Renegade Riddims: Justin Hawkes
Justin Hawkes charged onto the DnB scene under his Flite moniker with the self-released track ‘Blue Spark’ in 2013, with Liquicity featuring the seminal track on their influential YouTube channel. His ability to span soft-toned character to sheer euphoric brilliance through the dark, earth-shaking depths of bass music soon found him many fans, including some of the world’s top DJs, such as Andy C, Porter Robinson, RL Grime, Netsky, Friction, Sub Focus, Wilkinson and many more.
His relationship with UKF started when they featured his releases ‘Featherfall’ and ‘Colorless’ in 2014, released on Bass Explorer‘s label Sup Yo! And Liquicity Records, respectively. His 2017 EP ‘The Cure,’ however, dropped on Liquicity, truly marked a momentous shift in his music career, releasing a flurry of bangers on labels such as Hospitality, Monstercat, and UKF and a slew of festival appearances in Europe and the US.
In 2020 dropped the Flite moniker in favour of Justin Hawkes, arising like a phoenix from the ashes with roof-tearing releases ‘Lift Off The Roof’ (D&B Arena) and ‘The Underground’. He channelled his experiences in the US rave scene with songs such as ‘IJDK’ and a remix for REAPER‘s ‘Barricade’. And even though these releases were incredibly successful, the controversy surrounding the Flite moniker, with personal attacks against Hawkes’ honour during a global pandemic and huge politically uncertain times, left a serious mark – one that he would explore on his debut album ‘Existential.’
“Existential manifests as a self-portrait. It weaves between my thoughts, philosophy, and history, both within my career as a Drum & Bass artist in America and internally through the unknown future. The title itself represents the existential scenarios that have formed who I am, exploring my journey through crisis, the weight and forgotten wisdom of the past, and even the sometimes-comedic power of being an outlier.”Justin Hawkes
Having grown up in a small town in Virginia, Justin wasn’t born into the DnB scene. Influences such as Justin’s early stint in his school’s marching band playing trumpet and his love for blues, rock, jazz, folk, and gaming, have found their way onto the album. His family was deeply entrenched in more ‘traditional’ American music genres such as Country and Americana, with his uncle Andrew Hellier playing guitar for Modern Yesterday and Rotoglow. His family and his family’s influences can be heard on the standout single ‘Better Than Gold,’ featuring none other than his uncle on vocals and father on mandolin and acoustic guitar. If there was ever a genre-busting tune, this Country Rock-meets-DnB would be it.
But it’s not all fun and games – ‘Existential’ explores deeper themes, such as the idea that humanity is encouraging its own extinction and what it means to be alive at a time when the world feels like it’s collapsing in on itself. Tragedy, humanity is one such track that describes the many beautiful yet tragic paradoxes humans go through or create for themselves.
Featuring 15 tracks that showcase Hawkes’ flawless and diverse style as a producer, ‘Existential’ feels less like an album and more like a sonic journey through the artist’s psyche. From the opening notes of tracks like ‘Inheritance’ and ‘Arbiter’ (featuring PAV4N from Foreign Beggars), which convey power and intensity, to the more mellow and rock-infused ‘The End of an Empire,’ Hawkes brings a fix for an extensive palette of emotions.
“I’m a big film guy, often leaning towards the existential questions and mysterious possibilities of human progress. The organic and moving sounds of composers like Jon Hopkins and Hans Zimmer really interest me as well, and that played a key part in my mindset while producing the album. I am pleased that ‘Existential’ as a body of work grasps the essence of what makes me think, feel, and makes me myself, all within a musical format I am exceptionally passionate about.”Justin Hawkes
To bring 2022 to a close for us and to celebrate the release of Justin’s ‘Existential’ LP, he has recorded and exclusive mix for our Renegade Riddims series. The mix features music from the likes of himself (obviously!), Noisia, Camo & Krooked, Delta Heavy, Reaper, IMANU, Hadley, Mat Zo, Bensley, Mefjus, Kanine, Teddy Killerz and loads more!
Make sure you grab yourself a copy of Justin’s album ‘Existential’ which is out now via UKF’s Pilot. from here!
Check out Justin Hawkes’ mix below and download it for free here! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Sum up this mix in 10 words…
A real melting pot of vibe riders and tangy bangers.
What’s your personal favourite track on it?
My personal favourite track on there is probably Oakwite – Technology, that’s an absolute weapon.
What’s the special ingredient in this mix?
The secret ingredient is definitely the tech-flavoured modern sounds mixing with melodic tunes.
Tell us about your next EP.
I’ve just finished my debut album, so I’m eager to spend some time discovering where my mind might take me next in music, and which challenges I should set for myself.
What have you got coming up?
I’m just about to play Countdown NYE in San Bernardino California for Insomniac on New Year’s Eve, and 2023 is already loading up with gigs. Going to be a very busy year!
When was the last time you actually raved?
If we’re talking RAVE rave, I haven’t actually had the chance to go to anything super underground in a long time! It’s been a minute, that’s for sure! Blessed to have played a ton of sick events in the last few years.
And finally, do you have a special message for our readers?
Just want to give love to everyone listening out there, and go check out my debut album ‘Existential’ on UKF’s Pilot Records! Big up!
Justin Hawkes – Existential
Camo & Krooked – Atlas
Flowidus Ft. Muroki – Answer
Maduk – Fire Away (Fred V Remix)
Delta Heavy – Heartbeat
Justin Hawkes – Tragedy, Humanity
Wilkinson – Keep Dancing
Insideinfo & Hybrid Minds – Beneath
Turno & Ben Snow – Judge Rinder
Sigma – Can’t Get Enough ft. Taet (Sigma VIP)
Hoax – Crowd Control
Sub Focus & Wilkinson – Freedom (Sub Focus x Wilkinson x High Contrast Remix)
Reaper – XLR8 (Audioscribe Remix)
Justin Hawkes – IJDK
Tantrum Desire – Bass In The Place
Oakwite – Technology
Justin Hawkes – Cadence
Hadley – Chasing Dreams
Millbrook – Broken Love
Skrillex & Habstrakt – Chicken Soup (Flite Flip)
Dossa & Locuzzed – Shag
IMANU – Nonplus (Skantia Remix)
Ultraviolence – Minionz
Justin Hawkes – Lift Off The Roof
Hugh Hardie – Late Night Harp
Mat Zo – Games
Kanine – The Shadows
Justin Hawkes – The Underground
BRK & Bacon – Obsession (L-Side Remix)
Justin Hawkes – Heliocycle
Mefjus – Hear Me (ft. Flowanastasia)
Teddy Killerz – Night Train
Justin Hawkes – Better Than Gold (ft. Andrew Hellier)
Noisia – Anomaly
Justin Hawkes – Neverafter
Netsky & Stargate – Nobody (Lexurus Bootleg)
Virtual Self – Ghost Voices (Justin Hawkes Bootleg)
Audioscribe – Here To Stay
T & Sugah & Zazu – Lost On My Own (Flite Remix)
Bensley – Roll The Dice
Justin Hawkes – Black Bloc
Justin Hawkes – Arbiter (Ft. PAV4N)
RL Grime – Core (Flite Bootleg)
Muzz – The Warehouse (Justin Hawkes Remix)
The Prodigy – Breathe (Mefjus & Camo & Krooked Remix)
Synergy – Vortex
Tom Finster – Sinner