TOTD // 08/03 // Marquis Hawkes

Published: March 8, 2017, words by Hannah Edwards

Part of the Dixon Avenue Basement Jams takeover


We featured Berlin-based Brit Marquis Hawkes last year as part of the In:Motion takeover, and are excited to have him back. Now a heavyweight name in house and techno, he’s been signed to the prestigious Houndstooth and AUS Music record labels. Bursting onto the scene in 2012, he released a trio of EPs on Glasgow’s Dixon Avenue Basement Jams, instantly making a name for himself with raw production and sounds of classic Chicago-style house. 2014 saw another flurry of work from Hawkes, releasing another record on DABJ, delivering records for European labels as well as signing a deal with Houndstooth record label, who released his Fifty Fathoms Deep EP. You’d be fooled if you thought he was new to the music game, however, as he was making music fifteen years prior to finding success under the alias Marquis Hawkes and has been buying records most of his life.

Hawkes’ highly-acclaimed debut album Social Housing was released in June 2016 on Houndstooth, featuring twelve tracks exploring the realms of bass, house and disco. The album name references public housing projects, similar to his 2012 EP Cabrini Green, named after the notorious housing project in Chicago. This issue is personal to Hawkes, as he grew up on a council estate in London and now lives on one in Berlin. He has mentioned in interviews that he’s thankful for the government support, and reckons that without it he wouldn’t be able to make music. The album is full of vintage U.S. house tracks and dance floor jams, with splashes of groovy funk and soul. Every track has its own energy to it, giving us light and shade, ramped up and subdued moments in equal amounts. The result is a set of tracks full of authenticity, joy and emotion. We are excited to see what 2017 brings.

Marquis Hawkes has chosen dedicate his Tracks Of The Day selection to one of his biggest inspirations – Paul Johnson. His reasons for this are below:

“I don’t think there is anyone in the Chicago house scene who has been so influential and prolific, whilst also being so underrated. He pretty much defined what I’d call the more groove-driven side of the Ghetto House / Beat Trax sound of Chicago House, and had a hand behind the scenes with many other Dance Mania and Relief Records artists alongside the productions with his own name on.

“A lot of people associate DJ Funk and DJ Deeon as the mainstay of the Dance Mania sound, and whilst those two producers have been responsible for many influential cuts of their own, and are legendary in their own rights, for me it was always all about Paul Johnson. From silky smooth house tracks or slamming beat jams all the way through to the hit of ‘Get Get Down’, Johnson always seemed to nail it during that 1994-2001 period.

“Additionally, I’ll always admire his stoic demeanour in the face of all the adversity he has been dealt in his life, and it always pains me when I hear or read of him continuing to struggle through life due to his disabilities and crippling costs of healthcare in the US. Paul was shot in the neck at the age of 18, which left him paralysed from the waist down, confining him to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, and then in 2010, after already losing one leg, had to have the other amputated after a serious car accident. To me, this makes his stunning achievements in music even more remarkable.”

via youtube

Paul Johnson

I’m Alone Until You Show Me

  • Calm

  • Energetic

  • Euphoric

  • Happy

  • Melancholic

  • Nostalgic

  • Tense

  • Wonky

“This to me is hands down the best flip on a soul sample I have ever heard in my life, without a doubt. Taking a 10 second slice from the bridge section of George Benson’s polished soul ballad ‘Turn Your Love Around’ was an absolutely inspired piece of sampling, and has influenced me myself to always look for the minor key progressions found in the bridge sections of records as the starting point of a sample based piece of work. I’ve yet to find something in a record I could sample and flip quite like he did with this. It’s saccharine sweet, and almost cheesy as hell, but it expresses a euphoric emotion which no other record I have ever found does in the same way.”
via youtube

Paul Johnson

Hear The Music

  • Calm

  • Energetic

  • Euphoric

  • Happy

  • Melancholic

  • Nostalgic

  • Tense

  • Wonky

“Famously featured as the opening track of Daft Punk’s 1997 BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix, this is a very interesting flip on Unlimited Touch’s disco classic ‘I Hear Music In The Streets’ from 1980. An interpolation rather than a sample, as in, the melodic content was replicated with electronic instruments rather than simply sampled. This loops around three bars, which makes it rather challenging to mix in a DJ set. Peacefrog did a lot as a label to bring a type of music which could only previously be obtained on expensive imports; which again, in a pre-internet era, where record distribution wasn’t as connected worldwide as much as it is now, were very difficult to find outside of Metropols like London or Manchester. They were very important in bringing music like this to UK shores.”
via youtube

Paul Johnson

TA

  • Calm

  • Energetic

  • Euphoric

  • Happy

  • Melancholic

  • Nostalgic

  • Tense

  • Wonky

“This was my introduction to Paul Johnson. When I lived on a travelers site in Snowdonia, North Wales, we had little hope of picking up Relief or Dance Mania imports at the local record store in Bangor, so compilations were very important in regard to being introduced to new artists and styles. Added to which, in a pre-internet era, it was very difficult to get any information about who a producer was, so these Trance Europe Express and Trance Atlantic compilations were a godsend, as they would contain a book with the release, with features on every artist involved. This compilation was how I first found out about what was coming out of Chicago in 1995, the sound of Relief and Dance Mania, and the whole concept of these kind of “Ghetto Trax”, where all you needed was some distorted TR-909 drum machine, and a few samples, and you had a track. I’d heard things distorted like that before, but never programmed in such a funky way. “Funky Gabba” was how I remember describing it to someone back then.”
via youtube

Paul Johnson

Playing With A Rubber Band

  • Calm

  • Energetic

  • Euphoric

  • Happy

  • Melancholic

  • Nostalgic

  • Tense

  • Wonky

“This is another track I discovered via a compilation, in this case Robert Armani’s 1998 Dance Mania Records – The Mix Compilation on Urban Substance, which for me is THE definitive guide to the best, more groove based Dance Mania cuts. I’ve been trying to fill in the gaps of all the 12”s I was missing from this compilation over the past few years, which can be an expensive business as almost all of them have a high Discogs price tag. When so much music around me was sounding cleaner and cleaner as production values increased when better production technology was becoming available, I loved the raw, almost punk aesthetic of the production of this track, complete with tape hiss and earth hum. It was like finding a lost artefact, that whilst was rough around the edges, contained something which just sounded otherworldly. Crackling signals from the ether if you will. It’s very usable in both a house and techno context. Even though that rough production does let it down a little on a modern sound system, the programming does however shine through somehow. Allegedly produced on a Boss DR 660 drum machine, and nothing else, which has to be said, is pretty impressive.”

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