El Hardwick: The ‘Shine A Light On’ Mix
El Hardwick’s musical endeavours centre around a series of themes close to their heart.
Working across several disciplines – music, photography, writing and directing – El seeks to examine the connection between bodies and their environments, queer world making practices and ways in which we can heal.
While their visual work has spawned collaborations and commissions for the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Adidas and Little Simz, alongside features in Vogue, Dazed, Crack and more, their music has been housed on releases for West Friends, Desire Lines and, most recently, 33-33.
After shedding their former moniker, Moonbow, in favour of their own name, El has shaped a healing, multi-layered sound that draws on stirring ambient, crystallised IDM and downtempo breaks.
You can hear this blend of immersive flavours across last year’s LP, 8, which marked the first full release El shared under their name. Their latest project is a remix package of that debut album. El has called on a stellar roster of artists to rework the tracks, including 96 Back, Tony Njoku and Laura Misch, with all the profits being split equally between We Exist, whose trans* hardship fund directly supports trans people in need, and surgery recovery costs for O, a trans non-binary artist and driving force in London’s queer and trans communities.
Ahead of the release tomorrow, El softens the edges with a mix of ambient textures and meditative soundscapes to rejuvenate us before the weekend…
Please introduce yourself… Who are you, where are you and what are you
My name is El Hardwick and my pronouns are they/them. I’m a musician, photographer and multidisciplinary artist currently based in South London.
What does your music sound like? Can you draw what you think it sounds like for us (an image from the old internet is acceptable)?
I think this painting that my friend Theo created whilst listening to my music sums it up pretty well.
Where was the mix recorded?
In my bedroom.
What would be the ideal setting to listen to the mix?
Laying on the grass looking up at the clouds, or sitting on a plane looking down at the clouds.
What should we be wearing?
What would be your dream setting to record a mix: Location/system/format?
I love recording mixes in solitude – anywhere surrounded by nature always brings inspiration. I also love making mixes for night time car journeys.
Which track in the mix is your current favourite?
I included two tracks from Inhmost’s album ‘The Meaning Of…’ which came out last year on Swiss label re:st. I wish I could have included the whole album in the mix – I only discovered it a couple of weeks ago when I was searching out ambient music to listen to whilst studying for my horticulture exams. It has managed to keep the perfect balance between pulsating, lush, psychedelic textures – yet lots of space and room to breathe.
What’s your favourite recorded mix of all time?
I couldn’t possibly choose one, but I consistently return to Nadia Khan’s mix for c-, Wanderelle’s The Memoir mix (composed entirely of their own productions), CCL live at The Lodge and all of my friend Sybil’s Deep Mind Music mixes.
If you could go back to back with any DJ from throughout history, who would it be and why?
This is a boring answer, but I don’t enjoy going B2B with anyone that I don’t have a close, trusting friendship with. My current relationship to DJing is also very much focussed around recording (specifically, ambient-leaning) mixes, rather than playing out. I really enjoy doing this in solitude, and the careful planning that goes into creating these worlds – I approach it quite similarly to production and want everything to key-match and transition in the correct moments, so selecting tracks on the fly doesn’t generally work for me.
What was your first DJ set up at home and what is it now?
My first set up was Virtual DJ. Currently it’s an XDJ-RX2, which I love, as it’s so easy to transport and to record straight to USB.
What’s more important, the track you start on or the track you end on?
When recording a mix, it’s definitely the track I start with – it’s always a tricky choice as it will dictate where the whole mix is going to go and the pace it takes. It always feels much more instinctive when the mix is telling me it should end. I do feel like playing out though, the opposite is true.
The first vinyl I bought was ‘Birthday’ by The Sugarcubes when I was 16. I think my most recent was Pies Sobre La Tierra by Mabe Fratti – I’m quite precious with what I buy on vinyl these days. This album by Mabe is a favourite, so it was such an honour that she’s since played cello on my most recent track.
If this mix was an edible thing, what would it taste like?
Figs and honey.
If it was an animal what would it be?
A purring cat.
One record in your collection that is impossible to mix into anything?
Sooo many, because my favourite music isn’t really made for mixing at all. Stuff that’s in unconventional keys, changes tempo, has strange time signatures, is acoustic. Every time I plan a mix there’s also hundreds of tracks I hope to include that just don’t logically find a place within the sequence. I actually can’t believe that ‘Intrope’ by Nadia Struiwigh made it into this mix, as I’ve been trying to put it in one for years!
Upcoming in the world of …
On 8 July, I will be releasing an EP of remixes from my debut album ‘8’, on 33-33. Titled ‘8 Remixes’, it features reworks by Tony Njoku, Tiiva, Nailah Hunter, gaïko (AKA Tsugi), Memory Play (AKA ASTRYD), Laura Misch, 96 Back and Ciel. I’ve also just released a single titled ‘Body Memory’ featuring Mabe Fratti on cello, and I’m currently finishing up work on my second album.