Kirsty Hawkshaw is likely one of the most influential, and certainly one of the longest standing “dance divas” in the industry.
From initial global success as part of Opus 111, to a long string of collaborations and solo releases, Kirsty has maintained an extremely high standard of music and personal influence within the true electronic dance music scene.
Kirsty has been mostly known as having a voice of an angel, with the looks to match, but by all rights is an amazing producer herself.
Recently I spoke with her, initially curious about her involvements with mutual friends of ours, little did I know that there is far more to Kirsty than meets the eye ( and ear ), and it’s all amazing!
So here is a most revealing and in depth interview with an amazing artist, vocalist and all round positive person that, I for one, am very honoured to have come into contact with:
1-you have always been involved in underground dance music culture. Please tell us what your first” rave” experience was like and how it shaped your own musical output.?
My first ever rave was was called ‘Sunrise’. I remember it so vividly.
I was REALLY pissed off with my boyfriend who had come all the way to London from Cornwall and didn’t want to see me instead wanted to go out with his brother, I remember feeling that i’d had enough of being dicked about by Men.
I have to admit he made me feel very insecure. As far as the rave scene goes I was quite ‘anti rave’ at the time and anti drugs because I was more of a 4AD girl and thought ravers were a bit idiotic, I was quite negative in some ways.
However I was also quite stuck inside myself and had hunched shoulders from being a repressed 80’s secretarial girl.
A mate of mine Mark phoned up all excited and said COME RAVING WE’RE GOING TO SUNRISE TONIGHT. In the end I thought YES i’m going, the energy was electric.
As I walked into the rave, I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing. It was lil Louis “French Kiss “who was in the charts at the time and the minute I walked in I started dancing, I ended up dancing the whole night and didn’t stop.
I had some guaruana on me and was ‘raw’ too, so had eaten apples all day and had tons of energy. So there I was dancing the whole night on apples and guaruana and when the Beloved’s sunrising came on I remember having tears in my eyes and feeling so united with everybody and everthing around me it was my wake up call, my epiphany and from there one I was officially a raver and still am.
It was total electronic shamanism, dancing all night and really dancing authentically. The first rave song I ever wrote was called ‘Outsiders’ and I wrote the demo on my 4 track. It came out over 15 years later with Jose Amnesia and Tenishia. The cosmic gate mix was the one that took off.
Now a days it’s all about worshipping the DJ and the spirit is a bit lost, it’s no where near how it used to be. I want to bring the ‘pocket group’ vibe back where little tribes form and help each other keep it small and real rather than big and theatrical, something always gets lost when it gets like that, and someone always gets a bit greedy and it usually goes tits up eventually.
2-it seems you take health very seriously, you’ve mentioned spirulina, guarana and raw foods. We like to advocate healthy diets on zaclaurent dot com, please tell us how choosing an “energy diet” can improve ones quality of life!
Raw foods have been a great part of my life for a very long time now.
When I was about 18 years old I got ill with toxic overload due to junk food, too much partying, and drinking cheap beer and being a psychobilly didn’t help either because we used to consume loads of thunderbird.
I would eventually end up with a ton of intolerances including hairspray, tar fumes, and make-ups. I was lucky to be sent to a very brilliant Dr called Dr Shyam Singha (my parents used to go to him). He put me on a grape fast for a week (nothing else but grapes and hot water and lemon) followed by a raw food diet for a month – all raw nothing cooked.
I went through a massive detox and noticed that my consciousness changed for the better. I had a cleaner body and cleaner thoughts and a cleaner and fresher outlook on life in general. It was the start of my searching for more spiritual enlightenment I guess.
I then discovered Sahaja yoga and devoted myself to Shri Mataji’s teachings. I think she saved me to be honest because she was the kind of Mother figure I needed in my life to stop going off the rails. Some people find it and then go clean, I got clean and then followed the laws of attraction, it worked well and I was lead by my instincts to people who were good for me and sensitive.
I used to call it ‘rave food’ because it gave me tons of energy and people thought I was on a special pill.
Eventually though after 2 years of very clean detoxing I got in with a different crowd and experimented with acid and E. I have no regrets on that and explored my mind always balancing things during the week with sensible foods, raw foods, and loads of sprouted stuff.
I am now 44 years old and eat a diet that is probably about 90% raw now. I also teach every fortnight at the Bagnall Center in Chesham. It is a center for integrated healthcare. Following natures rule is always the best way if you want more energy, to look good, and to feel superb. My only poison now is red wine I guess that comes with maturity :).
3- Wow! That’s a powerful lifestyle you have and an inspiring story. What attracted you to Shri Matajis teachings and which of her practices do you follow?
Would you also say that your diet and spirituality help you with your music?
Well, it’s quite an easy question to answer really. For years I had a difficult and challenging relationship with my Mum who is a wonderful person and who I love very much, however my Mother chose the ‘Mormon Faith’ as her spiritual path in life, then my Dad joined, then my brother joined and I left as soon as I possibly could because I didn’t believe a word of it. This was disappointing for my family of course 🙂
I always was in tune with nature as a kid, always in the woods listening to the trees, making fires, meeting my friends on time without a mobile phone, and I am so grateful to have had those life experiences during my developmental years , I always felt vibrations, and true spirituality as more of an energy that exudes from somebody who is speaking the truth.
I even dowse now if I have doubts about certain decisions, I trust it works for me and always listen to my instincts. Nobody can fool me anymore or seduce me – i’m 44 years old and I now have the right to say no and stand by that and if I say yes I mean it.
I was 20 years old when I saw Shri Mataji’s photograph I was overwhelmed and had to meet her as soon as possible, she was like a Mother figure for me because in some ways she was kindly strict and I needed somebody like that in my life at the time to guide me because I was rebelling against the Mormons.
It’s very hard when your whole family follow a faith that they are so adamant is the only way and you have chosen not to for many many logistical reasons – I can’t explain what or why it happened but something inside me just knew that Shri Mataji was going to be a huge part of my life as a guide.
I found her when I was 20 years old and listened to her words for 3 years on a daily basis, she talked of Christ, Buddah, Mohammed, Krishna, and all the great deities being part of our evolution and that they were all relevant incarnations.
This made sense to me more than anything else I had heard because clearly religion sets people off each other and makes people blind, however so many of the teachings of the great incarnations are important for us to understand because ,when you strip it down it’s all the same thing!
We need to have boundaries, we need to have certain rules to not go off the rails, self discipline etc.. . She was with me all the way through the opus III days and I wouldn’t have coped with the fame had it not been for her by my side all the way, she is my spiritual Mother and always will be – she died two days before my third child was born.
I don’t follow Sahaja Yoga strictly, it’s not that straight forward life and I try to be as good a person as I can but I still have emotional stuff to work through and I do that through my music.
I don’t allow anything to restrict that process and if people start telling me what to do or how to feel I just want to say ‘stop projecting and get your own ship in order’.
As an artist I tend to attract different types of people into my life. I have some incredibly beautiful sensitive, highly sensitive people and empaths who I’ve been able to really open up to and share more of myself with, they have followed my music a long time and I consider them to be family now.
I have no time for right sided dominating, self righteous, religion or judgemental idiots who are ego lead with their lack of clarity and compassion, I find that energy very tough to be around and slither off like a snake to hide under a cool rock somewhere.
I think it’s good to work at being positive, but never fake it, always ‘deal with your true feelings’. The mind is a complex thing and I get very irritated with fake positivity, there is no depth to that and quite irritating when somebody is clearly hiding something they need to release for the sake of keeping up appearances.
I have had to learn to accept that not everybody wants to ‘talk’ and they are not comfortable opening up in the way musicians and artists are able to express themselves.
I have also accepted that some people are quite happy being content with very mundane and mainstream lifestyle and who am I do think I know better.
All these issues that are so clear in our society come up and out in my music. I think we need to develop the qualities of empathy, compassion, acceptance, and stop fighting and competing but learn to accept people for who they are and try and work it all out.
The only time I have truly felt ‘god’ was when I was meditating. I would say it was more pleasant meditating with a thousand people in India once than being on psychedelics though which I also tried at one point, thats a bit relentless after a while and I would always recommend raw food and meditation over taking hardcore psychedelics.
Take the long road but get permanent rewards.
The brain and the mind have neural pathways that are habitual in how they form, and we need to slowly and calmly take our time to form beautiful neural pathways adorned with flowers and lovely shady woods with birds singing, vivid colours that remain in our consciousness, and friendships that sustain us on that path.
If we blast our nervous systems from A to Z by caning drugs and nasty cheap alcohol, we miss the scenic route along the way and often end up in tricky situations..
You may get a little glimpse of the end of the tunnel while on a high but then it’s straight back to hell. Mother taught me all these things and I listened to her and allowed her to guide me.
4-what do you see is your role in the modern electronica scene?
My role is to carry on as usual. I’ve been in this scene for over 20 years now and can’t be fooled.
I see myself as a bit of a Mum in the scene (but please call me Milf ok!) My role is to sniff out some true talent out there and use my history and already established profile to highlight that fresh talent and give them a chance to shine with me.
I use my discretion and life experience to make the right choices now because the whole industry has changed. Nobody can tell me whats ‘current’ – i’ve seen it all and heard it all, i’m into real culture.
I am focusing my creativity and energy now on working with light workers who want to make music for healing the planet and all the pain and suffering, to offer some kind of balm to peoples ears throughout these very difficult times.
I’ve had years and years of self indulgent emotional workouts – thats done and dusted for the time being.
I am now ready to apply spiritual self discipline in all that I do, I like working with nice people and I don’t care about selling thousands of copies, my approach to music is about forming a tribe – a spiritual tribe, having gatherings for fun not ego or recognition, I am not making music to get famous or to be a celebrity – I find all that a bit naff and useless to the greater need that is clearly obvious for our society.
The kids have a difficult time ahead of them, our society is totally screwed up with all the bullshit messages the media feeds them and brain washes them with. It’s all there to keep them under control, but you know things are changing and some are finding their way out of this trap.
My role is to tune into all of this, to nurture, offer something comforting, and try and raise the vibrations a bit in all that I do, music is a universal language and as a music maker I apply this rule now – to try lift the roof a bit.
5- the project with Bassflo seems exciting, what can we expect from this collaboration?
I met Bassflo which was randomly one night in Torquay. It was a full blue moon that night and the energy was high already.
I was on holiday with my husband and kids in Torquay staying with friends, and Bassflo and Ulrich Schnauss and Aural Imbalance were doing a night down there which I had no idea about.
I randomly phoned Ulrich to find out about a roland 303 machine because I was in a nostalgic mood and wanted to invest in one. He then told me he would be back the following week as he was in Torquay, I was like ‘WTF YOUR in Torquay??? So am I! He invited me out and that night I met Bassflo who had come all the way from Birmingham. It was magic.
I have also really connected to Ziyal who lives in Sweden and works with Bassflo and he is also very much involved in our collaboration. It’s a very special time for all of us because it seems like we are seeking the same things out of life and that intention reflects on the music we are making.
What you can expect is that intention and that vibe in our sound – spirit.
6- you do a lot of live performances, I respect that. Many performances these days are based upon a “superstar” Dj miming behind the decks…how does it feel to be right up there on stage vibing the crowd?
I love singing live. I mix up my own sets and sing over them. I’ve recently realised that if I am to get more gigs though I need to learn how to DJ and sing at the same time, so thats a plan i’m sorting out.
Luckily my friend who happens to be a really good DJ and is a woman ‘DJ Anna Kiss’ has literally become a new neighbour! She is going to teach me how to DJ properly – how convenient is that!
7-what are your future plans for your music?
I have big plans and they are in progress. I tend to keep things under my hat these days until they are ready to go 😉 unless it’s in full flow and towards the end of production.
I used to share everything all the time and realised that a bit of mystery is far more attractive than hanging your washing up for all to see.
I can proudly say that I have just finished producing another album for fitness ‘Barefoot Running’ and walking. I love running as my fitness choice and am always out in the fields and the woods with my five fingers on.
I wrote and producted 6 albums so far under :
The coach i’m working with Helen Hall is an amazing woman and taught me how to fly.
I am also producing a very sweet girl called Lii, she and I have known each other for a long time now and she writes great hooks and lyrics.
I am helping her record some songs and co/writing managing her. What I like about working with Lii is that when she comes to stay she always mucks in, does the washing up, offers to contribute to food bills, and doesn’t act like a Diva.
My kids adore her too which is great because in between breaks she plays with them while I get on with doing some editing. We have our first release coming out shortly and it’s called 4K.
Bassflo and Ziyal have done a stunning mix and the original was done with UKDoubleA. Lii and I sing together on the track though i’m more a backing vocalist on this one.
The other thing i’m doing in life is teaching. Like everybody else these days the music industry is not sustainable for a secure income so I teach raw food cuisine at a local integrated healthcare venue called the Bagnall Centre in Chesham.
My grandplan is to somehow open up a raw food cafe in my town in the hope of attracting some more open minded people to Chesham.
If you want to find out more about the benefits of raw food go to :
I got married a year ago to my wonderful husband Tim hence the Kirsty Wright name. I’ll keep Hawkshaw for my music 🙂 website still in progress but I have a facebook page which is :
Thanks Kirsty! We will be featuring stuff about most, if not all the artists she mentioned above soon!