Mona:
Would you be kind enough to introduce yourself?

Scott Hardkiss:
Hi, my name is Scott, and I'm a music junkie.

M: Where did the name "Hardkiss" come from?

S: Naming yourself is a very important act. "Kiss" is an expression of love, and "hard" signifies the intensity. The name describes our intent- to regenerate people through this music. I suppose we could've called ourselves "deepheal", but.. that doesn't sound as cool.

M: What exactly is "hardkiss", and how did it come into being?

S: While I was living in England in 1989, studying literature at Oxford, I spent a break on the Spanish island of Tenerife, off the coast of Africa. I met a cute British girl, and followed her to some Balearic clubs; She gave me my first hit of acid . Now I had heard and bought some house and Electro, and been to some Acid House clubs back in the U.S. the year before, but it was nothing like THIS. It absolutely blew my mind. My good friend Gavin was traveling around Europe, and I convinced him to camp out with me and 75,000 others for the three days at Glastonbury festival; It blew both of our minds. When we returned to the states we threw, what, in retrospect, were the first major raves on the East Coast, and then throwing our 'good futures' away, we followed a vision and drove 3,000 miles to blow my old friend Robbie's mind and start a revolution in the world's most revolutionary city -- San Francisco. Hardkiss is first and foremost a record label, releasing progressive dance music world wide, music made by ourselves and other local artists. We also throw our own parties, basically so that we have somewhere special to continue blowing our minds...

M: Musically, what are your roots, and what music are you into now?

S: The first music to consume me was early hip-hop, around ten years ago. That's when I started DJing and also when I bought my first house records - accidentally, of course. Then rap went gangster, and I turned to Sweet Sister Rock; It was the same old story-- "ROCK N' ROLL changed my life" I suppose I'm a very lucky D.J., because I've got many influences from which to draw upon; I spend all of my time listening to music, and most of it isn't house. For me it's the song, not the genre.

M: Where do you think the club music is going?

S: Well first of all, out of the clubs. Each style, each scene is becoming a student of all the others, Garage is getting trancier, Techno is getting deeper, and on and on. All styles are rapidly converging in an unprecedented world-wide movement; Every country on Earth is starting to participate and develop. It's a very exciting time, and we're all lucky enough to have front row seats, historically speaking.

M: What type of personality leads someone to become a d.j.?

S: Well, I Can only speak for myself. I can be a pretty quiet person, kind of shy in a weird way, and I don't go out that much, I like a club to be a special thing, and it loses something for me when I'm out all the time. When I do go out I don't really talk to a lot of people, I like to dance, or sit and listen, groove off of the music and the people. So for me, being a D.J. is a way to communicate with people and give something to the people around me, my friends, and the people who come to party--- give them something amazing that I couldn't do verbally. Music allows me to give people something that transcends words. It's almost holy to me.

M: What does it take to make a good d.j.?

S: First and most important good taste, UH, the same qualities that make good person, I suppose-- openness, generosity, and a huge set of balls Oh and a baseball cap.

M: How would you describe your own Dj style?

S: I play a diversity of styles, but the thing that links all of my music together is an intensity of emotion, and a certain surrealist edge. I like tracks which combine the African tradition of rhythm with the European tradition of melody-- not just wicked grooves, well developed on top. I try to take the crowd on a more complete trip by balancing uplifting stuff with an edge of darkness; I can't stand to hear one type of music too long, I don't care what it is. One thing that I get off on is playing something that people would never expect to hear at a rave---like an old pop track that everyone loves. I enjoy stretching the definition of what's acceptable and what's not; All music is essentially dance music, it's inherently rhythmic. Every single time, someone comes up afterward and asks, "what remix was that?" "No man it's the original!" They can't believe it! It also reminds everyone of their sense of humor: it is, after all a party. But some people are tight-assed and don't get it, usually the promoter who hired me.

M: What do you think about while you're playing? Psychology. Hmm. Why do you think you've become so popular?

S: Well, it's funny--the things people praise me for now are the very things I used to get criticized for-- doing my own thing, and giving people something unexpected. Every time I play, I really try to give the crowd something special; People need that, I need that. I spend a lot of time searching out really obscure old records, forgotten B-side mixes and the like, so I can give people something that they can't hear anywhere else, expose people to incredible music that has been overlooked or undiscovered. I'm also starting to have acetates made, they're these single copy temporary records. This allows me to take any unreleased music, whether it's our own stuff, custom-made remixes of existing songs, or bootlegs of impossible-to-find records, and play it out. Again, people can't hear it anywhere else, and it gives me a good opportunity to gauge response to our own material.

M: What would you say was a major area for improvement within our scene?

S: Less cynicism, less self-abuse, more dancing. I'd also like to see everyone get more involved with the music. How can people spend so much time listening to it and not know anything about it? It's very strange people need to go down to the stores like BPM and Record Rack, where they can listen to records, ask questions. Oh, and hopefully be driven to make some music. I know everyone has a few ideas, and the technology allows anyone to record it, and very cheaply, too. One word to sum up the rave scene Here: Magic. The people are beautiful, and the D.J's are all unique.

M: What are your plans for the near future?

S: Well, we're planning some very unique adventures, a type of party which hasn't really been done before. We've found a bigger space for Deep Faith, as well as starting another after-hours very soon. As far as DJing, I've been spending a lot of time traveling, playing in other cities, and soon in other countries. I love checking out the different scenes, especially where it's young and fresh. Whenever I play somewhere like L.A., I meet a lot of kids who are excited to hear different music, it really inspires them. And of course, San Francisco will always be my home; there's absolutely nothing like playing here, I'll do it every chance I get . But on the e whole , I'm spending less time DJing, and more time focusing on the label and making music. I've got my first solo project coming out, and Hardkiss is gonna do an American and European Tour in the spring. As a dj you can create some incredible moments, but it always comes down to just playing other peoples music; Making your own is a much greater thing. As a DJ you can uplift thousands on any given night, but when you make a great record, you can uplift millions, all over the world, in every country, from the moment it's released, through centuries to come! And hey that's what I'm into.... MASS SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION

M: Tell me one thing you believe with all your heart?

S: Something good is going to happen.. Something wonderful.

The interview was conducted October 1992 by Mona Bryant for Rhythmos Magazine.
©qaswa 1996.