Hydrofunk Records At 25: DJ Katch Reflects On The Iconic Aus Label

Hydrofunk Records At 25: DJ Katch Reflects On The Iconic Aus Label

It all started when the Resin Dogs were gaining momentum on the Brisbane music scene back in the mid-90s. Our unique, ahead-of-the-times sound quickly had us packing out venues around Brisbane. Having no management or label, I decided to start a label on the back of local hip-hop events and parties, and this created an avenue to release the tracks we were producing after a series of knockbacks from other labels.

In ‘97, Dave ‘Dogg’ Atkins came on board, and that marked the official start of Hydrofunk Records

EMI approached us to do some remixes, so a deal was struck with EMI/Virgin that they not only sign the band but they would have to take on the label. It was a bit of a ground-breaking deal at the time, and it created an avenue for Hydrofunk to grow our ever-expanding roster. We signed and released artists such as Shin-Ki-Row, Koolism, Downsyde, Ribosome, Mad Dr X (our first UK signing), 2 Dogs, and Blunted Stylus. Plus a distribution deal with UK hip hop label Low Life Records.

Towards the end of ‘99, we started working on our gold debut release, Grand Theft Audio, and we became a staple on festival main stages around Australia, growing a reputation for our amazing live shows, which started to gain us international recognition. With the growth of the Dogs, Hydrofunk Records continued to flourish.

Around 2003 Hydrofunk Records’ relationship with EMI/Virgin started to deteriorate due to conflicting interests, so the mutual decision was made to leave EMI/Virgin bringing the Dogs with us and retaining all masters and rights to acts signed at the time.

2004 ‘The Big Hun’ Zsolt came on board as the 3rd member of Hydrofunk to keep the engine room running full steam ahead. With new blood and energy in, we started to expand our reach to overseas markets. We also entered into a new relationship with MGM distribution, the biggest independent distributor in Australia, who embraced our ideals. This relationship is still going strong.

In 2011 Hydrofunk established our own world-class studio, Hydrofunk HQ, continuing to perfect our craft, developing and mentoring newly signed artists while recording, producing, and mastering works for artists of all genres, both local and international. We worked with Big AL Mawdsley, Tom Thum & Jamie, Sampology, Plutonic Lab, Delta Rigs, Abstract Rude, NFA, REMI, J Smith, Dialectrix, The Bird, Wolfmother, Tsun, Soy Dogs, Thavy, Def Wish Cast, BVA and heaps more.

With the resurgence of vinyl sales, we continued to grow, and in a major highlight for Hydrofunk Records, we opened our doors in Japan on our last landmark anniversary in 2017.

Since then, we’ve released new music from Indigenoise, Tigermoth, The Boy Of Many Colors, Ben Walsh and Calski. We also re-released Grand Theft Audio on vinyl and put out our own long-awaited album Notorious D.O.G. back in 2019. 10 years in the making…

The album took a lot longer than expected due to a few life-changing events and some creative differences. Waiting for the right collaborations and the fact that Dave and I lived in different states at the time, plus working and playing on other projects, had held up the release of the album. In the end, we felt we could put together a solid-sounding album with a great lineup of rappers, singers, and musicians. We had always talked about moving more towards the songwriting boundaries when we first started with Grand Theft Audio – as a party festival band. I think we ticked all the boxes with this record. In the end, we won Best Hip-Hop Song at the QMA Awards for Pack Your Bags, featuring our L.A. collaborator and friend Abstract Rude.

2022 is our 25-year anniversary and marks Hydrofunk as the longest-running independent Hip Hop/Beats label in Australia’s history, and over those years, we’ve had the privilege of putting out over 80 releases under our banner.

We wanted to do something special for the 25th anniversary, so we’ve put together a 35-track compilation covering our roster, both past and present, that features a lot of the artists I’ve already talked about.

The 25-year release takes a look at some of those musical highlights and artists we have met, played with, loved, and discovered. There’s an unreleased Resin Dog track that never got used for some reason, which I recently rediscovered while cleaning up our studio after we got flooded. There’s a great, diverse mixture of releases from the label, from boom-bap hip hop to dance floor bangers, but also some nice laidback downtempo beats, experimental beats and a few remixes from friends and family that may have been overlooked, which we have chosen to highlight. At the end of the day, it’s always been about the art form and creating art, and with the label, we have always encouraged and tried to mentor that feeling in the artist we have worked with.


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