VF Mix: Marion Hawkes (Sound Advice)

By in Features





Italo heaters from the Belfast record store.

Having founded Belfast vinyl hotspot Sound Advice in 2021, Marion Hawkes has made a name for herself as an ambassador and fine curator of electronic music. Nominated for DJ Mag’s 2023 Underground Hero award, Hawkes is a vital part of Belfast’s scene, opening her doors to DJs, local artists and casual listeners every day.

Armed with the music lover’s dream that is Sound Advice’s huge record wall, Hawkes joins us for a vinyl-only VF Mix filled with Italo to get you dancing.


Tell me a bit about your selections for the mix.

I haven’t gone for anything too mad or obscure here with my picks, just straight-up party mode classics!

In a sea of overly serious musos, Italo is such a fun genre. The mix of hi-NRG, punchy synths, computer music, and perhaps a vocoder. It’s all the right ingredients for me. It used to be a guilty pleasure, but Italo has had a mad resurgence in the past 5 years, with a ton of Italo parties being thrown. Great energy lifters and will stick a smile on dancers’ faces.

When did your experience collecting vinyl begin?

Around 1996, when I borrowed pocket money from Dad to buy a set of basic decks and my first armful of records, that was it. The fire was lit.

So many of the indie record shops were closing then, and it was quite hard to source dance music aside from a few shops (Dr Robert’s & Mixmaster). I used to take the train down to Dublin regularly and trips over to London, which was the mecca for record shops with Soho and Berwick Street being the hotspot for diggers.

What does vinyl mean to you?

Escapism. In my teens, I had a fairly turbulent home life and sitting in my room listening to records was my getaway. It sounds very naff, but it means more. It’s a very personal thing, record collecting. Collecting, in general, is a very niche thing to that person, whatever it may be. Not to put emotions onto an inanimate object, but yeah. Music gets you through the week at work and it’s the thing that is your end goal at the weekend. I think we all need something to be passionate about. For me, that’s vinyl. I’ve gone through a few waves of collecting, but since opening the shop, it’s properly engulfed me. Much to the disdain of my partner!

As a record store owner, how do you find new records to stock?

Weekly foraging of the new release lists and pre-orders, but I also get turned onto stuff from people I admire posting online, from mixes to their finds, purchases and tips.

Sometimes they come directly from the artists or label. That’s a really nice part of the industry is making those connections. Second-hand sourcing is always a challenge, especially to get interesting or obscure titles. People get in touch with the shop or myself, or it can be as simple as someone dropping by with a few batches.

The dream is to go on a sourcing trip somewhere jazzy and find a goldmine of disco private presses, obscure Italo & early ’90s techno.

Listen to the mix in the player above, view the tracklist below, and read on for some more handpicked selections from Hawkes herself.


Helen – Zanzibar
Silver Pozzoli – Around My Dream (Extended)
Brian Ice – Talking To The Night (7″ version)
Radiators – I Am Sure
John Carpenter – The End (Assault On Precinct 13) (Pt1 Disco Version)
Gaz Nevada – I.C. Love Affair (Italian Version)
Gary Low – Equador
Plastic Mode – Mi Amor (12″ Version)
Lama – Love on the Rocks
The Maxx – Cocaine
LOUI$ – Magic Dance (Disco Mix)


“Love On the Rocks”

Best Record Italy

I’ve loved this track for an age but only picked it up recently on vinyl thanks to Best Record Italy, which is one of the best reissue labels around. System Olympia played it in Belfast and it was legitimately such a happy moment getting to hear it on a big club system.

One of the real elite Italo tracks, it’s got all the elements to elevate the soul.

Silver Pozzoli

“Turn My Dream Around”

Many Records

A track that sums up the cheesiness of the genre, but still has great keys and a super catchy vocal.

The video is gloriously bad dancers doing high kicks while Silver looks like he’s been glued to the floor. You should check it out on YouTube.

Gaz Nevada

“I.C. Love Affair”

 ZYX Records

Another long-time favourite, a sleazy breathy chorus over a chuggy disco beat sounding anything but formulaic. A real masterpiece of the genre. It’s all so continental sounding–“oooh 77, oooh she gave me heaven”. 

It’s been rinsed by Ron Hardy at the Music Box, so obviously, it’s going to be a winner.

The Radiators

“I Am Sure”

Mothball Records

I’m a fan of Aussie Italo digger Hysteric and came across this reissue on his Mothball label.

Sometimes you get turned on to a release through artists you follow or admire, you put a real trust in their taste and you just go with it. It’s such an organic way of finding new stuff. I’ve gone for the Moretti remix, which jazzes up the original slightly. A hi-NRG nighttime drive through ’80s Miami.

John Carpenter

“The End (Assault On Precinct 13) (Pt1 Disco Version)”

Sye Records

Italo is not all cheddar and brie, elements of synth wave & new beat also were employed to great effect.

John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 gets the dark disco treatment.