BBMLive’s Hannah Shakir speaks to the Drum n Bass legend, Andy C about his residency at London’s XOYO, playing in the Czech Republic as well as DJ-ing next to the Great Wall of China… casually.
Hi Andy, how are you?
Not bad not bad thank you. Up and at ‘em. Getting ready for the weekend
Yeah what’s your week been like so far?
It’s been hectic but good. I ended up with a nice social down the pub last night so, so er… couple of Neurofen this morning. But yeah, been busy, been in the studio, you know, normal weekday stuff.
And you’re hitting up XOYO tomorrow, what’s it been like playing the residency there?
It’s been one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done as a DJ, well by far, it’s just beautiful vibe every week. Every week is different you know. Different guests come down to the party, you know, so the night takes a different vibe, a different era, yeah man, love it.
Is it nice to do something on a bit more of an intimate scale rather than the bigger stuff or?
It’s brilliant I mean it was quite a few years since I’ve done it and I’ve never done a residency really since you know way, way back, back, back then. So it’s a challenge you know because maybe 10% of the crowd go every week. And then we ask people to come down 3, 4 times during the run and then there’s people that come in for the odd night out. From a DJ perspective every sound has been different, different sounds, different mixes, you know, nothing’s been repeated so it’s a bit of a challenge. You know being in a small underground environment, it really gets on a vibe with the crowd with all that energy. When it’s going off during the month, it’s wickedness! I love people leaning over the deck, jumping, you know smacking the walls [laughs] for me it’s vibes.
So you went to the Czech Republic last week. What was the vibe like over there?
Yeah, that was like we did XOYO Friday and you know that was incredible, couple hours sleep and then airport and then Czech Republic. I think there was maybe, I don’t know… 8000? Something like that at the event – 7 or 8000, massive. But beautiful in its own way, but completely different. But you know Czech Republic is always really, really, cool, because Drum n’ Bass is probably the biggest market in Europe, because they do a festival, Let It Roll Festival in the summer, you know, which is elevated stages and every stage is Drum n’ Bass, but like every stage is a different style and you know upwards of 30,000 people going to the festival and so it’s such a strong crowd over there.
Speaking of traveling around your off to Snow Bombing as well and what do you like personally for you, what’s the best thing about snow festival verses a summer festival?
I think it definitely brings a unique raver, a unique mentality. I mean, when you’re arriving in Mayrhofen, when the festivals going on you just get a sense of fun and mayhem really. Especially if you turn up at night and you see everybody, they come off the mountain, they might have had a bit of après ski on the way down. And then it’s a vibe and then you see people in fancy dress and then you got, you know, just that whole really nice wintery resort vibe going on. And then obviously, come night time everybody just goes crackers down there. And you just get the after party and the sport hotel downstairs; you go in the forest and rave it up. It’s a really unique festival. I’ve been lucky enough to go back for quite a few years now. The sense of fun is quite unlike any other to be honest with you.
And are you going to have any time to do any skiing or snowboarding while you’re there?
I’m not actually, no, ‘cause I need to get back and well I can’t is the honest answer, I can definitely do the après bit as I mentioned. I don’t mind watching other people do it from the comfort of the bar. That’s for sure, but you know, I’ve not really got time to do lessons this time, I need to get around [to it]. I did it years ago, it was so much fun and I just don’t have the time to get around to it, I got to get back and travelling elsewhere.
So in your opinion how much would you say has Drum n Bass changed over the years do you find yourself dropping old classics when you’re playing or have you had to evolve for a new generation of ravers?
Well, it’s like I haven’t had to evolve I just evolved as an individual. I love music, I love new music. There’s definitely now a part of me that’s like “I only like that era”. I love the genre I love every part of it, I always play classics but I don’t play them because I need to drop a couple of classics here. I play them because they’re great tunes. I’m not one of these DJs alright I’m militant I’m only playing 2 hours of brand new music. I don’t care whether its new, whether it’s old, whether it came out a couple of months ago, if it’s a good tune is getting played. I just play it because everything really from the scene and the crowd and the vibe dictates what that’s going to be.
Having a passion for new music how do you sort of tend to find new artists because I know you got like new artists being out in RAM Records how do you come across these people and what do you look for?
People get brought to my attention or I might get their people sending me links on Soundcloud. And it’s always that final that someone that’s a little bit unique. The one thing is being unique and that’s difficult because everybody is influenced by people but if you’re going to be an artist and you spend your whole time trying to sound like somebody else, you’re not going to break through are you, because there’s already that somebody else that’s fulfilling that role. I think when somebody’s got that little unique angle. And it can basically be difficult sometimes because, well in dance music in general, because I guess there are certain parameters of the genre. You’ve got to make people dance, the tempo’s got to have a beat, the mix has got a be a certain way, I think it’s the unique touches of musicality that I could hear in a song or maybe a little bit of humor. I don’t mean telling jokes but I mean like adding a little bit of character that stands out to me now-a-days, because you know there are millions of songs at our finger tips 24 hours a day aren’t there, ultimately for me it’s the one’s that are going to jump out are the people that have invested a little bit of personality and character in it.
And you know you were speaking about how you love it when people go crazy, when was the first time that you realized your effect on the people you’re playing to in a club? When did it really hit home for you?
What – how exciting it could be? Well I guess… I don’t know, there’s really early memories of playing Sunny Isles in Hackney, and dropping a tune that was really personal to me that I loved, on Biting Back Records, funky number. You know it wasn’t like typical hard core. Just seeing the reaction and everybody being up, everyone was really into it as well and it was a really personal record for me that didn’t get played out much and I was like, “Ah that’s a cool vibe” you know what I mean, like that really worked and in terms of dropping beats playing at the Wax Club, or maybe when I did Really Magic at the Equinox in Leicester Square – it was flame throwers going off, I mean this place went OFF! I was literally shaking. My arm… trying to put the bloody needle on the next record. It was just like “Oh my God, that just went nuts!” So it really took me back. The reaction was like “This is exciting”. I never forget that.
I remember a lot of my mates heading off to One Nation to see you, what are some highlights of that One Nation and that era?
There’s loads, I mean One Nation, they did a big gig at Wembley once. One Nation always makes me think of the island in Ilford, or the Stratford Recs. Really good memories, you know, like pulling up, because we always used to be running around doing 2 or 3 shows in a night, so you’d crisscross the country, you’d bump into the other DJs and MCs getting out the car and going away walking through the crowd and I think the era when One Nation was really coming to the fore as an event was an exciting era of the music. Sky FX was doing those really big tunes, and there was lots of big anthems, really big tunes every week. It was just a really cool vibe. It was all exciting, you know when it’s all new and fresh. That’s what that era makes me think of.
I just remember those cases with all the cassette tapes in them…
Yeah, hahahaha, Oh God yeah! They used to come out like the week after and you’d get like 16 TDK tapes of everybody’s sets. I don’t even have a tape deck now, but you know what? Anywhere you went in the world these tape packs, they hit every corner of the globe and they helped because for some people in the world it was their only access point, there’s wasn’t the internet. It was their only access point to this crazy music.
And just going back on the sort of travel side of things, because you’re obviously around all over the place all the time, where has been one of the most outstanding locations that you’ve played in the world?
Outstanding locations. Played a festival next to the Great Wall of China, that was pretty epic, yeah. I think looking back I wish I’d have done a proper touristy vibe there but it came right at the end of an Asia tour. I was on me own, and God I’d been everywhere. I remember the Powers That Be being like “Oh do a tour of Asia” and it’s like Asia is not a country it’s a continent and you know like flight was like 6 hours long and like every day. Listen, I’m not moaning, it’s cool, but by the end of it I remember I got picked up from the airport in China and driven for hours to the Great Wall and I was like “Oh I think that’s the Great Wall of China. That’s pretty mad.” Did it, took a couple of photos and then it was like right your flight leaves in two hours you better drive back to the airport. Yeah I know, it was pretty mad.
Where’s your favourite place to detox, relaxation destination?
Anywhere that’s hot and sunny. A beach. It could be any one, as long as it’s not raining, I’m happy. Used to love going to Thailand. Paradise out there, it’s beautiful, but yeah, anywhere hot and sunny. Love chilling out in Ibiza like the other parts to Ibiza, you know, the hidden parts.
So, I hear you’ve got a few releases planned for this year?
Loads. Yes, got loads. I can’t give you names and dates yet. There’s four at the moment that we’re trying to work out structurally, but yeah, I’ve got loads of stuff. I mean I’m in the studio constantly which is really cool and I’ve got a remix coming out as well, so I guess you can say at this point, “watch this space”. But there’ll hopefully be something out in 4 weeks’ time and then if I manage to finish the tunes off they’ll be coming nice and consistently throughout the year.
By Hannah Shakir
Images by Richard Johnson
Snowbombing takes place from 3-8 April 2017. Festival packages including hotel and festival wristband start from just £299. Book now for just £130 deposit +BF at snowbombing.com.
Everything you need to know ahead of Snowbombing 2017