Richie Hawtin, Japanese sake enthusiast and techno legend: S5E3

ENTER.Sake is a boutique Japanese sake collection curated by renowned techno artist Richie Hawtin, who joins us this episode of the Drinks Adventures podcast.

Richie aka Plastikman has been drinking sake while touring Japan on a regular basis since 1994.

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But he very quickly became obsessed with it on a much deeper level, so much so that he enrolled in the Japanese sake course taught by the legendary John Gauntner, a previous guest on the show.

In this episode, Richie discusses his evolution from Japanese sake drinker to aficionado, then founder of the ENTER.Sake brand.

In 2014, he was recognised for his efforts in promoting Japanese sake around the world, when he was awarded the prestigious title of Sake Samurai.

In Australia, you can find Richie’s brand ENTER.Sake in retailers stocking from distributor De Ja Vu Sake, whose founder Yukino Ochai – a fellow Sake Samurai – we met in the very first episode of the podcast.

Thanks so much to Richie for giving us permission to use some of his music in this episode.

Tracklisting:
Plastikman – Spastik
F.U.S.E. – Dimension Intrusion
Cybersonik – Technarchy
LFO Versus F.U.S.E. – Loop
Richie Hawtin – Minus/Orange2
Richie Hawtin – No Way Back
F.U.S.E. – Dimension Intrusion

More:
Japanese sake with experts John Gauntner and Shuso Imada: S2E2
Japanese sake is finding fans in Australia: S1E1
Where to buy Japanese sake in Australia

Richie Hawtin, sake enthusiast and techno legend
Richie Hawtin, sake enthusiast and techno legend

Richie Hawtin, Japanese sake enthusiast and techno legend: Full transcript

JAMES ATKINSON: Richie Hawtin, thanks so much for joining me on the Drinks Adventures podcast.

RICHIE HAWTIN: Hey man, nice to be here.

JAMES ATKINSON: You’ve obviously had a pretty incredible journey into learning about Japanese sake and then you know, ultimately launching your own brand. What was your sake epiphany?

RICHIE HAWTIN: You know, it’s a very interesting story about how I kind of took the deep plunge into sake. People always asked me like, Rich, ‘How did you get involved in sake, and like how does that connect to music?’ At the very basis of that equation is that, you know, music and alcohol and clubbing, and nightlife and entertainment are very closely intertwined and anyone who doesn’t believe that or understand that it’s probably never had a good night out. So, I’ve been in the music industry now 30 years and gone through different periods of drinking vodka tonics and vodka, cranberry and then tequila, and then upgrading my tequila from mediocre tequila to the high end tequila and just getting maybe worse hangovers. And somewhere along the way, you know, I found sake and I was already a big lover of Japanese culture. And the drink just resonated with me from the very early days and over time, it just kind of connected to me on on deeper levels and as with anything I do, I just follow my passion and follow things that feel good, you know, creatively, emotionally, whatever and let life kind of take you down different avenues.

RICHIE HAWTIN: And that’s kind of how sake has slowly become a big part of my life and how I’ve tried to bring my two passions now together. Because I’ve been drinking socket probably from 1994 or 95 when I first went to Japan. As soon as I had those first drinking experiences in Japan, I knew the sake that I was enjoying that was unlike anything I had had internationally. It was definitely different than the hot, what felt like a distilled spirit that I was drinking in Canada at that moment. So those first kind of heady experiences of sake in Tokyo in the 90s already grabbed my interest. And as that kind of continued, jumping forward probably about 15 years, I got to a point where I’d started to travel to Japan, and book gigs, just to kind of go to small cities and drink and learn more about sake.

RICHIE HAWTIN: And I heard through a friend that there was a English Japanese sake course in Tokyo. This was about 2007. And I don’t remember the specifics, but in my head, it was like 800 bucks. You got to stay in Tokyo for a week. It was the first time that I actually went to Japan without a gig. And you were able to drink through about, I don’t know 80 different sake. So it was an incredible opportunity. And it turned out to be an incredible experience and about day three, when I was probably through about 30 or 40 sake and feeling really good and looking around the room and and really realising that I was so out of place. Everybody was F&B professionals and sommeliers, everybody was talking about what they were tasting and the aromas. And it was really over my head, and I was just like this guy, or in a way a kid, because I was so inexperienced, just going by really my gut feeling, and very much how I’ve kind of approached music my whole life.

RICHIE HAWTIN: And at that point, I was hearing my teacher discuss how the sake industry was in steep decline. And that the only way that the sake industry was going to really survive and not lose hundreds of more breweries and family traditions, was to bring awareness and kind of build up sales on the international market. And in my slightly, you know, inebriated state, I had clarity and I was like, you know what this is – and I’m not saying this was completely the right judgment because it’s been a harder company to set up than I first imagined. But at that point, I was like, you know what? I’ve spent the last 15 or 20 years travelling the world, introducing people to music and nightlife, people are drinking. What we need to do here is connect sake to a younger audience, we need to make it cool. We need to think about packaging, we need to make it like the record on the shelf that you want to buy and listen to before you even know what that track sounds like.

RICHIE HAWTIN: And if you pick up that record off the record shelf, and it sounds as good as it looks, and it looks as good as it sounds, you’re going to make a real emotional connection to that. And that was really like, ‘I can do this in sake’. And I looked around the room I was like, nobody is thinking about this. And, you know, I have to do it. You know, it sounds really kind of corny, but being a huge lover of Japanese culture and feeling that I could add something to this industry and help make sure there was not another brewery closing and we actually could sustain and help the industry was my calling at that point. It was an epiphany. It really was like a slap in the face. And I didn’t know I was going to start my own sake company but I walked out of that classroom, knowing that I was going to open a sake bar or bring sake into clubs or something and the mission began

JAMES ATKINSON: And that was in 2007. Was that the course with John Gauntner?

RICHIE HAWTIN: Yeah, that was John Gauntner’s course; that was level one of the sake professional course. And since that time I’ve done the level two, I’ve done WSET, and I’ve kind of educated myself as much as I can on the curriculum that is out there. But the the best knowledge I get about sake is of course, meeting talking to other individuals drinking and most importantly, just visiting brewers and breweries across Japan. Because what I love about techno music and electronic music is that there’s always something new to discover, you know, there’s always this innovation. And that intrigue and exploration has kept my interest for over 30 years. And I find a very similar connection to creativity and technology in sake, and I find that same innovation and kind of artistry, when you’re talking to these brewers. You walk into one brewery or one studio, and someone is like, ‘okay, you have to do it this way, or you have to use a 909. Or this is how you get the best timing with 808, or you have to use this rice, you have to use this brewing method’. I see so many parallels, and it’s just like every time I think I understand it, or I get the essence of it, somebody else tells me something else, and it’s just as right as the other opinion. It’s hugely inspiring, and it’s an incredible ongoing journey.

JAMES ATKINSON: So what were the next steps that you went through before ENTER.Sake was born?

RICHIE HAWTIN: Really the next step… I went back to Berlin after that, and the first idea was to open a sake bar in Berlin. And we actually got to a point where we had a place we were halfway built. And then I realised that actually a functioning sake bar needed to operate on Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights, it needed to have a sake professional and somebody who was going to be the name and face. And that all led to me. And then I realised that I actually had another commitment every weekend, touring as a DJ and this was not going to happen. So unfortunately, my enthusiasm got the best of me and we went down that path and quickly, just before we were about to open, we, we stopped the project and we kind of regrouped and thought, okay, like, this is not going to work. And it was about a year later… One woman who was going to help me with the project in Berlin, her name is Hito. She’s a Japanese DJ who had moved to Berlin. We went over to Japan and kind of educated her just to become part of that bar project.

RICHIE HAWTIN: It all fell apart. And then about a year later, I was on Ibiza going through this club called Space. They had invited me to potentially do my own night and we’re walking through each of the rooms, ‘okay this is a great room for techno and this concept in this room can be house, and we can do this concept…’ and we walked into this back room and I was like, ‘What usually happens back here?’ They’re like, ‘This is a hard room, we always have trouble kind of making it work because everybody wants to be in the main room. And it was really like, this is a sake bar. And they’re like, ‘sake bar?’ I was like, ‘bear with me’. And quickly the concept of the whole night came together, which was called ENTER… conceptually it was about entering the world of Richie Hawtin and getting sucked into all the things that kind of inspire me specifically on a music and artist level. So I could invite different people to come and play and perform. But also then it became this thing of actually allowing people to become part of the greater picture, other things that I was interested in and back to what I said earlier, music, entertainment, alcohol, you know, bringing getting people’s inhibitions to kind of… bring them down and kind of get into the vibe, all those things I knew about. And I also knew already that after 15 years of performing, and going through different alcohols and finding that sake for me was, honestly it’s like the perfect kind of heady buzz for the type of music that I love and I love to play.

RICHIE HAWTIN: I play music that I love and I feel that the people on the dance floor, if I love it, they’re going to love it. And so really, as an extension of that, if I was drinking something that kind of worked with my vibe, it wasn’t too hard to, you know, at least hope or believe that it could work for the people on the dance floor. So that little back room became a sake bar. And because of the name of the party, it became ENTER.Sake. And it was also like, conceptually, ‘hey, come into the world of sake. Learn about this drink that I love and also learn about the breweries that I’m connected to. I’d already started, like I said, travelling around Japan, just meeting breweries because I was interested in it. And luckily, at that time, I basically had like two bat phones. So I had the music bat phone, where I could call the artists and say, Hey, do you want to play this new night on Ibiza, and the artists quickly signed up, and I already had this pipeline to a really incredible distributor and a couple of amazing brewers and I called them up and I said, ‘look, this is what we’re doing. Can you send me over a couple of hundred bottles with a black dot on, and bear with me’. And and basically the consensus was, ‘Rich, as long as we can come and see what you’re doing on this island and see what this whole techno thing is about, and actually see people drinking sake, we’re in’.

RICHIE HAWTIN: And that was really it. It was as simple as that. Of course, logistically, taking it and making it actually happen wasn’t so simple, but everybody felt the idea, the passion. And back to that classroom situation I think people realised… I don’t even know if all the brewers understand what I’m doing still, but they realised that this was a different view or perspective than anybody else. They saw that I was definitely connected to an excited industry, and to a young demographic, and people were excited to kind of let me go with it and experiment.

JAMES ATKINSON: The people who were coming into the sake bar at Space might not have known a thing about sake. So how did you kind of handle that education process in a nightclub? And what was the response that you got from people?

RICHIE HAWTIN: Yeah, honestly, it was tough. Like, originally, we wanted to only have sake. We didn’t want to have cocktails or anything like that. We realised quickly that we needed to have some entry level ways of inviting people into the world of sake with cocktails.

JAMES ATKINSON: Sake cocktails?

RICHIE HAWTIN: Yeah, we had a Minus cocktail, because my record label was called M-nus at that point. So it was kind of like a creamy ginger sake cocktail… just kind of some things that were like fun playful connections between music labels and sake. And then we had six private labelled sake bottles and people were excited because I was basically behind the bar mingling with everybody, for the first three hours of the party. If I’m into something, I’m very happy to share it with people enthusiastically and then I have a lot of passion and energy to share. So even the people that were apprehensive… You know, when you have somebody behind the bar, or the person who’s talking about it, or the person who’s kind of the front person supporting it and kind of living it and drinking it. People were up to try it. I won’t say everybody got it. Some people were like, it just wasn’t their drink.

RICHIE HAWTIN: But there was a lot of apprehension because people across the world have all had this similar bad experience of sake from the 70s or the 80s or the 90s going to… let’s just call it a bad kind of late night Asian restaurant where they get poured hot, low grade sake, which kind of accentuates the poorly made quality of what they were drinking, accentuates the alcohol, makes it feel to them like a distilled spirit or something that they’re supposed to shoot. So you had to gain their trust and once you had people tasting it, it was nearly unanimous that people were like, ‘Oh my god, this is not what I expected’. Like they were very very much surprised. And what those three years at Enter in Ibiza gave us was the confidence and the platform to do market research. We didn’t call it market research. There wasn’t like this master plan to boot it up into a company distributing sake around the world, it was just like it was one step after a time. We were playing music. We were drinking sake. We’re enjoying it. We were seeing it was working. The next step, I had a friend who was running wine distribution out of New York, and he was like, ‘Hey, you know, should we bring some of this in? Would you like to try to make this you know, bigger than it is right now? At least bigger than just sake at your bar at 12 gigs over the summer in Ibiza?’ And it was like, ‘yeah, sure, let’s talk to the brewers. Let’s go for it. But again, one step at a time and it really naturally progressed and developed in a very, very, very nice way.

RICHIE HAWTIN: There were a lot of dynamics at play because Ibiza as a island has always been a place which is kind of a microcosm of the music world. People, DJs, fans come from all over the world; they hear their favourite records and they kind of go back and spread those favourite tunes back into their home country. And that actually started to happen with sake. People were going back and saying, ‘Hey, we were at this cool event, there was a sake, ENTER.Sake. And so when we started to prepare to launch in America and take some sake into mainland Spain, at least, there was already some awareness of the brand and actually excitement and interest. That really gave ENTER.Sake; the whole company or the whole brand, a really nice momentum to build upon.

JAMES ATKINSON: Shortly after the third season of the Enter parties in Ibiza, Richie launched the ENTER.Sake brand in the US, together with three business partners.

RICHIE HAWTIN: There’s four of us in total. So, as I said, my friend Will, who I’ve known actually, you know, since the early Detroit days of driving to different raves together, was involved with his own private wine label, along with two other partners who were distributing wine in America from South Africa. And we came together and formed the company. I’m the majority shareholder and investor and we’ve taken no outside investment, it’s all done by ourselves and, you know, rolling up our sleeves and continues to be like that. And, you know, that’s, that’s kind of how we want it. Most of the breweries we’re working with… at the minimum, they go back 100 years and some of them go back 300 years. You’re playing or working together, and promoting ideas that span generations. So, it’s been very important for us to kind of cultivate and work very closely with our brewers and stay in control and not grow too fast and not work with anyone who doesn’t understand the main core mission here, which is still to bring awareness, sell more sake, and make sure that we sustain the sake industry, at least at the level it is now and hopefully grow it and be part of helping continue to keep the doors of breweries open and not see any more of them close.

JAMES ATKINSON: You mentioned that it had been harder than you thought to get the company off the ground. What have been the biggest challenges,

RICHIE HAWTIN: Logistics. Sending records around, you can actually throw records around out of the airplane and you may get one cracked or maybe you’ll get a little bit of warping but you can always get warped records to mostly flatten out but if you have bad logistics or broken bottles or specifically, if you’re not controlling temperature with sake, everything has to be reefer container-ed. The cold supply chain… we spent the first two years just really working on our complete cold chain from Japan to the customer, because sake is so much more delicate than wine.

RICHIE HAWTIN: We all want to compare sake to wine because it definitely in my opinion is as valuable as wine and on a tasting and aroma profile, it is on the same level. But where you compare it there, you have to be very, very careful where you start to compare it on the way you handle it. Because even white wine, which needs to be cooled, is much more robust and resilient. And then you still have the people who are thinking sake is potentially more like a spirit. Historically, sake has been brewed to be enjoyed fresh. There’s a cultural and a kind of climate and a geographical situation in Japan, that they brewed it, they shipped it, you enjoyed it, they brewed it, you know, each year over the winter.

RICHIE HAWTIN:So you have to keep that in consideration; how do we get the sake around the world in good condition and also have a good momentum to make sure that people, once it gets to the actual end customer, that they’re drinking it quickly and on time and we keep this momentum going. That’s been been challenging, because honestly the industry that has been there for the last 20 or 30 years, not everybody had set up that supply chain in a correct way. This is also because sake has become even more refined. So some of the older distributors, some of the older restaurants that were handling sake, just weren’t aware that perhaps there was more care needed to create the experience for the customer that the brewer intended.

RICHIE HAWTIN: I’ve also worked in all of my breweries. And it’s easily the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life and to be in there and seeing how hands on this craft is and to see, you know, these brewers and the workers basically still be mostly away from their families for four to six months, and then to not take care to make sure that once this is on the table on a great sake bar or a great Italian restaurant in California or in Sydney, or in Bangkok, you know and not have it in the intention of the brewer is, you know, it’s depressing and heartbreaking. So it’s a big, big nut to crack. And as the sake industry grows, that is the biggest challenge that we all have to work together to make sure that the quality and consistency stays on top, top top top.

JAMES ATKINSON: You mentioned the tough times that the sake industry has been through in Japan, but from the data that I’ve seen in recent years, exports are their ticket out of that difficult spot that they’re in and there’s some impressive figures of sake exports. Do you feel like you’re getting some genuine traction with sake in some of the markets that you’re in?

RICHIE HAWTIN: Yeah, we definitely feel momentum and traction happening. Honestly, it would be great to see it grow faster because as I just said, the actual logistics and cost of getting it from Japan, to the customer in pristine quality, it’s very, very difficult. It is a challenging business, the price point of sake and what people are prepared to pay for sake, even at the top quality right now, is perhaps not completely in line with where it should be. There’s a lot of sake at a certain quality and the way they are created which is probably actually too cheap in the international market. It’s a growing pain as people need to have a way to get into sake at a competitive price point to the the other beverages that they like; to their beer to their wine. But again, it’s about education. We’re all quick to say, Well, it’s brewed like beer, but enjoy it like wine, but sake is such its own unique drink. you know, a beverage that, of course, every day, they all are, but anyone who knows about has a bit of sensitivity to how the Japanese you know, perfect and, and stay so focused on their craft. It’s just such a level of, of quality and value there, which would be amazing if we could bring a little bit more of that into the chain so that the brewers are properly financed and that the value of sake is fully appreciated.

JAMES ATKINSON: How did you choose the brewers that you’re working with on the ENTER.Sake brand?

RICHIE HAWTIN: Just, you know, when I go to Japan, I drink a lot…

JAMES ATKINSON: Do you speak Japanese?

RICHIE HAWTIN: I don’t speak Japanese. I speak a little Japanese after a couple of bottles, just as my Japanese partners try to speak English, but no, I have a couple of good friends who help translate. But basically, I go to my favourite sake bars, my favourite restaurants, I’m searching out new places, travelling through Japan and what happens is usually each season somehow a couple of bottles keep reappearing on my table, or things start to resonate with me. And I just get in touch with a brewery. And luckily, knock on wood nine times out of 10, or let’s say eight times out of ten, I’m able to go to the brewery and start a relationship. Sometimes that relationship is just as a fan and as an enthusiast of that label, and I’ll just tell my friends about it and share that new sake. And sometimes it goes to a deeper level where we want to collaborate and work together. It’s always different, like every, every brewery has a different capacity and, and works in different ways and has a different style of sake that perhaps, you know, just actually at this point, even with our logistics, it might not be possible to get it from their brewery to the end customer at the right quality level.

JAMES ATKINSON: For example, I suppose, nama (unpasteurised sake) particularly.

RICHIE HAWTIN: Yeah well people are sending nama around the world, and that’s great, nama should be enjoyed around the world. But there’s a lot of nama that gets around the world that tastes different. It’s big and bold because it’s unpasteurised but it’s not actually the nama that you would taste when you’re in Japan. I would be very cautious of some of the nama that reaches the customer internationally. But I know some incredible pasteurised sake that is just so incredible in the vicinity of the brewery, but by the time you get it anywhere else… it’s delicate. I know breweries who are basically bottling by hand straight from the tank, one bottle at a time. These breweries have been sustained for hundreds and hundreds of years by their local community. And as much as the breweries are excited about the international market, their first allegiance is to the people who have supported them. So you can’t also just go in there and say, ‘I’m going to sell an extra thousand cases of your sake’. They’re like, ‘Rich, there is not another thousand cases’.

RICHIE HAWTIN: But the core of the question is, it’s an exploration of tastes. ENTER.Sake does not cover the whole wide range of sake. It just covers the sake that I love, and by the brewers that are my friends and who I respect and who I’m trying to help and collaborate with.

Richie Hawtin at an ENTER.Sake dinner
ENTER.Sake by Richie Hawtin: Signature Series

JAMES ATKINSON: But were you conscious of selecting breweries from different regions with different styles that would give a bit of a contrast in styles?

RICHIE HAWTIN: That’s happening… that is a great message to have. ‘Okay, here’s a cross section of all the different styles’ and you can kind of make that up as you go along. But I just followed what I want to drink. And predominantly, in the beginning of ENTER.Sake, we were quite focused on central Japan; from Kyoto, Nagoya, Osaka area. Because I love this certain… it’s full bodied, but it’s clean. There’s a nice finish, it’s not too acidic when you get up a little bit more north east. But that will develop over time. That’s why I say ENTER.Sake is not the whole width of sake, it may be one day. We work with a brewery way up north in Akita. It’s actually one of the most famous breweries and that’s called [inaudible]… And that was because I love to sake, and then my friend introduced me to the to the brewer and he happened to be a big fan of my work. And it was like, ‘Hey, we should do something together.’ I was like, ‘Sure, why not? What should we do? Well, let’s have a drink and figure it out’. It’s like that.

RICHIE HAWTIN: Of course, for me to fully support and kind of have a successful mission of helping the sake industry in Japan, it has to be a successful business. But it has to be run very much like my music career, because my music career has now had a longevity of over 30 years. And it is my main business. It is what puts food on the table, if you want to talk in those terms. But I’ve always tried to find a balance of retaining it as a passion that has become my business and not just be overtaken by the business side of things. And I want sake to be like that. And as I get older, I want to work with people who I feel likeminded with, who are passionate, who we can share creative ideas. And for me that actually bridges over music, it bridges over sake and that actually meets in the middle with everyone’s love of technology.

JAMES ATKINSON: You were awarded the prestigious title of Sake Samurai in 2014. How did that feel?

RICHIE HAWTIN: Yeah, that was maybe the most pivotal moment in my sake career because we had the ceremony for the Sake Samurai in one of the most prestigious temples in Kyoto and all my brewers came. And we had to go inside the temple and do this special ceremony which the public couldn’t see. And yeah, that was a moment that I knew that this was like my mission for the rest of my life. I know other cultures and other places are like this, but like Japan is not like anywhere else. It is so much still built on tradition and respect. There’s a code and I will never try to say that I understand that code completely. But I’ve been invited into that world and, you know, whatever I’m involved in somehow will be connected to sake, and I’ll be giving my ideas and energy and passion to that and enjoying drinking it for the rest of my life. Music, sake, technology, like people scratch their heads, but it feels good to me. So that points me in the right direction.

ENTER.Sake by Richie Hawtin: Signature Series
ENTER.Sake by Richie Hawtin: Signature Series

JAMES ATKINSON: To date, ENTER.Sake has mainly been distributed in the US and Europe. But there are limited amounts of the signature series – consisting of three sakes branded as black, silver and gold – now available in Australia.

RICHIE HAWTIN: It’s very small supplies at the moment. What happens with the company is that we brew all the sake in Japan and once it’s ready to go, there’s no not really any capacity to have wine cellars or sake cellars to store this stuff. It’s like, make it, ship it and like keep that cycle going. So what I’m saying is what happens usually, is once we’re brewed and bottled, it all goes straight to Europe and to America. So it’s been difficult for us to start to imagine, how do we get our sake over to kind of the Asia Pacific area. And it’s something that we want to do more in the future.

JAMES ATKINSON: One of the things that you always hear from people when they go to Japan and they get to try some sake is they often say, ‘I had this sake I really enjoyed, but I had no idea what it was because the label was written in Japanese’. Is that something that you really were conscious of; trying to give people a little bit more information about what they were going to be drinking, when it reached their market overseas?

RICHIE HAWTIN: Yeah, that was one of the first epiphany points back in that classroom that whatever I was going to do in sake had to be presented in a way that the international market would understand and resonate with and be able to share. That was really the idea of bringing it down to a very basic understanding of different styles of sake in black, silver and gold dots. It’s very simple, you can say, ‘I was in New York and I had this sake and it had this gold dot. And then when you get over to Sydney, you can say the same kind of thing. You can share that. You can take a photo.

RICHIE HAWTIN: Because when we started this, at least back in 2007 when I was taking that class, I would say there was no English on any sake labels at that point. Things have changed now, brewers have kind of updated their websites and there’s a lot more information out there. One thing is having a great experience, but if you can’t share it, you’re only going to get so far. So it’s definitely a big part of the ENTER.Sake idea and mentality.

JAMES ATKINSON: But also, I suppose that’s part of the charm. So you’ve got to kind of keep some of the charm of the Kanji and all that kind of stuff as well.

RICHIE HAWTIN: Yeah. You want to find that balance. Using the name again; ENTER, it’s like a doorway. You’re coming in; one , on a base level, one of my passions. But we see ENTER.Sake as a doorway into the greater world of sake. So we invite everybody in, we give them what we think is, you know, great sake to begin that journey and we hope people stay with ENTER.Sake but we also hope that people then journey into the greater world of sake. Perhaps they have ENTER.Sake Black or Silver and they look on the back and it says this was created with Sekiya Brewery in Nagoya. And they do some research or they see one of our co-branded sakes.

RICHIE HAWTIN: One of the first people I’ve ever worked with was Fujioka-san from Kyoto. The brewery is called Sookuu. And we have ENTER.Sookuu. So if they like ENTER.Sookuu, it doesn’t take much for them to then look at what other sake products Sookuu may be creating and may be shipping… Or maybe they’re in Japan and they can try it. And that’s what we see happen. You know, I have so many friends now and colleagues who, when they go to Japan, they visit our breweries or they try some of the other products from that brewery that are only available in Japan. And you go deeper and deeper and deeper. It’s the same as music. If you’re into pure techno, does everybody land and get into underground resistance or Derrick May or deep Detroit techno in the first instance? No. I got into alternative first I got into things like Erasure and New Order. This is actually electronic music, but with vocals . And then slowly the vocals disappeared and I found Chicago acid house and I found, you know, white labels. It’s a path of discovery and if something really grabs you and there’s always something new taste or hear, then that’s going to keep you engaged and keep you coming back for more.

JAMES ATKINSON: And while I’ve got you here, I should ask what’s coming up for you from a music perspective?

RICHIE HAWTIN: Yeah, I’m in the studio right now working on what potentially will become new Plastikman material. I don’t know exactly, but I go through periods of not being in the studio and not actually needing or wanting to be in the studio. But I’m in there right now and I feel very inspired and I’m in kind of R&D mode to see where that takes me. And at the same time I’m trying to develop a new club-focused product for ENTER.Sake. So let’s see where that goes.

JAMES ATKINSON: Well, Richie, it’s been a fantastic chat. Thanks so much for joining me on the show.

RICHIE HAWTIN: Yeah, no, thank you. And to everybody out there enjoy sake and try it, taste it. I’ve actually had some of my most amazing experiences with sake when I pair it with international food; Italian food, Spanish food, spicy Thai food, you know, be inventive, explore and have fun and enjoy.

JAMES ATKINSON: Thanks Richie. And best of luck with ENTER.Sake.

RICHIE HAWTIN: Cool, man. Thank you.

Author: James Atkinson

Journalist specialising in the food, drink, travel and hospitality arenas. Australian International Beer Awards 2017 Media Award Winner and Certified Cicerone®.

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