Founded in 1996 by Tony Colman and Chris Goss, the Hospital Records imprint has gone on to play an integral role in the ongoing evolution of drum & bass culture. Home to heavyweights like High Contrast, Netsky, London Elektricity, Danny Byrd, Logistics, Nu:Tone, Metrik, Fred V & Grafix, and Etherwood, the impact the imprint has had on the scene and the genre is without question.
Now, as it begins to close in on two decades of delivering its own unique blend of bassline therapy to the masses, we sit down with co-founder and label manager Chris Goss for a wide-ranging chat about everything from the ever-evolving direction of the imprint, plans to introduce even more Hospitality vibes to the States in the near future, and an exclusive glimpse at a new compilation series set to debut this summer.
Hospital has been on a massive run this past year and really seems to have come into its own. Is that something you’re feeling as well?
I really appreciate those good vibes. We really enjoyed our 18th Birthday year, and it was a perfect opportunity for us to celebrate, and clarify our intent of simply looking forwards, not back. So we set about bringing in new talent (both artists and staff) and getting into 2015 has felt really good.
Part of this seems to have been this move towards ignoring subgenre classifications in terms of who you sign and put out. This recent release with Krakota is a great example in that it rides that fine line between neuro and liquid. Using this tune as a jumping off point, talk a bit about how you see the imprint embracing drum & bass in all of its glorious forms.
I’m actually out in L.A. right now (chilling with a fine IPA in Venice, as it happens!), and I’ve been in a bunch of meetings trying to set out our manifesto; namely that I would like us to ‘own’ the tempo, by virtue of building a broad and exciting landscape of drum & bass music from across the spectrum.
So often over the years folks tell us they love our ‘liquid drum & bass’ – but if that’s all you think we do, then you’re not listening. Moving forward simply check Reso, Krakota, Whiney, S.P.Y, moving through Lynx and Royalston, into Etherwood, Keeno, and Anile, soak up some Metrik, Fred V & Grafix, and Urbandawn, dig into the forefathers: Nu:Tone, Logistics, London Elektricity (new album in-progress… oh gosh!), and settle down with The Erised….. nobody comes close to us in drum & bass for embracing the genre in its broadest sense.
This seems to be a larger trend in the scene in general – bass music has no doubt helped push the boundaries in that regard and so many artists are drawing from and working in different genres, subgenres, tempos, etc. How do you see Med School fitting in to the larger move.
Med School has been a revelation for us; in no small part thanks to Etherwood, and the team of Tony, Ash and Tom Mullett. It’s a label with its own identity, fanbase and community. But make no mistake, we are still a proud drum & bass business. I believe it’s just that we have the depth in talent and skill from our artist roster to make that a rounded and fulfilling experience.
Now you’ve been out here in the States for a week or so already – what’s the biggest difference culturally between home and Los Angeles? Last week we met up at the Respect crew’s 16 Year Anniversary Party – any notable differences or observations between the L.A. drum & bass scene and that back in the U.K.?
First off; I have to say the Respect 16th Birthday was a great night out. I’m lucky to count Justin, Rob, Gil and all those guys as friends, and they are a real foundation of the U.S. scene. That party was just vibes from start to finish, and especially cool to have my good friend Bailey as headline guest, alongside Darryl Invaderz, and Eric Scooba.
In my humble opinion, the scene here in L.A. has many parallels with London back home. There is the diehard community, alongside the bigger bass music shows, festivals, and more eclectic line-ups. The biggest difference is the sheer scale of the country, which I imagine makes the tight sense of community much more of a challenge. Back home we’re fortunate to have an established history of innovative, underground club culture – for me, drum & bass is one of the finest examples of that.
That said, I do believe these next 18 months will be a potentially exciting time for 174bpm across North America. The epic, lucrative world of EDM will inevitably trickle down as both fans and artists feel the need to discover more than just cake-throwing and flouro-facepaint. Drum & bass music is one of the most consistent and exciting art-forms out there, and I see another generation of artists and clubbers embracing the tempo and rhythms.
You’ve got a huge show coming up this Thursday in Los Angeles in collaboration with the esteemed Bassrush crew. It’s another Hospitality takeover of massive proportions – give us the details and a sense of what we can expect! Any plans to continue to roll out the Hospitality brand across the States?
We’ve been able to bring a Hospitality tour to North America for the past 4 years now, and it continues to be a great experience. I’m gutted that Etherwood has not been able to make it into America; whilst he has been at some of the Canadian shows, the complexities of the US visa system have stopped him from entering the country this Spring. I sincerely hope that we’ll be able to secure his safe official passage later on this year – America needs some Etherwood in their lives!
That aside; the double whammy of Metrik and Nu:Tone delivers a broad perspective of what we are all about, presented by the very best MC in the business, Sir Dominic Dynamite. Hosting a set is truly a fine art, and I’m proud that having been a fan of Full Cycle and Reprazent since the beginning, Dom is now a trademark of our shows and events, and also a card-carrying member of the Hospital family.
Are there plans underway to really build that hospital?
Once the underground Kickstarter campaign finishes, we’ll start digging.
All jokes aside, I know there’s plenty of goodies bubbling on the horizon in the Hospital Lab so let us know what we should be looking out for in the near future.
We have a jam-packed year in 2015; artist album projects from Reso, Lynx, Electrosoul System, Anile, Etherwood; a brand new Mixtape from Fred V & Grafix, more deep soul music from our Ukranian group The Erised, plus a new compilation series…
Our newest member of staff Harry wasn’t even born when Tony and I started the company; that kind of information makes us realize there is probably a large slice of our audience around the world that don’t know the breadth and depth of our audio catalog. We wanted to find an easy-to-understand package; a kind of Hospital For Beginners if you like – and so the end of next month we’re releasing Fast Soul Music. It’s 46 tracks, double CD/DD bundle with DJ mixes, cherry picking moments from across the Hospital and Med School years.
Our ambition is to release 2 more this year, adapting each package with a different musical angle – Fast Soul Music was the obvious choice to kick-off with, as this has been one of our own catchphrases over the years, to try and help explain and de-mystify what our music is.