Even by Andy C’s standards, 2017 has been a ‘bit of a mad one’…
He launched Beats 1’s first exclusive drum & bass radio show. He held down the now-legendary XOYO residency for 13 weeks with some of the most historic D&B raves the Shoreditch venue has ever seen. He’s dropping a remix of the Pegboard Nerds soon, and has a seriously heavy new original called What Bass dropping on April 28.
He teased us with it when he headlined our stage at Snowboming earlier this month…
And yesterday we heard it in all its glory. Trust us, this bumps. And it does so with a powerful classic Ram vibe. Hear it for yourself…
As Andy prepares for an Australian tour and another whirlwind summer of festival stages we called him to find out about What Bass, his Beats 1 show, how his XOYO shows have already hit near-mythical status and have initiated worldwide requests for similar back-to-the-roots style set and how it’s absolutely fine to tell him to f*ck off from time to time*
*Only when instructed to by MC Tonn Piper. DO NOT DO THIS at any other time.
We need to talk about XOYO…
It was so fulfilling and rewarding and a nice challenge. A massive challenge actually! Playing all those different tunes and styles and working out all my intros and outros…. I relished every minute of it!
How many additional hours practice / prep did you put in for this?
I reckon maybe 12-14 hours a week additional to the practice I put in anyway. Thursday and Friday were complete lock-off days, basically. You couldn’t get me on my phone or anything, I was mixing every possible hour I could. Right up until I had to leave the house to go and DJ!
Sounds weird but one of my fondest memories is you pulling off a ridiculous mix and Tonn Piper getting everyone in the crowd to tell you to f*ck off because it was so good. Only in drum & bass can this happen…. It’s properly from the heart.
Ha! I hope it is! I tell you what though, you can practice all these mixes until you’re blue in the face but it’s when you’re in the moment and it’s happening in the club and the buzz and excitement is just unreal. It doesn’t happen like that at a festival, you don’t pull up mixes two or three times in that environment. That doesn’t happen, you haven’t got time for it to happen because the set is so much shorter. It doesn’t happen in every club either. So yeah to have that raw energy and reaction off my mixes in a club like XOYO was out of this world. I watched a video from one of the nights the other day. Some guy must have been on one of the stages, it was an hour and a half of it. I watched a bit of it and the noise from the crowd, the buzz from the people hearing the tunes again – it was exactly what I wanted to do. So fulfilling.
I actually thought it would be top-heavy with older fans from The End days, but it was a great mix of all ages.
Yeah that’s really important, too, and probably quite interesting for people who have only seen me play a big festival – to suddenly hearing go back on an old Virus tip from The End or something. Hopefully it’s broadened horizons for people. But that was always the challenge for me too – to find those sweet spots where everyone in the crowd would be into it from new fans to old heads.
That was also reflected in the line-ups you picked too. That must have been fun?
It was an absolute pleasure. The only problem was there were too many DJs on my wishlist and not enough dates to add them all. Of course some people couldn’t play because they were already booked or had agreements with promoters. We had some very special secret guests like Sub Focus and Chase & Status as well. But whoever was playing, I got to stand there and watch them play and soak up the vibe. I don’t get to do that at big events so much.
I need to get your favourite memories…
The first mix I did was pretty exhilarating because I’d never done a sound check because of the daytime sound restrictions. Week three’s pure jungle set was special. Week five with Ed Rush & Optical was mental. I said we were going back to The End on Twitter and everyone there was expecting music from that era. When I came on I look out and knew exactly what the crowd wanted and knew exactly what I wanted to play. Our vibes were totally aligned. But I actually opened with something brand new, just to throw people, then bang: in came The Pulse and The Beginning on the double drop. Just to say ‘only joking!’ The reaction was immense. It’s like ‘okay we’re in – let’s go!’ Randall and Storm were brilliant, Calyx & Teebee was incredible. Teebee was vibing right out! I don’t want to discredit any of the nights – they’ve all been beautiful. Marcus and Calibre, for example…
Best Calibre set I’ve ever heard. He went in!
There you go. That’s testament to the vibe of the club and the mission we’ve been on. That night was beautiful for me, too because I played a completely different set that I never get the opportunity to. I had to really dig for that one because it’s tunes I love but I don’t have them because they’re not the type of things I play at a typical gig…. And getting rewinds off them. It was a proper learning curve. I played one of Calibre’s new tunes and it went down so well I just rolled it out for the full six minutes, just teasing little bits like Circles in and out of it. And that’s such a vibe to be able to do that.
Had you planned to do something like the residency for a while?
I definitely had a feeling of wanting to go back to the roots for a long time and I wanted to show people what drum & bass is all about. It’s what we do. So all this stuff that has happened – my nights, other nights, everything we’re doing creates the message: you can’t mess with what we do. We can rock any stage you want – from the sweatiest little club to the biggest festival, we will smash it in a way that’s unique to drum & bass. That’s what I love… Do mixes get wheeled up in other genres? Not tunes being rewound, now, but mixes?
Not really. Maybe dubstep or UKG but rewinds are always more focused on the tunes rather than the mixes.
Yeah maybe. This is what I love about drum & bass and it’s down to everyone on the dancefloor who knows their music and can hear what I’m doing and appreciate it. This isn’t just casual listening – this is knowing the tunes well enough to identify that something special is happening here. To the point an MC can get everyone to – as you say – tell the DJ f*ck off! How mad is that?
But fast forward a few months to the festivals and we can make crowds of 20/30,000 people jump in a completely different way.
Will you take anything from the XOYO shows and include them in your festival sets?
Definitely. What’s mad is that XOYO has become a style or way of describing a type of set. I’m getting picked up by promoters at international events and they’re saying ‘this XOYO stuff looks amazing, can you play an XOYO set tonight?’ I got to Puerto Rico and everyone was talking about the videos and asking me to play the same type of set. So yeah I’m taking loads from it. And just the refreshment of tunes, too. I played 34 hours over 13 weeks, that’s well over 1000 tunes. I’ve rediscovered tunes and mixes I used to do. It was a trip.
Let’s talk about the trip that is What Bass…
Yes mate. I’m really happy with it. When the bassline came together I was like ‘that’s a vibe! That’s a Ram vibe!’ That’s coming at the end of the month, there’s also been the Pegboard Nerds remix and there’s another track nearing completion. I’m looking forward to putting more tunes out.
I was wondering if What Bass had been inspired by XOYO’s underground vibe?
Ha! I’m not that fast! It takes me a bit longer to put an original tune together than 13 weeks – especially with everything else like the radio and travelling to shows. My tunes gestate for a long time. They’ll germinate on an idea I’ve had on an aeroplane then I’ve worked on it in the studio for ages… The take months and months. Years sometimes! I actually played What Bass on my first radio show as an unfinished demo.
How’s the show going?
It’s been amazing actually. It’s mad seeing people comment on it around the world – people driving home from work in LA, late night crew in Europe, morning crew in Japan… It’s been great to be back on the air and Apple have been really supportive and made me sound pretty professional I have to say. So yeah, like I say, it’s been such an intense start of the year – six radio shows, 13 XOYO shows now a single dropping.
How are you going to top this, then?
Just you wait and see…
Image: Jake Davis
Andy C – What Bass is out April 28 on RAM BMG