Born in London, and growing up between the capital and Suffolk, Marquis Hawkes led somewhat of an outsider existence whilst growing up. Existing at the fringes of his peer group, he was drawn towards the alternative side of youth culture. Taking in reggae, punk and psychedelic rock as a youngster, he was bitten by the house bug after hearing the likes of D-Mob and Armando in 1988. His alternative outlook and passion for house and techno drew him towards free parties and festivals, and he cut his teeth DJing whilst living as a New Age traveller at illegal events in the mid-90s. Surviving on food discarded by supermarkets, he would spend his dole cheque on records.
Sleeping on borrowed sofas and in blagged squats, he started producing in 1997, on borrowed equipment and blagged studio time, and against the backdrop of the Midlands’ underground house soundsystem scene. Releasing under his birth name, Mark Hawkins, most notably on Dutch label Djax-Up-Beats, gave him the opportunity to DJ on techno’s lesser-explored frontiers. Moving between Europe and the UK during a few years of moderate success, he settled in Berlin for its less pressurised existence, leaving his aspirations for his music career to one side.
When old friends at Dixon Avenue Basement Jams came knocking for demos a few years later, the label was conceived as a “fun thing”, without any great sales expectations. Mark adopted his new moniker - a slight twist on his given name - and concealed his face in press shots, in order that his latest music be judged free of expectation from and comparison to his previous output. The quality of his releases was evident to listeners, but their success, and that of the label, came as quite a surprise to all involved. Marquis Hawkes soon found himself in demand, with labels like Clone and Aus tapping him up for 12”s, before a relationship with Houndstooth blossomed, a series of EPs leading up to the release of his highly-acclaimed debut artist album ‘Social Housing’.
Throughout his life, Marquis Hawkes has always made music, without taking any view to its success. He’s developed a very particular ear for the sound he wants to make - funky, but with a punk ethos. He explains his outlook best himself: “I feel music to my very core, an endless love affair where I am always searching for something better than I’ve heard already, whilst also celebrating the classic tunes and styles which have been made before.”