Trying to adequately capture the feeling of Hardcore Underground is a very difficult thing to do. They have, in a relatively short time, manage to not only fire the imaginations of hardcore ravers throughout the world, but the quality of the work of their artists, and the label as a whole, is second to none. Be it the consistently-released singles, the artist albums, the compilations, the breakbeat-dominated sister label, HU score right across the board.
Their list of achievements, for an entirely independent label, in hardcore, are astounding. The most recent Fracus & Darwin album, 'Point Of No Return', was available through high street stores, but such was the popularity, it has sold out (don’t worry, read on to find out how you can still grab a copy). Their recent club night in London was a rousing success, and they are back for more soon. On the artist album front, they have releases coming up from some big names, as well as new and exclusive compilations.
But please don’t take our word for it. We interviewed Fracus – DJ, producer, promoter and much more. He took us through some of the recent and future highlights for the label, beginning with his and Darwin’s recent album.
Core- Your second album came out to much acclaim earlier this year – what’s the latest development with the album
Fracus - ‘Point Of No Return’ has pretty much sold out on CD at this point, and we’ve just made it available via the digital stores as a result. We’d sold three quarters of all stock within 14 days of release which was amazing for us. The sales seem to be creeping up every time we release something on the HU label, and we’re really pleased with the support we are given, especially in the current climate.
Core - Did you choose hardcore, or did hardcore choose you?
Fracus - It kind of found me really. I’m a big fan of a lot of music in general and lots of other styles of dance stuff, but hardcore honestly just gets into your bloodstream somehow. I remember being hooked from the moment I first heard it.
Core - Talk to us about some of the projects you’ve got coming out soon.
Fracus - As a label we’ve taken on a huge amount of work this year, and a lot of it is finally coming together behind the scenes. We’re releasing artist albums from CLSM, Brisk and Marc Smith all before the end of this year. All three of those are pretty much complete, and the CLSM album is already mastered and done. We’re also releasing the first compilation with our sister label HU Breaks, which will focus exclusively on the breakbeat side of things.
We’ve re-started our club nights again which have been great so far, taking in a move to London and running more regularly than we did before, and of course we’re continuing to produce music for single release, and for HU6 and the next Fracus & Darwin album which will both be next year. We’ve also got something else totally new hitting before Christmas too. It’s certainly been our most productive year so far, but ‘Point Of No Return’ aside most of it has yet to be unleashed. It’s going to be a hectic autumn!
Core - What is it about the music and the scene which keeps you coming back for more?
Fracus - I just think that when the vibe is right, and the track is right, nothing can touch hardcore on the dancefloor. Nothing quite matches that raw energy it provides. By and large it’s made and played by people who are passionate about it, and I think that’s always shown in the music somewhere. Being honest, if you’re a full time music producer / DJ and you want to make a lot of money, this isn’t the best genre to do it in. I think it’s just special to some people, and once it’s bitten you you’ll love it forever.
Core - The HU label is continuing to move into club nights and tours – let us know about some of the events you’ve got planned in the UK and beyond.
Fracus - Making the move to London was something we’d talked about for a while. We’re dotted around opposite sides of it, so it made sense practically if our nights were in the middle there somewhere. Our next event is on November 30th and we’re continuing with our plan to release a limited edition ten track EP at each one. The only way to get a copy of the CD (if you’re in the UK anyway) is to be there on the night. We wanted a club night where we could showcase everyone and everything. The music is so varied, and that’s the vibe we’ll be going for every time. We’ve taken the tour bus out both in the UK and abroad in the past, and we’re doing so again in November when we travel to Toronto. Canada has a vibrant scene which we’ve experienced as individuals, but the chance to play there under our own banner was too good to miss. Gammer, Al Storm, Fracus & Darwin, Entity, Chwhynny and MC Obie will all be flying the flag for the UK.
Core - Tell us a little more about how you got involved with Hardcore Underground.
Fracus - We started the compilation series in 2006, and the whole operation has kind of naturally grown from there really. A lot of us were booked to play a new talent room at a Vibealite party in 2006 and we came away thinking, you know, so much of this good new music is going unheard. A lot of us were new to doing music full time, and whilst we were getting one or two tracks on most compilations, so much stuff was still being missed. Jon CDJay (who was running RFU Recordingz at the time) and I decided we’d put something together that would put all these new artists, all this new music, right in peoples faces. We went to Vibealite, who’d just shown such faith by making us residents at their nights in Leeds, and asked them to back it. They did and that’s what really got us started. With so much of their money tied up in events, that wasn’t something we could ask of them twice, so we found another backer for the second project, and by the third album we were ready to go it alone, and that’s what we’ve done ever since. The series expanded and the brand started to get a bit of recognition, so we started putting out our own 12” singles too, digital singles followed, branded nights, artist albums, and it’s just become the label it is today progressively. It’s been a massive learning curve, and we’ve learned some lessons the hard way, but ultimately we’re completely independent and we can just put out and support music we like, and that’s all we ever wanted to do.
Core - Are there any new signings which the label has made?
Fracus - We’ve just signed both JAKAZiD and Chris Ross to our roster of artists. JAKAZiD has been working for Nukleuz for years and done plenty of stuff on his own besides, here and overseas. He’s amazingly talented and we’re really pleased to have him on board. Chris Ross is a genius. To be making music as good as he is at his age is astounding. His eclectic tastes just fit right in with what we’re about, and we just want to offer him the kind of platform and support that we never really had when we were at that stage of getting into music. The same is true of Sam B, and of course we have Entity, Chwhynny, Phenex, Darwin and myself too.
Core - The label has a legion of dedicated fans. Why do you think this is and do you have any message for the HU faithful?
Fracus - I don’t know exactly, maybe because people can see we’re all about the music and we just get on with it. We don’t just talk about what we’re going to do, we execute it. Labels like HU only ever exist because people support them, and that’s not something we take for granted.
Core - What about some of the other projects which are coming up?
Fracus - Long term, as in beyond the things we have planned for the rest of this year, things are taking shape all the time. Some of the best things we’ve ever managed to achieve have been born out of sheer ridiculous ambition, so we’re continuing with that line of thinking and who knows we might even pull some of it off. HU6 will happen in the first half of next year, as will a couple of other artist albums that are already taking shape, and we’ll continue writing for, and signing music to, both the main HU label and HU Breaks label too. HU6 needs to be brilliant, it can’t just be good. The music is at a stage where it needs the tracks on HU6 to represent everyone in the scene at their very best from top to bottom.
Core - Can you recommend us any artists we should listen to - hardcore or otherwise?
Fracus - I honestly love so many things it’s impossible to tick all the boxes, especially in hardcore. So much great stuff from artists on our label and way beyond as well, from top to bottom. I couldn’t single anyone out. Outside of the genre, I’m digging all sorts as well really. Stuff by Lenzman, Unicorn Kid, Metrik, loads of 90’s dance stuff. I was always a big indie kid too but the last 18 months I haven’t found as much stuff that I like as I used to. I think I’ve got some sort of music attention disorder; I can listen to a load of brand new d&b, then The Beatles, then old Chicago house mixes. Here’s one thing though, if you tend to love melodies and pretty chords and stuff. Unicorn Kid gave away a track on his SoundCloud called ‘Chrome Lion’ (Google it, get it) and I listened to that pretty much every morning for about two months. Feel good music to set you up for the day!