If you’re heading to one of Hospitality’s nights in Prague, Liverpoool, Bristol or at the Warehouse Project in Manchester over the next month, maybe you should ask yourself “who is London Elektricity?”. Whilst a legend to many, London Elektricity’s recent nomination for Mixmag’s ‘Who Is The Greatest Dance Act Of All Time?’ poll may come as a bit of a “who the hell?!” moment to some readers, even some dance aficionados, but not when you know what he’s famous for.
As well as winning the BBC 1Xtra Xtra Bass Award 2007 and releasing three studio albums with former band London Elektricity Live, Tony Colman has toured for several years as a DJ and released two albums as London Elektricity. This includes the recording and release of 2011’s ‘Yikes!’ which, as he tells us, “remarkably smooth. I felt technically better with the mixdowns etc. and I absolutely loved writing with Elsa [Esmeralda, vocalist] because it’s so simple when someone is that talented. We kind of had a cliché radar and didn’t want to state the obvious too much. It’s always good to come at stuff from the leftfield a bit and add in the pianos and guitars with a drum track, something to spring a surprise with”.
Opening track ‘Elektricity Will Keep Me Warm’ certainly does that with Esmeralda’s downbeat vocal, a slow piano riff and simple synth, as does following track ‘Meteorites’ with hints of trance mixed with looped vocals and a drum track you’d be likely to hear on a Camo & Krooked album. Yet to mention modern artists as an influence seems ridiculous when you consider that arguably Colman’s greatest achievement, the creation of Hospital Records, gave them the impetus to begin their careers. Hospital Records, alongside it’s huge club night ‘Hospitality’ which runs across the UK, has been bringing UK production talent to audience for ten years and more, so why have they only come to the forefront now?
“Probably because we didn’t have any kind of plan,” laughs Colman, “we just started up and we’ve been growing ever since. A lot of people will say people are only just getting into drum and bass in a big way, but it helps that there’s a huge amount of great talent out there right now. There are new challenges all the time with trying to keep you’re identity and ideas in the right place but the past few years have been amazing and we plan to keep on growing”. London Elektricity is certainly a name associated with adapting. Originally a live band with bass, drum pads, rappers, synths and pianos on stage, Colman has now brought it down to just a DJ act and doesn’t regret it.
“In the live band, we just felt invincible. There were so many of us and you go out fighting every night and come off stage feeling great, but then you have the long build up in between and the difficult tours. Being a DJ and being in a band is chalk and cheese. I love both but I couldn’t go back to being in the band because I’ve got such good memories and I don’t know if I could make them any better. DJ-ing to a crowd still makes me feel great and lets me have fun without all of the stress. I love to mix and play great songs and when the crowd gives you a good reaction it’s still hugely rewarding.”
It’s not just about the DJ sets though. A huge range of acts have sprung up and made their names through Hospital Records and Hospitality and you have London Elektricity to thank. When you consider that their roster currently contains London Elektricity, Danny Byrd, Logistics, Nu:Tone, Netsky, High Contrast and Camo & Krooked, you can see where the legacy comes from. Has the success of the label and its achievements surprised it’s creator?
“You know when we were still pretty unknown I’d be playing small clubs and no-one knew who you were but there was one kid in a Hospital t-shirt and that really excited us. Now there’s loads of them and that’s even better because people know what Hospital is all about, but it’s always fun to play somewhere new and get people who don’t know who you are to turn round and say ‘who’s that?’.
The added bonus of fame, of course, is the huge venues and audiences you get as a result.
“I just love playing places like Warehouse Project where they put a huge amount of love into the sound. Sometimes you play a big club and they’ve not got it right and it really kills the atmosphere, but at Warehouse they really make an effort. I’ve not played there in far too long actually, it’s an amazing club night with great curators and the DJs appreciate it as well as the crowd.”
Not much better endorsement could be needed for one of the biggest nights of the Warehouse Project’s final season in Manchester, but what is next for London Elektricity and Hospital Records after that?
“My diary is packed with DJ dates at the minutes but Hospital has the ’15 Years of Hospital’ album coming out in November, 15 old tracks and 15 new so look out for that. After that, 2012 should be a very big year for us. Some Uk festivals and some big news coming up so very exciting times.”
For more information on Hospital Records, Hospitality and the Warehouse Project, check the links below.