During Bassweek 2016 here in Toronto we were fortunate enough to catch up with Fred V and Grafix of Hospital Records! Being frequent visitors on this side of the pond now, both Fred and Josh kindly gave us some insight into what they’ve been working on, where they’ve been, and how life has been treating them. Plus a special guest appearance from the one and only Etherwood!
DNBDose: Can you guys please introduce yourselves!
Fred V: My name is Fred V otherwise known as Fred Vahrman!
Grafix: My name is Josh, also known as Grafix. Obviously the better half of Fred V and Grafix!
Etherwood: My name is Woody and my other name is Etherwood!
DNBDose: Being frequent visitors of Toronto now, what comes to mind when seeing us on the tour schedule?
Fred V: We’re always like hell yeah it’s gonna be a sick show.
Grafix: Haha yes, but we genuinely do enjoy coming to Toronto. It’s one of the two best places in North America to play drum and bass. Toronto and LA are generally renowned to be the best places to play!
Etherwood: Honestly one of the best cities in North America that we have played!
DNBDose: How did you two meet up and begin producing music together?
Grafix: We’re both from Exeter and we met through our mate Jaye when we were in high school. Shout out to Jaye aka Siege MC!
Etherwood: I can vouch that Jaye is one of the nicest and most interesting people you will ever meet!
DNBDose: You two are constantly in the studio or touring and it has been two years since the release of your debut album for Hospital. With your follow up album coming later this year, what can fans expect from your second album in comparison to what was heard on Recognise?
Fred V: Our next album is coming out in June and you can expect some wicked music on it!
Grafix: The album is going to include 15 tracks. We have a lot more music for you this time around and there are a lot of diverse sounds on it. There is definitely some stuff that is not as DnB oriented as our last album was.
Etherwood: I’m going to go out there and say it’s better than their last album! Even though I’m not on the album this time! I reckon the way I would describe it…basically they were still tarred with the brush of drum and bass and tarred with the brush of what they were doing before. It was a great album obviously, but on this one they’ve kind of shed their skin and are doing exactly what they want to do! There’s halftime stuff, awesome guitar bits in there, and you’re like “wow this is a lot more interesting…”
Fred V: The first album is comparable to us being like butterflies… we’re trying to get out of our cocoon and now this new album is essentially us after we’ve broken out of our shell.
DNBDose: Over your career we’ve seen you guys work out of the box more and incorporating live elements in your tracks starting with Fred playing guitar and later putting down vocals himself. Has this progression continued and what out of box elements have you added to your production method?
Fred V: Well my friend TUDOR and I have written most of the vocals on the album. Shout out to TUDOR. He sang on our last album on one tune called “Shine” and he’s written a lot of vocals with me over tons of sessions together. He’s a fucking legend! He is probably the friendliest guy you will ever meet! BIG UP TUDOR!
Grafix: Fred pretty much nailed that.
Etherwood: On the tracks Josh mostly plays the guitar, not Fred! That’s a myth we have to expose!
Fred V: We need our fans to know about this! Like on the latest release, Josh laid down almost all the guitar on the track. I played a little for the intro, but that’s it.
Grafix: Haha yeah, I played a lot of the guitar we used in the new album!
Etherwood: It’s actually really funky! Fred is very melodic and folky, but Josh is funky! Funky and folky! That’s reflected in their guitar playing making them the perfect pair!
DNBDose: Hospital has recently brought back the Future Sounds series with the release of Future Sounds of America. Do you guys feel like North America is no longer in the shadows of the UK and how do you think the development of an artist based in North American currently differs from back home?
Grafix: It’s very good and has definitely gotten larger over the past few years. There are certain areas that are as good as back home, but you just don’t have the regular massive lineups that you have in England. In England you go to the O2 Academy in Brixton where you have like 7 headliners, that’s what I think is the main difference. For a Hospitality night in the UK we have pretty much the entire Hospital camp playing. You haven’t quite got that that kind of night even in LA or Toronto, but you still have as many fans that want to go to the shows. We have Hospitality’s almost every weekend and we have “regi bangers,” which stands for regional shows in small towns like Reading, Nottingham, etc.
Etherwood: You play to like 6000 people in the UK and they all love drum and bass, but then you come here and you play to like 500 people and everyone in the room loves drum and bass.
Grafix: They love it even more here because they just don’t get to see it.
Etherwood: Exactly, and they’re so appreciative for us to be here to play for them. Like Josh was saying, you do a show in Sheffield and two weeks later you’ll have another show in Sheffield. You don’t get that in North America, you have to wait a year to see your favourite artists.
Grafix: Yeah! Here you don’t have it as much, but the fans are just as good, if not better! They’re so much more into it and it makes us feel special!
Etherwood: People will come up to me and say “I’ve been waiting so long to see you!” It’s actually quite overwhelming how everyone is so excited to see you on a personal level.
DNBDose: Are there any North American DnB artists you guys really like right now?
Grafix: There’s a few artists we really like in North America. There’s a guy from Calgary named Dan Dakota and we did a b2b set with him a few nights ago. We’ve really been enjoying his tunes!
DNBDose: Your music and relationship with Hospital has fortunately landed you in some exotic places around the world. What has been your favourite destination so far and what’s your best memory from playing there?
Fred V: Australia and New Zealand was really cool. I find that the vibe in New Zealand and Canada are actually really similar. Always good vibes!
Grafix: We played in Singapore and Tokyo, Japan. That was wicked! Tokyo was amazing with a really cool club. We had a chance to talk to some of the fans and they were so respectful and were so amped to talk with us. They made signs for us, it was amazing!
Fred V: Although, Glastonbury has to be one of the greatest places we’ve ever played! Playing at the Arcadia stage was absolutely insane! It was Sunday at midnight and we went b2b with Metrik with what was like 10,000 people surrounding us. It was definitely one of the best highlights of our DJ career!
DNBDose: What do you guys do in your spare time?
Fred V: Haha, I like playing video games! GTA V has been my go to!
Grafix: I play a lot of Xbox! I love playing video games, they just chill me out and help me relax.
DNBDose: We’ve seen the release of many great dnb/non-dnb albums within the past few years, what are some non-dnb albums that you guys constantly had on repeat?
Fred V: Oh Wonder’s self-titled debut album! Oh Wonder is one of my favourites from the last little while!
Grafix: Bombay Bicycle Club’s album called So Long, See You Tomorrow was phenomenal! I really enjoyed that album and I also really like Mura Masa’s latest album Soundtrack to a Death. Jack Garrat’s album that came out last year was really good too. It’s called Phase, check it out!
Etherwood: The album Xen by an artist called Arca. The reason I love it so much is because you can’t describe it. Arca has produced tunes for FKA Twigs, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, and more. Listening to the album it’s really stripped back and you don’t really know what you’re listening to, you enter a kind of void, it’s really cool! You would all love it and should listen to it! In its very basic sense it’s essentially hip hop. Very edgy music and you feel like you’ve gone forward in time.
DNBDose: Since you guys have been relatively quiet for a few months aside from your Porter Robinson remix, Hospital Mixtape, and a feature on the 2015 Compilation. Can you give us a general idea of what your schedule is like between now and summer?
Fred V: We just had our song “Ultraviolet” come out, along with “Comb Funk!”
Grafix: Our album comes out in June. We’ve got two remixes coming out, one for Phillip George.
Fred V: The other remix is for a Canadian chap named Dabin. That should be coming out pretty soon. For the album we have a ton of collaborations which we’re really excited to release to our fans!
DNBDose: Last question, what’s the best piece of advice you have for upcoming producers?
Fred V: Get really good sounds and that’s what is going to make the mixdown sound good!
Etherwood: My biggest piece of advice is to just sit down and write whatever you want to write. It doesn’t matter what genre it is. Just hit some keys and figure out what you want to do. Don’t say you want to write drum and bass, don’t say you want to write hip hop, don’t say you want to write dubstep, don’t say you’re a house producer, and don’t say you’re a garage producer. Just sit down, do whatever you want and see how it turns out!
DNBDose: That was wonderful! Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us!
Grafix: Thank you guys, we had a great time!
Etherwood: This was a blast, thanks guys!