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Best of Richie Hawtin and Deadmau5’s SXSW Conversation

In Austin, the South By Southwest Interactive and Music festivals have a day of overlap, so it’s no surprise to see an event that incorporates elements of each. Richie Hawtin and Deadmau5 spent an hour together to chat about where music and technology meet and their thoughts on the future of innovative music technology. Read some of our favorite moments from their conversation inside.

The event itself is a lead up to tonight’s performance at the SXSWi Closing Party at Stubb’s BBQ in Austin, which will feature Deadmau5 and Richie Hawtin playing a back-to-back set that’s being billed as a versus set – meaning that they’ll playing in some collaborative way together.

We had ears in the event, entitled “In Conversation: Talk. Techno. Technology.”, and compiled some of the key moments of conversation with quotes from both Joel (Deadmau5) and Richie below – as well as some of our favorite selections recorded by attendees on Twitter!

Richie summarizing why he and Joel chatting are about this topic:

Richie: “We are two geeks and feel pretty good with computers rather than people sometimes”

On the modern music production: 

Joel: “It’s so cool today that people can just download demos [of production software] and try things out so easily”

Richie: “It’s great that it’s so easy – but is it better?”

On performing live:

Richie: “Do the complexities of a live performance weigh you down sometimes?”

Joel: “There are the four chin-strokers in the back that care about everything, and then there are the other 98% that wish to remain agnostic and be in the moment. […] We are the only people that care, everyone else is more interested in seeing the show.”

On the monotony of DJ technology: 

Joel:I have considered the possibility of having two studio setups and treating them like two CDJs. Homeboy wants to play Levels, let him play it. But does he have a 32-part stem file of it? […] But then you are one man banding it again..

Rich: Wouldn’t it be good if we could have a new format? An 8-channel multi-file that we could all be playing with? As DJs we are a little handcuffed creatively.

Despite his massive success, it seems like Joel still has a massive amount of respect for Richie Hawtin – not a surprise considering Hawtin’s background. On playing with Richie tonight: 

Joel: 10 years ago if someone had told me “You are going to play a set with Richie Hawtin”, I would have been like “…no wayyyy!” It’s pretty cool; I am absolutely honored.

On the forumla of pop music: 

Joel: I go to Pinkberry a lot – and they have a rather interesting playlist. You hear one song, and then you hear another one just like it by another dude. I am actually shocked that the record labels don’t just go home and make the music on their own! Cut out the middle man!

Joel talking about the appeal of his costume:

Joel and Richie also quickly discussed how DJ schools are now teaching students to emulate a specific artist’s style: 





    That is the first time I’ve heard or read of Joel ever giving respect to another musician, or any person for that matter. Maybe there is hope for him after all.

  • The Machine Department

    Also, a bunch of people talking about ‘lack of personal style’ and originality through the medium of quotes from the two seemingly taken as gospel is pretty funny. Just sayin’ is all…

  • Mr.Laforce

    Doesn’t “versus” actually mean “against” in the sense of a dj-battle? It sounds hardly possible that “versus” is meant in a collaborative way…

  • Realist

    can we just call it dance music please. None of the EDM nonsense.

    • EDM,, brrrrrrrrrrrrr. I’m from Europe and I think it’s really funny to see how electronic music gets bigger and bigger in the US. it seems like most of those people who are raving about EDM never heard of Detroit techno or Chicago house, it was like 20 years ago and EDM was nowhere. LOL

    • tys

      i love the term EDM – it instantly lets me know the person talking has very little clue about the genre beyond commercial electro house

    • its just the surface name for anything electronic i guess

  • tr4gik

    Joel Zimmerman u douche

    • tr4gik

      OK nevermind I thought Joel was gonna’ say something douchebaggy like always .. :P, good he still has some humility in him and respects Richi.

  • Max

    ok how about you guys do something together and put 50% of the BS EDM playing now out of business, you should, we need some original music, filthy beats and stranger than fiction sounds, we need music that means something, music for the soul, and you two are the BEST ppl to do that, enough commercial rappers with commercial DJS making shitty ass commercial music


    • Look into Andrew Bayer.

  • dillinger23

    Who is my comment and link being deleted??????? DJTT has become a censorious behemoth money and attention grabbing whore.

    • Spacecamp

      Dillinger, all of your comments are below – trust me, we don’t have the free time around here to censor comments. Sometimes Disqus sees comments that are just a single link with no text and marks them as spam…

    • lol

    • Sonson

      Watch out for the flying Legos! This wittle tike just had himself a temper tantrum.

      • tr4gik


  • dillinger23
  • great interview from these qoutes, cant wait to actually see the convo…

    So true now, as a DJ your taught that “This goes here and that goes like this and thats how you make a setlist, if you dont make it this way then your bad.”
    Half the time they can be right but its that 50% of the time when their holding back any new ideas of how a DJ should work.

    Im just speaking as a DJ btw, not a producer.

  • dillinger23
    • thats a terrible excuse of an article… theirs just so many butt hurt people who are happy to moan but not happy to show an alternative

      • You know that The Daily Mash is basically the UK equivalent of The Onion, right?

  • anyone film the whole interview?

  • Can this be found anywhere?

    • Spacecamp

      The event was not streamed – but may have been recorded! We’ll keep our eyes out.

      • ah. hope someone snapped a few good clips. cause It would be awesome to hear the whole thing/part of it.