TiD&B Interview: Andy CPosted by Lady V on Monday, November 1st, 2010
With excitement still surrounding the superb Nightlife Volume 5 compilation, TiD&B caught up with The Executioner, Andy C to find out what he thinks about its success, learn more about happenings at the RAM camp and of course also find out how his recent talk at Oxford University went…
TiD&B:Â Nightlife 5 has been released for a month now and has been unbelievably successful with support from fans and DJs across the globe, did you ever think the Nighlife series would be this popular?
Andy C: Definitely not! I’d been doing a couple of Cds for Drum & Bass Arena and Ministry and so I thought why not do my own compilation Cd. At the time, it was an experiment for RAM, we wanted to branch out from doing 12â€ releases and see how it’d go. The first Nightlife had fantastic success and to now be on the 5th mix of the series..I really didn’t expect it to be honest!
TiD&B: How difficult is it to put together a compliation album?
Andy C: Â It’s incredibly difficult. It starts out as a lot of fun when it comes to selecting the tunes, but from a business standpoint, it is a lot of hard work as then you have to licence the tracks too. We do get pretty much every tune we go after which is really cool, but with new tunes being constantly made, whittling down a tracklist is difficult. With Nightlife 5, I was still finishing it off the day it was going to be mastered as I’dÂ got a couple of new tunes the night before. The whole process is quite stressful but once it’s done, the relief is unbelievable and it’s great to get it finished!
TiD&B: What is your thought process behind creating compilations and is it significantly different to when playing out?
Andy C: It is very hard to get across on cd the feeling of what you’d get in a club, but I really wanted to try and capture as much of it as possible. Obviously, there’s not as many teases and I put in a lot more thought when choosing the tracks. Â When Djing in a club, I do things on the fly, throw tunes in left, right and centre…which you don’t want on a cd, particularly if you’re going to listen to it over and over again. As now I play longer sets,Â Nigtlife 5 is the first double CD we’ve done (we did a double cd with Nightlife 2 but the second cd was a series of productions that I’d been involved in). Â To be honest, I could have made it 3 cdsÂ as I probably didn’t put a good 20 odd tracks on there that we had licenced which is unfortunate but I’ve got to draw the line somewhere or you end up going mad! I also consciously didn’t want it to be divided into parts; a party set, a chilled set and so on, as for me, I like the whole D&B scene and I want to put that across in my mix.
TiD&B: This year has been very exciting for RAM Records, not only because of the Nightlife 5 release but 2010 also marks 18 years of the label Â â€“ did you ever think it would be so successful and still remain at the forefront of the D&B scene after so long?
Andy C: No and no! I remember sitting at the dinner table talking with my sister about pressing Sour Mash (1992) which was going to be just a white label. She is really good at art and suggested to draw a label for it. She used a felt-tip pen to draw the first RAM logo which we then used for the first 4 or 5 years…a felt-tip drawing which we photocopied!
So it all came about really organically â€“ Â it wasn’tÂ meant to be a grand project. At the time, I had just left school and it was an experiment. I was still going out raving, having a good time and going with the flow. I never thought that 18 years later, I’d be doing the same thing on such an incredible label. I’m really proud of it.
You know, people didn’t even think the scene would still be around 20 years later, let alone a label. I’m so lucky to be here and have a label which proved to be more than just a hobby or pet project that lasted a few years. Having such success and watching what our artists have gone on to achieve is what inspires me to do more, be better and constantly try to grow.
TiD&B: You are incredibly busy, Djing around the world every week, so how do you find time to be so involved with your label too?
Andy C: I do the main A&R part, so I source artists and tunes. This is actually easy to do, as being always on the road, you’ve got a lot of hours of downtime! I was in Austria last week and managed to get through bucket-loads of demos, so you do get plenty of time. Then, it’s about being able to devote time to the project too as the creative process always takes loads of twists and turns and tunes can change and develop. I use my experience to help our artists find and define their sound. After Djing so long, I know what kind of tunes will work on the dancefloor, so I’m there to advise. Â But at the same time, I love being blown away and surprised when the artist leads the way sonically, it’s always exciting hearing them try new stuff and watching it work.
TiD&B: Ram has recently signed several new artists; DC Breaks, Delta Heavy, Hamilton, Wilkinson and Loadstar, can you tell us more?
Andy C: I’m buzzing off these guys right now, as they send me so many tunes every week and are always trying out different ideas, they’re really going for it which is exciting everyone at the label. Wilkinson, Hamilton and Delta Heavy are fresh artists which is exciting – Â their current and forthcoming tunes feature on Nightlife 5.
With DC Breaks, it was only natural to sign them as they’ve been around us for a long time, we’ve been working with them for about 4 years.
Our main premise is signing people we believe in and who we think will go somewhere which is why we have made these recent signings. I can see them growing and doing different things in the future, and we sign artists with the view to make an album â€“ we really want to be an ‘album label’ and that’s why I think RAM is in a position where it is now. With our signings, we can see at the end of the road there’ll be an album project and that’s when they’ll break out as artists. There might even be a couple more new signings to Ram soon…I’ve got to know when to stop! I just hope we can do our best by them.
TiD&B: Winning Best DJ at this years Drum & Bass Awards, which is the 10th year in a row, is a tremendous achievement, congratulations! Â You are definitely one of the most influential and inspirational artists in Drum & Bass, do you have any advice for budding DJs and producers who are trying to make a name in the industry?
Andy C: First impressions are so important, particularly as everything today is so well made, so mix-downs really do count for a lot. I’ve tried to make it easier when listening to tunes not mixed down too well, as I’ve got an EQ so I can try and EQ them, but sonically, the tune has got to get me! But also, try different stuff with your production. I don’t want demos where people are trying to sound like someone else. It’s always good to hear someone coming in with a fresh angle. Sometimes I’ll just be sent a 32 bar loop but there’ll be something in it different that will attract me and I’ll give the producer a call to hear more stuff, then I can work out if I want to pursue it or not. But it’s also important to put your details on your demos! Â For example, Culture Shock, sent me a tune which wasn’t finished and didn’t even have his contact details on. Â But I liked it, so I cut it and played it in fabric, then at the end of the night, he came up to me and said ‘hello mate, you played my tune’ and so we started chatting, he told me about his setup at home and that he’d been working on other stuff, so I went round to his house listened to it and was blown away! See, there’s no science to it, things just happen and I guess it’s kind of fate.
TiD&B:Â What do you think will happen in the future with Drum & Bass?
Andy C: People ask me this all the time and I often have discussions about it. Drum & Bass has been around for as long as it has as it stands on its own, the tempo is completely unique. Maybe other genres of dance and electronic music will come around and be hot for a while but then they usually get assimilated into other styles because it’s easy to put a 4/4 kick drum behind their tempo and suddenly you’ve got Disco or House. Whereas Drum & Bass, for me, Â is completely unique tempo-wise. From what I see at gigs every week and what I’ve seen now for years, is that people love dancing to that tempo. So I can’t ever see it going away. Obviously Dubstep is very popular right now and we had the explosion of Electro House and Speed Garage at the start of the decade â€“ but the one genre constantly running alongside all of this is Drum & Bass. It’s always stood by its own, which is why I think it will be around forever. Whether it will sound the same as it does today, I don’t know but I know that as long as people love the energy of D&B, it’ll stay around.
TiD&B: A few weeks ago, you were invited to speak at Oxford University, which was a big step for Drum & Bass and electronic dance music, what was the experience like?
Andy C: I must admit the talk at Oxford University was out of my comfort zone and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was really, really cool, they made me feel very welcome. There were a lot of D&B heads down there, who were asking all sorts of questions, so it wasn’t like I’d done a thesis on D&B or what not and I had gone to talk about it, it was more of a Q&A session and everyone was really inquisitive. It was fantastic, an amazing experience and a great honour to be asked! It was all done very properly; I went down there and everyone was waiting in the library, then afterwards, I had photographs with the president of the Union, and I had to sign a special guest book. It was very cool to be part of Oxford history!