In our beloved world of drum and bass, it’s quite a rare anomaly to find a label that prioritizes quality as though it’s the very fabric and lifeblood of their everyday decisions. With their followers’ best interests worn like hearts on their sleeves, Hospital Records and its band of die-hard followers are truly in a league of their own. Spearheaded by Chris Goss and Tony Colman (AKA London Elektricity), the nearly 21-year-old label has exemplified time and time again their originality, self-distinction and forward-thinking desire to nourish talented individuals to the best of their abilities. Is it their passion for consistency? Some would argue that it’s their phenomenal event planning. Or could it be their undeniably exceptional taste in music? Whether it is one or ALL of the above, fans from all over our little blue planet can rest comfortably knowing that deep in the heart of London, there’s a team working tirelessly to put forth the music that flows through our very bodies like the blood that circulates through our daily lives.
The Hospital ‘H’ to myself and many others is more than just a logo. It’s a sign of trust. It’s an emblem of certainty that somewhere else in the world, whether that be a lonely shack in Oklahoma, an office space in New York, or a club packed to its very capacity in the heart of Prague, someone is on the same wavelength as you. Someone is feeling the same sense of euphoric rush that the label and artists have provided.
So then, what happens when everything you LOVE and enjoy about a label that picks you up in your darkest times bands together and constructs a multi-stage, 10,000 capacity event in the center of London? You buy a ticket. You drop what you’re doing, and you take that leap of faith to share a moment with the other 9,999 people that would willingly do the same.
Myself and my partner, Troy, were asked to play a last minute b2b with our friend Ownglow, and what unfolded was an experience I’ll likely never forget. However, this isn’t about us. This is about the magical event that took the world by storm, on that beautiful Saturday afternoon.
Hospitality In The Park was easily the largest drum and bass festival I’ve ever been to. That being said, stepping away from size, the sheer QUALITY of the event itself is virtually unmatched. If you haven’t heard of the historical event that unravelled on September 24, allow me to share the experiences of not just my own, but those of Hospital’s CEOs. An inside look.
Hi there, Tony and Chris! Wonderful to be having a word with you. We’re extremely honored to be sitting across from you. What an amazing weekend. Thank you so much for having us out, and all of your… hospitality (…heh.) You guys have pulled off an unbelievably wicked show.
What are each of your top 3 highlights of Hospitality In The Park?
Tony: One highlight for me was that the first artist we ever signed, Landslide, got a last minute train down, when originally he said he couldn’t come. He’s now a music professor, so as you can imagine he’s quite busy. Last minute, he rang me saying he was going to come. He actually was wearing the first edition Hospital Records tee. For me that was a real highlight.
I caught the first 10 minutes of The Erised live, I had to rush back to organize our live set. Fantastic. I feel so proud to have brought them over, to put them on in front of a big crowd, and they got a great response. To me, they’re sort of like modern day Portishead.
Obviously my third highlight was being allowed to play bass in a band for the first time in the London Elektricity Big Band, and pulling it off. I think we did it as well as we could have done. The crowd was amazing. Because when you’re a live act, and you’re playing between songs, there’s a massive drop in dynamic in some respects, but that’s made up visually by what’s going on stage. You never know for sure if you’re going to hold a DJ tent crowd, but we more than held it, we expanded it. And people actually listening. A lot of the kids hadn’t heard anything remotely like this. Nothing like this has ever been done, a drum and bass big band like this.
Chris: I was with a few people during the London Elektricity Big Band, and hopefully for a lot of us the Big Band was a highlight. A bit later I went to the side of the stage and met with one of my oldest friends, Pete. He said, “You know, this is amazing because this is what Hospital is. No one else would do this.” We take some of this for granted. It takes huge amounts of work and stubbornness and courage actually. You never quite know the reaction, when you have a huge crowd like that. It really connected. I think my friend Pete was right. Just the desire to do something new, and to be true to yourselves within the concept of your team and your own mini-ecosystem that we have.
Our beer is definitely a highlight. It is incredible.
Tony: There’s something very Willy Wonka-ish about this beer. You know Willy Wonka’s chewing gum that tastes like a roast dinner? I was hungry before I drank one. After, I felt totally relaxed, I was no longer hungry. It was amazing!
Chris: With the beer, we’ve been working on that for like the last 7 weeks. We’re lucky that Signature Brew who are based in East London they’re our friends, this is our third beer. Of course it’s meant to be fun, but we actually take it incredibly seriously. They’re amazing brewers. They’re actually scientists. I never really appreciated that until I visited the brewery with Craig. Tom and Sam talked us through the minutia of the brewing process. We were there for the brew and there for the cans, it was actually done the day before festival. Part of our shows and part of our events is treating our fans the way we’d like to be treated at our events. So at the park, to have the food we had the beer, they deserve to have good refreshments alongside good music.
Tony: And we go to a lot of festivals, like for example Clayton from Renegade Hardware. He posted on Facebook, he said Hospital has completely reset the bar for festivals. It’s an amazing compliment as he’s truly from the old school. We treat the festival just like we treat our label. From day one, my ethos was I want to treat my artists the same way that I’d like to be treated. From day one, we’re going to pay everyone on the nail. Every penny, every cent that they’re owed, before we take anything. That’s why we don’t drive big flashy cars. My car is 10 years old, I like my car.
Chris: And that has to extend to our fans, it’s the fans that come to the shows, they pay the wages, they help pay the bills… And I know, I really enjoyed wandering around the festival because I’m not as instantly recognizable as Tony, but I had so many people coming up to me telling me such lovely things. People wanted to talk to me about supporting the Fabric campaign. I talked to people that flew in from New Zealand, and Seattle, people actually want to share their experiences.
Apart from that, I really enjoyed the Soul Van, which I know you boys were involved with late minute. As you guys both know, that’s quite personal to me, that’s my nephew Joe. His friends – Jack, Harry, Sam Ownglow, and that extends to you guys and GLXY. Jack (Pola) was actually the first person to play because it took us a little bit longer than we would’ve liked to open because we had to sort out some issues on site. I was looking at it like “I don’t know if this is gonna work,” and I remember coming back at like 6 PM and it was JUMPING. I never could’ve guessed that so many of you could’ve even fit in that van. That’s not like a charity thing, Soulvent records is there on their own merit. It’s because they’re a part of our family. It’s because they’re doing things properly. They’re doing it with the same kind of energy that we started off with. That kind of thing is immensely satisfying to me.
Did you have a favorite performance of the weekend?
Tony: Frederic Robinson live, because musically he totally floats my boat and ticks all my boxes, and also it was quite early in the day. I was able to stand and listen to him. It was nice, it was just me and my wife and Landslide just really enjoying it.
Chris: I really enjoyed seeing Jenna and the G’s, and again it wasn’t a huge crowd as it was early in the day but it was amazing. That band is the perfect setting for who she is as a singer and a writer. I’d love to see her again. I actually also went to see Keeno, it was so packed. There was no microphone in there, but Soul In Motion has this sort of no mic policy. Instinctively, I would’ve flaunted that. He put on his tune and I insisted he rewound it. The crowd went absolutely crazy.
Now that this event was so successful what is the plan for next year? Are the gears already turning?
Tony: Not announcing our next big show for the next a couple of weeks, but it is in April!
Chris: The Park was another yard stick, as a show, as a company. When you do shows that big, you can’t do many of them at the same city in the same year. As Tony says we have a show coming in April, which is announced in the booklet. No one knows where it is. We’re amounting a teaser campaign. Our manager took a well-deserved vacation to Bali.
It’s nice to have fun with the event schedules. We don’t have to commit to a template.
Tony: We have to keep people on their toes. When we actually pressed ‘Go’ on the festival, we thought at the very least we’re gonna learn absolutely loads of skills, and hopefully we’ll break even. We’ll break open the champagne if we break even. We didn’t think we’d sell out 10,000 tickets 3 weeks in advance. But then some of us will just go to Bali for a few weeks. [laughs] Josh deserves every SECOND of that holiday. He’s been working 18 hour days for the last 4 months. Preparing.
How did you guys as a label choose which stages would be hosted at the festival?
Chris: It was important to the team, we needed the event to be true to us as a company, I think people will recognize we don’t follow other people’s format. We don’t follow other people’s brands, and the primary focus is “Hospitality” which is our Hospital and Med School artists. We wanted it to be a genuine drum and bass event. I didn’t want the word “festival” to be in it, which means guitar, bands, camping. It’s first and foremost exactly what it is. Hospitality In The Park. It’s like taking Brixton, Avalon, and everything we normally do but just on a broader scale.
Tony: We have to take a look around and see what other people are doing, and rule number one, do what other people don’t do. Make it different, like we had the Dub Phizix and Strategy Well Good Do stage. Which was fucking sick. They’re mates of ours, like, we only work with friends, we don’t work with people we wouldn’t go have a drink down at the pub with.
Chris: The good thing about them is no one does a show like them. They bring an entirely unique angle to themselves as artists and performers. They bring an entirely different community from Manchester. And then a few friends like Marky, Calibre, Randall, and General Levy. It involves dance hall, funk, jungle and two-step. That was an amazing stage, but also one I haven’t seen anywhere else.
Murdock has also been a long-standing friend of ours. Rampage have not done their own branded stage outside of their annual show, which is basically 16,000 tickets in a sports arena. Even though he’s been doing this for a long time. He said he’d love to.
Then obviously people like Doctor’s Orders. You reach out to your friends, there’s no point in trying to repeat someone else’s lineup from July. You wanna be able to look at the artists and know it’s a drum and bass festival.
Tony: There is no POP. Hip Hop and reggae is the roots of jungle. It’s the whole story all in one package. It’s kind of common sense.
Chris: We have fans that have faith in us and trust us and our music. The headliners, the big brass band, DRS, Calyx & Teebee, but everyone has their own headliners in their head. It’s also a bit tricky. Musical integrity.
Tony: We’re obviously very fortunate because we have Hospital and Med School, the whole family is a community of very, very interesting and very varied artists. Even on our own, we can put on an event that is extraordinary and mind-blowingly different. The ‘H’ has become such an important symbol in people’s lives. People were saying next time you do this, we should have a tattoo parlour. And if you get the ‘H’, it’s free. Can you imagine the licensing issues? We’ll have to look into it.
I was in the Med School tent watching Keeno, and a couple ran into me and said, “We have to talk to you. It’s urgent.” And I asked, what’s the matter has something gone wrong? They pulled me outside the tent to talk to me. They looked at me in the eyes, and as they were dead serious they said to me, “You have saved our marriage. Your music, Hospital’s music, what Hospital does has saved our marriage. They’ve taken us through the worst times and guided us through it.”
Honestly all we’re trying to do is go to release good music and some great shows. Maybe it does mean something.
Being from Los Angeles and being so accustomed to the festivals and club life there, I’ve experienced an entirely different vibe here. Why do you think that is?
Chris: First of all, the thing to understand is the big festivals are very big epic type of shows. The crowd is very naturally different. Like for me, going to Respect [in LA] is a bit like going to Soul In Motion. These people have been supporting this music for years. But also most importantly, when we’ve done shows, when we’ve done Complex or Los Globos, there’s a fantastic crossover of people that you can just tell are there for Hospital. Not just because they have a Hospital shirt on, but because they’re out there purely enjoying themselves. My view on it is, a lot of that will evolve. I’ve been to plenty of other shows, dubstep shows, EDM shows, I’ve been to loads of Bassrush shows. I think it just needs a bit of cross-pollination naturally to kind of happen.
Tony: Mostly, it just needs home-grown producers. We’re 20 years old as a company now (not personally). Honestly, we’ve been monitoring the demos coming in, and very early on we had a huge heap of demos from Budapest. Then New Zealand, then Perth. But there was none apart from like, Gridlok, and Hive, and Kemal. There was no new drum and bass coming through at all that was really good. There was stuff coming from Canada. Especially Japan. Makoto was pretty much an anomaly.
Chris: I think what happened was in Japan and USA, the mid 90’s- 2002/2003 were quite explosive. Then you hit 2004, it kind of tailed off. Particularly in the States it kind of lost its way for a while. What’s hard for people in EU to understand is, it’s such an enormous country that you have to fly to every single state.
Tony: We don’t realize it’s like 40 countries.
Chris: It’s very, very city specific, it’s only in the major cities.
Tony: One of my all time record labels is Warm Communications. He’s an amazing A/R. Consistently fantastic quality of output.
Chris: I’ve particularly put a large amount of effort to reach out to the not just the new generation producers, but everyone we know, and do what we can to support and encourage. ‘The Future Sound of America’ was an example of that. I just wanted that to be an acknowledgement to artists like Gridlok, Evol Intent, and Quadrant + Iris, alongside Sam Ownglow, who’s obviously one of the youngest producers to come through alongside guys like yourselves and Justin Flite. The most important thing is that people are just making music.
The more time I’ve spent there, the better I understand the challenges. We’re coming off the back of this 5-6 years of explosion of EDM. Which is good and bad, some people have made a lot of money off of it and some have lost quite a bit of money off it. In some respects, it’s maybe slightly skewed the landscape. I’m also convinced that there’s a generation that are more inquisitive. They are more inclined to check out the deeper stuff, the soulful stuff, and the most footwork stuff.
Tony: It’s really good to see because back in 2012, when EDM was peaking, we were just starting to put on the fast series, the fast soul music. We almost put out an American-only release called ‘Fast Dubstep Music’. For a while, we’d get loads of YouTube comments asking, “What’s this fast dubstep shit?!” We can do a compilation and just fill it with our drum and bass, but we didn’t because we thought it would be confusing to our artists.
Chris: Ultimately it just looks like you’re taking the piss. But it’s cool. Like yesterday, I went backstage during the Big Band, and like Reid Speed was back there. People like Reid, they’ve been doing this as long as we have. Like Justin and Rob, and Christine Empress. There’s just so many people like that that have been doing this as long as we have. Like James in Toronto, a lot of the future ‘The Future Sound Of Canada” is due to guys like James, bringing new artists like Polaris and Schematic, who are really good producers just coming over the last few years.
Moving away from the festival itself, let’s chat about Hospital for a bit. What’s on the horizon for new artists, signings, releases, etc?
Tony: New releases. We’ve signed Frederic Robinson, who released his first album on Blu Mar Ten’s label. We’re huge fans; he’s a shining star for us musically. His album is dropping the 28th of October. Before that is Metrik’s album, ‘Life/Thrills’, which is massively in promotion cycle now.
Chris: Then we’ve got the debut album from Urbandawn from Sao Paolo in Brazil. He’s a very unknown artist but it’s a brilliant record.
Tony: He’s basically someone whose music I fell in love with a couple of years ago, but it’s been a big part of my DJ sets since then. He’s so organized, his mix downs, his chord changes, the neuro elements mixed with harmonic changes, no one else does it. It’s totally new, he’s a lovely guy. Very proud to be bringing Urbandawn through.
Chris: We’ve also got Shapeshifter bringing their album in November, it’s called ‘Stars’ and we also have their 300th release coming up, but we can’t chat about this just yet.
Are there any club nights or festivals you’d like to mention for readers that may want to attend?
Chris: There’s a whole October/November circuit because Halloween is a big one. Hope you all can make it!
So tell us about the New Blood0016 album. What are some of your favorites from the compilation?
Chris: There are so many debut artists that are so new to us and everyone, like Oshirjima.
Tony: It’s amazing to get a piece of music that I can play out, not just on the podcast. It’s by a Japanese producer. I’ve got an affinity with Japan; my wife is Japanese, my kids are Japanese. I’m lucky enough to have a profile in Japan so I get to play there once a year.
Chris: The great thing about that compilation, is that it’s really meant to shine a light on the great artists coming through. It’s great to have that opportunity. We haven’t heard most of these until we get their demo.
Tony: Like we released Keeno’s first release on ‘New Blood’, as well as Etherwood. A lot of these releases have become part of the fabric of what we do.
Chris: The longer we do this, the more we agree that this is sort of our responsibility as a label to listen to this music on a whole range of different levels.
Tony: This is why we always have a demo inbox. It’s not important to us that it’ll sell bucket loads. You were saying earlier that Pete had said that the Big Band ‘makes us Hospital’, well this also makes us Hospital.
Any overall comments on the festival itself, and/or any final comments to the fans at Your EDM…
Tony: All things considered, you can never get everything right. For instance, it was too windy to get our air balloon to float, and I know that was personally gutting for Chris, but we do have it for next year.
Chris: I think everyone, not just Tony and me, felt delighted. It felt like a great show, a safe show. It felt like the vibes amongst the crowd were very tremendous.
Tony: I was in the production toilets with two policeman and I asked them, I said, “Guys, you know better than everyone here. You can tell me the truth, lay it on the line. How is it for you here?”
They said, “We’ve been doing festivals all year, and this is the best.” So peaceful, and they hadn’t arrested a single person, yet. That vindicates what we do, how we’re tracked, and how we organize things.
Chris: In terms of Your EDM and all the people that follow the website, we want to thank you for the support and we hope that all of them across North America can continue to enjoy and believe in their own music. Get involved, one of the most fundamental things is to get involved. Don’t stay at home, if you love something get involved. Go support. Put a party on in your city. Make some tunes, learn how to DJ. And share that with the people in your town and your city, let alone your state. It’s something to love and enjoy. You really can be apart of something.
Tony: If you do it for the love, you do it for the journey, if you’ve got a small amount of talent and you work hard, and you’ve got a little bit of luck, before long you’ll be achieving something.
After chatting with these two legends in the flesh, and visually witnessing the utter passion and motivation that STILL drives them into everything they do, I will go home more inspired than ever. I, along with 9,999 people, will go home inspired.