Berlin-based DJ and producer Marquis Hawkes delivers a jam-packed disco mix for the 42nd edition of the Phonica Mix Series!
As a teen, Marquis Hawkes‘ musical tastes ranged far and wide, from punk to reggae to psychedelic rock and everything in between. Towards the end of the ’80s, Hawkes discovered the music of electronic pioneers D-Mob and Armando, which ultimately inspired him to start experimenting with his own musical creations throughout the ’90s and early 2000’s
After years of perfecting his craft, the London-born, now Berlin-based DJ and producer’s unique brand of hi-energy house and techno music has since been picked up by the likes of AUS Music, Dixon Avenue Basement Jams, Clone Jack For Daze and Fabric London’s Houndstooth imprint.
We caught up with Marquis to find out about his past, present and future plans, his life in Berlin and the ideas behind his mix – amongst other things. Check the interview and his excellent disco mix below!
Hey Marquis, how you doing?
Good thanks, just preparing for a weekend away.
Glad to hear it! So, what’s been going on in your world lately?
Quite a bit of studio work, remixes, preparing a few upcoming releases, a few gigs and trying to balance that with a good bit of family time with my wife and daughter.
Can you tell us about the mix – was there any specific reason why you decided to go down the disco route for this one?
I’d just completed some disco edits/remixes in an official capacity for Salsoul a little while ago which are just coming out, and just set the decks up for the first time in a while, so it kind of made sense to dig through my disco collection and get back to the roots a little bit. Ironically enough, as I was selecting tracks for this I started to feel that I wanted to keep it as edit free as possible as far as the tracks I played on the mix went, so it’s almost completely disco originals aside from the Sadar Bahar piece in there.
You’ve released your music on some great labels over the last 5 or so years, such as Dixon Avenue Basement Jams, Houndstooth, Clone and most recently AUS Music. How do you feel your sound has progressed in this time?
It’s certainly broadened, as I always want to be moving forward. As time has gone by I think I’ve become more interested in the creative process rather than the end result, so I guess I’m always looking to challenge myself in some way with every step forward and of course, day to day, week to week, your tastes always change, and I’m into a lot of things, so over time I want to explore those different things I’m interested in more and more.
Speaking of Houndstooth, they have previously described your music as “funky, with a punk ethos.” How do you feel about that statement?
Well, I pretty much came up with that statement myself, I come from a pretty punky background, all in all, coming out of the counterculture scene of the 90s, so I guess I was just expressing that I don’t particularly stick to the rules, at least in a musical sense.
Your latest EP on AUS Music has just landed on our shelves. It features two versions of the title track ‘The Phoenix’. Can you tell us where this two-part idea came from?
After I made “The Phoenix Part 1” I wanted to do a flip on it and make a track from the same materials, but I felt it was really much more than just a remix, so we decided to make it kind of two parts of one original concept.
We understand you made the move to Berlin during the early stages of your career. How does life in Berlin differ from the UK for you?
I moved to Berlin with no aspirations to really do much in the music scene outside of just experiencing music I liked and being around a higher concentration of friends who actually had time to socialise than I’d had in London. Plus we had thoughts of starting a family and didn’t really want to do that in the UK. I’d lived in Berlin previously, as I had a bit of a minor career in techno music in the early 2000s but since leaving always wanted to move back as I had so many connections here.
The biggest difference I guess is the fact that we can actually afford a decent sized flat here, and have a studio space which would have been absolutely impossible in London, and our housing situation is much more secure than it would have been had we stayed in the UK. I was in no position to buy property and we were stuck in accommodation which wasn’t particularly secure and stuck doing jobs we hated. Having the headspace, and reduced pressures on income and housing have allowed me to do this thing, I don’t know if I could have done it had we stayed in the UK, or if a similar chain of events which allowed it to happen would have happened. Also, it’s really easy to make things happen in Berlin as there are so many people in the industry based here, so it’s easy to arrange a face to face meeting.
It’s funny because I really didn’t want a career in music, at least as a producer/Dj after my previous experiences, but it seems nothing else will have me outside of pretty crappy jobs! So I feel this thing chose me rather than me really decisively choosing to make it my career. Making music is something I’ve always done, and will always continue to do no matter how successful it is for me, so I guess that’s maybe why I fell back into it.
Do you have any specific record labels that you’re particularly feeling at the moment?
Running Back seems to be pretty consistently good right now, without fail I follow what’s coming on Sound Signature, and there’s a cool little label called Closer To Truth which keeps putting out stuff I’m into.
And finally, is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Yeah, I should really try and find the time to visit your store next time I’m in London, it’s been a long time since I was there!