Gavin Hardkiss Talks "Getting Down With Your Mother-Funkin' Self" on the Dance Floor
The massive outpouring of grief from the international dance music community when Scott Hardkiss passed away in March 2013 was a testament to the beloved legacy of Hardkiss.
The legendary San Francisco DJ-production threesome, including "brothers" Gavin and Robbie Hardkiss, was instrumental in kick-starting the U.S. rave scene in the early '90s. And while the trio favored renegade parties and an underground DIY ethos, thanks to a slew of commercial hits, they also became an entry point into electronic dance music for their generation's mainstream.
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These days, Gavin and Robbie are keeping the Hardkiss legacy alive by producing, performing, and even having dusted off their old Hardkiss Music catalog, making their classic vinyl records available digitally for the first time. They also happen to have a stellar new album out, titled 1991, which features some of Scott's final work.
Crossfade caught up with Gavin Hardkiss ahead of Saturday's exclusive 1991 listening party and DJ set at Do Not Sit on the Furniture. We chatted about Hardkiss's two decades in the game, the new album, and the state of electronic dance music.
Crossfade: How did Hardkiss first form? Did the three of you have a grand concept in mind when you first set out to make and play music together? What glued you together creatively in the beginning?
Gavin Hardkiss: We started as a ragged group of DJs throwing warehouse parties and magical soirées in San Francisco during the early '90s. We'd use the funds from these escapades to buy studio time and equipment to make sound experiments and produce original dance music. We launched a record label called Hardkiss Music, which took our sound global with vinyl releases, and opened the door to jetset international DJ careers. This is all at the time when Avicii was in diapers and the MP3 was not yet born.
We were into indie rock, house, techno, funk, go-go, disco -- all kinds of cool music. We were never genre purists. In fact, there isn't a style of music that Hardkiss doesn't like. We were into taking chances and experimenting with these influences to make a new hybrid sound. There was generally a curious and humorous approach to creativity, which would backspin into a deep emotional counter-balance.
How did Scott's untimely passing last year impact Hardkiss?
This was completely heartbreaking on so many levels. It's hard to overemphasize the important role that Scott had on our Hardkiss identity and the growth of electronic dance music in the U.S. Wherever we play, he lives on, because he's alive in the music.
What are your thoughts on the evolution of electronic dance music since Hardkiss's '90s heyday? Where do you see yourself fitting in today's electronic dance music landscape?
The electronic dance music scene, like so many American cultural phenomenons, enjoys regurgitating and then swallowing itself with the belief that it's fresh and new. This is amusing to watch, but can also be depressing. I try not to pay too close attention, but there are always a few nuggets that are tasty. What were we talking about again? Carnival rides? Wallpaper? There's so much good music now, you just gotta dig a bit to find it. Nowadays you mostly don't have to pay for music. It's rain down from a cloud. So there's no excuse listening to the same old shit. Back in the day, I had to rent records. I swear to God, the only way to get the newest sounds, growing up in Johannesburg, South Africa, was to rent vinyl and record to tape. Hardkiss has always been very independent and on the periphery. Not quite what's going on at that moment, but if you're curious, you'll find us. You'll be happy you did.
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