As we’ve mentioned earlier, there was the first ever Hospitality event in Ukraine on the 21st of November and that was something you can’t possibly miss. We’ve been ultrahyped for it to the point we just couldn’t sleep for the last couple of days before it happened. Our goal from the very start, apart from enjoying the incredible atmosphere and energy, was doing an interview. At some point the hope has been lost almost completely, but thanks to the man himself, London Elektricity, who answered a facebook message of ours (which was really surprising and so nice of him) and the 22:22 crew granting us access to the backstage, we’ve got a chance to meet the whole team. As a result of it, we present to you an interview with the boss of Hospital Records and an incredible producer behind London Elektricity – Tony Colman. So let’s dive right into it and we hope you’ll enjoy the read.
You can view the Russian version of this post right here.
So, first of all, your sixth drum & bass studio album has just been released. What was the process behind this one? Was it any different compared to your other albums?
It was quite different because it’s been 4 years since my last album and the reason it’s been so long is because my label has grown and we signed artists like Netsky, Camo & Krooked, S.P.Y, Metrik and others. They all needed vocals on their tracks, so I had to write and produce their vocals for them and that took all of my creative time. At he same time, my business was growing, so, because I’m the CEO, I have to put a lot of time into the business and at one point I thought maybe my life will be easier if I stopped making music and… for about a year I tried to do that and that made me terribly depressed. I was really depressed! It was impossible.
When you are a musician, you tend to have something really powerful that drives you
So, what I did was, I’ve completely restructured the company and now I’ve got a new staff of directors, all of them are great and they’ve enabled me to have time in the studio, to make music. Thus, I’ve made my new album and I’m much happier now. My music was the reason I’ve started Hospital in the first place. So, it’s fantastic that we have about 30 artists and I’ve got a staff of about 17 people working for me and I’ve never thought it would be this big. But… it’s great, it’s giving a life to people, people who are making music. They’re actually starting to make a living out of it and that’s fantastic.
What are your thoughts on the ‘stems’ DJing technology by NI Traktor?
My album has been released in that format. Stems are cool! There’s a lot of what you can do, but it depends on the hardware. So, at the moment the problems with stems is that clubs need to buy special hardware and nobody’s got it.
Can you tell about one of the collaborations on the album? We’ve got Keeno featured in “Artificial Skin” and Hugh Hardie in “Tape Loops”. How did the work go on those?
Well, when you are composing and you’re making music, you kinda have this folder with sketches and sometimes they take years to evolve. The track with Keeno and Emer Dineen – “Artificial Skin”, I think is one of the strongest tunes on the album. But really, that sketch didn’t make it on “Yikes!” 4 years ago. But actually it started almost in 1980, that guitar riff is one of the first riffs I’ve ever writen when I was a teenager and I haven’t done anything with it until now. It’s been knocking around for ages and I just had the kind of instrumental and I gave it to Keeno and Emer and they’ve contributed greatly and we’ve pulled it all together and we’ve made a really fine track out of it.
We also know that you are getting another collaboration of yours released really soon. You did a track with Urbandawn and it’s coming on his new EP which is out on the 4th of December. What about this one?
Urbandawn is… a ridiculously talented producer. For me, in terms of his kind of sonic technique, his musicality and production he is up there with Sub Focus and Dimension, but because he lives in San Paolo people don’t really know about him. But we know what he is capable of. He makes incredible music and it’s sooo musical… the way he uses chord progressions and his Brazilian roots in that, they are really coming through. So, he sent “Cloudless” to me as a sketch and I immediately heard a vocal and I’ve heard Elsa Esmeralda singing that. I had a really good idea of how these vocals should sound. At the moment Elsa is at Gothenburg in Sweden, so I had to e-mail her the backing track and sent her an iPhone recording of me signing what I thought the vocal should do. It worked somehow. I think because we’ve worked before and we know how we both think. And she came with a beautiful vocal, it’s really anthemic and I think it’s the best thing she has done since “Just One Second”.
You can have a listen to “Cloudless” in the latest Hospital Show on Rinse.FM, which you can find here.
And we’ve already heard “Under Your Sheets” (you can find the preview in this post) from that same EP and it’s just unbelievably good and showcases all of his musicality.
Oh yeah, it’s incredible.
Speaking of another Hospital signing – Hugh Hardie. We haven’t seen his debut release yet, what’s up with that? Yeah, there was no debut release. He’s moved house and spent a long time doing that and now it’s really up to him.
D&B Arena Awards ceremony is really close. Last year you’ve got the best label award, which to our thinking, you’ve totally deserved. And this year you did even better, so no matter who will win, Hospital deserves some real love from the whole community. What do you think about the whole “awards” thing?
They are… fun! It’s fun. We never market it, we don’t ask our fans to vote for us, why would we do that? It’s just nice because everybody comes together for the night and it ends up being a really nice event.
It will be 20 years of Hospital and your career in Drum & Bass in 2016. Are you celebrating it?
We’re not. We are going to celebrate 21 years. 20 is how everybody celebrates it, but for Hospital we want to celebrate 21!
Tony, you’ve always been a very kind and humble person, but we see a lot of musicians over the course of history being blinded by their fame? Is that a thing in D&B industry?
Of course. But you know, there’s no way of how something is supposed to be, basically. I just feel very happy, humble and blessed to be doing what I’m doing. I’m just the same as everybody else out there – just a guy who is doing his thing. Every time I make a tune I feel like I’ve never made a tune before, like I’m starting again.
Drum & Bass is gonna be around forever.
It’s fully established.
Everybody’s having their own struggle, all of us. It’s very different in every part of the world. Here, in Ukraine, you’ve had a really difficult two years. I know that. I haven’t been here, I haven’t lived it, so I don’t know how it feels, but I know that is true. And to come here and play at this party is a real privilege for it.
You can’t even imagine how events like these make our lives so much better.
And the love, the love that I felt here was so intense.
Events like this help you to forget about all of those struggles. At least for some period of time you feel that everything’s fine and you enjoy every moment of it.
Thank you for that, because it’s the same for me. I also have my own problems and when you are a musician you tend to have something really powerful that drives you.
What part does being a DJ plays in a life of a producer? Can we consider DJing an art on itself?
Maybe, I don’t know. It’s rather a craft, not an art, if you get the difference. It still requires skill, but I don’t think it is an art.
You’ve been on the scene for the most of its existence. Have you ever felt like D&B is having some sort of crisis or are we just getting better every year?
You know, I don’t give a shit about what people who are saying stuff like this think about Drum & Bass.
That’s how it should be. Because throughout the years we hear lots of statements like “Drum & Bass is dead” or just complaints that it’s getting worse. We’ve never thought of it like that.
D&B is gonna be around forever. It’s fully established.
To hear this kind of statement from a person that is a true legend of the genre is just inspiring. You don’t have any doubts that our beloved genre is prospering.
Moving on, a lot of people are wondering what’s going on with Camo & Krooked and Fred V & Grafix at the moment?
Camo & Krooked fulfilled their contract with Hospital when they released their last album. They still play on a lot of parties with us, always playing at Hospitality and we’re very close with them. They’re taking their time to decide what they wanna do with their new music and they’ve only just started making it. They’ve told me that if they are going to release on an independent label they would prefer Hospital, but it’s possible that they might release on a major, which is a very tricky thing for any artist.
Fred V & Grafix they are working very hard on their second album, it’s nearly finished and they are doing very well, and I mean, reaaally well. It’s gonna be amazing and it’s gonna come out before summer.
Oh wow! That’s pretty close!
So, you’ve told us about 12-channel mixing already already. What’s happening with Hospital in 2016?
Well, weeee… can’t really say much. Every year we love to do things differently. It’s always exciting. When you put parties on, you have to change it every year, you can’t just do the same event at the same venue, because it’s just pointless and boring. In London there is a lack of venues, we’ve been searching for the right space and I think we’ve found it, but I can’t say what it is.
We’ll wait for that one to pop up! The next question is an exciting one to ask, because these 6 heroes are from our country and you already know, who am I talking about. How did it all happen with The Erised? I mean, it’s kind of experimental for any D&B label to pick up such a band, especially if you are speaking about one of the biggest labels. How you’ve felt when you’ve been signing them?
It was very easy, because the music was so strong and not just the music, but the whole band, the way they perform together, they have the chemistry, energy and charisma about them. The way I like to think of them is a bit like Portishead, who were the biggest thing ever in trip-hop. They had this kind of downtempo, sort of very melancholic, sad, but beautiful music and I think The Erised have got that kind of feeling. They are a real challenge for us, as we are a D&B label, but we are a musical label and we love good music. There are so many great things about them. I love the fact they’re from Ukraine and we can’t get them a visa. It’s impossible for us to tour them. Most people would look on all these things as negatives, but I think of them as positives, it gives us a challenge, we have to make it differently. We have to do it though video, we have to break them through the sheer strength of their music. Their album will be something special and we can’t rush it… it has to be perfect.
We are also very proud of them, it’s a pleasure to have such a talented band representing your country on one of the best labels out there, but the problem with them being Ukrainian is… they are shaping the future of Ukrainian music, but they don’t get as much exposure as they deserve. We just hope that now, when you’ve adopted them, things will change.
We’ll do our best, we are really working hard on it.
We’ve had such a nice time speaking with Tony, he’s really friendly and pleasant, there was no rush or pressure involved in the process of making this interview. It all happened in a cosy atmosphere and the conversation was truly interesting and inspiring.
No doubt, Hospitality Ukraine was the best D&B event that happened here in the last couple of years. What is truly surprising and flattering is the fact that London Elektricity and Etherwood said on their social media that it was the best gig they did in 2015. So we take a chance to say thanks London Elektricity, Etherwood, S.P.Y, The Erised for their amazing performances, there was an unexplainable amount of energy going through the every second of it.
Thanks to Vera Sue, Sunchase and the whole 22:22 crew for making all of this real. We hope to see more events from them, because no one can do it better than these guys. The memories of this party won’t leave our minds for a long time and it’s just making our lives so much more enjoyable.