Not only is Andy C one of the biggest DJ’s in the drum and bass scene, he’s is probably one of the most highly regarded DJ’s in the world across any genre! His 3 deck, quick mix technique has seen him play all over the planet and has decorated his trophy cabinet with more ‘Best DJ’ awards than we are going to even think about trying to count!!
As the man behind Ram Records, Andy has overseen the rise chart topping artists such as Chase & Status, Wilkinson, and Subfocus from hungry new producers to fully fledged superstars, not to mention this own classic productions under various guises such as Valley Of The Shadows, Cool Down, Quest, and more recently New Era, Heartbeat Loud & Haunting.
We managed to grab some time out of his busy schedule to get the inside scoop about all things Ram, selling out huge venues, and his fondest memories of previous Innovation parties that he’s played at….
In the intro we mentioned how big your Ram Records label has become, between touring do you get into the Ram office much to oversee your empire?
I’ve been there the past couple of days between studio sessions. When the need calls for me to be there I’ll be there.
It must be quite satisfying to see something you started as an outlet for your own music develop into a globally recognised brand?
It’s mental! I was in the office yesterday having meetings with dozens of people. It’s incredible the wealth of possibilities we have to tap into. The label was started round my dining room table 24 years ago… It’s been a long journey!
It’s hitting the 25 year mark next year then… Anything special planned?
We’re having a planning meeting for that this week. There will be bucket loads going on to celebrate the quarter century.
How does the A&R side of things work? Do artists send tracks specifically for Ram, or do you pick tracks from the promos you get sent thinking they’ll sit well on the label?
With unsigned artists that’ll be the case, myself or one of the team will get send a SoundCloud link or something, if it sounds interesting we’ll make contact and have a dialogue. It’s different for every release. The A&R process is slightly different with regards to the acts we have signed, for example today Loadstar sent me a bunch of new tracks for me to listen through, obviously we have recently signed Camo & Krooked along with Bad Company, they’re established artists so it’s more a case of them getting a bunch of stuff together and sending it to me and then we have a back & forth about details. It’s always good for them to get an outside ear so I will listen and give them an opinion on the music so we can agree on the right stuff. Rene La Vice for example, I really liked The Calling but he was always unsure about it, it wasn’t until he heard me playing it at Brixton Academy that it clicked with him and he was like “I get that now”, that was a really cool thing. As a producer, even I’m a little apprehensive of my own tracks, sometimes to make you believe in your own music a little more you need to hear someone else playing it.
You mention Bad Company; it must be quite exciting to have them back on the case all working together again?
Ah man, I’m buzzing… If you think about the history involved in that, back to their first break in the scene, meeting the guys at Music House and them giving me The Nine on dubplate, their Inside The Machine album, to now hearing the hunger they’ve got to get that vibe going again, which they have done… The music is sounding incredible! I was just on the phone to Fresh about half hour ago talking about stuff, they have loads lined up, they’re all in the studio tomorrow. On a personal level, and for the other guys on the label, it means a lot to have Bad Company on the team.
We’ve just started our Nu:Bass Generation events to focus on pushing the next generation of DJ talent. Do you have any tips for them to them master the art of DJing?
It’s a different thing now to when I started, anyone can mix these days with digital readouts & synch buttons. Everyone knows I love working on Technics turntables, working up a sweat and actually doing the mixing, and I do that because that’s what I enjoy doing. I’d say not to worry so much about how you’re mixing, these days everyone is brilliant at beat matching, but focus on the music you’re playing, reading the crowd and appreciate that the whole set doesn’t have to be peaking, it’s all about peaks & troughs.
Your Andy C All Night concept seems to have grown each year. This year you sold out Alexandra Palace on your own! How do you intend to top that?
Madness…. I don’t even want to think about how I can top that just yet!! I’ve got a framed picture up at home that Scotty (Andy’s manager) got for me of the crowd, and I look at it thinking “Did that actually happen?” I want to revel in that memory for a while before I think about topping it… It was pretty mad! The best part of it, on the night I was pretty nervous in the sense of the scale, I’d seen the venue empty, seen the stage going up, and from the dressing room I could hear the people coming in, about an hour into the night you could hear it was all going off, that was a moment. There’s always a point in those long sets when you feel the connection with the crowd and that there’s a vibe going… When I felt that at Ally Pally it was magical.
Talking of sold out shows, just yesterday the Innovation In The Dam event which you will be playing at sold out! As someone who has played for us a lot over the years do you have any fond memories of playing at previous Innovation parties?
Of course, I’ve got memories of Innovation when it was back at Camden Palace (now Koko) and the white flyer with the rose, that’s how long I’ve been playing Innovation for! Lots of personal memories for me from when I was starting to play those big raves, then the modern era of Innovation, going to Spain for the first time, Brits abroad! It was like the whole scene de-camped and went over there and had a great time. Due to my tour schedule the past couple of times I’ve been to Innovation In The Sun they’ve had to be proper fleeting visits, and Dam will probably be that same, but Innovation for me stretches back through my career.
I’m looking forward to getting out to In The Dam, I’ve not played there for a few years. It’s gonna be good to see the people from the scene & of course the ravers are looking forward to going out there for a bit of a mad weekend.
I’m not sure if it’s been advertised yet, but I can reveal that you will be doing a 2 hour set at Innovation In The Dam. You are one of the few DJ’s that plays longer sets; do you think it would benefit the scene if more artists played for more than the standard hour?
I wouldn’t want to make a comment on whether the scene would be better, but I think if you are a fan of a certain artist and you’ve heard them a number of times, perhaps hearing them play an extended set would allow you to hear a side to them that you didn’t really know about… It goes back to what I was saying earlier about peaks & troughs. I think you can get a closer connection to the crowd like that. My reason for doing the long sets was because that’s what I did at home having a mix for hours on end and I wondered why can’t I do that in a rave? I love doing those longer sets.
Your tour schedule is pretty punishing, how do you keep yourself from going mad in airports?
I tend to get the last flight out & first flight home, quick in & out. Usually I put my headphones in, bit of music, have a bit of me time. It’s all part and parcel of the job really. I was actually watching the Connor McGregor fight on the way home from Edinburgh this weekend so that kept me occupied.
For some of our crowd this will be their first trip abroad, what’s the one travel tip you can recommend to help them on their journey to Amsterdam?
Take it easy on the flight, you have plenty of time over in Amsterdam to enjoy yourself; don’t shoot your bolt on the flight as it were. During the summer when I’m flying over to Ibiza I’ve seen people get off the plane who can’t make it through customs cos they’re so drunk. I’ve literally seen people picked up by the authorities and put back on the plane home again cos they enjoyed the airport bar & in flight drinks too much. Be safe, look after each other & have a good time.
Finally, and this is probably the toughest, if you met someone who had never heard of drum & bass, which one track from the Ram back catalogue would you play them to sum up the genre?
Oh mate…. That’s a good question!
The first that comes to mind, purely because I spoke to him earlier, is Signal by DJ Fresh. It’s got beautiful strings in the intro, it takes you on a bit of a vibe, you’ve got the suspense of the drop, and then the drop, the bass switches, then the string comes back, it’s got all the elements needed.
It’ll probably change tomorrow, we’re blessed that there’s so many good tracks that I could choose from… That’s a bloody good question!
Anything else you want to mention?
I just want to big up everyone coming to Innovation In The Dam, I’m buzzing for it!
Catch Andy C playing on the Saturday night of Innovation In The Dam 2016. For full info on that event visit www.innovationinthedam.com