Finally: After a summer of festival roadtesting and months of online hype, Andy C’s Heatbeat Loud has been released this week. Supported heavily on daytime radio, and ably complemented by a monolithic VIP, it’s got potential to be his most far-reaching track to date.
To celebrate this pivotal release, Andy C told us the UKF community could ask him anything they liked in our first ever AMA-style interview. Putting the You into UKF, we sent his invitation out to Twitter. THIS is the result…
Thanks to everyone who got involved and submitted questions. Heartbeat Loud is out now.
If you weren’t such a legend in the music industry what do you think you would be doing with your life?
I’ve been asked this many times and I really don’t know! I’ve always wanted to do this. I was doing mixtapes for mates at school since I was 15. And I’ve been making tunes since I was 14. This really has been my life! I love music too much to think of any other occupation. Maybe something technology-related or computer related? That sounds really boring doesn’t it! One thing is for sure… I’d be out raving every weekend whatever job I chose!
I still remember the first time I was asked to play at a house party and it was a HUGE deal for me. I’ve treated every gig like it’s that special ever since.
Why the break in production for so long, and will we continue to hear more huge releases in the near future?
To be perfectly honest, the DJing took over my life! DJing, travelling the world, wanting to strive at working at that dominated my life. I just didn’t have enough time to do both at the level I wanted to, so I focussed on DJing and took that as far as it could go. But the studio was always there. It was always in my mind, calling me. You spend a lot of time on your own as a DJ travelling and so much of that time was thinking up ideas, themes and concepts for tracks. It’s a bit like a pressure cooker, my ideas getting more and more pent up my head felt like it was going to explode. On the flip side of that, I’d spent so long not going into the studio that it was daunting to go back into it…
Sometimes I had no choice, though. The piano riff for Heartbeat Loud, for example, came about one Saturday afternoon. I was sitting in the hallway playing my piano and the chord progression and riff came about by accident. Everyone was vibing to it and said I should record it. So I did. The main body of the track came about that afternoon!
So yeah, it was a long break but I’m back in the studio and I’m more inspired than ever right now. Now I’m off tour I’ve been even more focussed on the studio. I’ve done half a dozen tracks since September and I’m really buzzing off what I’ve done so far. The studio is a time vortex – I step inside and I have no idea when I’ll come out. It’s fun – that’s the most important thing. And as long as I have fun then that’s all that matters.
How was performing in Detroit earlier this year?
Every time I play in Detroit I love it! Last time I played in this really cool underground club. Dark as hell; I couldn’t see a thing! It harked back to the original vibe I used to feel, which was amazing. The year before was the complete flip to that; I played Movement Festival which was just immense. The city scape in the background and the crowd and vibe. Detroit has got such a rich electronic music history – they know their beats! We had it big time! That’s what I love about playing in America… One night will be a little underground venue, the next will be headlining a massive festival. I love that!
We have a mantra at Ram that we have to listen to everything we get sent.
Why did D&B never catch on in the USA like it did in the UK/Europe but dubstep did?
America is a HUGE country so it’s taken a lot longer to cover every corner. It’s caught on in a major way in states like California, Texas and, going further up north, all of Canada. And in all of those places it’s huge. People think it hasn’t caught on in America but some of the stages I’ve played over there – 20,000 people and more – I’d have to disagree!
At the end of the day D&B has got a massive following all over the world; I’ve met crews everywhere who are just as passionate as D&B as people over here in the UK. If not more! They put on nights, they set up labels, they make tunes. It’s there! I think what’s making a difference is that the big festivals in America are starting to book D&B DJs so we’re getting more exposed to crowds who haven’t experienced the genre before. I’ve spent more time there this year than I have any other year and I think next year will be even bigger… There’s a groundswell out there for it. Promoters have taken a few risks and shown the bigger crowds the power of D&B and we’re going to see this develop more.
Who or what inspired you to make music?
Well my dad bought me a drum kit when I was five. Inspiration doesn’t get better than smashing shit out of something when you’re five! That’s where my rhythm comes from! Dad was also very encouraging when I wanted to buy turntables. So he was a massive inspiration. Then my sister Sarah… She took me to my first rave when I was 13. That was the eye-opener. From that point on the only thing I wanted to do was make music, DJ and go raving. So everything comes from my family – encouraging parents and a sister who was totally cool about her little brother tagging along. I didn’t need any more inspiration than family.
When will Bensley make his debut?
It’s coming soon! I haven’t got a definite date yet, but when his debut drops it’s going to blow peoples’ minds! It’s great that people are interested and want to know about him because he’s never released anything. I still remember the day the guys in the office first put on his demos. Everyone was like ‘WTF is that?!?’ He is such a talented kid! So we’re formulating a plan and you’ll soon see why we’ve gone nuts for him.
He’s proof that sending demos to a label works. We have a mantra at Ram that we have to listen to everything we get sent. Ray and Jim in the office are bang on it all of the time. We all are. I signed Sub Focus off a demo CD, Culture Shock sent me a tune without a name or contact details. It was Vice Chase, his first release. I actually dropped it in Fabric and he came up to me at the bar a bit later. He was like ‘you played my tune!’ Because it had no name or lyrics or anything it took me ages to work out which one it was but we did and I signed up him a week or so later.
It was the same with Rene LaVice – he didn’t put his name to his demos so I had to hunt him down all the way to Canada. That’s the name of the game; amazing new artists aren’t going to come and slap you in the face, you’ve got to actively track the best down and get them on side. You’ve got to take the time to listen to every demo – there’s so much untapped talent out there it’s unreal.
One Nation booked me for me a show and put ‘3 Deck Set’ underneath my name. I rang them up and asked them about it and they were like ‘you can do three decks can’t you?’ The next day I had a Technics 1210 delivered to my door with a nice little note saying ‘here’s another deck, get practicing!’
Who is your favourite artist away from RAM?
Radiohead! My all-time favourite band. They come with something new and different with every album. They’re never afraid of flipping things on their head and experimenting. Interesting rhythms and sounds and atmosphere and textures. I spend so much time listening to them on planes and trains and in cars – they’ve soundtracked a lot of my life. So inspirational.
Do you like peanut butter? Are you a vegetarian, vegan or gluten free eater?
Who doesn’t like peanut butter? It’s not part of my daily diet but I do like it. Am I veggie or vegan or gluten free eater? No I’m not. There’s something so satisfying about a cheeky trip to the kebab shop after a few beers every now and again!
What’s your best advice to aim big in the DJ world and why?
Do the ground work and never get too big for your boots! Be prepared to muck in at every level of the music. I speak from experience… I’ve handed out flyers, put ariels up on roofs, stayed around at a rave hoping a DJ doesn’t turn up so I can fill in for them. All that hard work pays off. And fans who’ve been with you all the way will really respect that because they’ve seen you put in the hard work. That’s my advice today. Ask me for advice another day and it will change – I could write a book of advice for DJs! At the end of the day, we all start at the bottom. I still remember the first time I was asked to play at a house party and it was a HUGE deal for me. I’ve treated every gig like it’s that special ever since.
When did you decide two decks wasn’t enough?
It wasn’t a conscious decision. One Nation booked me for me a show and put ‘3 Deck Set’ underneath my name. I rang them up and asked them about it and they were like ‘you can do three decks can’t you?’ The next day I had a Technics 1210 delivered to my door with a nice little note saying ‘here’s another deck, get practicing!’ It blew my mind a bit. It took me a while to get my head around the concept. The first night of practicing I was just clanging everything. It was a bit of a brain drain! But I persevered. I was scratching my head thinking ‘how does this work?’ The penny dropped when I realised I was over-thinking it. I had to trust that I had two in the mix and could drop the other one in. When I realised that I all made sense.
But I guess it depends how you want to mix with three decks. I see people with four or five CDJs all lined up – but they don’t use more than two at any time. Three, for me, means mixing on all of them. It was like starting again when I first did it. But that’s the fun of it all – learning new things and acquiring new skills is amazing!
If you had to make a different genre of music than what you currently make, what would it be?
What a tough question! I have done things at different tempos back in the day but none of that was ever conscious. I don’t think I’d ever want to consciously sit down and force myself to make another genre – I just follow the groove and feeling. Recently I’ve made a track with massive beats and it’s a funky breaks track. I’m not saying I’d make breaks instead of D&B but it’s got that same eclectic vibe as D&B. Basically I just love cat burgling all the best flavours and feelings from every genre and throwing them all in my own melting pot, regardless of tempo!