SELLING out arenas and stadiums is normally reserved for rock bands and pop stars but Drum and Bass legend, DJ Andy C sold out The SSE Arena in Wembley on Saturday November 17th less than three days after the show was announced back in July.
The gig was the first time an all night event has taken place there in Wembley’s long and prestigious history and came off the back of a string of landmark shows for Andy C having already sold out Alexandra Palace, Brixton Academy and a 13 week residency in the more intimate surrounds of London club XOYO. You can read our interview with Andy which we did during the XOYO residency HERE.
We caught up with Andy ahead of the Wembley gig for an exclusive chat ahead of the show to find out what it feels like to make history.
Congratulations on selling out Wembley Arena in just 3 days! This has become a habit now selling out big shows like this on your own! How you are feeling about this weekend now it is nearly upon us?
A mixture of excitement and nerves! We sold out the show really early and that was back in July, so it’s felt like an eternity. On 1 November it felt real and the buzz has just got bigger and bigger. We’ve been working on production and logistics this week, there’s so much involved with making this a very special night. My phone has been going crazy! Right now, I want to be there and starting my set – I can’t wait.
Do you feel a weight of responsibility flying the flag for DnB and electronic music on this kind of huge stage? I can’t think of many other DJs in the world of electronic music who could do this without being part of a wider line up?
I feel privileged rather than a weight of responsibility. I keep pinching myself – I’m playing DnB all night at Wembley?! Every family member, all the old crew – everyone is coming. The scale of it is really hitting home. I’m consciously trying to soak up the buzz and to take a minute or two to reflect and enjoy the build up. This is definitely different to every other gig we’ve done, but I don’t want to overthink it, and there’s a fantastic team involved including Are One, Coda, Lock N Load, Bryte Design and Protect & Tour.
Can you remember the moment that it became apparent that you would be able to sell out huge venues like this with just you playing?
I’m not sure I could pin it on one moment, but gigs like Radio 1 in Hackney were incredible – I heard my set had more streams than Jay-Z and Rihanna?! Mainstage at SW4 also. My first all night event at fabric in their main room. Then after that we chose O2 Academy Brixton; think we discussed that while I was parked up in Sainsbury’s! I was on holiday when we announced the show, and I kept getting phone calls saying the tickets were flying; it was surreal, they sold out before I had lunch!
Obviously you are used to playing to enormous crowds these days but last year you took on an intimate string of dates with your residency at XOYO in London. You told us during the run that it was a liberating experience as a DJ. How did it feel when you came to the end of the run at the club now you can reflect on it as a whole?
I couldn’t believe it was over! It was an incredible moment in time. We created a community and a family down there week after week. It was wonderful. I’d turn up each Friday seeing familiar faces. There were those who’d come from abroad, a couple from Sweden came for one night and ended up renting an Airbnb and stayed for a month. An American guy came to one show and wanted to stay for a few weeks, his partner then flew over for a show and stayed too. It was a celebration every week of raw DnB and jungle, and that’s what we set out to do.
Did you approach the sets differently playing in such an intimate space than you would do playing the bigger festival stages and the likes of Wembley Arena? I guess feeding off the crowd is very different at intimate shows as opposed to the big shows?
I approached it with a different mindset based on the different DJs we’d selected to play each week. People who inspired me back in the day, people who inspire me now. I must have played about 1000 different tunes, so it was a very different approach to a one off set, or somewhere where it’s a non DnB crowd.
Presumably creating a unique experience each week at these shows for the crowd and yourself meant digging even deeper than usual into your record collection and reminded you of music from yesteryear which you may have forgotten about? Have any re-discovered tracks from these shows made it into your playlists since?
100% – quite a few, I’ve found even more for Wembley!
Will you be returning to do something similar to the XOYO shows any time soon
Right now my focus in on Wembley!
London especially has played a big part in your evolution as a DJ and your contribution to the electronic music scene in our capital has been huge. Can you tell us why London holds such a special place in your heart as a DJ and tell us about a few highlights from the last 25 years playing here?
It was the first place I ever DJed officially. My first residency was in London. I listened to pirate radio from London, the first time I experienced jungle was in London. It’s the best city in the world. It was home to Blue Note, AWOL, Paradise, The End, fabric, where do you end? It’s influence has defined me on a personal and professional level, and given my life some very special moments. I played my first show at Club Da Da, I played before Ratpack. There was Voodoo Magic playing after LTJ Bukem in ‘95, our night at The End. Radio 1 Weekend, SW4 and many more. I’ve always had a wonderful connection with this city, and I dreamed of doing a gig at Wembley. And now here we are, and I’m just about to do it.
What’s next for you in terms of landmark All Night shows after Wembley? I know I joked at the start this is becoming a habit for you but I’m sure you or your team must be thinking about the next big thing already? Can you give us a hint? Perhaps some shows to stream online like Paul Oakenfold and Carl Cox did recently at Stone Henge?
I couldn’t possibly say, but we’re always looking ahead! Carl is someone I’m very close to, and have huge respect for what he’s created. What he and Paul did at Stone Henge was incredible.
Just wanted to touch on this summer. It’s been a big one on the festival circuit for you as usual but also in Ibiza with a memorable back to back with Chase & Status at Amnesia. Can you tell us how this went down and some other highlights from your summer touring?
The b2b with Chase & Status was awesome, we come from the same place and mindset and music. It was incredible to do that in Ibiza – to try and out jungle each other! This summer was full of highlights – We Are FSTVL, Toronto, Bassrush in LA, SW4, Creamfields, it’s been incredible. I love the whole festival season, it started with We Are FSTVL, and that’s a wonderful way to begin as it’s near home, so we had the full crew backstage. We make a lot of videos and I love going back through and remembering the mental lifestyle I’m lucky to have.
Lastly, after celebrating 25 years of RAM last year what have you got coming up on the label?
We’ve got releases coming from myself, Calyx & Teebee, Culture Shock, Delta Heavy, Bensley – the full crew!
You have always championed up and coming talent some of which have gone onto greatness themselves. It must be hard to keep up with the promos and demos in the digital age with so many people making music now and to dig out the gems?
I used to get dubplates and exclusives and still do, but I also play or receive promos the day they’re out! I’m lucky that a lot of people send me music, and I try to listen to as much as possible.
Is there anything else you would like to say to your fans ahead of the show at Wembley this weekend?
I would like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who’s coming, and who’ve been enjoying the journey to get there – the vibes from social media have been amazing. It really feels like there’s a community spirit with this event. I’ve really enjoyed the build-up and can’t wait to see you at Wembley – we’re going to have it!