Scott Hardkiss, of the legendary San Francisco-based Hardkiss DJ/party/label crew, touched many as a DJ and producer. Though he left this mortal coil far too soon, his spirit lives on. Scott passed away before the completion of Hardkiss’ 1991 album, which was released last year, but Gavin and Robbie Hardkiss were able to finalize his remix of “Revolution.” Scott’s remix, along with other Hardkiss interpretations, are out this week and we’re thrilled to world premiere them.
“Scott started his remix of ‘Revolution’ and he was going to remix ‘Broken Hearts,’ which would’ve been really sweet because that song was about us and the whole journey from the beginning to now,” Robbie Hardkiss told us last year. “But obviously he didn’t get to that. When he passed, it was a horrible shock. Devastating.”
Gavin explains how the remix of “Revolution” came together after Scott’s passing.
We’re so thrilled that we held off releasing these mixes until now. We’ve been playing them at DJ gigs for a while and were waiting for the right moment to get them out to the public. Having completed a successful PledgeMusic campaign in May for the 20th anniversary of Delusions of Grandeur, we thought we’d show our gratitude to our fans by giving away for free this new release.
The song “Revolution” opens our second album 1991, and we had several remixes by the likes of Mark E and DJ Spun released on Siesta Recordings.
Now these Hardkiss Remixes feature the last recording made by Scott Hardkiss before his tragic death in 2014. Scott had been working on this remix when he passed away. We were able to download stems of Scott’s mix and execute a version that resonates with Scott’s passion, intensity and playfulness. Stephanie, Scott’s wife, gave us the thumbs up when she heard it and we sighed a sigh of relief. It’s not easy to complete someone’s creative vision and given the emotional intensity of the circumstances, we were pleased that we managed the ambitious feat.
The Hardkiss brothers, Scott, Gavin and Robbie, have long been considered pioneers of the diverse West Coast sound. Unfortunately, Scott passed away a year ago, although his musical memory lives on brilliantly here thanks to the Revolution – The Hardkiss Remixes, a four-track EP that sees the three all play their role in remixing “Revolution” found on the new Hardkiss album, 1991.
It’s Scott who gets us going, with his remix a fitting swan song for a man of undoubted talent. Beautiful in its simplicity, it’s also rich in singalong vibes and features crossover potential too. A more than worthy way with which to bow out on, there’s a melancholic edge attached to its upbeat hues.
Next is Gavin, who expertly leans on the bass guitar for his very harmonious remix, while Robbie injects it with dance floor zest aplenty, resulting in a remix that’s unlike the others on display. The EP concludes with Conspiracy 3’s effort, as they throw the kitchen sink in in what’s a bassline-led, funk-soaked affair. With four stunning remixes on offer, this one is well worth checking out.
Read our exclusive interview with Gavin and Robbie Hardkiss about their new album, 1991, here.
On March 25, 2013 the global dance music community unexpectedly lost DJ/producer/songwriter Scott Hardkiss at the age of 43. As one-third of the San Francisco-based Hardkiss DJ/label/party crew in the ’90s, Scott played an important role in bringing rave culture to the West Coast. Along with musical cohorts Gavin and Robbie (they all used the Hardkiss surname but weren’t biologically related), the trio never met a dance music genre they didn’t like. As producers in New York, Detroit, Chicago and London focused on a particular style, Hardkiss blazed their own trails. They fearlessly infused house, breaks, psychedelia, techno and a trippy mindset into their parties, DJ sets and recordings. The perfect snapshot of the era is their classic 1995 compilation, Delusions of Grandeur, featuring Scott Hardkiss Presents God Within’s epic trance-breaks-electronica masterpiece “Raincry.”
Several years after moving back to New York City, Scott Hardkiss released his acclaimed debut album, Technicolor Dreamer, in 2009. He also contributed music to various film, television and commercial projects led by Spike Lee, Wes Anderson and Richard Linklater. With his untimely death came an outpouring of heartfelt condolences from fans around the world who were touched by his music. There were also poignant memorials published by the mainstream music press.
A year later Gavin and Robbie have restarted the Hardkiss label to release 1991, a wondrous, multi-genre dance album that was tracked before Scott’s untimely passing. Though their music sounds as good as ever, they’re still coming to terms with the loss of their friend.
“It seems like a mistake, an error that wasn’t supposed to happen,” says Robbie Hardkiss reflecting on Scott’s death.
“He’s still on the records that I’m playing,” explains Gavin Hardkiss. “He’s on the speakers I’m patting right here and he’s on the turntable behind me. It’s like he’s still there.”
Let’s start at the beginning of this album and rewind back to Scott’s passing last year. What was the state of Hardkiss at the time of his passing?
Robbie Hardkiss: Scott passed almost a year ago. A few months prior to that — I guess it was January — when Gavin and I put most of these songs out in an earlier version to a few friends, one being Scott, saying this was what we’ve been working on. We asked Scott which songs he wanted to remix and what he thought about the tracks. Our plan was to see who was interested [in the album tracks] and put it out ourselves, just Gavin and me. We had been working on the music for two years and were ready to shop the songs and see where they went. If we didn’t have suitable homes for them, then we’d put them out ourselves. Scott started his remix of “Revolution” and he was going to remix “Broken Hearts,” which would’ve been really sweet because that song was about us and the whole journey from the beginning to now. But obviously he didn’t get to that. When he passed, it was a horrible shock. Devastating. But Gavin and I had to move forward with our music. We were really delayed so when we settled down a little bit and had to get back to real life [after Scott’s death], we realized why are we starting a new label? We should restart Hardkiss with [Scott’s wife] Stephanie. We weren’t really planning to relaunch Hardkiss but the passing of Scott gave us many reasons to do so.
“It seems like a mistake, an error that wasn’t supposed to happen. No, no, no, no! We’re supposed to have our kids together. We’re supposed to be on a beach with our grand kids. No, I don’t accept this. My brain is far from accepting this.”
I remember where I was when I heard the news of Scott’s passing: I was at home and we had just come back from dinner. I noticed a friend tweeted RIP Scott Hardkiss and I nearly fell over. There was nothing online about him, so I immediately reached out to some mutual friends and they confirmed it. I got to know Scott from when we worked together on his Mixer presents United DJs of America Vol. 17: Scott Hardkiss mix CD… Where were you both when you heard the news?
Gavin: We were here in San Raphael, CA. I think it was on a Monday morning. We have a common friend and collaborator named Jay Bowman, who is also the guitar player for Michael Franti…. He was Scott’s in-house engineer when he lived in San Francisco. He called me early in the morning, crying his heart out. He broke the news to me and I had to break the news to Robbie. That was early in the morning and we were still trying to pick up the pieces of it, trying to fit it into your life. But you never can when someone so close passes away. It just becomes a mystery.
Robbie: I was at my daughter’s school. I had just dropped them off at one of their music classes or something. I remember sitting in the car when Gavin called. He said, “Are you somewhere where you’re alone?” The way you prepped me for the news…
Robbie: That was just a weird, horrible, surreal moment. It still doesn’t seem real. In some ways I can’t get to it. I keep seeing the cover of the [Mixer presents United DJs of America Vol. 17: Scott Hardkiss released in 2001] CD that you mentioned. There was just a little tribute to Scott by an English DJ in Spain….just seeing the picture of Scott…it’s hard to look at his face.
Because it’s so painful and surreal as you described?
Robbie: It seems like a mistake, an error that wasn’t supposed to happen. No, no, no, no! We’re supposed to have our kids together. We’re supposed to be on a beach with our grand kids. No, I don’t accept this. My brain is far from accepting this.
How did Scott’s passing impact your work? When were you able to even think about producing music again? What were the next few months like for you both?
Robbie: We took a break, but not a big one. Did [news of] Romanthony come like a month after?
I think it was a few weeks later.
Robbie: Well, I was late as usual delivering a remix of “Flowers Blooming.” It was this goofy dance mix that when I sat down to finish it I couldn’t work. That’s when it turned into “Feeling Scott Through Romanthony.” That was the first direct affect on the music and that song came out of it.
Gavin: I tried to motor through and do what I can to get on with things. I just got physically ill about a month later at Coachella. I had to turn everything off and back away from everything for a while to physically feel better. I usually have my life together, but I was losing shit and couldn’t hold things together. It’s a year later and I’m still trying to piece things together. It’s hard to fathom…we lived in different cities for ten years and I saw him maybe once or twice in ten years. In my frame of reference he’s still in Brooklyn. While he’s still in Brooklyn, he’s still on the records that I’m playing. He’s on the speakers I’m patting right here and he’s on the turntable behind me. It’s like he’s still there.
Robbie: It’s weird because it’s like he’s more here….now. He’s so much more in my life on a daily basis. We’re communicating with his wife, dealing with the label, finishing his remix of “Revolution,” putting the pictures on the album cover [of 1991] and things that remind me of him while I’m driving in the car. So it’s like he’s so much more with me and that’s strange.
“He’s still on the records that I’m playing. He’s on the speakers I’m patting right here and he’s on the turntable behind me. It’s like he’s still there.”
The public outpouring was really amazing. News outlets that didn’t pay Hardkiss any attention back in the day offered tributes to his life and work. Did that attention surprise both of you?
Gavin: Oh, yeah. I didn’t know what to expect and took it as it came. Scott deserves every word of credit that he got from everyone. It sucks that it had to come through death.
Robbie: I have a feeling that Scott would’ve loved it. [Laughs]
Gavin: That outpouring and adoration of support…wow.
Robbie: It also meant tons to his family. Seeing his mother at the funeral as these things were rolling in really meant a lot to her. I was shocked. Gavin has continued doing music since the Hardkiss days, and I’ve been away for a while. I really felt a million miles away from getting written about in Spin and Vibe. I kept thinking, See Scott, you did it!
You were both dealing with so much. At what point did 1991 come together?
Gavin: All the pieces were there at that point. It was like a puzzle that we had to put together in reflection of Scott’s passing. We had to put  together with limited resources something that represented us as a group. It had to reflect our past as well as what we had envisioned for the future. Before his passing [the album] was something we wanted to create for the future but last spring Robbie was working on “Feeling Scott Through Romanthony” and the other tracks were pretty much done. We thought we’d put some tracks out through other labels so we did some licensing to Siesta for “Revolution” and Whiskey Pickle for “RetrocativePsychedelicFuturisticFunkBump.” We figured we’d get out some singles but the idea of an album, well, we weren’t sure because everyone listens to singles in 2014. So it became an EP, then started adding songs and then went, Holy shit! It’s an album. So we got into a studio with a mix engineer to flesh out the sonics and the range of the songs. That became quite an in-depth process that lasted at least six months of going into the studio and fine-tuning the songs. Then later in the year we weren’t sure how we were going to get the songs out, and we eventually decided to relaunch the label. 1991 was kind of a working title for the first demo of “Broken Hearts.” It just seemed like a good connecting point that would have validity for our album but also for the Hardkiss group and other people because we feel that 1991 was such a pivotal year. For us, it’s when we moved to San Francisco, Scott and I met Robbie at the end of May 1991 and we started doing parties and all went into the studio for the first time together. Yeah, it was the coming together of this little family.
Robbie: The theme is about that optimistic, positive experience of the early days of raving in San Francisco and discovering house music and DJs and parties. It was a summer of love that we experienced. It was all love and optimism, and that’s reflected in these songs…. Sometimes it’s like a dream that we did all of these things back then and here we are now. I guess we still want to project all that love and optimism.
Hardkiss’ 1991 is out digitally on April 7.Images courtesy of Hardkiss.
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DJ/producer Scott Hardiss passed away unexpectedly earlier today. In the early ’90s Scott Friedel was a member of pioneering San Francisco DJ/producer trio Hardkiss which was rounded out by musical partners Gavin and Robbie. The Hardkiss Brothers (who weren’t biologically related) helped nourish and influence the era’s fledgling West Coast sound — psychedelia mixed with Balearic, house and techno — via Bay Area warehouse parties as well as remixes and productions issued on Hardkiss Music. After relocating to New York City in the late ’90s, Scott, who also recorded under the God Within moniker (listen to his classic “Raincry” below), went on to remix for the likes of Elton John, George Clinton and The Flaming Lips. In 2009 he released his well-received debut album, Technicolor Dreamer, and he also contributed music to various film, television and commercial projects led by Spike Lee, Wes Anderson and Richard Linklater.
When I was running Mixer magazine, I worked closely with Scott on Mixer presents United DJs of America Vol. 17: Scott Hardkiss released in 2001. I got to know him well on a professional and social basis. Scott was a singular individual who marched to his own beat; he was an exceptionally talented individual who saw the world with a unique view. He was wildly intelligent and had an incredibly dry sense of humor that always brought a smile to my face. Whenever Scott was behind the decks, I’d marvel at the soundtrack he wove together with strains of house, breaks, trance and beyond that few could replicate.
Update, March 26 12:00pm: There has been an outpouring of love from people remembering Scott on social media. (See below.)
Wade Hampton (a.k.a. WishFM), who knew Scott during their days on the San Francisco scene, told Big Shot: “Scott was a visionary. Although he was as elusive as any DJ could be at the dawn of our EDM movement, he helped build a loyal strong family unit with Hardkiss Family. That’s all that mattered to us. As long as we knew he always reaching for perfection, the path we took really didn’t matter…and this cool cat attained it all the time. I’ll miss my homie dearly.”