Chris Goss: My Life’s Playlist

It’s been 21 years since Chris Goss co-founded what remains one of the UK’s best-known independent dance labels.

Created by Goss alongside friend and fellow DJ Tony ‘London Elektricity’ Coleman, Hospital Records specialises in drum’n’bass, with a roster including High Contrast, Metrik, Netsky, Danny Byrd, Camo & Krooked, Nu:Tone and Keeno.

London-based Hospital also runs its own publishing company, Songs In The Key Of Knife, while offering a splendid array of label-themed merch.

Goss also hosts the Hospital Radio Show on Rinse FM each month, welcoming guest appearances from artists and label staff alike.

The Independent Echo asked Goss to share the songs that changed his life.

Listen to his playlist below – and read about six tracks which have had an extra special impact…

Keith Mansfield – ‘Grandstand’ (1975)

You have to love theme tunes. Growing up in the ’70s, with only three TV channels on a black & white portable, this song clearly spelt out SATURDAY.

The only thing that could pull me away from the BBC’s all-day sports coverage was the wrestling on ITV, which was a favourite with my Nan.

Many years later, I was resident DJ at Camden’s Jazz Cafe, where the venue’s bookings manager, Adrian Gibson, was adept at pulling together some unique gigs.

One very special show was to coincide with a compilation album he had directed for Strut Records, celebrating London’s much-loved library music house, KPM.

Adrian proposed a concert with the pick of their current session players, alongside a handful of the leading composers from the library’s heyday in the ’60s and ’70s, including Keith Mansfield, Alan Hawkshaw, and John Cameron.

They stormed through cult classics like Beat Boutique, Funky Fanfare, and The Champ, alongside theme tunes to Wimbledon, Grange Hill, and Countdown – but their live rendition of Grandstand was as good a hands-in-the-air moment as any rave!

Mudhoney – ‘Touch Me I’m Sick’ (1988)

I went to art college in Bradford, West Yorkshire in the late ’80s, taking three huge boxes of records with me. But no intention of taking them out of my bedroom.

My very first (reluctant) deejaying experience was Spring 1990 for a college party at the Tumble Inn, down the hill from our college.

The ‘decks’ were over the top of the staircase, facing the wall, in the upstairs function room. I grappled with two plastic belt-drive turntables, attempting to blend James Brown, Dinosaur Jr, and Trouble Funk 45s.

My skills were rustic, to say the least, but that debut experience of wanting to make people happy with my treasured vinyl proved to be a real turning point in my life.

I went on to start a weekly Wednesday (admission 50p!), and then join the much-respected Dig! crew in Leeds, which lost me money every week, since my £20 travel cost was double my fee.

By ’92 I was hosting one-off parties around London with my brother under the Rio Cinema, and in the back of Caribbean restaurants; and then in 1994 I joined Tony’s band Izit as warm-up DJ on a 6-city tour of Japan.

I’ve felt nothing but blessed to have fine people offer me cash, flights, hotel rooms, good food, and great company; with the opportunity to share my favourite records, for the sake of a good night out.

Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity – ‘Light My Fire’ (1969)

Back in 1994, Tony and I were working on his Tongue & Groove label, trying to find our feet in the business.

For a while, we had a kind of manager in the States who was looking to license some of our Tottenham acid jazz beats.

One day he rang me, and asked if i knew of an old British jazz artist called Brian Auger. Owning 6 or 7 of his LPs I scoffed, and said ‘of course..!’

Steve was managing Brian, who had lived out in LA for almost 20 years by then… and we hastily tabled a proposal for a Greatest Hits project on our little imprint. We naturally started talking about the possibility of a gig. Brian didn’t really have a band at that point, but had already nurtured the talent in his eldest son, Karma, who was his resident drummer.

I reached out to our friends Matt Deighton, and Mother Earth; who I knew were diehard fans, and had the sound and feel to fit a revitalised ‘Oblivion Express’.

After some arm-twisting from a slightly over-awed Deighton, we made plans and booked a one-off date at the Jazz Cafe.

The show was a brilliant celebration of Brian’s music, and very much like a homecoming – given it was 17 years since his last performance in London.

I believe that was one of the first moments I felt that I had made a contribution to the world of music.

Plan B – ‘Stay Too Long’ (2010)

I have a tendency to subject anyone/everyone within shouting distance of the talents of our little family gene-pool.

My eldest nephew Tom, believe it or not a very shy teenager, met a young Ben Drew at a house-party in Forest Gate.

Tom had spent his mid-teen years locked away in his bedroom, teaching himself how to play the guitar; strumming away on an E8 sofa, he impressed Ben enough to find himself ‘in the band’.

A year or two later, I introduced myself to Ben, backstage at a big drum&bass event in the Midlands, where he was performing a tune with Chase+Status.

He described to me how he was making plans for a ‘concept’ album, “kind of like Motown meets Grime..!”

I confess to being a tad sceptical at the time, until my nephew some months later finally presented us with a 12-inch copy of Stay Too Long, with his name as co-writer on the centre label.

Housed in a classic Atlantic Records retro sleeve, it was the first step on the road to huge success for Ben, Tom and the Plan B crew. Watching them live from the Pyramid stage on the BBC, with my daughters dancing around the lounge, was something special.

Stevie Wonder – ‘Please Don’t Go’ (1974)

My brother Simon passed away from lung cancer in early 2010. We shared a deep love of music, records, deejaying, West Ham, Morecambe & Wise, and pretty much everything. His loss was – and is – nothing but devastating to me, and like the rest of my family, I’ve had to learn how to manage without him.

I think I spent the first year or so in a daze, but managed to crack on day by day. Unsurprisingly, music was not just a comfort, but an essential part of trying to process his death.

I compiled a number of personal playlists, and found some songs too hard to listen to. Stevie, and Motown in general, was a natural touchstone for the two of us – a staple diet for any decent house party, or club night out.

As a label, we’ve been privileged to receive all sorts of messages from fans, explaining how some of our songs and records have helped them through hard, and sometimes desperate times. I feel humbled by each one, as I know precisely how important music is to me.

It was Simon’s old school friend Anne who posted ‘Please Don’t Go’ as an online tribute in the first week without him, and I’ve since felt its power and resonance is a constant for me.

London Elektricity – ‘Song In The Key Of Knife’ (Pull The Plug LP) (1999)

I bluffed my way into the studio. After Tongue & Groove folded in ’95, Tony convinced me to try and have some fun in the studio.

We’d delivered our first ever remix together for Ninja Tune, as part of their Refried Food project; and the experience was good enough to make us think we could be onto something.

Hospital Records kicked-off around nine months later, and the first couple of years were touch-and-go. But the response to our debut Elektricity LP in 1999, and the DJ sets we delivered, built the foundations for the company and people we are so proud of today.

I always felt like a bit of a fraud in a recording studio; I don’t read music, can’t play an instrument, and sing like a duck-call. Tony gave me the confidence and positive energy to believe I could do more than just buy other people’s records, and I owe him so much for this career that I cherish.

‘Key Of Knife’ was the moment we finally found our drum&bass feet.