San Francisco Raves

It’s an easy thing to wax nostalgic about a music scene in a certain city at a certain time, but sometimes the story can get convoluted, altered or misinterpreted. This is especially true if you hear the story second-hand, or through the lens of a fictional story or from a source that may know a lot about a time and place, but they weren’t necessarily there to give you a first-hand account. The story of San Francisco Raves in the 1990’s has been told in bits and pieces and we’re going to the source to unearth more of that story for you.

Seattle had grunge, Detroit is the birthplace techno, Chicago has house, Manchester had Factory Records. Endless articles have been written about these mystical places, about the alchemy of the environment and how the unique mix elements made it something special. Of these stories, these myths, the ones the resonate the most are the ones from those who were there. The people that were in the city, behind the decks and in the studio making it all happen.

For part 3 of our series on the San Francisco Rave scene in the 90’s, we talked to two gentlemen that were in the eye of the storm, Gavin Hardkiss (aka Hawke) of the Hardkiss Brothers and DJ Garth of Wicked Sound System. Here is their take on what happened in San Francisco in the 1990’s.



1. What’s your name, and how were you involved in the San Francisco
rave scene in the 1990’s?

I am Gavin Hardkiss. I’m a DJ/producer who came up in those succulent
times. I started a record label/ production crew/ gang of comic DJs
with my friends from college Robbie and Scott back in 1991. We threw
parties and made music and had the time of our lives.

2. What was the thing about San Francisco in the 90’s that made it so
special to you?

It was a vacuum. We were pretty unconcerned with what was happening
elsewhere. Everyone was in love with the music and the times. I
can’t remember anyone having a job. There was a constant flow of
personalities from all parts of the world coming to check out the
scene. New friends for life every weekend.

3. What are a few stand-out events for you at this time?

There were good times to be had every night of the week. So many magical
moments. I liked parties that started at the break of dawn – Boogie
& Splash were classic.

4. Who were some of the people involved in making the scene what it
was at the time?

Everyone played their part kicking up on the energy
and making it their own. I don’t like to single out individuals since
everyone made it what it was. Dancers. DJs, drug dealers, doormen,
coatcheck. Everyone got involved. Few people sat aside and watched.

5. When did you realize the significance of what was happening in the
scene there?

I haven’t yet.

6. Why were the 90’s the right time for the scene to blow up in San

God knows. Probably Phikal and the proliferation of
Ecstasy together with the introduction of communication technologies.
Remember that in the early ’90s there were no cell phones or Internet.
People on the cutting edge had pagers. We would spend $500 per month
on faxes. It was big news when they introduced voicemail.

7. What’s your top 10 tracks from SF artists from that era?

Mattski – Live at the Brotherhood

Soulstice – Superfunkidiculous Remix

Ultraviolet Catastrophe – The Trip

Freaky Chakra – Halucifuge

Studio X – Los Kings Del Mambo

Spacetime Continuum – Floatilla

Hawke – 3 Nudes Having Sax on Acid

Daisy Glow – Theme From Daisy Glow

DJ Thomas – No Hassle From The Man

Boozy & Swan – Champagne Beat Boogie

Read our interview with DJ Garth on Page 2.



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