Chris Grayston

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Chris Grayston
Also known as C. Grayston
Origin England
Genres Happy Hardcore, breakbeat
Occupation(s) Record producer, music promoter, talent scout
Instruments Keyboard
Years active 1990–present
Labels Future Music
Fusion Records
Hectic Records
Associated acts Ikon
Cynical Blend

Chris Grayston is a British music promoter, event organizer, record producer, musician, label owner, and talent scout. Currently, Grayston is employed as a music consultant including working for acts, record labels, including regular clients Thames TV and Sony.[1] He served as a music promoter in the early 1990s for acts such as Judge Jules, DJ Spoony, DJ Fabio and Grooverider,[2] and promoted the massive "Fusion" raves across the United Kingdom from Hastings Pier, Bath Pavilion, Milton Keynes Sanctuary, and a 10,000 sell-out festival at Wembley.[3] As a musician he's collaborated with SL2 and was a founding member of both Midas and Cynical Blend.[2] Grayston was involved in the early years of Hardcore techno in the UK, which was an extension of the Acid House music movement from 1989 to 1990. Acid House later split to generate the genres of Breakbeat/hardcore, Drum and Bass/Jungle, and Techno scenes collectively known as rave music.

Grayston founded and directed the dance label Hectic Records, and earlier releases from the label relied heavily on vocal hooks along with piano and string dominated breakdowns. Tracks such as "Sunshine", "Heaven," and "Crowd Control" were known in the UK rave scene in the early 1990s. Hectic Records developed into four record labels; Hectic, Hectic Rewinds, Hect Tech and Fusion Records. Grayston founded the UK music competitions Live and Unsigned and Open Mic UK, and is currently head of A&R at Future Music Management.[2]

Grayston can claim to have first discovering UK acts such as Birdy,[4] Jahméne Douglas,[5] Lucy Spraggan[6] and Luke Friend due to his work running Open Mic UK and Live and Unsigned through Future Music Management.

Early career[edit]

In the early 1990s[2] Grayston started his career as a music promoter in the United Kingdom. He organized a variety of tours and events for acts such as Darren Styles, Carl Cox, Andy C, BBC Radio 1's Judge Jules, DJ Spoony, DJ Fabio and Grooverider.[2]


Grayston produced and promoted massive raves in the early 1990s, with the events morphing into the promotion organization "Fusion" in 1992.[7] Grayston expanded Fusion to serve both as a label and a record shop in Portsmouth.[8]

After several years of organizing dance parties, one of the largest Fusion rave events took place at a massive festival in London's Wembley Conference Centre[2] on 25 May 1996. There were over 12,000 attendees and three different arenas catering to different styles of dance.[2] Two of the stages featured DJs from Drum and Bass promoters One Nation and House and Garage promoters Gism, with the third stage organized by Fusion in their traditional Happy Hardcore style.[3] Among Fusion's DJs at the event were Hixxy, Force, Styles, Sharkey, Sy, Slipmatt, Dougal, and Seduction.[3]

Fusion Records released a variety of vinyl from 1995 up until the late 1990s, including releases by Dreamtripper, Mystic and Fire, Midas, Sunset Regime, Cheddar 4, and DJ Stompy.[9]

The Fusion events helped establish hardcore music throughout the UK, and resulted in a number of copycat events such as Slammin Vinyl, Hardcore Heaven, United Dance, and influenced the line-ups of promoters such as Helter Skelter and Dreamscape. In 1999 Grayston held the last of his Fusion promotions at Bath Pavilion, leaving to concentrate on his music and act Cynical Blend. Later the Fusion events were resurrected by DJ Supreme (a short-time partner in Fusion), but Grayston had given no approval and has not had any involvement in the events.

Hectic records[edit]

After working for some time as a concert promoter and Fusion organizer, Grayston was increasingly approached by new musicians looking for him to release their tracks. This led Grayston to found Hectic Records, his own record label that initially catered to techno in the happy hardcore style.[2] The label's first releases were in 1995.[10] Hectic Records grew into four separate labels, and became known as one of the larger dance labels in the United Kingdom. Overall they had over 100 singles with over a million record sales across the group, and released ten compilations and albums including artists such as Darren Styles, DJ Unknown, and Krafty Kuts. In the late 1990s the label was taken over in a buyout.[2]

Musical career[edit]

Grayston has written and co-produced a variety of his own music, in most cases using the moniker C. Grayston. He has also signed with several international labels including Sony, Elap, and Central Station Records. He has collaborated with acts and producers from the United Kingdom such as SL2 and The Wide Boys.[2]

His track "The Flow," a release on the happy hardcore label Just 4 U, was included on the 1995 compilation album Hardcore Happiness.[8] He also contributed the track "Groove Control," a DJ Clarke'e remix created with long-term collaborator Vinylgroover, to the 1995 album Just 4 U Volume 2.[8]

Grayston, operating under the name Ikon, also wrote and released the track "Give Yourself to Me". A remix was released on QSH006 by Quosh Records in 1995.[11] A remix of "Give Yourself to Me"[7] was also included as the first track on the 2007 album Best of Bonkers, the best-selling hardcore compilation of all time. The track was released and licensed to worldwide to Ministry of Sound.


Scott Attrill, a happy hardcore DJ known as Vinylgroover, began working for Grayston in the Fusion record store. Vinylgroover went on to set up several of his own record labels, and also released a number of records as "Midas" in collaboration with Grayston.[12] In 1994 the duo released Midas with the tracks "Groove Control" and "SpinBlitz."[10] On Fusion Records they released FUS001 in 1995, FUS004 in 1996, and FUS008 in 1996 (with David Edge contributing).[9] The duo's releases also include Midas and Dougal in 1995 and Midas and Sunset Regime in 1996, both on Hectic Records.[10]

In 1995 "Groove Control" was licensed to Central Station Records in Australia, where the single achieved number 5 in the Australian charts.[13]

Grayston worked through early and mid-nineties with engineer Jim Sullivan, helping build Sullivan's studio and introducing Sullivan to DJ Eddie Craig, who at the time ran VIP Records in Chichester with his mother. Craig and Sullivan together brought out several releases on Grayston's Fusion Records before becoming known as the Wide Boys.

Cynical Blend[edit]

After some time producing his own music, Grayston became a member in the new band Cynical Blend, who were signed to the New York City-based label Pacific Time. He produced and played keyboard on their debut release Inverse Catch 22[14] Released on 13 February 2001,[15] the album met with some international success on music charts, and led to a soundtrack deal for the comedy Blockbuster Grown Ups.[2]

Live Fest[edit]

In 2012 Grayston promoted what was called the largest indoor music festival in the United Kingdom.[16] Some of the headlining acts included Zane Lowe, Tinchy Stryder, Roll Deep, The Hoosiers, and Funeral for a Friend.[17] Prominent genres of music at the festival include urban, pop, rock, and indie.

Live Fest took place at The O2 in London[18] Programming take place over five stages within The O2, including Proud2, Inc Club,[19] and the IndigO2.[20] The O2 Arena is the second largest arena in the UK and in 2008 it took the crown of the world's busiest music arena.[21] During the festival the IndigO2 stage is dedicated to emerging and unsigned UK musicians with the National Grand Final of the Open Mic UK music contest.[22] The mascot for the festival is a green alien called Bob.[23]

Live and Unsigned[edit]

In 2007 Grayston organised and co-founded Live and Unsigned, an annual music competition for unsigned acts in the United Kingdom.[24] Grayston regularly serves as Events Director[25][26] and head judge for the competition.[2] The competition annually attracts 10,000 participants,[27] and after a series of live judging panels, ends with a summer National Grand Final at the Indig02[24] as part of Live Fest.[28]

Through the competition Grayston has discovered a number of acts, including 2007 winners B-Kay and Kazz,[29] who later achieved a top 30 hit in the UK charts with the single "You Know it's Right."[30] He also discovered participant Josh Dubovie in 2008, who went on to represent the United Kingdom at the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest.[31][32] In 2008 he also discovered Welsh indie/electronic band Kiddo360, who won the Grand Final[33] and later went on to win a Vodafone Award.[28] Others include The Lottery Winners, Scottish band The Detours,[34] and Nathan Sykes from The Wanted in 2008, who met with chart success in 2010.[35]

Later winners include Lucy Spraggan,[36] RemedySounds[37] and Coco and the Butterfields.[38]

Open Mic UK[edit]

Grayston (far left) with judges and Open Mic UK winner Hatty Keane in 2010

In 2008 Grayston devised Open Mic UK as a spin-off from the Live and Unsigned competition. The new competition resulted from the high number of solo singers and vocalist entrants to Live and Unsigned who were without original material.[39] Open Mic UK immediately became the largest music competition in the United Kingdom for vocal groups and solo artists,[40] with an annual participation of approximately 10,000 acts.[41][42][43] Similar to Live and Unsigned, Grayston holds the National Grand Final at the IndigO2 in London.[40] It was described by Joel James of BBC York & North Yorkshire as "one of the toughest competitions in the country."[44]

Grayston regularly serves as head judge, and helped discover winners Birdy, who won in 2008 at the age of 12.[45] In 2011, her version of Bon Iver's "Skinny Love" reached the top twenty of the UK music charts.[46] He also helped discover 2010 Under-18 winner Hatty Keane,[41] who later signed with BGM[47] and toured as the support for Britain's Got Talent 2010 winners Spelbound.[48]


With Grayston's continuing success with up and coming solo acts, in 2013 he launched a new competition for teenagers and pre-teens called TeenStar.[49] The first year saw 9,000 entries[50] and 17-year-old male singer Luke Friend[51] who later starred in the tenth series of The X Factor. In 2014 The TeenStar winner was Emily Middlemas who also went on to success in X Factor making it to Judges houses and 2015 the winner was Rachel Ann Stroud who featured as part of Ricky Wilson's team in the BBC TV series The Voice.[52]

Future Music Management[edit]

Grayston currently runs Future Music Management, where he is head of A & R (Artists and Repertoire).[2][8] He has signed a number of Live and Unsigned, TeenStar and Open Mic UK participants and winners to Future Music, including[2] Hatty Keane,[47] B-Kay and Kazz,[29] and Kiddo360.[28][53] Grayston got Lucy Spraggan signed to Baby Girl Music before Spraggan went on to get signed to Columbia Records.[36] Future Music also guided Luke Friend to the Grand Final of X factor leading Luke to be signed by RCA and more recently BMG.


In 2016 using his experience in consultancy Grayston was approached by New Haven Publishing run by Sid Vicious ex partner Tove Elisabeth Dahlin, to publish his book The Secret to Success in the Music Industry.[54]


Following Luke Friend's appearance on 2013's X Factor and subsequent top 40 hit, Future Music Ltd threatened to sue Friend for alleged breach of contract. Future Music Ltd argued that "the winner must give TeenStar, run by Future Music, first refusal on management services within 18 months of winning", in addition to "appearances and promotion for an 18 month period from the end of the competition for a minimum of 5 times." Luke Friend's management company, Crown Management, have stated that "Our client was saddened to have received this claim from Future Music with whom he worked amicably for some time, including during his time in X-Factor. The claim has absolutely no basis in fact and will be robustly defended. We have every expectation that our client will be vindicated in due course."[55]



  • 1994: Midas Volume 1 by Midas[10]
  • 1995: QSH006 "Give Yourself to Me by Midas" (Quosh Records)[11]
  • 1995: FUS001 by Midas (Fusion Records)[9]
  • 1995: RAR010 by Midas Imperial March (Slammin Vinyl records)[56]
  • 1995: Midas and Dougal by Midas (Hectic Records)[10]
  • 1995: HVR006 You Take Me Away by Midas (Happy Vibes Recordings)[57]
  • 1996: FUS004 by Midas (Fusion Records)[9]
  • 1996: FUS008 by Midas (Fusion Records)[9]
  • 1996: MDMA002 Midas Volume 2 by Midas[58]
  • 1996: Midas and Sunset Regime by Midas (Hectic Records)[10]
  • 1997: HR001 Doesn't Have to Be by Ikon (Hectic Rewinds Records)


  • 1995: "Groove Control" (DJ Clarke'e Remix) on Just 4 U Vol. 2[8]
  • 1995: "The Flow" on Hardcore
  • 2007: "Give Yourself to Me" on Best of Bonkers[11]


  • 2001: Inverse Catch-22 by Cynical Blend – producer, keyboard[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Judges: Chris Grayston". Live and Unsigned. Archived from the original on 19 March 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-02. 
  3. ^ a b c "Fusion – a Match Made at Wembley". OldSkool. 25 May 1996. Retrieved 2011-05-25. 
  4. ^ "Birdy set to fly high and take on the UK top 40 after winning singing competition in 2008". Open Mic UK. March 2011. Archived from the original on 10 April 2011. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  5. ^ "Jahmene Douglas a former Open Mic UK contestant has the X-Factor". Open Mic UK. December 2012. Archived from the original on 21 December 2012. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  6. ^ "OsFest find Live and Unsigned beauties". OsFest. 13 May 2011. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  7. ^ a b "Ikon". Discogs. Retrieved 2011-05-25. 
  8. ^ a b c d e "Chris Grayston". Discogs. Retrieved 2011-05-25. 
  9. ^ a b c d e "Fusion Records Discography". Happy Generation. Archived from the original on 17 August 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-25. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f "Happy Disc". NetcoMuk. Archived from the original on 20 September 2005. Retrieved 2011-05-25. 
  11. ^ a b c "Ikon – Give Yourself to Me". Discogs. Retrieved 2011-05-02. 
  12. ^ "DJ Vinylgroover". Fantazia. Retrieved 2011-05-25. 
  13. ^ "Midas – Groove Control (Australia 1995)". Discogs. Retrieved 2011-05-02. 
  14. ^ a b "Inverse Catch 22". Artists Direct. 2001. Retrieved 2011-05-25. 
  15. ^ "Cynical Blend – Inverse Catch-22". CD Universe. 2001. Retrieved 2011-05-25. 
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  17. ^ "Live Fest 2011 tickets and listings". Skiddle. 2011. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
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  19. ^ "Tinchy Stryder smashes it Live Fest". Urban Vault. 29 July 2011. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  20. ^ "Live Fest London's biggest indoor festival announces line up". MusicRadar. 17 May 2011. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  21. ^ White, Dominic (15 April 2008). "The lemon Dome that was transformed into O2's concert crown". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
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  29. ^ a b Chale (12 February 2011). "Bkay and Kazz – museke african artistes". Museke. Retrieved 2011-05-25. 
  30. ^ "Get live, get signed!". Belper News. 24 January 2008. Retrieved 2011-05-25. 
  31. ^ "Live and Unsigned Success at this years Eurovision". Live and Unsigned. 2010. Archived from the original on 28 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-25. 
  32. ^ "Your Country Needs You...Josh!". BBC. Retrieved 2011-05-25. 
  33. ^ Keates, Helen (29 September 2008). "Here's looking at you, Kiddo360". This is South Wales. Retrieved 2011-05-25. 
  34. ^ "Winners". Live and Unsigned. Archived from the original on 16 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-02. 
  35. ^ Webb, Sarah (3 May 2011). "As a young boy Nathan Sykes would dream of stardom". This is Gloucestershire. Retrieved 2011-05-25. 
  36. ^ a b "Live and Unsigned finalist Lucy Spraggan picks up record deal". MusicRadar. 27 September 2011. Archived from the original on 25 February 2014. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  37. ^ "Meet the Live and Unsigned 2012 winnera". MusicRadar. 1 August 2011. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  38. ^ Price, Ben (2012). "Live and Unsigned Winners" (PDF). CoCo and The Butterfields. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  39. ^ Hewitt, Phil (29 November 2009). "Review: Open Mic UK national grand final, Guildhall, Portsmouth". Chichester Observer. Retrieved 2011-02-17. 
  40. ^ a b "Indig02". TheO2. 2011. Archived from the original on 2 October 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-12. 
  41. ^ a b "Hatty Keane". WDPJ Media. 1 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  42. ^ "Anderson has been crowned winner of Open Mic UK 2009!". Retrieved 2011-05-12. [dead link]
  43. ^ "Local talent shines on the Mic". Life in Fleetwood. 1 October 2009. Archived from the original on 14 September 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-12. 
  44. ^ James, Joel (23 October 2009). "York singer's talent show success". BBC (Yorkshire). Retrieved 2011-02-17. 
  45. ^ Almroth-Wright, Indy (6 December 2008). "Twleve year-old 'Birdy' wins UK talent contest". BBC (Hampshire). Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  46. ^ "A new teen star is about to go top 10". Vodafone big top 40. Global Radio. 6 February 2011. Archived from the original on 24 September 2014. Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  47. ^ a b "Open Mic UK Competition Winner Hatty Keane signs to BGM". Open Mic UK. 8 February 2011. Archived from the original on 22 March 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  48. ^ "Open Mic UK competition winner Hatty Keane to support Spelbound on UK tour!". Open Mic UK. Retrieved 2011-05-12. 
  49. ^ "TeenStar Competition Supports Nordoff Robbins". Nordoff Robbins. 31 October 2012. Archived from the original on 31 August 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  50. ^ "Future Musc contest acts set to rock OX-Fest". Teenstar. July 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  51. ^ "Luke Friend crowned singing competition winner". TeenStar. July 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  52. ^ Wightman, Catriona. "Look who's back! Emily Middlemas returns to audition for The X Factor 2016". Digital Spy. National Magazine Company Ltd. Retrieved 16 January 2017. 
  53. ^ "Elmor on the road to grand national final". Music News. 22 February 2008. Retrieved 2011-05-25. 
  54. ^
  55. ^ "Luke Friend denies alleged breach of contract". mirror. Retrieved 2015-11-07. 
  56. ^ "RAR 010: Happy Tunes and Midas – Rushin' On Pink Champagne". Energy Flash Records. Retrieved 2012-02-05. 
  57. ^ "Midas and Vinylgroover/DJ Fade – You Take Me Away / Music is My Life". Discogs. Retrieved 2011-05-02. 
  58. ^ "Midas Volume 2 (Vinyl 12")". Discogs. Retrieved 2011-05-02. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]