Thursday, September 17, 2009

Scott Hardkiss: at home in Brooklyn

By Meredith Deliso

Scott Hardkiss has left his mark all over the city, growing up in the Bronx, living in Queens before heading out to San Francisco for a decade, and, since 2000, working on a new album in his home studio in lower Manhattan.

Over the past few years, Hardkiss, a world-renowned DJ who has made several remixes for everyone from Elton John to the Flaming Lip and has scored films for the likes of Wes Anderson and Spike Jones, has developed his first full-length album. He had the unfortunate location of working only a few blocks from the construction and demolition of Ground Zero.

“There was no peace of mind there, just a constant war zone,” says Hardkiss, who a couple months ago moved to Fort Greene in Brooklyn and couldn’t be happier. “I just really fell in love with it. It’s just been like night and day. It’s amazing the change in environment, how much more positive and more relaxed.”

Hardkiss has other reasons to be happy – “Technicolor Dreamer,” his first full length album of original material out now on his own label, God Within, has garnered considerable praise and buzz. On the album, the musician wrote and performed all the instruments, though he didn’t do it all himself. Friends like Britta Phillips (Dean & Britta, Luna), Lisa Shaw, Stevvi Alexander, and Steven Bernstein joined him as he steps out from behind the turntables and blends electronic dance grooves with live vocal and instrumental hooks for funky, surreal dance-pop.

“I wanted to make a record that fused the electronic dance beats and synth with live instrumentation. I looked back toward the music that first really got me going – early hip-hop, disco, soul, funk rock,” says Hardkiss. “I wanted it to be my album and my sound, but of course, all the people I worked with contributed so much.”

Out of the studio, the music is quite another beast to tackle, what with Hardkiss doing four voices and playing everything from drums to bass guitar to keyboard on the album. Working with his band, the musician is looking to recreate the sound live, building show by show, with a fusion of DJ and live performance, starting with a CD release party September 23 at Santos Party House in Manhattan.

“A lot of electronic-based stuff is kind of bedroom producers hiding behind a computer,” says Hardkis. “I wanted people to realize this is an album and a project made by human beings who played and sang and did this. I think when people see that live, then they’ll get that a lot more.”

The music will continue to evolve, as Hardkiss will be releasing remixes of the singles throughout this year and next. He will also be kept busy with other musical endeavors, including working with Britta Phillips and her other half, Dean Wareham, in the Brooklyn-based duo Dean & Britta, remixing a couple tracks they did for their songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests project, and continuing to get inspired in his new home.

“Maybe some people will be concerned about leaving Manhattan, but I feel the opposite. I feel there’s a lot more going on here than when I was living in Manhattan,” says the musician. “As far as creativity goes, it’s really impressing me. When I was in Manhattan, for the longest time when people would mention they were going to see music in Williamsburg, I thought it would be just another white indie rock band in skinny pants. There’s so much more. I’m grateful to be here. I’m excited to see what I get inspired to do next.”

Scott Hardkiss plays Santos Party House (downstairs), located at 100 Lafayette St. in Manhattan, September 23 at 9 p.m. Tickets $10, free with RSVP to For more, 212-584-5494.


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