Andy C on the renaissance of drum and bass, the rawness of its next generation and non-stop touring

By Carly Hacon

Over the past three decades, Andy C has been instrumental in pushing drum and bass into new depths and has helped spread the genre further than underground clubs and into sell-out festivals and arenas.

As well as establishing himself as a figurehead in the world of electronic music, the head honcho of RAM Records has also mentored some of the biggest names in D&B such as Chase and Status, Wilkinson and Sub Focus.

Forever thankful for all that he’s done for the scene, Carly Hacon was in awe when she caught up with the certified king of drum and bass before his set at South West Four festival.

Amid a hectic schedule, an incredibly humble Andrew Clarke spared some time to talk about the dominance of D&B, back-to-back bookings and how he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon:

Hi Andy, how are you? I know you haven’t got too long before your set so I won’t keep you!

That’s alright, I’m great thanks! I’m just glad I’m not in the tent today that’s for sure…

So, how are you feeling about today’s set then?

I’m vibing – it’s a beautiful day! We did night time here last year and it was raining. I was away this week in the south of France and it wasn’t as hot as this. Last year I played at night in the rain so this is better for me. It’s got to be over ten times that I’ve played this festival. I love it, SW4 is amazing!

When I watched your set last year I was drenched because it was chucking it down, so I’m glad it’s sunny this year too!

Oh yeah, it was chucking it down but the vibe was still awesome! It was the same with We Are Fstvl, the rain was pouring but we were still raving! When it started raining at We Are, which is my local festival, I remember looking up and people were running for cover at the back but all the soldiers raved it out!

That was me, I was there!

You’ve been following us around then! That’s brilliant, thank you…

So, what do you think is so special about playing in London?

For me, it’s home… I know so many people that come to watch and they do South West Four every year. You know we did the XOYO residency at the start of the year and I get hit up by a lot of people and messages from those who are coming down, and it will be their first festival of the season and they would have gone from a dingy nightclub with that vibe to here. So, this is their summer festival vibe and you treat it a little bit differently because it’s London so the tune selection is a bit different. The beautiful vibe today in the sun will be amazing. I hope everyone has drunk enough water because it’s going to get a bit crazy… The line-up is sick too!

What have you got planned for the rest of the year then?

It’s chock-a-block – there’s not another Saturday off before December, and then until the week before Christmas. They want to take us to Russia on that date as well so we will have to see… It’s beautiful though, it’s so rammed! I think drum and bass is having a real renaissance. It’s been on an upward curve for a while and this year its seems to have exploded but on every level. You’ve still got underground grimey clubs with proper raw sound and then you’ve got huge festival sets as well. Everybody is riding the wave at the minute!

And RAM Records is also in its 27th year…

Don’t remind me, it’s been a while… It is the 27th year, that’s quick maths! I did another interview recently and we were talking about the new generation of acts and the rawness that they are putting into the production and the attitude towards a tune. I.e, it hasn’t got to be polished or be synthesized and beautiful. It has just got to be raw and a banger! That’s what we did in our bedrooms back in the day and I feel like that’s the vibe now. If RAM is in its 27th year and we are now hitting another real upward curve, then we will be having fun for a while yet…

How would you say the scene has changed since you started?

Well the first ever gig I ever did in London was to ten people in a club called The Prison in Stoke Newington for my manager, Scott. Now, we are doing main stage events and that right there encapsulates how far we’ve come. Shy FX is on now, we’re on next, Wilkinson is playing later, so is Pendulum and then you’ve got Chase and Status with their tent. That just shows that drum and bass has come a hell of a long way. The sound is dominating the festival which is a beautiful thing!

You get to visit here, there and everywhere as the demand for drum and bass spreads, but where is your favourite place to play?

That’s a real tough one because we are so blessed and I don’t know if you see the videos of when we’re on the road but we have the most amazing fun. The other week we went to Poland, Romania and Prague for Let It Roll. Back in the day you might have said just said London, Canada, Toronto, LA and Perth. Those few key places which have always been strong but now it feels like its spread everywhere and that’s a lovely thing.

One of my favourite sets of yours is Rampage 2018. When I need energy or I’m in the gym, that’s my go-to!

So, 2018 had a real balls to the wall feel, like you say perfect for the gym. For 2019, we did an all-nighter gig beforehand which was an emotional last night at XOYO, and we only slept for a couple of hours and then drove to Rampage this year. We were knackered!

Are you sure you drove because I’ve heard you’ve been known to travel by helicopter?

Helicopters are overrated – there are no toilets! We did that from SW4 to Leeds festival last year. The helicopters are awesome and look great but I needed a wee after ten minutes and had to hold it in for an hour and a half – brutal! But for Rampage, we drove over to that, and then we started the set but we were still in XOYO mode and then you look up and it’s a proper production. You go from having the whole club clambering over the turntables and then you’re like wow, what a festival and the production is amazing. Everyone who is into drum and bass should go to Rampage at least once. Let it Roll too, that’s another one!

You’ve been labelled as the king of drum and bass. How do you feel about that title?

I don’t feel like that at all… I feel lucky that me and Tonn (MC Tonn Piper) have been on the road and have these fantastic experiences. When I came into the scene, there were obviously my heroes like Randall, Grooverider and Fabio and I just really wanted to get in, make it, have a good time and enjoy the music.

I feel lucky that I’m here now with the experience and the knowledge that I’ve got. You can watch it from afar and be like I can remember that from back in the day and it’s just so lovely to be riding the wave of positivity for the music and being afforded these opportunities. I feel lucky. A friend of mine often says “there’s no luck in life” but there is. It’s a lot about being in the right place at the right time and growing up where I did and being in involved in pirate radio when I was younger and going to illegal raves at 15/16, and that’s led on to this and I feel lucky to have been involved in that.

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