Richie Hawtin's Plastikman alter ego feels that something is missing from our current state of dance music, and he's doing something about it.
"There are hundreds, if not thousands, of electronic-music dance tracks coming out each day, so there are black holes in its history that need to be digitized. For us in the electronic-music world, we haven't had our Beatles [iTunes] moment yet," said Hawtin, who just scored the #2 slot on Resident Advisor's Top DJs of 2010 readers poll. "There's still a lot of the electronic music history missing online."
This notion is what prompted Hawtin, under his Plastikman moniker, to release Arkives, a retrospective of the dark side of a dance-music pioneer.
"Plastikman always comes back when I feel there's something to say or there's something missing in the scene," Hawtin said. "I have this opportunity — or maybe even this responsibility — to bring that darker, even weirder sound to this new, ever-growing audience.
"This is what I'm doing with my Arkives project," he continued. "I'm trying to bring that stuff back, digitize it and represent it for those new fans of Hawtin or deadmau5 and say, 'Hey, if you're really into electronic music right now in 2010 — I don't want to give you a history lesson, but there is some foundation that you'd probably find interesting and get in to.' "
In a day where dance music is reaching the masses, big-room house and trance seem to reign supreme. Plastikman, however, has set out on a mission to keep the dark and sinister side of the genre alive, and in doing so, he has inspired some of the biggest names in the biz.
"I love that guy!" deadmau5 told MTV News of one of his key musical influences. "He's someone who I definitely look at for wisdom. We're billed at a lot of the same events, and we click! We're the two 'hoser Canadians,' like, in the middle of Madrid, and he's a really good guy."
"To hear that what I've been doing has been working, and continues to work, gives me that power to hopefully be inspired and keep reinspiring the next generation," Hawtin told MTV News. "I want more kids to grow up thinking that technology is just as much of an instrument as a guitar or a drum."
As founder and co-founder of Minus and Plus 8 Records, respectively, Hawtin has made an indelible mark on the industry as a producer and a technological pioneer. Not only did he develop Traktor DJ software, but he is also one of the founding fathers of online EMD retailer Beatport. Hawtin has had a hand in guiding the entire industry toward what it is today, while at the same time keeping its roots intact.
"Electronic music is not pop or pop music; it's a little bit fringe," he said. "And I want it to be fringe in a way, a little bit just to the left side. ... It's my belief that if we help build that language and keep that foundation there, then it only opens up the possibilities for cooler things to happen."
2011 promises to be a banner year for Hawtin, as he gears up for a whirlwind global tour. Starting with a New Year's Eve performance at Sensation White in Germany's Esprit Arena, Hawtin then jet-sets to Spain several dates before turning around and heading back to Mexico to perform at the BPM Festival on January 4. After a rare month back in his studio in Germany, he'll be off to Australia's Future Music Festival and, finally, Miami in late March, where he and his camp intend to keep their shows in line with the Ultra Music Festival, not the official Winter Music Conference.
"We have these moments through the year, the Electric Zoo here [in New York], the Detroit [Electronic Music] Festival, the Winter Music Conference — these are the dates we count on as DJs and as businesspeople to come and promote and have fun, and we've been doing that for years. And for someone to try to change that? At the end of the day, I think the electronic-music scene is a great and very strong music community, and that's why you'll see a great and strong community come through this with a great weekend in the end of March."