Hosoi is a new label, spun-out of the audiophile bar of the same name. Located within Stockholm’s Hotel AtSix, the venue aims to provide a musical haven from the city’s bustle and overload. The imprint`s first release does the same, with Johan Cederberg AKA HNNY producing two tracks for a bespoke 45. By, as in “time goes by” is a bossa nova built on boom bap loops and a vocal pitched between Portishead`s Beth Gibbons and Smoke City’s Nina Miranda. Hosoi, the tune, employs chimes, shakers, and spare careful keys, crowd noise chatter and vintage vinyl crackle, to create an oasis of head-nodding calm. Its smoky sax shadows perfectly matching the ethos of the bar. The closest thing in my own collection might be A Tribe Called Quest`s remix of Crustation. To find out more I asked the man behind Hosoi, the label and the venue, Victor Sanchez, a few questions.
Where are you from?
Well, I have Spanish origins, but I was both born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden.
Where are you based?
Still stuck and happy here in Stockholm.
How old are you?
By the time this interview goes out I`ll hopefully be 36.
When did Hosoi open?
This is a bit debatable as the name and some other details came to life a bit after the original opening, but the easy answer is just over 2 years.
How many people are involved?
The “Hosoi family” is getting bigger and bigger everyday. There are loads of people involved from all over the world, but I guess especially from our local music community. DJs, producers and promoters all play a big role in the daily life of Hosoi. The daily operations are simple though, a poet barkeeper and me cleaning records…
How did you get into “Hi-Fi”? What inspired you to start the venue? Was it a party, an event, another venue?
I’ve been interested in old vintage audio and studio gear for a long time. My dad was into “Hi-Fi” and I remember loads of the stuff we had at home, some I still have around today. But I would say the biggest inspiration for Hosoi comes through music. I’ve been DJíng and running club nights in Stockholm for the past 18 years and even if the idea or inspiration from a place like The Loft always existed, the main drive was the lack of music driven venues really focusing on “listening music”.
What were you doing before opening Hosoi?
I can’t remember much pre-Hosoi, these past 2 years have been 100% focused on the space and it feels like it’s the only thing I have ever done haha. But I have been told that I had a life prior to this and if I remember correctly it was very much focused around music. I have DJed a lot, produced music, run warehouse parties, club nights, curated music and did bookings and sound engineering for venues and restaurants, but I also worked quite a while for a production company making Swedish feature films – yes, sound was involved here as well.
How did you finance the venue? Was this easy to do?
The venue was fully financed by the Hotel where Hosoi is situated – Hotel AtSix – and no, financing a venue like Hosoi was not an easy task. It`s been a very long process with a lot of other investors and venues prior to At Six that didn’t happen for several different reasons. I think the hardest task was to actually explain – to someone who is not from the world of music – what this whole “listening bar” thing actually is about and why you need to spend this big amount of money on a sound system for “home use”. By the time I actually came in contact with the Hotel AtSix, I had almost given up the idea of creating a space like this in Stockholm. But after meeting Henrik Jakobssen, who is the main reason – apart from me – that Hosoi exists today, it changed quickly and given the creative freedom needed to visualize the space it suddenly became possible.
Can you describe Hosoi? Opening hours, how many customers is comfortable? Are you a cafe, bar, restaurant?
At the moment Hosoi is mainly open Thursday to Sunday, 18.00 to late, but we try to have a bit of floating idea around opening hours and days. The capacity stretches from around 60 to110 people depending on the setting of the night. Description wise I think we can fit all of the above, but mainly we are a space where the music comes first and everything else is secondary. I believe we are a very dynamic space with a relaxed approach and “homely” feel. We are still a bar with food and very nice drinks to hangout in like any other. The biggest difference might be that if we feel food or drinks come in the way of any particular circumstances, we stop serving them.
How would you describe your clientele?
I got asked this question by someone else very recently and I guess it’s easiest to say that our clientele can vary a lot. One of the early decisions about Hosoi, based on the location was to keep it “hidden” and going a bit for this “speakeasy” approach. The main reason for this has always been to actually attract people with a common interest in music and force people to make a little effort finding us. With that said, most of our clientele are definitely open minded and music aficionados. Also, as Hosoi has proved to be the perfect place to meet, talk, discuss and plant seeds for creative projects even outside of Hosoi. It`s very naturally become a meeting ground for the music and creative community. At the same time it’s a place for anyone seeking a comfortable and relaxed space to have a nice cocktail, accompanied by the best possible soundtrack.
I think once you actually find Hosoi, its easy to fall in love. I really hope you feel welcomed, relaxed and that the feeling of being “at home”, and it not being just any bar comes through.
Can you give me some of the spec on your kit?
Sure, you can get the whole rundown. DJ-booth consists of two technics 1200GAE turntables with cartridge & stylus from Grado with a Condesa Carmen mixer. Speakers are a pair of KRS 4351 custom series from Japan and the amplification consists of one McIntosh pre amp and four McIntosh Monoblocks. Also we bi-amp the system and use an Accuphase crossover for this.
What`s your most prized piece of equipment? Can you tell me why?
The KRS speaker-pair are definitely the most “prized”. Not only do they sound absolutely stunning they are also such a great piece of craftsmanship and beautiful to look at.
Is there a piece of equipment that you’d really like to have? A wish list?
Well, there are always things. I guess next up is a proper VU-meter, but mostly I would like to try the DEQX ́ s calibration system. We fooled around with it a bit at the Zodiac club in Jakarta this last Christmas and I would really like to test it out properly in Hosoi.
How easy is it to pick up high end audiophile gear?
It’s fairly easy, especially if you have the wallet for it. But otherwise there`s a lot of great vintage and second hand gear out there for reasonable money that definitely does the trick. I guess you only need some patience and a little bit of knowledge of your needs.
How hard is it to maintain the sound system in Hosoi?
Not really, it’s a very stable system that probably will run for years without any bigger issues…
Are you always looking to ways to “improve” the sound?
Well I think I’m always looking for ways to improve the venue and experience. Sound or room acoustics play a big part, but also the general feel of the environment. This will probably be an ongoing quest for as long as it runs.
Do you have DJs, or are you like Tokyo`s original jazz kissas – making selections from your own collection?
Hosoi is primarily a space where we invite dedicated DJs, record collectors, producers and music aficionados out there to share parts of their collection that usually never leaves their home. With that said, some nights we play the records housed in Hosoi and all our invited guests are of course welcome to flip through the shelves. But for my own pleasure I`d rather hear someone cherry pick and play from their own.
Is your collection housed onsite? How many records do you have? I’m based in Japan and have visited jazz bars where tens of thousands of LPs are packed around the walls of often relatively tiny spaces.
Yes, parts of my own collection and the “Hosoi family” collection – people who play regularly – are housed onsite, but under some sort of constant change I guess. I think there might be around 3000 records at this given moment, not really sure.
Do you stick to a particular sound, or are you playing music across all genres?
Hosoi is and will always be a place that goes across all genres. It is much more to do with mood and environment than genres. I try hard to curate a broad and interesting musical program and all invited guests have complete artistic freedom to interpret the atmosphere of the room with sounds and music of their choice.
Could you please give me a couple of pieces of music that test your system, if possible explaining why?
Oh this is almost as difficult as picking your favorite records… but the two records that come into mind that I have used several times to showcase the system for people who are interested would be, Billy Cobham`s Heather and Country Joe McDonald`s Breakfast for Two. Both very dynamic and well produced songs that sound incredible on that system… but there are endless other records and genres that are fun to play around with in Hosoi.
Audiophile bars seem to be on the increase, globally. Do you have any idea why this might be?
Well there are probably many factors to this. I think this “new wave” of more DJ-based audiophile venues are part of a whole bigger movement surrounding the music, what people listen to and how they consume music. There also seems to be a lot of people looking for a more “mature” way of going out, relaxed, open, were you can discover music properly but still with ties to the club scene.
I think a lot of people that have been into records and DJ culture for a while have a real need for a place like Hosoi. Somewhere like the “pioneering” venue, Brilliant Corners, made it clear that there is a big interest in this kind of space. Hopefully it`s part of a snowball effect. If you ask me, every big city should at least have one venue this.
Is there a global comminutiy of audiophile venues – sharing sound tips, equipment discoveries, etc? A quick look at your Instagram and I recognized folks from Brilliant Corners, Red Light Records, Lovefingers and Phil Mison….
Hmm, I’m not sure there is a community of “audiophile” venues as you mention. If there is then I haven’t been invited. But there is definitely a community of music aficionados, diggers, collectors, producers, promoters and so on… Mainly I think this community has its foundation in music and consists of people that might have struggled to find venues or contexts where they can play the music that they want to play, and now they are all joining forces. These venues are just part of it.
Do you have any local competition?
None at all. Even if“audiophile” bars are on the rise, Hosoi is not only separated in Stockholm by the quality of its sound, but also in the nature of its musical programming. The whole point of Hosoi was been to fill a musical gap. Hopefully this will change and more dedicated listening places will pop up, but at the moment we are very much on our own.
Can you tell me anything about Hosoi the label? Why start a label? What do you have planned, who will be the featured artists?
Starting a label through Hosoi was just a natural progression. Hosoi is about spreading good music and I guess all good labels have the same mission. The idea was to create an imprint releasing music that has the room in mind, and also has ties to it. All of the music needs to have been made, recorded in or compiled, by someone who has actually visited us. We have so many talented people passing through, not putting them up for the challenge of making “Hosoimusic” would be a bit sad.
Our first release is with a close friend, Swedish maestro Johan (HNNY). His regular Sunday “Music For Listening” residency has played a huge part in moulding Hosoi to what it is today. When he played us these two fantastic tracks, inspired by the Sunday hangouts, it was an easy decision to make this the first release together.
What comes next? We’ll just have to see….
HNNY`s HOSOI will be released on September 13th. You can keep up to date on where to order the records, and events at the venue, by checking directly with Hosoi.