Hawke (aka Gavin Hardkiss): Heatstroke
"Party People" single
The release of Heatstroke celebrates the worldwide signing of producer-DJ-composer Gavin Hardkiss a.k.a. Hawke to San Francisco indie Six Degrees Records. Gavin has come to be indelibly linked with a mystical form of electronic dance music that globally represents San Francisco. As one-third of the famed Hardkiss trio (with "brothers" Scott and Robbie Hardkiss), Gavin helped to create and encourage a spirited, psychedelic approach to music and life with genre-defying songs and DJ sets. The Hardkiss label released various singles and one stunning compilation, Delusions of Grandeur, in the mid-'90s which serves as a veritable blueprint for its successors, one that continues to be referenced and admired by artists and fans throughout the world.
Gavin Hardkiss moved to the United States from his birthplace in Johannesburg, South Africa in the late '80s, attending college at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. It was there that he met Hardkiss brother Scott. The two threw underground dance parties called Bliss and moved to San Francisco soon after graduation in 1991. Moving in with third 'Kiss member Robbie, the three set out to fine-tune the crafts of making good music and DJing. At the same time, they were soaking up the unique culture of San Francisco, one that's completely open and malleable to individual interpretation and expression.
Of the three Hardkiss brothers, it is Gavin who has stuck closest to home in San Francisco, where he is releasing his second album, Heatstroke. It's been nearly four years since Hawke's debut album, Namaquadisco came out on Sunburn, and in that time Gavin Hardkiss has taken quite a trip, both personally and professionally. He's become a husband and father, a more weathered and wise businessman and a more confident producer and performer.
Discerning UK dance magazine Muzik called the Hawke debut Namaquadisco "Mind-humpingly awesome." They elaborated that, "[Namaquadisco] achieves the magic trick of sounding like all the best bits of your favorite records while simultaneously being so individual." The San Francisco Chronicle called Namaquadisco "An essential, emotional journey through club styles." Heatstroke has a similar affinity for funk and genre defiance executed with a heightened sense of a globally groove-conscious society. Its world-wise rhythms and melodic ideas make it a natural fit for Hawke's new home at Six Degrees.
The album's 12" single "Party People ("We're Gonna Change the World)," features the spirited vocal talents of one Sir Adamsmasher, and champions a spirit of uniting to create positive difference and peace. On July 4, 2001, "IndepenDance Day," advance copies of the single were disseminated to 20 DJs around the States to spin in a simultaneous message of peace and positivity. In this time of strife in the world this is a simple yet powerful idea that caught the imagination of DJs such as Doc Martin and Danny Howells and resulted in tens of thousands of dancefloor revelers across the country hearing the song's message that day . The 12" single, rich with infectious guitar groove and an insistent beat, has been remixed by Sunburn label mates Lovesky (who also remixed album cut "Now We Know"), Q-Burns + Huggy, the Freeloaders and Robbie Hardkiss. Adamsmasher resurfaces for the unusual "Starfish Waitress," further proof of Hawke's willingness to let his collaborators help steer the course into different zones.
The track "Sticky Trumpets" recalls the dizzy times of recent parties of the same name thrown in San Francisco's Mission District over the past couple of years. Hazy melodies, thick basslines, funky breakbeats and eccentric vocal textures work into a potential dancefloor detonator. "Salome's Last Chance" woos with a minimal techno throb, while the electro bounce of "Pacificodelic," done in collaboration with local DJ Adnan, revisits an aural fascination with after-hours tribal funk and loose-limbed, watery grooves (also visited in "High On the Sea"). These tracks reference the sound of the halcyon days of early '90s rave music, an era the Hardkiss brothers helped define, while bringing the sound completely up-to-date. Hawke has always flown without regard to these silly limitations, instead adopting an accessible, freeform approach to making well-crafted tunes that make people smile and move.
One of the most special musical moments on Heatstroke has to be "Le Le Lengwe," which brims with the energy and excitement of those wonderful extended Afro-beat jams popularized by musicians like the late Fela Kuti from Nigeria. Strong, emotive chords float over intricate layers of percussion and the soothing counterpoint of trumpets.
Hawke is a welcome anomaly in the electronic dance music world. One of his most distinguishing traits is his fierce determination to create songs and albums that are durable and lasting. His efforts are focused towards creating classic music that can be enjoyed for generations.
You've been burned, but have you been truly scorched? Don't forget the cold compresses as you expose yourself to the joyously blistering sonic journey that is Heatstroke, because you'll want to stay out in the sun.