If you ask any Drum N Bass fan to name their favourite DJ, it’s most likely to be this man. The Ram Records front-man, legendary Drum N Bass DJ and producer Andy C has been writing music for most of his life, and is one of very few DJs to still mix using vinyl.
His most recent smash hit ‘Heartbeat Loud’ is getting played worldwide, his ‘All Night’ event sold out at Brixton Academy and it looks like we’re going to be hearing a lot more from him in 2015! We were very privileged to distract him from the studio for 10 minutes to talk about his career to date, his Spring tour and who’s hot on the scene right now.
Hi Andy, how are you, I hear you pulled an all nighter in the studio last night?
Yeah, I was in the studio until about 9am this morning, so I’m just waiting for the coffee to kick in and then I’m gonna be up and rolling for the day again!
What were you working on in the studio last night?
Just working on the next tune. Working on a bunch of stuff really, I’ve got like half a dozen things going on at the moment, and I’m nearly getting there with this one. I can’t get it out of my head, so I’m gonna have to go in there in a minute, coz when I’m in the mood, I’m in the mood.
So we’re right in the middle of the process! Is this leading onto an album, what’s the scenario?
Yeah, I’m working on a load of tunes and it’s all about getting a big project of music together. I’m feeling really inspired at the moment and I’m enjoying the vibe. Depending upon where it leads to be honest with you. I’ve written music pretty much all of my life. I was producing before I DJ’d. It’s just a beautiful therapy and process. I’m having fun.
Do you find yourself in the studio more in the winter months because there are fewer festivals, or does this make little difference because you play around the world?
No I have my laptop with me all the time on the road, so I’m able to work on stuff. I find that the festival season takes over your life. It’s hard to find focus and get ideas down in the summer. There’s a number of reasons for that; it’s festival season, you’re flying around or you’re on the road all the time and it’s warm and sunny outside. So the winter months are definitely conducive to producing. I made a conscious effort come the end of the festival season, and my last festival was actually Bestival (in September) to take some time out. I took 3 weeks out, got in the studio pretty much every day and wrote. What that’s served to do is basically get so many ideas on the go, that now it’s continued and I’m in there every day.
Weren’t you the first DnB DJ to play on the Bestival main stage?
I’m not sure on the facts and figures of it, but I’ll take that if you’ll give it to me!?
Ha-ha – Yes of course. So where’s the most bizarre place that you have played?
There’s been a few. In a cave in Puerto Rico – That was pretty out there! It’s funny because someone just tweeted me literally 2 minutes ago, “when are you coming back to Puerto Rico”? When I first went there I was blown away by how BIG Drum N Bass is. You can’t believe it. You’ve got this beautiful Caribbean island that looks like paradise. When I first went there, which was quite some years ago, people were going crazy for Drum N Bass. I mean there’s always small pockets of Drum N Bass but when I got there it was on the radio, there was a huge club scene, people were going crazy. You get there and people are name checking all the tunes you’ve done, all the RAM releases, so yeah I got there and did that and it turned out the party was a rave in a cave! I can’t remember if it was on a mountain side or near the beach coz I’ve played a few mad places there. But yeah, it was one of them “is this really happening” kind of moments, without a doubt.
You’ve been in the industry for 20 years or more. It must feel incredible to be playing year on year to new fans. How do you continue to keep it fresh?
Steady on old bean I’m only 24! Ha-ha I’m only joking. The music keeps it fresh, the audience keeps it fresh. DJing to lots of people when they are having fun is not a tough ask. It’s a dream job isn’t it? It all serves. It keeps itself fresh, doesn’t it, do you know what I mean? And thereon in comes the inspiration. Like… I love the music, I love making music, the buzz when you’re DJing at a festival or a club, no matter how big the audience is, when you’re connected with an audience, there’s nothing better. That is the natural high of natural highs. Whether it’s 200 people, 2,000 people or 20,000 people. That connection with people is the best. Who hasn’t been to an after party and not wanted to play all of their mates their favourite tunes? That’s what DJing is ultimately. It’s an incredible buzz.
Pioneering DJs like yourself are driving the music forward, but who inspires you?
Everybody inspires me. I know that sounds cliché but I’m blessed with RAM Records. I’ve got an incredible team behind the scenes and we’ve got a roster of amazing acts. As I’ve been sitting here now, literally as the phone was calling I’ve had a brand new smasher come in from Calyx that they have just been making this week. I’m just downloading it now. When I woke up I had a new tune from DC Breaks in my inbox. My Vortex sent me a folder of tunes the other day. My crew inspire me. We all inspire each other. Do you know what I mean? It’s Friday and I basically have got 8 new tunes in my inbox from my artists today. That’s gonna be my inspiration for the weekend.
How much involvement do you have nowadays with RAM Records? You’re so busy (you founded the label, you’ve got your nights and travelling all over the place). How do you juggle your workload?
Like I say, I’m blessed to have a fantastic crew in the office. We’ve got 8 fulltime staff that take care of it on a day to day basis. But my involvement permeates everything I do. From the RAM nights that we hold to the 8 new tunes in my inbox that I’ve got to listen to and then give feedback on. Ultimately the artists are looking for me to provide A&R guidance. To deciding stuff, the look , the feel. It’s a massive part but we all play a massive role together so the workload is shared out. It’s always going to be a part of my life.
Who’s hot on the scene right now?
This is a difficult question to answer, but I’m going to say that I’m very excited by the new Rene LaVice LP. DC Breaks has got an incredible project that’s gonna be coming through. And at the same time, brand new signing Bensley – we’re all really excited about him. No one has ever heard any of his music, so we’re forming it now. Like I say Calyx has just sent me this most ridiculous banger that’s just gonna smash it at the club tonight! It changes on a daily basis.
You have stayed true to your turntable roots and use Traktor. Do you think it’s important as one of the original pioneering underground DJs, to continue using turntables as a part of the process for you?
It’s an important part of the process for me on a personal level, but I don’t do it because I feel that I’ve got to represent some sort of mentality. I do it because that is my mentality. I’ve always used turntables. I love the physicality of it. I just love DJing. I know that sounds cheesy but you’ve gotta enjoy what you’re doing right? Especially if you’re flying around the world. If you’re getting on a flight for 10-12 hours, when I get there, I wanna put a shift in, do my work. I vibe off that – working up a sweat, running between the decks. Everything is not perfect that’s for sure, and that in itself makes every performance unique and keeps you on your toes. It adds to the whole experience and excitement of it all. For me that’s why it works. It keeps the buzz going. I just love putting the needle to the record and mixing 3 records together.
Aside from your work, do you ever just invite mates over to have a beer and a mix?
I used to, without a doubt. I used to go cut dub plates, and we used to sit there all night. I used to come back from the cutting house and freak out about all the new tunes I had, and have good mix-ups that’s for sure.
What’s your setup like?
I’ve got a nice studio. I’ve got my music making side of it and I’ve also got my 3 turntables setup and mixing part. When I did the Brixton Academy show a couple of weeks ago, I was basically in there and did 3 6 hour sets in a row getting used to the tunes. Just like always I can go and lock myself in the studio and roll out a set for hours and hours. If you’re gonna stand up all night in front of 5,000 people at Brixton Academy and play, you’ve gotta put a bit of prep work into it.
Have you still got your original vinyl?
Yeah I’ve got thousands in storage actually. It’s the classic “I’ll do that next week”. I’ve got all of my dub plates that I ever cut at my house though, and they will never leave the house. I’ve got all of my treasured tracks that have always been in my record boxes throughout the years at home as well – they’re in a right old state. It’s mad when you’re out DJing at the time and you get the vinyl out, records will get scratched, sleeves will get ruined and you write on them. Then years later you look at some absolute classic tunes and they’re just demolished. But yeah they’re all still here.
What are your top 3 tunes at the moment?
- Rene LaVice – The Calling
- Frankee – Drop It Low
- Heartbeat – Loud
How do you think Drum N Bass will develop in the future?
I don’t know and that’s what’s exciting. I know that the maturity of the song writing is always getting better. I think 2015 is going to be an incredible year. In fact I know it is! I know what we’ve got lined up. We do a number of things with different artists, festivals and so on. I think 2015 is going to be the biggest year yet, when you consider the success we had last year, the huge hits that people have been having. The ground swell of the underground scene. The fact that I can sell out Brixton Academy. It feels like there’s a real beautiful wave of positivity and excitement building about it and it’s great to be a part of that.
Do you have any specific goals for 2015?
I wanna get more music written. I’m touring in the spring and I’m taking the All Night show on tour. We’re gonna start in the spring with some UK dates so that’s gonna be exciting to be able to go around the country playing all night. From the start of the night, to the finish of the night which will be something I’ve not done before. So that’s a buzz and obviously getting more and more music out there. Finding more hours in the day there you go, there’s my goal for 2015!
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