Scott Hardkiss

Invisible Airwaves #40 - April Edition

I'd like think Scott Hardkiss shared the spirit of our series of Invisible Airwaves radio shows and DJ mixes, with musical trajectories aimed in unexpected directions and sounds inspired by the past as much as they reference a possible future. It's no secret that the DJ sets of Scott Hardkiss and his chosen brothers that I heard firsthand in the mid-90s were a big influence on my own modus operandi. These impressions linger whenever I'm putting together another one of these monthly mixes. Scott's sets were filled with loads of surprises and highlighted a thoughtful, eclectic taste. This is evidenced by his Live From Room Zero mix series, some of the last mixes he recorded, which can be heard in all their glory by clicking HERE. Have a listen to those and remember … and then feel free to enjoy my own version of what Scott Hardkiss did so well. Here's this month's track list:

Lil' Mark - Memoirs - Eclectic Avenue Records
Heion - Big Fever - Retrospective Records
Sonns - On My Mind - Machine Limited
Joakim - Nothing Gold (Todd Terje Remix) - Tigersushi Records
Hardway Bros - A/B Musique - Throne Of Blood
Irregular Disco Workers Vs Semi-Functional - Megalopolis (The Love Supreme Hard Disko Remix) - Disco Volante Recordings
Somerville & Wilson - Le Tropique - Danny Was A Drag King
DJ Ino - The Room Of The Giants - Nordic Trax
Small Giants - Deep In It (PBR Streetgang Remix) - Eclectic Avenue Records
Fingerpaint - Change Yr Mind - Let's Play House
Cocolores - Take Your Shirt Off - Compost Black Label
Gregorythme - Woke Up In The Wrong Town - Rebirth
Semedo - Love Illusion (Suburban Dance Club Remix) - Body Work
M.D.C. - Alma - Let's Play House
Fort Romeau - Love (Dub) - Spectral Sound
Addex - Getting Away From This (Evan Marc Remix) - Apollo
Maxmillion Dunbar - Ice Room Graffiti - Rvng Intl.
Scott Hardkiss presents God Within - Why, Why, Why? (Technosoul Remix) - Sunburn Records
Bocca Grande - Room In A Clutter (Menik Remix) - Rebirth

You can hear Invisible Airwaves each month on these stations:
Enation.FM (USA)
Mixology Radio (USA)
Play.FM (Austria)
Discotheque Radio (Brazil)
Tunnel.FM (Sweden) (Greece)
TechnoHouse.FM (USA)
2B Continued Radio (Israel)
Safari Radio 104.7 (Greece)
deepGroove Radio (Germany)
Inside My House Radio (Norway)
Lima Xpress (Peru)
A portion of the show is also aired monthly on the MaGmA Project Radio Show, syndicated to 45 Italian stations.

If you miss the show then the stations will be repeating it throughout the month. Play.FM will also have the show available on demand after its first airing. I’ll also be posting the mix to my Mixcloud page towards the end of the month as well my Soundcloud page.

If you'd like to air my monthly program on your Internet or terrestrial radio station then please contact me by clicking HERE.

Scott Hardkiss: A Creative Life

Scott Hardkiss and I had an unexpected, and unwelcome, connection over the past few years. When he first complained to me about his eyes and how his vision was getting fuzzier I shocked him by responding, “It’s not keratoconus, is it?” I had been having my own battle with this degenerative eye disease starting the year before this conversation, even losing my driver’s license as I couldn’t pass the eye test for my renewal. So, Scott and I had this really odd thing in common and spoke a lot about keratoconus and what we were doing to deal with it. I decided on a combination of special contact lenses and my usual glasses, worn together to give me passable day-to-day eyesight. Scott took the gutsier route; he opted for a corneal transplant in the most affected eye, something I couldn’t even contemplate. But Scott was gutsy in many ways and, unfortunately, this time it didn’t pay off. The transplant wasn’t successful and he struggled with this for the past couple years. As a result, Scott had to wear an eye-patch for which he received no end of ribbing … I did my part by remarking that it made him look like a Bond villain. As awful as the situation was, I’m sure there was a part of Scott that sort of liked the eye-patch. It added to his artist mystique and charismatic aura that I know was so important to him. Scott aimed to live, and project, the creative life.

I remember when I first spoke to Scott. I had previously met Gavin and Robbie when they played a rave in Orlando around 1995. They visited my record shop and I handed them a tape of early Q-BAM productions. Scott wasn’t with them, and seemed sort of an enigma. Soon after I was constantly in touch with Hardkiss office poobah Niven, putting together a three song EP for their new off-shoot label Sunburn. Maybe three days had passed after I sent “Toast,” the third song, to San Francisco when the phone rang in my record store. On the line, in his inimitable way of speaking, came, “Hi, Michael. This is Scott Hardkiss.” He wanted to talk about “Toast,” how it had moved him, and that he was excited to release it on Sunburn. He had some suggestions, such as trading the electric guitar for an acoustic, which I balked at (I didn’t have an acoustic guitar, for one thing) but he didn’t seem to mind. I still remember this sort of hippie-ish thing he said to me then which really meant a lot to this producer who was just starting out, unsure of his craft. I hear it in my head exactly as he said it, and those who knew Scott probably will hear it exactly the same way when they read it. Scott said to me, “This isn’t a song … it’s a living being.”

After many visits to San Francisco (it almost seemed like I was living there for a while) I acquired a west coast family that Scott was a big part of. We kept in touch after his move to New York and I’d see him when I was up there for gigs or biz. Oddly, though, I don’t think it was until after our first keratoconus conversation that we started actually working together musically. First, I remixed his track “Beat Freak” off his ambitious Technicolor Dreamer album … it’s actually one of my favorite remixes I’ve done, and Scott made me feel good by praising it almost every time we spoke thereafter.

He told me his affection for my remix inspired him to be extra-aspiring for our next collaboration, his incredible remix of my track “Balearic Chainsaw.” Now, my original is kind of simple, admittedly done as an afterthought in the recording session for a different song, but DJs responded well to it and it grew on me. I decided to put together a proper single for it and who better to remix a song with “Balearic” in the title than Scott, right? So, Scott, who is quite gutsy, as you may recall from a previous paragraph, took this simple song and turned it into a swirling and epic nine minute masterpiece. This endeavor sums up Scott Hardkiss to me perfectly … I would have been happy with a standard remix that expanded on my original and made some feet move in the process. But Scott, being Scott, enlists vocalist Stevvi Alexander (who was just on TV with Justin Timberlake, no less) to add a whole new vocal track. And then, if that weren’t enough, phones up DJ Afro from Los Amigos Invisibles to add a live flamenco guitar track. On a remix. That was Scott: gutsy, ambitious, and living the creative life.

Several years ago I was thumbing through a music magazine and skimmed over an interview with Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. He was asked the question, “What is your ultimate goal?” I’ll never forget Moore’s answer as it really struck me and gave me something to strive for. He said, “To live a creative life.” Today I realize that’s what Scott Hardkiss did, and it’s what he showed to others, including myself. His inspiration will live on, and I’m actually feeling inspired right now just thinking about him. Goodbye and hello, Scott. Yes.



My Re-Edit Of Scott Hardkiss' Remix Of The Veda Rays

Recently Scott Hardkiss let me hear a remix he recorded for the Brooklyn-based psychedelic rock combo The Veda Rays. I was quite taken aback at how cool it was, and loved how the gentle, wistful vocal refrain interacted with Scott's rhythm-scape. However, I was hearing the song as more like a dream, where the hypnotic groove beckoned the listener into the track, only to be greeted by the vocal at the halfway mark. So I constructed this re-edit of Scott's remix where the vocal is teased (and spaced out a bit) before it finally makes its appearance. Check it out here:

I can't take a lot of credit as pretty much everything you're hearing is that of either The Veda Rays or Scott Hardkiss. I just did some re-arranging and extra echoey bits. That said, I'm pretty stoked about this cut and I've been having a lot of fun including it in my dreamier DJ sets. It's available from Beatport right now.

New Release: Balearic Chainsaw

True story: Q-Burns Abstract Message once DJ'ed underneath a weighty chainsaw covered in disco ball mirror squares, rotating roundly with silver beams flying off its blade. Imagine such a devious device honed for dance-floor devastation, its rumble tuned to bass-bin frequencies as its saw cuts through beats and melody. But we're talking about a chainsaw wielded by beardy types, waving its mirror ball excess over sunrise-stroked beach sand. We blissfully believe this could be the sound of the "Balearic Chainsaw." The original "Balearic Chainsaw" is an extended, beefier version of what was previously found on the "Chainsaw" single, released spring 2011 on EIGHT-TRACKS. The piano-fueled, flamenco guitar-kissed version was hidden as the last song in the single. To our surprise, friends and foes alike asked for a longer version to send resonating over the waterfront. The requests have been answered, and this new version features an added groove coda that should send your neighbors dancing into the moon beams. 

Who else could be more perfect for such flights of fancy than our long-time chum Scott Hardkiss? Coming off the brilliant Technicolor Dreamer album on his own God Within label, Scott tackled "Balearic Chainsaw" with a combination of gusto and happenstance. His mix is a rising force, solid rhythms and huggable bass lines anchoring a building swarm of piano, guitar, and cosmic, acid atmosphere. Not content with such mere musical coolness, Scott enlisted the gorgeous vocal contribution of Stevvi Alexander to further the "Balearic Chainsaw" message. Uplifting ain't the half of it

Then there's Scott's remarkable Dub variation. Wild swirls of sound take control of this special version, aided by the unexpected contribution of DJ Afro from Los Amigos Invisibles, supplying his own dueling flamenco guitar strums and riffs. Euphoric motion for the most summery of dance-floors … it's a classic Hardkiss maneuver. 

A party like this needs a proper come-down, and for our back-to-mine moment we've enlisted the reputable chops of Gazeebo, mainstay of Denver's Community Recordings. Working out an Italo/nu-disco throb, Gazeebo's slinky rendition hits all the tingle buttons, giving us a slow motion refuge that still packs a low-end punch. It's fitting and superb power-down for this "Balearic Chainsaw."

Kaskade - "This is really nice, beautiful vocal and perfect summer vibe.  Dig it."
Nick Warren - "Great mixes by Scott and the Gazeebo reprise is ace."
Anthony Pappa - "My favourite is "Gazeebo's Reprise" and l will play this out."
diskJokke - "Lovely tracks, full support."
Ric McClelland (Scope) - "A very nice package.. I'm digging the original, Hardkiss dub, and the Gazeboo Reprise."
Gavin Hardkiss (Hawke) - "F**king stellar ... these mixes will be played all summer."
Justin Harris (Freaks) - "I love Scott's dub, and the original works, too, in the right place."Ulysses (Neurotic Drum Band) - "The Gazeebo Reprise is my favorite, but the extended original is nice, too. Spacey!"
Greg Fenton (DMC Update) - "Great set of mixes, hard to choose a favorite."
Ray Mang - "Gazeebo's got some depth! Quite like the Hardkiss Dub, too."
Will SumSuch (UrbanTorque) - "Nice package with a real sense of fun. I like it a lot. The Hardkiss dub is the one for me."
Marco Fullone (Radio Monte Carlo) - "A Balearic sound masterpiece!"
Kosmas Epsilon (Proton Radio) - "Original and Gazeebo mixes are pure bliss! Amazing songs."
Dj Nova (Rodon FM Greece) - "This is the absolute Balearic release of 2011! Es Vedra found its soundtrack this year."
Harry Avers (NOICE!) - "F**king amazing Dub by Scott.... love the guitars."
DJ Naz (Buddha Bar) - "Ah, balearic classic! Absolutely superb. I see this working super well at the beach parties this year in Ibiza."

Artwork by Bai-ee

Available now exclusively from Beatport

All About My Remix Of Scott Hardkiss' "Beat Freak"

The bulging eyeball of, one can maybe assume, Scott Hardkiss portends some serious "Beat Freak" action. It's a freewheeling cut on Scott's Technicolor Dreamer album enthusiastically giving shout-outs to folks of all shades, no matter how neon, because, when it comes down to it, we all dig freakin' to beats (yes.).

Scott hit me up to remix "Beat Freak" and I happily obliged. There was an original version of my remix that I toiled on for 4 or 5 lonely days. Long story short, I decreed it "not freaky enough" and in a calm tantrum erased all evidence and started over from scratch. 24 hours later I had the remix you hear below:

Scott Hardkiss - Beat Freak (Q-Burns Abstract Message Remix) (God Within Recordings) by Q-Burns Abstract Message

I liked the implications within the synthesized vocal and visualized it as a bullhorn announcement. A sort of world music bounce is applied for a global "everybody's in the club" feel. The beats and bass line are kept overly simple, serving as anchors for everything around them. The keyboard solo and emulated fretless bass were last minute ideas and make up my favorite section of this. Celebration time. I'm into it.

Upon completion I immediately had an idea for an alternate version of this. Thus we have the dub:

Scott Hardkiss - Beat Freak (Q-Burns Abstract Message Dub) (God Within Recordings) by Q-Burns Abstract Message

The plucky arpeggiated line from the first remix becomes the bass here (so much for the simple bass line) adding some dance floor motion. The energy is slightly increased, in general, with a few added synth parts and, at Scott's welcome urging after he heard a rough draft, a rising field of 'acidy' synths in the key moments.

I've been playing both of these out in my sets and they seem to work really well for the floor. I rarely have tracks of my own that I enjoy playing out (I know ... it's a producer/DJ thing. It's very silly.) so this is fun. I hope you dig it as well.

There are other cool remixes of "Beat Freak" by Paul Woolford, Fort Knox Five, and Scott Hardkiss himself. You can grab it now from Beatport, Traxsource, iTunes, and many other digital shops.