Katching up with Hydrofunk

DJ Katch first came to widespread attention as a member of Brisbane based collective The Resin Dogs. Jen Paterson caught up with their turntablist DJ Katch this week in Brisbane to chat about his label Hydrofunk.

In conjunction with friend and band member Dave Atkins, Katch formed Hydrofunk in 1996. The imprint was initially just an effort to put together a label to house their work “To begin with we just needed something to put our stuff out on, although it’s grown over the past few years to the point that we’re now able to support local Brisbane acts.” In addition to supporting local talent the label also acts as a stable for the each of the band member’s side-projects. “We wanted to let people know that we’re out there, that this sort of sound around. There’s not so much of our sort of stuff on the market locally but I think the artists we feature are as good as anything on international labels like Ninja Tunes or Grand Central Records.”

Does he think Hydrofunk has been able to create its own niche in a typically hard-to -crack Australian market place? “Yeah I do think we have our own niche. Obviously there are people like Creative Vibes doing similar stuff, but not exclusively. I don’t think there’s as much of this stuff coming out of Australia but if some of these guys were working in the UK, for example, they’d have been signed to labels like Ninja Tunes. It’s simply a case of there being less of a market for it locally because of our population size. There’s so many incredible artists, so much great music being produced in our own background that the general public doesn’t get to hear. I get really frustrated when I see local acts passed over for big name international DJs at some of the big festival tours, either that or they’re given a token half hour set which doesn’t really allow you to do much.”

While Australia’s undeniably a great place to live, demographics make monetary success difficult for the average musician. Katch still feels that our geographic isolation is “only a restriction if you if you let it be. Anyone can ring up a promoter or label over the other side of the world and have a go. That’s how we developed a relationship with The Bronx Dogs foe example. We’ve been putting music out for seven years now, artists like Mad Dr X was a hero of ours – now we’re releasing his work!”

‘Sub-urb-an Files Volume 1’ is the “first documentation of Hydrofunk’s existence as a music utility. I’m really proud of this compilation. It features anything from artists like Katalyst – who’s obviously doing really big things; to Downsyde who’ve just released a new album and Blunted Stylus who’s producing work which is far superior to artists like DJ Shadow in my opinion. There’s a track by Mostyn who makes stuff which sounds like a lot of the work on Stereo Deluxe label – that real Viennese dub feel – and tracks by local stalwarts Ransom and Regal.” There are also a couple of stellar numbers by the boys themselves, one of which (‘Stand Firm’) features vocal contribution from Grand Central Records’ Spikey Tee. “Yeah we’re really happy with that tune, it was so great to have artists like Spikey Tee singing on one of our tracks.”

I admit that I was surprised to hear such a degree of diversity on this release, given what I’d heard from the imprint in the past. “We’ve been spearheaded into a hip hop label but we’re really about the beats. We used to be part of a Mr Bungle style live act, for example. Both Dave and myself are really into jazz, and our tastes have matured as we’ve gotten older. That’s reflected in the artists we’re signing.”

As for what else is on the agenda this year. “We’re currently trying to have a bit of a rest actually, focusing on the Resin Dogs Stuff. We’re obviously DJing as Two Dogs a lot but I’ve been trying to get back to doing some solo stuff at places like Rics – keep my hand in so to speak. We’re trying to sort out a Resin Dogs album that will probably be a bit more down tempo, and feature the odd overseas guest. We’re also currently working on getting the compilation on to vinyl, and organizing some release parties for the CD.”

While the Dogs’ work has undoubtedly paved the way for some of the contemporaries they house on Hydrofunk, Katch is reticent to take too much of the credit for their success. “Maybe [we can claim] a little bit, but the artists have still done the hard work themselves. I think one thread that links us all is doing this for the love, not the money. As clich├ęd as it sounds, it’s about the music for every artist on this label, and that shows.”

Sub-urb-an Files is out now on Hydrofunk.