This month Hawtin was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of the University of Huddersfield for outstanding contribution to the world of music technology, receiving the award by Sir Patrick Stewart OBE, known to millions around the world as the Captain of the USS Enterprise in Star Trek. “Just like all of the early Detroit DJs in the 80s, I was fascinated by sci-fi and the whole technology side of things – so to meet this amazing man was very humbling.” I am fascinated what you two talked about I tell him, you are from very different worlds but still there is a connection. “It’s funny you should say that Dan. He is currently starring in an improv theatre show in Chicago and said to me…‘I know what I am going to do with my performance for the first few minutes, but after that I have no idea where the journey is going to go’. I looked at him and said, Sir Stewart, that’s what I do every time I DJ.”
Alongside music, Sake is Richie’s other passion in life. He fell in love with the drink back in 1994 after a Plastikman show at The Liquid Room in Tokyo. “I was so overwhelmed with everything about my first trip to Japan, I just wanted to suck everything in. The electronic stores, the temples, eating real sushi for the first time…and then the Sake, raising that first glass changed my life.“
Today Hawtin ships over 1000 bottles of his own Enter SOOKU brand to ENTER from a 13th century brewery in the ancient city of Kyoto. But it is so much more than having a fine drink on hand at his club. “To understand Sake you have to understand the history and culture of Japan. I found it so inspiring learning about family traditions and how the industry in Japan was getting smaller and losing some of it’s heritage by closing down it’s breweries. I thought to myself hold on Richie, there is nothing different from shipping a sound on a piece of vinyl around the globe than shipping a taste in a bottle. I know about this, I know about marketing, I can help these people.”
And in life sometimes things are just meant to be. One evening in Tokyo just by chance, Richie’s Japanese agent was having dinner with the biggest Sake distributor in the land and casually mentioned this brilliant techno DJ he looked after who had fallen in love with the taste of the country’s finest. The guy replied ‘I don’t know what techno is, but what I do know is that Sake and music mix really well together, I want to meet this Richie Hawtin!” And the rest is Japanese rice wine history. For three days these two men from so very different backgrounds toured the finest breweries opening the DJ’s eyes to an unknown and mysterious world whilst all of the time, neither of them could speak a single word in each other’s language.
“It’s just like Ibiza. Here you can look across a dancefloor at somebody, catch their eye and instantly be bonded by the music. It was the same on that trip traversing Japan, we were connected by our love of Sake.”
Back in the Ibiza sunshine I mention to Richie that every summer he passes by my house on his mountain bike heading off into the hills, not the usual activity of a superstar DJ who has just played at a club. “It’s something I have to do. The energy of this island is unparalleled, we all know this. But to be able to party, to promote, have fun with friends, be positive about life and enjoy it all, sometimes you have to take a step back. For instance, before the Enter season starts every year I take my team on a boat and we circle around Ibiza taking it all in, looking at the sheer beauty of this unique place…and remember how lucky we are to be here.”
And with that he drifts off to prepare for the party, but not before a question I have been dying to ask him. Who out of all your superstar DJs who come to Enter can handle their Sake the best? “Oh easy” he winks. “Dubfire. He can drink anyone under the table…”