The Idle Man sat down with Hospital Records' head-honcho, London Elektricity, ahead of his set at The Masked Ball Festival, Cornwall.
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Few people have done more for the drum & bass scene than Tony Colman, better known as London Elekricity. Having founded Hospital Records 20 years ago, London Elektricity has always placed huge importance on pushing the scene forward, discovering fresh sounds and introducing the world to the brightest of young talent. Over those 20 years he has also helped to develop some of the scene's most respected and established artists such as High Contrast, Logistics, Camo & Krooked and Danny Byrd.
With a real desire to keep pushing the scene forward and focusing on the future of both Hospital Records and Med School, Tony's also overseen the recruitment of some of the most exciting artists in drum & bass at the moment. Artists like Etherwood, Keeno, The Erised, Metrik and Urbandawn all promise an exciting time ahead for both imprints. With a packed summer ahead of shows and some highly anticipated releases on the horizon, we were lucky enough to grab 20 minutes with the man himself to talk 2016, 20 years of Hospital Records and a big summer BBQ.
London Elektricity plays The Masked Ball festival on 20th - 22nd May in Porthleven, Cornwall. For more information and tickets please visit: http://summer.maskedball.net/
First off, 2016, how’s it been so far? Any major highlights?
It’s been a very busy year working on so many different projects that are really exciting. I’m kind of like a dad when it comes to my artists and don’t favour any of them over others but one artist I’m really happy for this year is Logistics who’s released his 5th album and has hit the Radio 1Xtra A list which is great for someone so far in their career. I think you can speak to anyone within the drum n bass scene and they’d tell you he fully deserves it - he’s such a great guy.
Keeno is another artist who’s doing so well, he just makes the most unusual and complex drum n bass but everyone really gets it. Then we’ve got the events side of things and we’re really excited for the BBQ Hospitality In The Park in Finsbury Park in London. We’ve done it for a couple of years now in Greenwich in Studio 338 and this year we just wanted to do it in the biggest, coolest spot in London and couldn’t think of anywhere better than Finsbury Park – it’s perfect for that sort of event.
It’s 20 years of Hospital Records this year – how has the label developed in that time?
It’s quite mad actually, we aren’t celebrating the 20th year quite so much as we are the 21st – we’re going for the traditional birthday years. It’s a great milestone but we’re so busy concentrating on building the future and looking forward that we rarely get the time to sit back and really reflect on the past. We never could’ve guessed we’d be at this point when we started this all.
You’ve got some really exciting talent on the likes of Med School with Keeno and Etherwood – what artists most excite you?
I’m always excited by something that’s new and fresh and just totally different to everything else out there – finding that is my personal motivation to do what I do. There’s The Erised, a live band from Kiev in Ukraine, who are extraordinarily creative musicians and they’ve got their debut LP which I cannot wait for.
We’ve then got various artists from around the world which we’re starting to really champion through our compilations, we’ve done the States and next we’ll be doing Brazil so watch out for that. Krakota is another artist that I’m always impressed by, he’s got his debut album forthcoming and I’m in the privileged position where I can play his tracks before they’re released and they’re getting really good reactions. Fred V & Grafix also have their second album coming out and Camo & Krooked played Brixton last Friday which gave us a chance to listen to their new material, it's sounding great!
It's a big year for drum & bass albums – what ones are you most excited about?
Last year was a very big year for drum n bass albums as well and this year we have Metrik finishing off his second LP. Another artist I love is Urbandawn who we signed about a year ago – he has everything in his skill set; complex melodies, amazing chord sequences and a great energy – I’m really excited to hear his full album.
Hospital always pushes for new and fresh sounds but what makes a 'Hospital tune'?
Exactly what you said really. It has to be different and bring something new to the table, it’s what we ask of all of our artists, whether we’ve just signed them or they’ve been here for years, we want them to really express themselves and be individuals. It’s so important to have that or the scene and our label would never develop.
Idle HQ are big fans of the Fast Soul Music compilation, how would you define 'Fast Soul Music' as a sound?
I guess it’s a basic way of describing our sound and attitude to the music we push. Obviously the fast bit comes from the speed of drum & bass but the soul element is more the feeling behind the music. Soul means a lot of different things to different people but in this context it’s the emotion behind the sound.
Every piece of music that stands the test of time will generate an emotional response from the listener and that’s what we aim for in everything we produce - from the music to the events. I’m still reeling from the passing of Prince and I think he perfectly encapsulated what it is to convey an emotion behind your music and it’s what we should all be aiming for as musicians.
You’re playing Masked Ball Festival in Cornwall, what can we expect from your set?
I’m not one of these artists that plays the same set everywhere I go, I get bored very easily and have a very low boredom threshold so, to keep myself interested, I like to play all types of styles from the drum & bass spectrum. I like to have fun with my sets and then hopefully that means everyone will be enjoying it as much as I am – I hope they do anyway!
Where else can we catch you playing?
We’ve got a really packed summer of Hospitality shows with lots of festivals including We Are FSTVL at the end of May then a full Australia and New Zealand tour before our closing open air show of the year with Hospitality in the Park. So I’m going to be very busy from May onwards – I can’t wait. (Read London Elektricity's full schedule below)
21/05 - Cornwall - Masked Ball
28/05 - Southampton - Common People
29/05 - Oxford - Common People
3-12/06 - Hospitality Aus/NZ Tour
01/07 - Weisen, Austria - NU:FORMS
02/07 - Bristol - Hospitality BBQ
08/07 - Balanton, Hungary - Balaton Sound
28/07 - Milovice, CZ - Let It Roll
29/07 - Standon - Hospitality @ Standon Calling
31/07 - Kendall - Hospitality @ Kendall Calling
You’ve had the privilege of playing all over the world. Where has the best drum & bass scene in the world for you?
Outside of London, the two cities that instantly spring to mind for having a true love of drum & bass, particularly per head of population, would be Perth and Prague. The parties over there are brilliant and full of people that just love the music more than anything else. It’s great to see.