2015: The year London Elektricity made huge logistical moves in order to make music again.
As he explained in our recent interview, his focus on the business side of Hospital, his commitments as a DJ and as a father had pushed his own music so far off the radar that he’d near-ditched his original motivation. So, with the help of his team, he reorganised the structure of Hospital (and his life) so he could lock himself away and write Are We There Yet?
The logistical switch paid off: Are We There Yet? was one of Tony Colman’s best albums to date and part of the seven-strong slew of really impressive albums Hospital and sister imprint Medschool released in 2015: Royalston’s People On The Ground, Lynx’s I Am Lynx, Reso’s Ricochet, Anile’s Perspective, Etherwood’s Blue Leaves and Electrosoul System’s Flawless. And that’s before we get to Fred V & Grafix’s mixtape, the Fast compilation series, massive EPs from the likes of Urbandawn, Krakota, The Erised, Keeno, new signing Maduk and many more and the worldwide phenomenon that are the Hospitality events. No wonder he found it hard to focus on his own music.
We managed to pull London Elektricity away from his many roles and see what he’s made of the year in drum & bass and beyond… And what he makes of the near future.
That’s one of the most important things about Hospital; there’s no room for egos. We work as a squad and we have to work for one another, helping each other out from time to time.
2015 According To… London Elektricity
“Personally it was great for me to be able to write my music again. I originally set up Hospital as an outlet for London Elektricity music but lost that along the way. I was bursting at the seams with musical ideas; I’ve never lost that, even as Hospital has got as big as it is. But the label had to thrive so I had to put my personal ideas on the shelf for a while.
“I’m really pleased with how our recent signings have delivered in the last year. We’ve tried to be open minded about who we sign. Since the YouTube phenomenon, there’s been a heavy emphasis on signing brand new young talent, which is great, but for a well-balanced roster it’s important for us to sign those who have strengths and abilities beyond that of the young producers. People like Lynx who really understand the nature of the industry and how it all works as a bigger picture. That’s one of the most important things about Hospital; there’s no room for egos. We work as a squad and we have to work for one another, helping each other out from time to time.
“Reso has been another really interesting case because he made his name in the dubstep scene. He’s a very technical individual. I talked him round to making drum & bass because I loved Slap Chop and was playing it every show. No one can program an amen like Reso. Just listen to the opening track on his album, it goes from a beautiful cinematic intro into one of the most incredible amen edits.
“Maduk is obviously another highlight for me this year. But, looking at the larger picture, what I really love is the current influence the Netherlands has on drum & bass in general. The south is neuro country with Noisia at the hub of it all. Gradually, organically they’ve grown to become one of the top three biggest acts in drum & bass. They’ve brought through a whole new generation of competent, highly skilled artists.
“Meanwhile in north of Holland you’ve got the massive liquid movement with Maduk and all the great things Liquicity have done. This is brilliant, and yet another reminder that the scene has long since grown from its London-centric roots… we should always be prepared for exciting sounds and talents to come from anywhere in the world.
“We should also be prepared for the headline-grabbing top 20 aspect of drum & bass. It’s still relevant and but still, after several years of commercial dominance, hugely divisive. A lot of people say it cheapens the genre but I don’t agree; any genre that’s been around as long as drum & bass will infiltrate into the mainstream. The generation who grew up hearing this are now in positions in the industry to make an influence. Drum & bass was once seen as alien, much too fast, too hectic, gun-toting, drug-fuelled scary music. But it isn’t. And people can see that now; it’s a home-grown genre, it’s never going to go away, it’s part of the DNA of UK music. So you have to accept that at points it will go into the charts from time to time.
“Good luck to the guys who are making it… It’s a big leap to take for producers to go down that road. They’ve built an underground following and will probably lose them. But hopefully they’ll be one of the 5% of artists who thrive off a major label deal. It’s a fact that 95% of artists signed to a major get dropped before they release their first album so it’s a real gamble; you have to do it at a certain stage of your career… If your following is too big and you make that jump, you could lose everything and it’s certainly not a question of ‘right, today I’m going to make a deep tune, tomorrow I’ll make a pop tune’ There are people around the world watching what you’re doing and waiting for your next record. You have to be aware of the bigger picture.
“As for 2016… I hope it will continue to evolve with new sounds as it always has done. There are fantastic artists such as Kimyan Law and Frederic Robinson who are making inspiring strands of drum& bass that’s beautiful and almost classical in its arrangement. Another act exciting me at the moment is Sao Paulo’s Urbandawn. He’s come out of nowhere with a pedigree of drum & bass that’s incredibly well produced. It’s up there with your Sub Focuses, your Metriks and your TCs. His extra ingredient is that he learnt Latin guitar from his father and has a harmonic vocabulary that only comes from South America. I think he’s going to have a very exciting and interesting future, he’s got many depths and layers and compositional twists and turns.”
London Elektricity: Three Acts That Excited Me In 2015…
“These guys are phenomenal. They’re unique. They’re like a 2016 version of Portishead. They’re downtempo, or almost like half-tempo garage in a way, they’re very spacious with all sorts of textures and FX coming in and out making sense. They’re beautiful.
We’ve signed them but we can’t get a Visa for them for love or money. They’re huge in their native Ukraine. We did a party in Kiev a month ago; it was the first big rave since the war with Russia and was hands down the gig of the year. The sheer vibe there; the outpouring of release and emotion. The Erised topped the show and killed it. They’re superstars over there. But they’re locked in their country and we can’t tour them! Luckily they make great live videos so we’ll present them with those. They’re also working on their debut album and it’s sounding amazing.”
“A jazz band from Boston; Snarky Puppy are the band who I never thought would exist. They play with such joy and passion and I’ve given up trying to work out the time signature their tunes are in because I can’t! It doesn’t affect the accessibility of their music. I saw them in Hammersmith earlier this year and the anticipation in the venue was up there with Led Zeppelin’s last ever UK show. It was phenomenal. They’ve got this keyboard player Cory Henry who also played a gig at the jazz café on the same tour with his own band the Funk Apostles. He’s 25 and he’s better than anyone I’ve ever heard. He blew us away. He had two drummers, they sounded like The Roots on steroids with James Brown’s backing band. An hour into his set he started signing and he sounded like Stevie Wonder. He’s just incredible. I’m 54 and to go to two shows like that and feel like I’m 17 and discovering music all over again? I really never thought I would get that feeling again!”
“A incredible French house producer who’s been going for a while but I wasn’t aware of him. He got in touch and said he was a fan so we started talking and agreed to a remix swap. I love disco and house but I haven’t got the hours to make it… So it’s been great to hook up with him and work with a man who makes the type of house music I love. So yeah, it’s essentially been a great year for me reaching out to genres beyond the usual ones you’d expect.”