WHEN you think of Drum & Bass and Jungle, there is one DJ that is synonymous with the sound the world over, and that is Andy C.
His continuous climb to the highest heights of the genre and far beyond during his colossal career has been truly astonishing. 2017 marks a major milestone for him and his seminal label Ram Records as it celebrates 25 years at the cutting edge of underground music. Kicking off with his explosive DJ residency at London’s XOYO, and announcing his Beats 1 show on Apple Music. The year is off to a flying start.
Hi Andy, how’s it going?
Really good thanks, really busy – but really good yeah! Its Wednesday now, I’m in the studio making music which is what I love to do, tonight I’m off to watch West Ham – then tomorrow I will be mixing literally all day at home, the same again Friday all day until my next XOYO show when once again, we will be taking it all the way back – like in the days of The End.
It’s been literally a year since we last caught up and what a year it has been….2017 so far in one word??
A dream! Its kicked off in a huge way with my XOYO residency which I have been completely focused on. Before it began, I envisaged how it might be, and it has turned out exactly as I had hoped but even better than I could have imagined.
Apart from the really, really early days – this is my first proper London residency where I have the opportunity to play week after week in the same place and it has surpassed all my dreams of how I wanted it to be. It’s been a truly beautiful experience so far – especially the reaction and support we’ve received – amazing!
How is your residency at XOYO going?
It’s wicked, I absolutely love it – every week it has to be completely different, whether it’s the guests joining me or the theme of the night – it’s great having the opportunity to dive deep in to the vaults and deliver something special each week, it’s a truly liberating experience as a DJ.
The residency nights are great – they are over 21’s and they are all sold out, we have had people joining us from all walks of life and from so many different generations too. Younger people who’ve never heard the classics and older heads who haven’t yet heard some of the latest tracks all raving together and absolutely loving it.
The vibe each week is something I haven’t experienced for years, and I am not just saying that either. You drop tunes and the place kicks off instantly, it’s just a constant shouting match among the crowd – you can hear it and literally feel the energy in there, people slapping the walls and letting go, immersing themselves in the music and expressing their love for it, its tangible.
What’s so enjoyable about playing in such an intimate setting?
The best way to explain it would be to say that the set just takes its own course, and it comes from heart – there’s no preconceptions about what you are expected to play at all, and that’s exactly what I wanted.
Say for example, you’re about to play at a festival and your following a DJ who plays another genre of music, you think to yourself I’ll play a couple of tunes to ease everyone in and build a vibe that works across the board but in this setting there’s none of that, we are straight in and firing!
There’s such a buzz about these events, playing a residency regularly is so important as a DJ and equally as important as a fan. It’s like a church – what people can then always reference as inspirational. For instance, AWOL moulded me back in the early days – that was my church and out of it came everything that I then identified with and wanted my vibe to be.
Hopefully these events will invigorate those feelings in the younger minds whilst rekindling those feelings in the older heads who’ve been around since the early days and might not have experienced them for a while too.
This environment can really help to sculpt people’s interpretation of sound, because you can take them to places that it’s not so easy to at festivals and larger scale events. If you’re playing an hour in a festival in between different genres then naturally you wouldn’t be so experimental, but there’s a time and a place and this is definitely it – and trust me, I have got some serious weaponry to unleash and I cannot wait to do so.
When I went there to check the venue out initially, I was like “absolutely, I have got to do this” I was like man this is just going to be nuts, it’s the perfect environment for getting your head down and getting in it – that’s how you get INNNN it! Haha!
I was certain how it was going to go down and it has exceeded all expectations, its sick!
How do you prepare for each one? You can go literally anywhere in your selection…
Well each week, I have been trying to find the most obscure, maddest tunes to play like we used to down The End and simply because I can. In the first hour of the opening night it hit me just how hard it was going off in there, like literally mental – and it’s been the same every week since.
Although it’s still a long way off, I know that when the residency is complete it will be a time for reflection, memories are being made each and every week, genuine moments in the timeline of my career that I will never forget.
Unlike back in the day, this time around we are documenting it all too. We are recording exerts from the sets and will be sharing them through the Apple Beats 1 shows too.
It must have been difficult narrowing down your special guests, but you seem to have every area of the scene covered nicely… how was that process?
Well, I wrote a wish list and the powers that be went shopping to see who was available. It was specifically tailored to try and encompass every part of the scene and I’m really happy with the guests we have lined up.
Of course there were people on the list who couldn’t make it for a number of reasons which is unfortunate but to be expected due to their own commitments but that’s always the case with any line up you are working on, but I’m genuinely pleased and think we have a pretty sick selection of people.
Funnily enough now its caught fire – everyone is ringing me saying they want to come down and get involved, it’s fantastic! Everyone sees the videos that go up and want to get on it which I love!
When I’m mixing, I’m up there with my ear plugs in and I always have the monitors absolutely lashing out so you don’t really realise how hard it is going off, or how loud everyone is screaming when the tunes are dropping, so looking back and watching it from a different perspective is incredible!
Will any of the XOYO sessions be back to back? Maybe with Randall? Lots of history between you…
Well that would be quite difficult these days as he uses CDJs and I use Traktor but who knows! Randall was a huge inspiration of mine from AWOL and the music we have released together, or back in the day when we used to go down to the underground – hanging with him, Fats and Cool Hand Flex going dub cutting. There’s so much history its wicked and I can’t wait, it’s always great to see him bouncing around behind the decks – he’s draws out tunes like no-one else, I can’t wait to have him down there!
I think it’s incredible how you, DJ Fresh and others particularly recently have managed to capture the mainstream’s attention and, now that you have it are venturing back into the harder edged, underground flavours of Drum & Bass…
Well… you’ve sussed out the masterplan!
What’s your working week like at the moment? Still flat out 24/7? Are you still touring around these gigs or have you been on home soil for the most part?
Well a fair bit of studio time, where I am working on a number of projects such as remixes and on some original bits too, then the odd meeting if absolutely necessary but otherwise I am flat out mixing like a dog in preparation for these XOYO showcases. I’m only playing in other countries at the moment which gives me enough time to prepare for each of them properly, which is really important to me. I can be working on the plane, producing, editing sounds, cataloguing stuff – whatever, although if I’ve had a few drinks then it’s a different story!!
My air miles are still pretty crazy though, I mean in a couple of weeks I am finishing up a show and then heading straight to Puerto Rico for the night.
For the night!?
I know it’s insane, right! I’m on a 9.00am flight to Miami from Heathrow, then on a connecting flight down to San Juan, Puerto Rico – land there around 7.00pm, play at the festival and sleep for a couple of hours, then straight up and back on a flight to Miami then home to London – bosch!
I’m going to Australia in April and the whole thing is four gigs, there and back in seven days which is mental, so yeah lots of travelling but all good fun of course!
Given that your 25 years deep into your journey as a DJ and with Ram Records – there really is no end in sight and no sign of slowing down any time soon either…
This year is going to be the busiest year too! I say that every year but this is actually going to be the busiest year so far! As you say, Ram is 25 this year and we are going to celebrate in style – so watch this space…
The XOYO shows are a great opportunity to celebrate all those years and to reflect back, what an amazing success story. How have you managed to maintain such positive momentum, so consistently and for so long?
Well firstly, what is there to not be positive about? I get to play records to people who want to jump around having a great time. I’d do it if no-one was listening! I used to do it at house parties where I was the one in the shed at the bottom of the garden with a table lamp next to me playing the records while everyone else partied – it was just what I loved doing.
DJs don’t retire that’s for sure, you are never going to want to give that up! Music is such an amazing, positive and beautiful force. For me personally it is such an emotional experience, the excitement that I can still go out and share that with people is what inspires me.
When I am getting my tunes ready and I am in the mix, there’s going to be moments when I’m really emotional – the tunes that really get me, like they would anybody but they get me in such a place where I am jumping around like a lunatic at home, tunes that bring tears to your eyes because they mean so much to you. They evoke memories of times and places, and not only that – whether its certain vibrations or frequencies in particular tunes, there’s a chord or a string that gets you, or maybe a drop and that is what is so amazing about music and being able to perform it and share it.
That’s how I maintain my positive momentum, the music just does it for me.
Yeah man, we are getting deep! Honestly, we all have it – you have it, the people coming to XOYO will have it – we all have these special moments that mean so much but it’s so difficult to explain to somebody other than just “LISTEN TO THIS!!!!” haha!
Music gets you so deep inside yourself that even with people who aren’t overly emotional, outwardly anyway – it sends their mind and their soul to an amazing place and that is what Drum & Bass and its history does for me. It resonates among us, week in and week out all over the world through so many different sounds and forms – it is a universal language, and truly beautiful too. It amazes me how even the most militant, hard-core tunes even twenty years later can still evoke those feelings within you. Maybe your brain stores those memories and emotions and it ties that musical sequence or expression to them so when you hear it, it all rushes back into your brain and takes you to that place again and that’s probably why we never grow tired of certain tunes and still draw for them so many years on.
As if that wasn’t enough, you have just announced your bi-weekly residency with Apple Beats 1, tell us more.
It’s going brilliantly, and it’s a really cool thing to do – they approached us and why wouldn’t you!? It’s so professional too, they broadcast to over one hundred countries and its available forever and the feedback so far has been nuts! They invited us on board to represent Drum & Bass as they are huge fans of the music and they have built a platform to promote it and share it with such a vast audience, I’m so pleased to have been given this opportunity to represent the scene – it’s truly amazing.
When the management in L.A heard the first show they were like “what is this? It’s mental!!” and absolutely loved it, in fact they actually broadcast he first show twice as many times as they had intended to as they enjoyed it so much. It goes to show as big and as well-known as we think this music is, there’s always other boundaries to cross and doors to open and that’s what this is all about.
The really cool thing is the music that gets played on my show gets picked up by the other hosts on their shows which increases its audience so much further. I mean, one of the producers working on my show then goes off to work on Elton John’s show – it’s crazy! He does a weekly show, whilst the likes of Zane Lowe, Pharell and Dr. Dre have their own shows too – its nuts, it’s really cool to be part of it and they are all incredibly positive too.
What would you say are the main differences noticeable now from when your journey began?
Back in the day it was a group of us going to cut dubplates and talking about the music amongst ourselves, and now we are talking about things like Apple Beats 1, 25 years of Ram Records, this interview we are doing for a major publication like The Sun – the world wide popularity of this music, we have all grown together while the love of the music between us all has remained, and just continued to grow stronger and stronger.
As you get older, and more experienced and therefore better prepared to cultivate opportunities and maximise their potential, it is all about development and evolution – your own progression and that of the music too. I mean I thought I knew my music before this residency, but now I KNOW my music. I went through a long process of selecting what I wanted to play and came up with well over two thousand tunes, there’s so many that slip from your memory but you know you love them and you get stuck in and it brings them all straight back like it was only yesterday that you heard them. Now I’m like, throw me into any era and I know the tunes, I have spent so much time immersed in the music I feel like I’m ready for anything, I have truly studied Jungle and Drum & Bass through this residency and it has been a fanatic experience. The scene is in a great place, it is a musical standard now and isn’t going anywhere, it has stood for a quarter of a century and I truly believe Drum & Bass is in the strongest position it has ever been, in every way imaginable.
You are a great ambassador for the scene and a great example of where having a positive attitude and plenty of determination can take you, what tips would you give to people setting out along a similar path to you?
It’s mad you know, I think back about how I started this label round my mum’s dinner table with my sister doing the Ram logo for me and it’s just mad how things propel forwards, like if you’re going to start something then if you throw yourself head first in to it and give it everything you have got, the results will amaze you.
You need to have good people around you, if you are surrounded by negativity and people who question everything – then you may not have the confidence to just go for it. Sometimes that is exactly what you have got to do, just go for it and make it up as you go along, and that’s the fun part.
Positivity is a very powerful force, and it is magnetic too – people gravitate towards it, thinking positively will take you a long way.
You need to be unique too, that’s always been true but now more than ever given the access everyone has to everything available – standing out form the crowd has never been so important, so be yourself in everything you do.
It’s all about enjoying life, making the most of opportunities and doing the best you can. We are all here for such a short moment in time, you really have to make the most of it and give it everything you have got. Always go for it, every single time.
Looking back – tell us something that you are proud of!
I’m immensely proud of everything we have achieved, and right now especially to host 13 nights in a row at XOYO and have everyone buzzing about it means a lot to me, I’m proud man, 25 years in!
How’s the cap collection coming along?
Haha! Yeah all good thanks, I’ve now got a magic tree in the garden too!
Anything else you would like to say?
Thank you to you, its conversations like this that vibe me up and it’s great to talk to someone like minded who gets what we do and why we do it, to know that people get the point of it – I really appreciate that.
And I want to say thanks to everyone who shares their positivity with us and supports what we do, it’s been a common theme throughout the conversation and that’s because it’s the fuel of life.
Listen to Andy C’s Beats 1 show every other Friday in Apple Music. Catch Andy C at his XOYO residency in London every Friday until March 31 and across the summer at Let it Roll festival, Snowbombing, Lost & Found, Wild Life, Parklife, Dour Festival, Nu Forms, Boardmasters, Dreambeach, Innovation in the Sun, Tomorrowland, Reading Festival, Leeds Festival, Bestival, Middlelands and many, many more!