Ahead of his headline set at Innovation In The Sun, we had an in depth chat with one of the biggest names in DnB
Are you looking forward to heading to Innovation In The Sun? You’re quite a regular there now. What’s your involvement with the festival and how did it all begin?
Andy C: Yeah man, me and the guys go back years and years. It’s a terrific event and it always has been since it first started. Everybody packs their bags and goes on a week long session. It’s really cool as this year they are doing parties in the castle! They’ve been doing the club setup, pool parties, beach things and they’ve even got yacht parties. I always pop in and out because I’m busy but when I get there the place is jammed!
I bet you’re a bit gutted when you have to jet off somewhere else!
Well it’s always been that in and out vibe. I’m not moaning! Even just to see it briefly it’s always good!
What sort of set are you planning on playing there?
I’m gonna be smashing it out man! It’s like the full DnB crowd so everybody knows what they’re seeing, we’re just going to have it! It’s amazing!
What’s your schedule like this season?
It’s absolutely mental! I was just looking at the diary literally about 10 minutes ago. The next two weeks I've got Cardiff, then Ibiza on Tuesday, Romania on Friday, Wildlife Festival on Saturday and Parklife in Manchester on Sunday. Then I’m off to America on the Wednesday to Toronto and Las Vegas.
That sounds mad!
Ha yeah I get back from Vegas and its straight to Glastonbury and then Croatia. I’m just looking at the diary now, that’s why I can’t do Innovation because I go from Glastonbury to Croatia to Hideout Festival and then it’s back from Innovation and then it’s literally straight from Innovation to Austria! It’s mental. The mad thing is I’ve just been up until 7am in the morning just on a studio vibe. You’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do though!
So are you working on any new stuff at the moment in the studio?
Yeah loads of new stuff. Really just been working hard. I did a remix for you guys at Ministry! The new Sigala single, tell the guys that should be coming over pronto. I’ve got loads of new material of my own. I’m really excited for people to hear it over this month.
Give Me Your Love is out on Ministry of Sound on the 17th of June: pre-order here
Is that going to be EP's on Ram?
Yeah they will be coming out over the coming months, years, decades! Whenever I get them finished. You drive yourself round the bend doing this you know! Once it’s done it’s done.
So do you manage to squeeze in any actual downtime when you aren't DJing or are you focusing on studio sessions?
Yeah I’ve been working really hard in the studio but I had a bit of downtime in May. I had a couple of weeks off because I had a very busy beginning of the year. I did Ally Pally and went straight to Snowbombing and then came back and went to Japan for a couple of days, once that was done I was like “I think I need some time off’". Basically the downtime involves catching up with mates and enjoying some pub vibes, actually!
Ha yeah must be nice to relax after all the travelling!
You don’t really recharge but you just have a little breakaway from the madness. But,like I say, from tomorrow the feet won’t touch the ground until September.
Yeah, but once you’re in the mode you just get into the swing of things and it just becomes part of what’s going on. You get caught up in it!
Do you actually manage to practice mixing much in between the studio, the downtime and the live sets? I guess you’ve reached that level now where you probably don’t need to?
Yeah I have a mix at home for sure. You’ve gotta know your tunes. I always like to learn the tunes as that’s the most important thing really is knowing your music. I’m always having a spin and when I get a new bag of tunes I lock myself in a studio. To be honest with you I just lose hours having a mix and enjoying myself. It’s always a buzz! When I’m having a mix I’m just imagining in my head how it’s going to work on the dancefloor. That’s a big buzz for me definitely.
Most of your festival sets you’re the top bill. Do you miss playing those smaller more intimate venues like The End? I imagine you don’t get a chance to play at those anymore really?
Yeah I haven’t done that for a while. There’s nothing I like more than getting down and grimey in a small club. Maybe I don’t get that opportunity anymore in the UK but when I went to Japan in Osaka there were a few hundred people there, proper small club. One of them ones where everybody was in touching distance. It was just sweaty and grimey – proper! Womb in Tokyo was fantastic as well. There’s places around the world where I still get that vibe and I’m doing a good club show in Toronto. We’ve been doing really big shows in Toronto but basically we’re going to do a nice, intimate club vibe this time round. I’m looking forward to it all man.
So out of all these venues which one would you say is your favourite?
Um, let me think!
I imagine it’s probably quite tricky!
There’s so many great clubs. I had an amazing time in Womb and Metro in Perth is special. Exchange in LA that was really good earlier on. Obviously all the stalwarts in the UK. I’m lucky you know. Actually I’ll tell you where was absolutely killer, Saturday just gone I played in Moulin Rouge in Paris!
Nice! I bet that was special?
That was amazing. Wow, what a vibe! It was just a really incredible vibe in there, the people were going nuts and the sound system was sick. I loved that and did a 3 hour set there!
Are there any venues that you’d love to play at that you haven’t yet? I imagine you’ve just about done them all by the sounds of it!
Not of the top of my head. We’ll work our way through them man. It’s going that way!
With all your sets that you’ve played recently, what’s been your favourite one?
Alexandra Palace for sure. That was 10,000 capacity at Alexandra Palace and I played for the whole night from start to finish.
Listen to an hour of Andy C recorded live at Alexandra Palace
How do you maintain that energy? I bet it’s tricky when you need a loo break!
Ha yeah of course I take loo breaks. You pick your moments. It’s all about sticking a tune on with a long intro and running. As your running I’m counting the bars so you make sure you get the double when you get back.
No way, you actually count bars when your away from the decks?
Yeah absolutely man. I’ve got this inbuilt metronome so when I run to the toilet I’m thinking “right, I’m at 32 bars now I’ve got to be quick”
I bet you hate it if your visit to the toilet lasts a bit too long?
Ahh mate it’s brutal. It’s all good though I think I’ve mastered it. The energy from the crowd there was incredible, a beautiful thing seeing everyone there for one reason. They're all there to go nuts to DnB all night and that makes my job easy! Everybody’s there for the same reason and I buzz of that. I want to make the party as vibing as possible.
Love the dedication to the mix! So do you never really clang at all anymore? I don’t think I’ve ever recalled anyone hearing you slip up.
Listen there’s always dodgy moments out there, that’s just part of playing live. One of the cool things about when you do make a mistake is that the crowd hear it and they know I’m up there doing it live. They know I’ll make it up for them on the next mix. It’s like “don’t worry we’ll get the next one right”.
It’s refreshing to hear you're still human!
Well your allowed a dropped beat now and then aren’t you mate! That’s what makes the performance raw. That’s part of the thing, I just love mixing. I love the concept of mixing two tunes together and what comes out, what you hear when you get them together and what you hear when you add in a third. I love the process of it, you’re working and you’re grafting. That’s what it’s about for me. If you get a stray beat now and again then that’s fine.
I was listening back to some of your intros on YouTube from back in the day, there’s some special ones to say the least. Everyone always hypes about what your going to open with. What one is stand out for you? The one that stands out for me is the video of the last ever Ram at The End!
That’ll be Chase & Status - "Is It Worth It" (VIP) and "Nightflight". I remember that one! Do you know what I watched that one back and I got goosebumps. What a vibe! It went off! I actually remember that clear as day. The feeling in that venue that night was just great. It was the last one, everyone made sure we went out with a bang. It just all worked.
I did Konflict - "Messiah" with Noisia & The Upbeats - "Deadlimit" at Ally Pally and that kind of worked. I think there was another at Matter with "Rock It" and maybe "Machete". Back then with two massive tunes around that was just bringing out of the blue for a quick surprise. The tunes don’t blend that well but it’s all about being in the moment.
Watch Andy C's intro at the last ever Ram Records at The End nightclub from 2008
Yeah the classics always work!
Well you know they weren’t classics back then! At the time they were just new weapons haha.
Are there any new artists your looking at for the Ram camp? I bet your keeping them pretty hidden at the moment?
Yeah we are and yes we are keeping them hidden haha. There’s some very exciting developments going on, I can’t wait for everybody to find out the vibe.
With the drum and bass scene to breakthrough you have to be a top producer with a sound that defines you. It’s almost impossible now to breakthrough as a stand-alone DJ. Are you proud that you have that reputation as being one of the only few in the scene known for being a DJ’s DJ?
It’s interesting you say that, what first got me into DJ’ing was producing, that’s how I got my first gig. Now I’m known for being a DJ but I was thinking did I actually come through as a DJ? I was producing first.
So in the beginning you were known as a producer at heart?
Well I started Ram in 1992, before I’d done a gig. The first release was out and I did my first show in the Autumn. When Long Dark Tunnel came out that got me respected and work. In amongst all of this I was handing out flyers and working for the distributor and doing everything. Scott sent out mixtapes and I did get a gig with Elevation off the back of a mixtape. But when people talk to you and they asked what your making and you say "Long Dark Tunnel" and they go ‘no way!’. Then they take you a bit more seriously so even still back then it really did help me.
Would I like to see more people breakthrough as just DJs? A good producer does not make a good DJ and vice versa. You do have good producers who are also good DJs. Especially more so nowadays than back in the day. Back then there was more of a divide between producers and they would just go and DJ because they had to. Everybody is a good DJ in our scene who producers because it’s all about that with drum and bass. Everybody’s a really good DJ because they know they have to be. At the end of the day, that’s how their music is going to get promoted when they go out and perform it. Everybody’s become aware that if people are paying to come and see you that you need to put on a good show.
Could someone come through and do it as a standalone DJ now? It doesn’t look like it, it would be very, very tough that’s for sure. They would have to be pulling some new tricks out haha! I’d be impressed, I look forward to it that’s for sure!
So talking about new tricks, for your Andy C ALIVE show you had the new Allen & Heath Xone DB4 and you were mixing visuals live alongside the music. Are you still planning on bringing that back at all or doing something similar?
I’ve not done that for a while. That was about four years ago wasn’t it and technology moves on but I’d like to upgrade the show and do it again. Why am I not doing that at the moment? I’m constantly on producing ironically given our first conversation we had haha, and of course DJing. I started doing the long sets and that was a focus for me. It’s something I’d love to revisit with all the new technology and work out how we can do a big new show. I don’t know if you saw the show at Ally Pally. It was pretty amazing looking!
Is there any new technology that you are looking at using with a new show or are you pretty set on what you’ve got at the moment?
I’m always up for trying new bits and bobs. The Native Instruments guys get me down there every so often to try out some new stuff. We’ll see what they invent next I guess!
I’m sure you’ll be one of the first people they want to try out the new tech!
I’ll give it a go man!
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Andy C will play alongside DJ Hazard, DJ Hype, Grooverider, Friction and more for Innovation in the Sun in Barcelona June 28 - July 5: Tickets & Info
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07 Jun 2016