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The flagship act on West London’s Hospital Records, London Elektricity specialize in sleek, organic coffee-table drum’n’bass in league with production maestros like Roni Size and E-Z Rollers. The duo of Tony Coleman and Chris Goss (both musicians) focus on live construction, with solos from flute and violin plus Coleman’s thick double-bass on many tracks. Their first release on Hospital, “Sister Stalking,” did well in Japan and earned a distribution contract through Sony Japan. Singles like “Pull the Plug” and “Song in the Key of Knife” did well with jungle DJs as noteworthy as Fabio, so Coleman and Goss released their debut full-length Pull the Plug in June 1999. London Elektricity have also provided remixes for Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters and the Fugees’ Refugee Camp signee Jon Forté
Its a hazy summer evening in June 2000, and deep inside a west London studio, Tony Colman aka London Elektricity is having a ‘moment’ – one of those defining events that mark a chapter in your life. Legendary vocalist Robert Owens is laying his heavenly tongue over the track ‘My Dreams’ for the first time, and as his improvised vocals drift out of the monitor speakers, there isn’t a spine in the studio that isn’t tingling. “When he arrived, Robert told us he was really nervous,’ Tony remembers. ‘And I was like, ’you’re nervous!”. But with a successful record label, a sell-out club night, worldwide DJ sets and a portfolio of top tunes already under his belt, that poignant moment is just one in an ever increasing list. Add into the mix the organisation of a live UK tour, and the next 12 months are destined to be the most exciting (and busy) ones yet for London Elektricity.
That initial Robert Owens collaboration is, however, a far cry from Tony’s first forays into recording. His first collaboration came at the age of 8 when he nicked his mum’s reel to reel tape machine and recorded his farting dog, Max. It may have been a rather inauspicious start to his music career, but from that moment on, Tony was fascinated with the process of recording sounds. Farts or otherwise. Other creations in these early years included several self penned ‘pre-electro bedsit angst dirges’, and a performance piece where 100 alka-seltzers were dropped into 100 glasses of water at the same time. This peculiar trick came whilst studying Performing Arts at Middlesex Polytechnic, a course Tony embarked on in slightly false pretenses. The college had a fully equipped music studio and, influenced by the likes of Kraftwerk and avante garde composers Steve Reich, he made the studio his own and began to experiment with electronic music for the first time.
Outside of college, Tony had continued to learn the guitar and piano, and started giving professional singing lessons to make some extra cash whilst studying. Live music had always been of interest, ever since he heard the opening bars to Chic’s ‘Le Freak’ when he was a kid, and at the age of 25, Tony formed the live jazzfunk band Izit. Success soon followed. Offered a record deal, he temporarily shelved his electronic ambitions, and recorded, toured and DJed with Izit for several years. They secured a number 39 hit in 1988 with the rare groove anthem ‘Stories’ and produced the benchmark acid jazz LP ‘The Whole Affair’. But throughout this period of live performance, dance music still fascinated him. Sporadically settling in various spots throughout North London, he was exposed to the massive hardcore and jungle scene that was rumbling out of the capital. Shortly after, thanks to a holiday in Thailand with only a copy of Goldie’s classic LP ‘Timeless’ for company, Tony knew his future was in drum ‘n’ bass.
In the spring of 1996, with the help of Chris Goss, who had been managing Tony’s Tongue and Groove label, Hospital Records was created. Tony and Chris started composing tunes together. A string of tracks were released on Hospital and a number of other imprints. Often working under a number of different monikers, it was their tune ‘Song In The Key Of Knife’ under the guise London Elektricity that first gained them widespread recognition. The LP ‘Pull The Plug’ that followed in 1999 is still widely renowned as a benchmark d&b album. Released in a period where dark drums and sinister synths ruled the UKs dancefloors, its funk infused, optimistic grooves layed the foundations for a resurgence in the more soulful sounds of drum’n’ bass that we can hear today. Since then, London Elektricity’s funk philosophy has been peddled throughout the world, Tony DJing at every major d&b club in the UK and beyond, and recording guest mixes for the likes of Mary Anne Hobbs, Ministry Radio and Roni Size. Hospital Records has released some of the most exciting d&b music of the new millennium, nurturing fresh talents like High Contrast and Cyantific, and their monthly label party ‘Hospitality’, held at East London’s Herbal, has become an essential part of the funky drum ‘n’ bass furniture.
In 2002, Tony took on the London Elektricity mantle personally, as Chris concentrated on running the ever-expanding Hospital Records. His first solo cut, ‘Cum Dancing’ was another massive hit and whet drum ‘n’ bass heads’ appetite for the long awaited follow up to ‘Pull The Plug’. With the help of his old friend Robert Owens, and a bunch of other well-known heads, ‘Billion Dollar Gravy’ is released in May and features more of the uplifting funk and deep vibes the Hospital reputation has been built on. Fast soul music, as they like to call it. Its actually incredible that Tony has found the time to finish this LP, what with the continued running of the label, and his cornerstone DJ sets at ‘Hospitality’ (a night which Tony says manufactures more of those special ‘moments’ every month). Now add to that list London Elektricity live. Tony and his new band are taking ‘Billion Dollar Gravy’ to the stage, and with his knowledge of live performance, the UK tour promises to take drum ‘n’ bass to another level entirely. But then you wouldn’t expect anything less, would you? Here’s to more of those ‘moments’.