant hub so i feel like it’s very impor­tant to be in those places to give peo­ple some­thing different.

So here we’re giv­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent and then in Ibiza — every­one has a night on Ibiza, but by doing what we’re doing a sake bar, doing a tech­nol­ogy ter­race, bring­ing in more inter­est­ing ambi­ent music, even what we’re doing there is dif­fer­ent, and a lot of Amer­i­cans and peo­ple from around the world are com­ing there so we also wanna kind of col­o­nize or do some­thing dif­fer­ent there so it kind of spreads out.

F+T: How will you know if ENTER. is a suc­cess?
RH: If i don’t have 100 cases of sake at my house after the sum­mer, it’s a success.


There was more food talk when the inter­view was done, wherein Richie Hawtin offers me rec­om­men­da­tions of where I should eat. Stay tuned for Enter with a bang… part 2.

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