2005 sees the release of London Elektricity's latest album, Power Ballads, the title being loosely based on the slow, emotion stirring power ballads usually associated with adult contemporary artists and big budget movie soundtracks. The London Elektricity Live Sound System have been touring non-stop since its release taking in dates all over the UK. RA caught up with Tony to find out about the album, the band and the plans for Hospital Records.
- The phrase "Power Ballad" usually brings to mind some schmaltzy love song. Why did you choose this as the title for the new album?
"Power Ballads" just came to me as a good title for the new album, I like to associate the phrase with soppy rock. [My last album] Billion Dollar Gravy was a parody of Billion Dollar Baby by Alice Cooper. I like to think there is a different connotation with power ballads - I like the idea of using the word 'ballad' there's nothing more opposing to a ballad than drum & bass. The title has also enabled me to pose for the album cover in front of the Battersea power station.
- How much different is Power Ballads to your last release, Billion Dollar Gravy? How long did the album take to complete?
Pretty different, I worked for 2.5 years on Gravy - dipping into it every now and then, whereas with Power Ballads I had to make it within a few months. I had to stop doing everything I was doing - touring and Djing. I spent 4 months studio, 7 days a week, doing the whole lot and I got into a flow. DJs who are producers never get a chance to do that as they are always djing.
- I notice a lot of original lyrics and vocal melodies used the music, especially on tunes like Will To Love and I Don't Understand. How involved was the vocal song writing on the album? How do you find inspiration to come up with the lyrics and melodies?
It’s interesting the way we approached it. I did the previous album, whereas Power Ballads was co-written with Leanne – we had a carefully planned schedule where she would come to my house on Monday and Tuesday and we spent 2 days a week writing songs. [The inspiration behind the songs was] totally different every time. [With the song] Watching You, Watching Me, I had the groove down first and we decided to work on that tune. It sounded like a paranoid spy b-movie and we came up with the chorus first. The verses weren't happening so we sent the to MC Wrec and he vibed off it straight away.
- Billion Dollar Gravy gave birth to the London Electricity Live sound system. What comprises the live set up and who are the members??
We have the Jungle Drummer on drums, Andy on bass, Leane Carrol on vocals and electric piano, Wrec is our MC, Landslide controls the percussion and samples and finally me, London Elektricity on vocals and samples.
- The Hospital Records sound is known for its soulful melodies and sweet vocals combined with the energy of drum'n'bass, broke'n'beat and 2-step. As one of the label owners what is the descerning factor for choosing a tune
for the label?
We look for originality as we get sent a lot of demos that sound really really good, they fit in
the mixes we play, but some sound generic. The thing we avoid like the plague is generic
liquid funk. Hospital Records is prepared to invest in something that is original. The artists are signed for longevity on album deals and we help them to build into something special.
- I hear a large element of jazz in the early songs on the album especially in the basslines. What styles of music do you listen to in your spare time? Does it play a big part in shaping the LE sound?
I like music from all areas; I dig interesting chord sequences. Artists like Steely Dan, Quincy Jones, early Stevie Wonder when he was good. I’m big on rock like Supergrass – they’re incredibly inventive. I enjoy good interesting songs. Of course I always get into drum’n’bass producers who write music that affects your life – artists like DK and SKC.
- What tools do you use in the studio to create your music?
Cubase FX on my Mac and sometimes I use Reason. I use to have a big old school studio but now it’s become a lot more compact.
- High Contrast released a mind-blowing album last year int he form of High Society. Which other Hospital artists should we be looking out for in the future?
Cyantific and Logistics are a couple of artists that we’ve been nurturing for a few years – they’re going to be dropping their debut albums next year.
- Are you planning to tour with the LE Live sound system to promote the album?
We've actually been on tour since May, almost constantly. We’ve been to every country in Europe, we took the show to brazil and NZ and we aim to bring it to Australia next year. Australia is one of the best countries in the world for live music.
- Can you fill us in with any upcoming Hospital projects?
We have the Hospital 10th anniversary. Hospital NHS100 will be the first release and there will be a worldwide Hospitality celebration to coincide with the release.