For two decades, Hydrofunk Records has been the yardstick against which every independent label in Australia has measured themselves. Not only have they introduced some of the freshest and finest hip hop acts to the nation, but behind the scenes they’ve maintained a fierce sense of freedom and identity. We sat down with the movers and shakers of the Hydrofunk family to find out their recipe for success.
“There is certainly an accepted formula for radio and for commercial success, but we are quite happy to say fuck that,” says label director and Hydrofunk HQ co-owner Zsolt Reggel. “Hydrofunk Records supports artists that are true to their craft and themselves. Commercial success has never been the ideology behind what we put out. For us I think it’s the fact we are not rushed and pressured to be a short-order kitchen, we are more gourmet about what we dish up.”
Born out of a desire to follow their own path, Hydrofunk Records is the brainchild of hip hop pioneers DJ Katch and Dave Atkins of the Resin Dogs. “DJ Katch and Dave started doing their own parties around Brisbane and it was also the period that the Resin Dogs formed. They were putting their parties on as Hydrofunk Presents from around 1994 through to 1996,” Zsolt says.
“As the Resin Dogs’ following grew, DJ Katch came up with the idea to start the label so they could press and put out their own releases. This was the start of Hydrofunk Records. The concept was really to be able to totally control what happens and how things are presented.”
“Over the last 20 years we have signed and worked with, and toured various artists from across this country including Downsyde, Def Wish Cast and Koolism,” DJ Katch says. “We can now offer our in-house studio [Hydrofunk HQ] to our signed artists so they can mix and record their album if need be.
“We have also recently set up Hydrofunk in Japan, so there are releases happening over there, plus the option of touring Japan as well.”
“We’ve also toured Japanese artists here – including DJ Krush, from memory,” Zsolt says. “We have always spoken about doing more in Japan, and after years of persistence, the opportunity came about for us to set up shop. We have an incredible partner there, Senshi, who’s been in the scene for quite a while. Tigermoth and Uhnelly’s 7-inch was the first release on Hydrofunk Japan and it has been received really well. The tour around the release also went well, so we will be back there early 2018 with more releases and more shows.”
The Resin Dogs, Tigermoth, Benjamin Walsh, and Hydrofunk’s newest acquisition Indigenoise, amongst others, are all on board to help the crew celebrate 20 years at the top of their game as the longest-running independent hip hop label in Australia. “Indigenoise are a five-piece outfit from Byron Bay,” Zsolt says. “Their positive message and unique blend of culture, music and dance is amazing. They’ve been in the studio since January finishing of their album, and there will be another single out in the new year to follow up ‘Wildfire’ their current release.”
“It has been nothing less than a blessing to meet Zsolt and the Hydrofunk team,” Indigenoise’s Coedie McCarthy says. “Our main aim in music is to reach out and connect with anyone and everyone in need of happiness.”
And from the sounds of it, Indigenoise’s time with Hydrofunk will be just one of the highlights in this hip hop family’s history. “There are so many memorable times in the past 20 years, from private jets with Nero, to spending time in Westlake Studios [the late Michael Jacksons’ place], time in LA with Rudimental, to sharing the stage with Slash,” Zsolt says.
“From cook-ups with Remi and Sensible J at Hydrofunk HQ, touring with Run DMC, to wild themed parties with Medusa, the Queen of LA hip hop. Endless tours of our amazing country, to touring the globe. From having children, to the amazing and forever inspiring talent that has come through our doors to chill, record, mix, write, and create vibes. The whole 20 years is a story of its own – it is a blessing for us.”