Gavin Hardkiss is a South African born DJ and music producer based in California. He makes albums under the name Hawke and runs a little outfit called Hardkiss Music.
He was born in Johannesburg South Africa. In the early 90’s, along with faux brothers Robbie and Scott, Gavin helped pioneer the American electronic music scene with the groundbreaking record label Hardkiss Music. Hardkiss quickly joined the ranks of the international DJ elite, DJing at raves and clubs in cities throughout the world, eventually reaching legendary status with the release of the classic double album, Delusions of Grandeur. Delusions of Grandeur reached number one on the Rolling Stone Magazine alternative charts. Subsequently, he has produced multiple experimental albums under the guise of Hawke.
Gavin Hardkiss is an electronic musician, DJ, label owner, producer, remixer, author and artist. He has remixed the likes of Youssou N’Dour, Mazzy Star, Elton John and Michael Franti, and performed alongside Africa Bambaataa, Derrick May, Snoop Dogg and The Buena Vista Social Club. In 2010, the song Mundo Via Afrika was featured on the official Sony World Cup album “Hello Africa,” alongside the best of contemporary African musicians. In 2013 he self-published a novel titled Cubic Lust.
Early Music Life
In 1987, while at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Hardkiss met Scott Friedel (Scott Hardkiss) and the two began a musical friendship and partnership that would continue until Scott’s untimely passing in April 2014. With an infatuation for alternative music and DJ culture, they frequented nightclubs and attended concerts in Philadelphia and New York soaking up the perculating dance music of Chicago, Detroit and Europe. After attending, Glastonbury Music Festival in 1990, they began to a series of underground events called Bliss in Philadelphia which were a clash of Indie Dance and DJ culture featuring bands and DJs.
After graduating in May 1991, Gavin and Scott packed little more than turntables into the back of a black Saab and drove to San Francisco California. There they brought Robert Cameron (Robbie Hardkiss) into the Hardkiss fold and together began to produce rave and club night events, and started the Hardkiss Music record label.
They started to explore music production with proceeds earned from Hardkiss events. Initially they rented studio time in local Hip Hop studios including Third Floor Productions and Jam Studios. With a strong desire to go deeper into the creative realm, at age twenty two, Hardkiss bought his first electronic music equipment including an EMU Emax sampler keyboard and proceeded to begin learning how to create electronic music. Starting with samples and MIDI triggered drum machines, demos for the first Hardkiss singles including 3 Nudes in A Purple Garden and Raincry were created in a garage studio.
Hardkiss’ style is a hybrid of house, techno, acid, disco with tribal psychedelic influences.. In a review of the Hardkiss album 1991, it was noted in Big Shot Magazine that “the trio never met a dance music genre they didn’t like.” Gavin Hardkiss DJ sets are often different from the music he produces. Hawke albums weave between tempos, integrating live and programmed percussion together with electronic and organic performances. Regarding DJ technique, he has confessed his love for making people dance to music that they have never heard before and having a different style for every occasion.
In 2014, Magnetic Magazine writer Thomas Kelly observed that “his melodic sixth sense is perfectly tuned to the rave heyday of early ‘90s California.” Of the Hawke album Namaquadisco, Entertainment Weekly said that it “draws unlikely sources into its house-music impressionism” and that “it advances a trippy and joyous strain of American dance-floor imagineering that should give the Eurocentrics pause.”
Hardkiss has acknowledged the music of Prince, 1980s New Romantic and late 1980s Chicago House music and Detroit Techno as major influences on his style. He is a strong supporter of new Djing and production technology and his sound progresses with the use of new technologies and techniques.
In 1991, Hardkiss Music was born as a record label. Initially releasing a catalog of vinyl singles, the label also released the CD compilation Delusions of Grandeur as well as several DJ mixes.
Hardkiss Music introduced the world to a new Californian Electronic Dance Music sound with releases by Hawke, God Within, Little Wing, Rabbit in the Moon, T Tauri and Symbiosis.
Hardkiss Music closed as a record label in 1997 after securing a multi album recording deal with Sony Music/ Columbia Records.
The label re-emerged in 2014 to release the new Hardkiss album ‘1991,’ and to facilitate the digital release of the Hardkiss catalog. The album ‘1991’ is a collection of songs made by Gavin & Robbie Hardkiss from 2010 to 2013. It is named after the year that Hardkiss was formed. The album has been called a “modern dance classic” by Kris Needs and the San Francisco Chronicle’s Aiden Vaziri writes that “the signature Hardkiss sound remains so firmly intact (as Hardkiss) looks back on the euphoric era.”
Gavin Hardkiss has recorded five albums and multiple singles under the guise of Hawke. The albums can be loosely described as a series of sound clashes, collaborations and musical experiments that veer off the path of conventional dance music.
The first Hawke album, Namaquadisco, was released in 1998 on Sunburn Recordings in the USA and Distance in France. Entertainment Weekly observed that Namaquadisco “draws unlikely sources into its house-music impressionism.”
Heatstroke, recorded in the Hardkiss Studio based at Frisco Studios in the Lower Haight in San Francisco, was released by Six Degrees Records in 2000. The single Party People was a breakout into Billboard Magazine’s Dance Charts.
Love Won Another was recorded in a farmhouse in Calistoga California and released on Eighth Dimension Records in 2004. The album spawned two remix albums and several music videos. The Orlando Weekly described it as “thick with the stoned-out, everything’s-cool-man optimism.”
In 2009, an album titled +++, recorded in San Diego and San Rafael California, was released on Eighth Dimension Records. It was inaugurated with a series of art gallery shows in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Orlando featuring multi-media works inspired by songs from the album.
In 2017, Love In Stars was released through a PledgeMusic crowdfunding campaign that included a treasure hunt for Gold USBs containing Hawke music which were hidden in the hills around the Bay Area.
In 1998, Hardkiss created a three part musical landscape entitled Museo Hypnotica for the Jean Giraud designed Airtight Garage environment at the Sony Metreon in San Francisco.
In 2008, Hardkiss worked with the Zukov Ballet Theater on original music production and DJ performance at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.
Between 2011 and 2013, he had a weekly radio show on pirate Radio Valencia called In My Boom, which highlighted local San Francisco dance music.
Hardkiss has also recorded music under aliases including The Lower Haight High Hitters, Curious Yellow and Sunburn Kidz.