Seamlessly weaving between DJ, producer, label head and once promoter, Hardt Antoine’s artistic credentials have been cutting boldly through the electronic music scene. His eclectic sound muses many genres resulting in productions and record selections that blend exciting melodies, sprinkles of vocals and an abundance of groove – all underpinned with raw, electronic drums.
Hardt Antoine had a strong start to 2023 with a string of power releases including heading up Innervisions annual Secret Weapon compilation, a long-awaited EP on Kompakt Records, and a heavily anticipated 3 track release on Exit Strategy. We recently caught up with the Londoner of French and Jamaican descent following his latest release “What’s Cool” on Labyrinth Records.
WWD: Hi Antoine! Firstly, we would love to know some of your inspirations for creating music?
As is the nature of any DJ, I spend a lot of time listening to music. Not only electronic club music, which I do in fact listen to all the time, but different sounds and styles. 80s Pop, Modern Classical and 90s hip hop have been in my headphones the most recently. When I feel musically overwhelmed, I’ll go and see some art shows, watch abstract movies or find some YouTube documentaries about great artists I admire or discover some I don’t know.
WWD: As well as making music you’re running the label and event series Reculture, co-running Anemos Dance and performing regular DJ sets. Do you find different aspect of your work clash or complement each other?
I ask myself this often. It’s actually why I haven’t done any line-up based events since the Pandemic – I was doing too much and something had to be stripped back. Working on music from different perspectives can make you see things you may otherwise not fully understand. I find only through DJing can you really understand how club music should work whilst running events is a great way to stay in touch with The Scene and can be an amazing networking tool.
The crossover is usually a positive thing but if you’re not careful it can be detrimental too. For example; thinking too much like a producer in a DJ environment can make you detach from the crowd, and thinking too much like a promoter when running a label can damage artistic integrity. Like everything – it’s all about balance!
WWD: Your recent release on Labyrinth Records ‘What’s Cool’ touches on several genres of music. What were some of your influences for the lead track?
I was listening to some early 90s hip hop records and was inspired by the MPC sampling of funk breaks. The drums and vocals came as a direct result playing with that workflow, a very quick jam on my synths brought the bass, atmospherics and melodic lead. This one actually came together much faster than most – usually a good sign for me!
WWD: You released with Labyrinth Records last year with Awa Power, do you see ‘What’s Cool’ being a continuation of that in any way at all?
Interestingly enough this was initially one big EP! Together we had this idea of releasing one super eclectic record – the kind of thing I love to do and see. Next, the remix interest came, followed by the wonderful Awa Power remixes by Henri Bergmann, Picpoul and Aera. The Labyrinth crew and I decided the right thing to do was to split the release in two. Being me, I ended up taking it back to the studio so “Too Late” has been completely re-worked since then.
WWD: You have recently released music on Innervisions, Kompakt and Correspondant. How did you get on the radar of some of the scene’s top labels and how does it feel working with them?
Honestly – it’s been so surreal. These are my absolute favorite independent labels and I can’t believe I have music on them! When writing I always avoid the rabbit hole of overthinking about labels or who will like it but, but when dreaming about releasing music – this was really best case scenario.
“Getting on the labels” has really been a case of investing and working hard in the scene, trying to portray authenticity on a personal and creative level, and following up with a LOT of music. I’ve built personal and individual relationships with label heads and met them each through completely different channels. After that it’s been a case of sending a literal mountain of regular and exclusive demos to them each, as well as staying in touch when possible.
WWD: What shows do you have coming up and what can we expect from them?
DJing has always been my first love. E=In early spring I took a short DJ break for personal commitments but I’m back in full swing now. I was just in Milano headlining Volt, and in Berlin at Kater Blau over the weekend. I’m back in Berlin soon for Else, as well as heading to Istanbul for Klein Garten, Mykonos for my home out there Moni, and Paris. Also a return to Fabric London and something awesome in Tel Aviv to announce very soon.
WWD: What’s next for Hardt Antoine?
Lots in the pipework. Firstly there is a lot of music still to come out – I have a regular and full release schedule for the year as well as a lot of gigs and shows. There are also releases happening on both Reculture and Anemos Dance and I also have some very cool announcements of things happening in London to look forward to!