Dance Community Reflections: RIP Scott “Hardkiss” Friedel
Influential San Francisco DJ and producer Scott “Hardkiss” Friedel passed away Monday night at the age of 43. The cause of death has not been confirmed at this time but is believed to be an aneurysm. It has previously been noted that Hardkiss had keratoconus, a degenerative eye condition that required transplant surgery in 2011, and one of his last social posts a few days ago was about him not feeling well.
A key player in growing the early ‘90s rave scene in San Francisco as one third of the Hardkiss Brothers (along with “spiritual kin” Gavin and Robbie Hardkiss), Scott also had a successful solo career as a DJ and producer. One of his best-remembered tracks is 1993’s “Raincry” released under his God Within alias. In the late ‘90s, Scott moved to New York and assumed his full-time persona as Scott Hardkiss, purveyor of pop songs touched with Balearic breakbeats and transcendent funk. He went on to do remixes for artists as varied as Elton John, the Flaming Lips and George Clinton. His debut album Techinicolor Dreamer was released in 2009 and was accompanied by remixes from Christian Prommer, Bjorn Torske, Telepathe and Brennan Green. Scott is remembered as an adventurous collaborator by those that worked with him, including Lisa Shaw, Dean & Britta, and Q-Burn’s Abstract Message just to name a few.
In a blog post, Q-Burns (Michael Donaldson) recalls meeting Scott in the early ‘90s when he was shopping around some of his music. “I still remember this sort of hippie-ish thing he said to me then… ‘This isn’t a song … it’s a living being.’ In a follow up email, Q-Burns tells Vibe, “‘I bet I’d be a different type of producer and DJ if it weren’t for Scott Hardkiss, or maybe not even a DJ as I was more of an indie-rock kid at the start. Scott showed that it was okay to be many things musically at once.”
Via email, Derrick Carter remembers Scott for his humanity, as well as for his talent. “Apart from his grand musical tastes, he was a great guy. During one of my early SF adventures, I’d been stiffed by a promoter who’d only bought an outbound ticket for me to play at his party. Scott let me crash on his couch for about a week as I sorted things out. He took me in and treated me like a brother. I’m going to miss having him in this world.”
Among the many DJs posting tributes on Twitter, were Tommie Sunshine, Kaskade, Sasha, and Frankie Bones. Tommie Sunshine lamented, “the 90’s Raver in me ca not stop crying.” Kaskade added, “Scott Hardkiss changed the way I listened.” Frankie Bones noted, “The network of people surrounding Scott Hardkiss are probably the best group of people you could ever meet.”
While he was helming Mixer magazine, Big Shot editor Darren Ressler worked with Scott on 2001’s Mixer presents United DJs of America Vol. 17: Scott Hardkiss. “DJ culture as we know it wouldn’t be the same without his contributions or the provocative art he leaves behind.” On a personal note, Ressler adds, “My ex actually introduced me to Scott. She knew all of the Hardkiss guys from SF and would tell me stories about their legendary parties. When I finally met him he was like the anti DJ — he didn’t dress, act or behave like most of the DJs I’ve interviewed. Scott reminded me a bit like the comedian Steven Wright (he had a very dry sense of humor).”
Whether you’re still shaking off your Miami buzz, or have ever enjoyed EDM, you can thank Scott Hardkiss for helping to push rave culture into the mainstream, not just as trendy commodity, but as a way to look at the world and build a creative life. On his Soundcloud bio, Scott described himself best: “DJ, producer, remixer, composer, arranger, multi-media artist, designer, writer, inventor, label owner, radio host, mercenary shaman, agent provocateur, 21st-century renaissance cat & ill mothafucka.” Looking over his credits and the outpouring of love online, it’s impossible to argue. Rave in peace, technicolor dreamer.
Scott Hardkiss DJs on”Pete Tong’s Essential Mix BBC Radio 1”
God WIthin, “Raincry” (Ascension Mix by Rabbit in the Moon)
Beat Freak (Q-Burns Abstract Message Funk Dub) (feat. The Prophetz)
Come On, Come On (Morgan Geist Remix) (feat. Lisa Shaw)
You & I (Bjørn Torske You & I in Outer Space Remix) (feat. Bobby Harden)