Andy C had a ball in 2015. We know this because he told us.
Behind the scenes he also told us he had new music ready to drop any minute but couldn’t reveal any more. Less than a week later a Facebook clip goes up with him roadtesting a brand new track in New Zealand: Andy C – New Era.
We called him up to find out more… And, while we’re on the phone, learn how he’s preparing for his biggest solo show to date: March 24 will see his All Night show takeover London’s famous 10,000+ capacity Alexandra Palace. A feat no other D&B DJ has ever done before; he’ll be taking to the stage that – in electronic music terms – is usually dominated by titans such as Faithless, The Prodigy and Above & Beyond.
Read on to find out about his new productions, his new stage show, how he picks his classics and sources his upfront tracks for All Night shows and how he’s planning on having an even bigger year than last…
The clock is ticking to Alexandra Palace…
It is! I can’t wait. I’m buzzing for it. I got a very short Australian tour this weekend then when I’m back we’re in the final stretch. I’ll be learning all the tunes, trying different mixes and getting my head around the new stage show that goes with it.
New stage show?
Yeah it’s all brand new. The last All Night shows have been based on the current set up but this is all another level. I haven’t seen it yet, it’s still being made but the lights are better, people will be able to see what’s going on from further back in the venue and it will just generally even better than the last. So I’ll be making sure it’s right, making sure the lighting guys and I know what’s going on and just all the planning and organising that goes on behind the scenes of a big show like this.
I went to Alexandra Palace for the first time last month. Didn’t realise quite how big it is! Nervous much?
It is massive isn’t it! Sometimes venues shrink when they’re empty. Other venues don’t. Brixton Academy didn’t. Ally Pally doesn’t either. I’d say less nervous and more of a buzz; standing in that empty room I just think about playing my favourite records to all those people, everyone there to celebrate drum & bass, everyone in the same mindset. I guess there’s a nervous energy but I’d definitely describe it more as a buzz.
Guessing you’ll be sourcing stupidly upfront material like you do for your Nightlife mixes…
Always! I’ll be emailing everyone saying ‘who’s got the intro tune then guys?’ Haha. But yeah I will be asking everyone on the label for their latest and greatest. Most of them unfinished and only two minutes long. It’s funny; I get into trouble playing some of these tracks because they don’t come out for years later. Not mentioning any names!
But somewhere someone has got a camera and they film that new tune that’s a really really early demo that may never come out or will certainly sound a lot different by the time it does. That goes up online and bang… Everyone talks about it way ahead of any type of release. But that’s the fun of it. That’s the level of passion people have for the music. And then of course you’ve got the classics. Picking them is just as much fun as getting the upfront stuff if I’m honest.
25 years of beats to pick from… Where do you even start?
I spend a lot of time mixing and mixing and mixing. Not every hour of the day but any time I’m in the mood I’m practicing. So I’ll dig out a lot of classics that way, just buzzing in the mix at home. A lot of ideas come that way but then you get those last minute inspirations. Like proper last minute… Last All Night show I’d just done the soundcheck, I was standing outside and someone drove past playing Krust – Angels. I was like ‘shit! I have to play that tonight!’ Luckily I had time to play that and knew what tracks it would fit well with. Because it’s not about dropping one classic. It’s about context and journeys and vibes. It’s also about not getting carried away; there are so many classics you could actually spend the whole six hours just playing oldies!
How many tunes do you reckon you play in one All Night session?
I’ve never counted but I’d guess 300-350. 60 tunes an hour. Break that down and it sounds like one minute per tune but when there are three or four decks involved and some tunes are rolling through, others are being teased in and out and never fully dropped, others are double dropping together, it’s not actually that many. That’s how it rolls.
The beauty of D&B. Not every genre lends itself to that mixing style. Maybe garage and dubstep…
Yeah definitely. You couldn’t go through that many tracks with house music, for example, as the build ups are more drawn out and the arrangements are more progressive. That’s one of the many reasons I love drum & bass the most!
Speaking of which… when are you dropping New Era?
Very very soon. I’d been playing around with it for a while, trying it out at the shows and people seemed to be reacting well. So I sent it to a few other DJs and what do you know? They started playing it. I thought ‘okay cool! Let’s release it!’ So it’s coming out February 19.
Andy C – New Era
Who are your go-to DJs to send fresher-than-fresh tracks to?
All the Ram family and nearest and dearest people I trust. It’s a big decision to press send though. Once it’s out there, it’s out there. You asked about nerves earlier, sending a new track to people who I believe are the best producers in the game is scary as hell. I knew it was doing well; people had sent me clips of it from All Night shows asking what it is and the crowds were reacting well so I knew it was working but it’s still a big deal to send it to people. I sent it just before New Year’s Eve and I’m happy with the feedback. It’s great to have something new out. The plan is to be more prolific like the old days. I’ve stockpiled a few more tracks and I’d love for things to be out more frequently than they have been.
When you’re talking old days then you’re talking a release a month with all the different combinations of acts you were in; Ram Trilogy, Origin Unknown, you and Shimon…
Exactly! But you can only release stuff that you’re really feeling… And right now I’m really feeling it. We’ve got New Era then hopefully something else will drop before Ally Pally. I’m constantly trying things out in the studio and trying different things. Some ideas work. Other ideas don’t. But when they do work, it’s a buzz! It’s what I get up for in the morning!
Andy C – All Night takes place Alexandra Palace, London on March 24. Buy Tickets.
Andy C – New Era is out February 19 via Ram Records. Pre-order: po.st/NewEraRAM / po.st/NewEraiT