In the world of electronic music, there are few bigger names than that of Andy C.
Regarded as one of the greatest DJs ever to touch a turntable, the Ram Records founder has relentlessly dedicated almost two decades of his life to the music he loves, flying across the globe week in, week out, to demonstrate a mastery of craft that has earned him a status as one of the most iconic and important figures in global dance music culture.
We caught up with him to talk about the legacy of RAM and his performance at Creamfields.
Andy C - also known as ‘The Executioner’. Where did this nickname originate from?
MC GQ started calling me that years ago, and it kind of stuck!
Congratulations on 2012 being the 20th year of Ram Records. What achievements do you see for the next twenty years?
We’ve had such a great time doing the label so far, and I’m incredibly proud that we’re 20 years old! Not many independent labels reach that milestone and I think it’s testament to everyone involved in the label that we can look forward to even bigger things in the next 20.
When you look back to the early days, what are your best memories? What has been your proudest Ram moment?
Valley Of The Shadows is a massive moment for me and Ant Miles as it’s what really kicked started the label and my own career as a DJ. There are so many... we should write a book!
Chase and Status have so far been your biggest label protégés. Do you believe they have helped DnB reach out to a more mainstream audience?
Most definitely yes. Their album sales say it all but when you also witness them live and the energy that translates from their music to the crowd, it’s insane. No matter what you’re into, if you see them on stage you will be converted.
How do you think the style of DnB has changed over the years?
It’s obviously changed but a lot of that was originally down to the technology involved in making it. Some of it is kind of going full circle now with particular styles but one thing is for sure, a good tune is a good tune… you’ll often hear me play something that’s never been played before next to a record that’s been around for 15-20 years. I wouldn’t say it’s changed, I’d say it’s come of age.
Any hot new talent for us to check out on Ram Records label?
Yes loads… Rene LaVice is a new guy we signed from Toronto who is getting a lot of attention right now. We’ve also just started a new label called ProgRam which has some very exciting new producers on it.
How did you get your DJ break?
Scott (Red One) gave me my first gig many moons ago… he subsequently sent out a mixtape to all the top promoters at the time and Elevation got back in touch with him and gave me a booking at Club Da Da on Shaftesbury Avenue London before Rat Pack… talk about in at the deep end! We started handing out flyers for them and through that I met Sting from Telepathy, and that led to having a residency at the Wax Club.
Who has influenced you throughout your career?
Many people over the years, but in the early days it was people like Shut up and Dance… they were fusing breakbeats and hardcore.
What’s the best piece of advice you have been given?
Always believe in gut feelings and just go for it if it feels right. Work hard… the harder you work, the luckier you get!
Tell us about your recent UK tour of the new ALIVE show. Any more dates planned?
The Alive show is something I started almost a year ago and I’ve taken it around the UK, into Europe and two USA trips… The set is getting some airmiles now! I wanted to do the Alive show as a celebration of the DJ and to let people know what and how much actually goes into putting a set together, and to then try and translate that visually with bespoke mapped visuals. I trigger pretty much everything you see from the visuals on the set to the Co2 shooting off stage, all whilst playing on three turntables and triggering audio clips out of Ableton… it’s pretty insane!
You’re performing at Creamfields, how does it feel when you look out from the DJ booth and see thousands in front of you?
It feels amazing… even after all these years I still have to pinch myself and get goose bumps at them special moments when you’re able to conduct the audience in front of you. I take pictures of all the parties, it’s such a privilege to play on these massive stages.
How do you differentiate your sets from playing at a festival to a more intimate club venue?
With the intimate clubs you’re most likely going to get people that are huge fans of the music I play so you can go very deep in the selection and take it on a journey through DnB. With festivals you're appealing to a much wider demographic so the set may be slightly different with a couple of more familiar sounding tracks included. The basis is the same with the journey and going on it together with the crowd but the selection may vary slightly.
You’ve just remixed Major Lazer new single ‘Get Free’. Are you close with the Major Lazer guys? Will you see them at Creamfields?
Of course, I’d love to bump in to them and hang out. It’s kind of mad how the whole thing came about and then my mix turned into the lead version at Radio, so yep I need to bump into them, watch the show and then buy them a beer!
The single was initially available as a free download, do you think free music helps or hinders artists?
It can do both. If you want to release something as a free single then I think there needs to be a reason for it and not just for the sake of doing it. I think some people get caught up in thinking it’s what everyone does so you have to do it, but if that’s all you do, then when you need to sell music, an album for example, people may not want to actually buy it as they’ve never had to from you before. Just because you can give away thousands of tracks for free doesn’t mean you can sell the same amount.
Are there any other artists you hope to check out at the festival?
Tons! The line-up is huge… it’s gonna take military planning.
Where in the world do you find the craziest DnB ravers?
The west country, them guys go for it!
You used to sneak into raves when you were 13, what do you miss about the rave scene from back in the day?
The innocence, the naivety… finding out about it all… that is a magical time. This is the same for every generation of ravers and still happens for everyone that’s going to the parties week in week out. I’m not one for getting all misty eyed, there’s always too much good stuff happening here and now.
Is vinyl dead?
No not at all – Ram still presses and sells tens of thousands bits of vinyl each year.
Aside from sneaking out, what’s the naughtiest thing you’ve ever done?
I’m not telling you that! ;)
Do you still attend any events/festivals socially now?
When I get a chance I do… I played at Glastonbury a few years back but ended up staying for a couple of days to hang out. When you're overseas you get a chance to kick back and hang out to catch the party.
Apart from the DnB genre what music are you really into? Any favourite artists?
Radiohead… they’re amazing. Whenever I wanna shut off and get in a zone, Radiohead go on the headphones.
What in your opinion is the best record ever made?
Hasn’t been made yet!
Ram Records named after your star sign Aries are known as reckless and determined characters. Does this describe you?
Not reckless, far from it actually but I’m very very determined.
How does Andy C wind down to become Andrew Clarke?
Cuppa tea and Match of the Day!
Do you think you’ll ever hang up your headphones?
Andy C performs in the BBC Radio 1Xtra Arena at Creamfields UK on Saturday 25th August Bank Holiday Weekend 2012.
- Date: Friday 24th August 2012
- Event: Creamfields 2012 at Daresbury Estate
- Venue: Daresbury Estate
- Artists: Annie Mac, Eddie Halliwell, Andy C, Erol Alkan, Fake Blood, Sub Focus, Maya Jane Coles, Riva Starr, Deadmau5, James Zabiela, Gareth Emery, Shy FX, Calvin Harris, Skrillex, Skream, Above and Beyond, Seth Troxler, Jaguar Skills, Loco Dice, Caspa
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