By: Matt Innes
This year, Hydrofunk Records celebrates their 20th anniversary, making them the longest-running, independent hip hop record label in the country.
Hydrofunk Records was established in 1995 by Andrew ‘DJ Katch’ Garvie and Dave Atkins of prodigious Brisbane group Resin Dogs. Andrew explains how the label began as a way to short-circuit the mainstream recording and distribution channels to release their own music.
“The vision was originally that we couldn’t get a record deal so we just put our own stuff out,” Andrew says.
“We wanted to do records for us and our friends, then as it got a bit more serious and we were touring and made more friends, we started putting their records out. In a way it was never meant to be a major business, but it became one.”
In the early to mid-‘90s, the style of music the Resin Dogs were creating was still very much underground and was viewed with apprehension by major record labels and indies alike.
“Because at the time no one was doing beats and with hip hop there were a couple of people doing things here and there but major record labels weren’t interested and independent labels were like ‘maybe, if you can get some runs on the board’. So we just did our own thing and it started; we could help our friends out, to the point we can sign someone if we really like their stuff.”
Over two decades of pioneering a legitimate culture around beat-making, sampling and hip hop has resulted in an extensive back catalogue of hits, as well as rarities, B-sides and material that never saw the light of day.
Andrew says the anniversary is a chance to reflect on their achievements as a label and to mark the milestone, Hydrofunk is releasing a special retrospective on vinyl featuring 20 tracks representing each year of the label’s life.
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“Basically, it’s not going to be a Resin Dogs compilation,” Andrew asserts, “but there’s some stuff on there that was never released on vinyl and certain songs. It’s like a snapshot over the years; there’s some stuff that never made it to vinyl – at least not out here [in Australia] anyway – and a couple of releases especially from our later artists.
The vinyl is 20 tracks, for 20 years, but we’ve done a digital copy which is 30 tracks. It’s a cool snapshot of some of the stuff that wasn’t freely available on vinyl that we now have a chance to put out there.”
In addition to the Resin Dogs catalogue, Hydrofunk has been responsible for releasing some of the freshest music from local artists, their latest signing being Byron Bay-based collective Indigenoise.
The group is made up of five Indigenous poets, artists, producers, musicians and practitioners of mixed ancestry who ‘represent all four nations of the earth: red, black, yellow and white people’, as stated in the band’s bio.
Indigenoise will be the centrepiece of Hydrofunk’s live celebration of their 20th anniversary: a live touring party that will be taking the beats on the road through Brisbane, Byron Bay, Melbourne and Sydney.
“It’s to celebrate the 20 years with some new artists,” Andrew says.
“I’m looking forward to showcasing our past and present stuff from the label, and getting back out on the road and building it all up again because we haven’t done any touring for a very long time.
“We’ve done a few random shows here and there as the Resin Dogs, but this is an opportunity as a label to show what we do and a lot of it is band-oriented and has more musicality to it, instead of just being rap songs.”
Hydrofunk Records 20th Anniversary Tour Dates
Friday 10 November – The Zoo, Brisbane
Saturday 11 November – Beach Hotel, Byron Bay
Friday 17 November – The Lair @ Metro, Sydney
Saturday 18 November – The Workers Club, Melbourne