We touched down with the man, the DJ’s DJ, the DJ that has more fun than any other while he’s playing, the ever ALIVE, biggest crowd party rocker, the legend, Andy C.
The last time I spoke to you was at Swerve about a year ago…
Oh yeah, I was very drunk that night. I seem to remember doing the chicken dance or something like that!
I’ve been looking at your schedule for this year, and it looks as relentless as ever…
Yeah it’s crazy! I’m off to Budapest tomorrow, then Bournemouth on Saturday, then Germany on Sunday. The scene is just in a really good place and it’s really strong, it’s worldwide and that’s what makes it so busy, because there’s always somewhere in the world that wants some banging drum and bass!
You’ve been going around the world doing your thing for a long time...
Well, the label’s been going for 20 years this year, which is amazing, and I’ve been DJing for not much longer than that really. Since the mid-nineties when it really picked up, in the days of Voodoo Magic, Jungle Fever and Telepathy at the Wax Club, things just really built up and got busy, it kind of feels like you’re just on one big weekend! I don’t feel like I’ve gone to bed yet, I’m going to sleep for a long time one day! But I’m just out there enjoying it.
It seems like it’s always been busy for you, have you seen a change at all?
The scene has obviously grown and the music has changed massively. I think the music has embraced a lot more styles as well which has helped it go worldwide. And for the label since the 2000’s when we signed Chase & Status and Sub Focus and now with Loadstar, Delta Heavy, Wilkinson and Culture Shock all the guys, they’re all exploring themselves musically because we made a decision to go to an album label. Instead of releasing a 12” drum and bass single every few months, we really wanted the artists to explore themselves because, with drum and bass, it’s one of the hardest styles to produce and to produce well. I always recognized that the artists have got this incredible talent and I didn’t want them to be afraid to explore that, so we wanted them to do albums and that’s how it has grown for us as a label on a global scale. Over here the student nights got into it massively. All the Universities started putting on drum and bass at all the student raves every September and October and again in February for the exam time, and worldwide we’re on at all the big festivals around the world now, so it’s massively different to how it used to be, but that’s just a sign of the genre growing and spreading its tentacles around the world. Because of the longevity of the music people just know it , it’s ingrained, it’s part of music and that’s what helps us to get on at big festivals and that’s why you’re hearing it on national radio every day.
What about your performance? You’ve always been rocking crowds, but with this whole Alive thing, how do you think your sets have evolved?
Well, that’s been a wicked trip to get that off the ground. It took about a year with the whole gestation period, because there wasn’t the technology around to do it, because it’s all freestyle. None of it’s synced so it’s being controlled, there’s a lot of bespoke software. The guy who wrote the software for it does all the visuals for the Oscars and Cirque Du Soliel and all stuff like that, it’s a very serious company. So, when we sat down in rehearsal rooms in East London at about 4 o’clock in the morning when we finally got the structure set up, and said; ‘Right what do you want to do?’, I said I wanted to control all the visuals from my mixing desk and he was like ‘you’re mad! What are you doing that for?’ and I was like, ‘because when I’m DJing I don’t follow a set rule and I want the show and the visuals to follow that same principle’, so he said ‘this is going to take a while!’, and we sat there for a few days and basically he programmed us this bespoke software to make it all run and that’s been wicked. We have had a few ups and downs with it technically, but it keeps you on your toes, it’s exciting and it’s different.
You always had more decks, so how does it feel to be piloting all that?
As a DJ, I always want to push myself, because I enjoy it. I still mix at home for six hours on any given day. If I’ve got a bunch of new tunes I just lock myself away in the studio and won’t come out for hours on end! Mixing’s still a passion so it’s setting myself a challenge and you’ve always got to remember to entertain the crowd, you don’t want to stand there and look like you’re just pushing buttons, forgetting the fact that you’re there to make people dance. So it was a challenge, and we had a few ups and downs, but we’ve hit the ground running now. The cool thing about now is that I’ll turn up to a show and all the guys and the equipment get there early and set up, and I get there and then we do rehearsals and sound check. So it’s completely different from DJing where you turn up 10 minutes before your set, get your records out then start playing. Here I’m part of the whole night from start to finish, and it’s a really wicked buzz.
I’ve got to see this live show! You’ve been responsible for bringing through some massive artists, who has completely blown you away?
It’s hard to single anyone out, over the past 4 years, bringing through the likes of Chase & Status and Sub Focus. I mean, Chase & Status, they’re just on a complete next level now, and it was fantastic to meet up with them. They had a vision and we shared the vision and we thought they could be album artists because they had shown their talent, so we invited them to have a meeting and basically that evening they spelled out their aspirations and we spelled out what we wanted to do with an artist that had those dreams. 4 years later everything that was discussed that evening has happened, it’s mind-blowing. They’ve taken it to another level, their performances are unreal and they sold 500,000 records last year. It’s just incredible to be a part of that.
You’re the driving force behind that not just a part of it...
Well that’s what we’re here for. RAM records is a platform for people. Being here for 20 years, we want the artists to use that platform to reach for a higher level, and whatever we can do to help, we will!
You’ve got a big year ahead, is there one thing in particular you’re looking forward to this year?
Well, the Summer season’s started, that orange ball in the sky has come out, so I’m looking forward to Summer. We’ve got Vegas in a couple of weeks to do a live EDC, where they have about 200,000 people, which is going to be mind blowing! Then we’ve got all the UK festivals and RAM at SW4 Festival to bookend the Summer, there is a lot to look forward to. I’ve just been in the studio, I’ve got a couple of remixes coming out. I did one of Fresh and Dizzee Rascal and that new Major Laser tune called X3, so I’ve been back in the studio as well, busy busy!
Lots of hits coming out!
Yeah, we’ve got some stuff coming, as well as the artists, so I’m buzzing for it. I always am though because you can’t rest on your laurels. You never rest up, and that what keeps you driving forward.
So how do you balance your work and play, how do you unwind?
I just chill with the family and kick back. I’ve had a nice few days off this week, about three or four days. Maybe go driving somewhere, get a bit of nice food and just relax and meet up with old friends and have a few drinks.
Nice! What are you driving now then, Bugatti?
Yeah I’ve got two of them!...I wish!
I know you’re still one of the most humble DJ’s, is there ever a time where you pull out ‘Listen, man, I’m Andy C’?
No! Maybe if I’ve run out of money and I need a drink behind the bar at Fabric, but fortunately they know my face now because I’ve been propped up by that bar more than enough.
You’re still rolling everywhere with GQ, that must keep that whole family thing going man…
I love G, man, we’ve been touring for so long now and the geezer’s just a legend. For me, back in the day, when I’d turn up at AWOL and he’d be on the mic all night on his own hosting the night, welcoming people into the club, taking them through the ride and then saying goodnight at the end. Really hosting, that’s what it’s all about for me. Going from that as a raver to touring with him, it’s been special, and we’ve got a mental line up this Summer. We’re away this weekend, we’re away next weekend, it’s just crazy. He’s a legend.
You guys must have some fun out on the road together…
We certainly do!
We want to come and film you guys on the road one day, man!
Yeah, of course!
You just have to let me know when you’re on a massive weekend…
I’m not sure Lorraine Kelly is ready for us! But let us know, and we’ll work out a good weekend where there’s going to be a nice mix of gigs. We’ll do a couple in the night and maybe a day session, it’ll be great!
If you were invisible for a day what would you do?
I’d probably sit on my sofa and watch telly! Put my feet up and watch Match of the Day!
You’ve got a couple of kids now, I guess you need that time off!
I do! Exactly!
Finally, if you could change one law in the world what would that be?
I’d get rid of weekdays and make every day a Friday or Saturday.
You’d be really busy though!
That’s how I like it!
You’d soon get your Bugattis though! Thanks very much for your time I appreciate it, man!
Good to speak to you, man!