Grafix Honors 25 Years of Hospital Records with an Exclusive Mix

In this interview, Grafix — staple of the drum & bass scene — reflects back on his career with Fred V, discusses his latest solo work, and pays homage to his label home of the last 10 years, Hospital Records, with an exceptional mix.

9 min
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Mar 29, 2021
Cameron Holbrook

A stalwart of the global drum & bass scene, Exeter-born, Bristol-based DJ/producer Josh Jackson, better known as Grafix, is all about showing the wide range of sounds, emotions, and attitudes that his genre has to offer.

His infatuation with drum & bass started when artists like Pendulum, Logistics, and High Contrast captured his musical imagination at an early age. He began DJing around England and released early solo work on small labels Pristine Recordings and Allsorts. Though his life would change forever after meeting his musical partner Fred Vahrman, AKA Fred V, while studying at Music Tech at Bath Spa University.

Forming a production partnership, the duo caught the attention of Hospital Records in 2011, debuting on the label for its 15 Year anniversary compilation with “Find My Way.” They quickly became a label favourite, releasing numerous singles, EPs, and albums like Recognise, Oxygen, and Cinematic Party Music before amicably breaking up in 2018.

Grafix has since thrived as a solo artist with singles like “Radiance,” “Acid Generation,” and “Stutter,” and more recently with his remix of “4 Days” by Degs on the label’s 25-year-anniversary compilation, H25PITAL.

We caught up with Grafix to reflect on his ongoing relationship with Hospital, how he’s adjusted to his career as a solo artist, his livestream family, and what he has planned for the rest of the year.

Grafix also provided a mix of killer Hospital tracks “both new and old” to help honor the seminal drum & bass imprint’s milestone achievement. Listen to his mix in the player above and check out his interview below.

Grafix | Hospital Records | Label of the Month
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Growing up in Exeter, you got your start playing in bands. Tell us a little bit about how you and Fred V first became hooked on the drum & bass sound.

Yeah, there were some bands in the early years, nothing more than garage band punk, though. Drum & bass captured me when I was 14. It was all we heard at parties, all my friends listened to it — it was culturally relevant at the time, and I loved the sound; fast and loud. Quite reminiscent of punk to be honest. The stand-out record for me then was Pendulum’s Hold Your Colour.

Since your split with Fred V, how has your writing and production process changed? Were there any significant hurdles you faced or major epiphanies you found at the very start of your revamped solo career?

This has been a really unique experience for me. My process has changed a lot — when you’re in a duo for as long as Fred and I were, you start to get used to each other’s ways, and the smart thing to do is know your strengths and know your weaknesses. So as soon as you are back out on your own, you really recognise your shortcomings! For me, I had to do a lot of rebuilding and push way out of my comfort zone in a lot of areas; taking charge of vocals was probably the biggest hurdle.

Tell us about your recent single “Empty Bottles” (feat. Degs).

“Empty Bottles” is a track Andy and I wrote over lockdown. It actually started out as a remix for a different track, but we felt we had a really solid idea and could make it work as a single. I made the bare bones of the instrumental, and Andy nailed the topline in a day. One thing that really resonated with me was the lyrics. They felt so familiar and relevant to my life, like it was something I wanted to write — seeing eye to eye on that concept made it a perfect collaboration for us to finish. Check it out here.

Your productions span a broad range of emotions and sonic frequencies, from ethereal and uplifting to dark and downright sinister. After experiencing a whirlwind of a year like 2020, do you find yourself leaning towards one over the other? What kind of sound and vibe do you think the greater/global drum & bass community has been leaning towards as of late?

I’ve always liked the challenge of delivering those two opposite sounds, and it will always be something I’m looking to improve on. It’s not one or the other for me. It will always be both. Sometimes I try and achieve a sonic collision of both dark and light in one piece of music. That was the idea with my track “Radiance.” Due to the times that we are living in currently, for me, the more song-based, musical side of drum & bass is a bit more relevant, purely due to the sad reality of clubs not being open. Still, I’m sure the whole scene is saving a ridiculous amount of bangers for the moment doors are open again.

Tell us about some of your recent livestreams. How would you describe the community of fans who tune in to your at-home sessions?

I have to give a massive shout to the livestream community, whether it’s the amazing people that lock into my stream or all the other DJs/artists that have started doing their own. It’s not easy, but it’s an unbelievably rewarding process. If lockdown’s taught me anything, it’s that I’m going to continue doing this throughout my career. I love the engagement with fans and like-minded drum & bass fiends.

Can you explain what #LAGSPLOSION is?

It’s a beautiful mistake. My streams are Wednesdays at 9 pm GMT on my Facebook/YouTube/Twitch if you want to see it in action.

What can fans look forward to hearing from Grafix later this year?

I have a new remix of a Deg’s track called “4 Days” out this month on H25PITAL. After that, I have a few really exciting collaborations that will be coming out from April onwards, including a collaboration with Ruth Royall on her Paper Dragon alias, ‘Forget The Rain.’

Tell us a little bit about the mix you put together for us.

The mix features a collection of my favourite Hospital tracks, old and new. It was great fun putting it together. Enjoy!

Cameron Holbrook is Beatportal’s Assistant Editor. Find him on Twitter.

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