There’s many different genres of electronic music and each genre has a pioneering forces behind it and when it comes to drum and bass that name is Andy C, also nicknamed The Executioner. Andy C is also a co-founder of Ram Records that was started in 1992 along with his friend Ant Miles. Twenty two years later his label is one of the most successful and well-respected in the world and was also the host of the bassPOD stage on the third night of Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas 2014.
His real name is Andrew John Clarke from Walsall, England and has been active with music since 1989. In 2001 he ranked #31 in the DJ Mag Top 100 pool and continued to rank in the top 100 for the rest of the decade. Producing, remixing, DJing, label boss and promoter. He’s traveled the globe for the love of drum and bass and continues to with no end in sight. Artists of the same stature in other genres include Paul van Dyk, Paul Oakenfold, Richie Hawtin, Carl Cox, Sasha, John Digweed, Fatboy Slim and over on the harder side of dance music is Darren Styles.
Don’t let the name of the site fool you, we don’t think the scene is anywhere near dead. People have said it’s dead for years yet it continues. Not every site needs to have the acronym EDM in its name. I’ve been involved for over 15 years and still as excited as day one and was thankful for the chance to sit down with Andy C for this interview.
The first time I saw Andy C perform was in Toronto at a rave called Freakin 2000 with over 10,000 people. I didn’t really understand drum and bass at the time, it just sounded like noise that didn’t have any soul to it. After that night I admitted that I was wrong and I was hooked on the genre after that. Andy C on three turntables with MC GQ on the microphone and the place was bouncing off the walls. Music can really have its biggest impact on us in a large crowd where you can really feel it compared to just putting on some headphones or playing it through your home speakers. When I brought up the event, Andy C recalled the gig mentioning the massive room it was held in and said, “Toronto is just one of my favorites. The passion for drum and bass in Toronto is amazing.”
Interested in that 2000 set from Toronto? Courtesy of Toronto Rave Mixtape Archive. These are from a cassette tape recording that had been released at the time. Andy C & MC GQ – Live at Lifeforce Freakin 10-28-2000 – Side A – Download | Side B – Download
The drum and bass pioneer has also been a staple of Insomniac Events for some time. Andy C was featured at Nocturnal Wonderland in September 2000 (view that flyer) and again at Electric Daisy Carnival Los Angeles in 2001. Here’s a snapshot from the EDC LA 2001 website:
“The first time I ever met Pasquale was in Los Angeles on a Wednesday night for 400 to 500 people and now it’s gone from that to the phenom that is EDC Vegas,” Andy C said when asked about the evolution of Insomniac.
I asked Andy C if he ever could have imagined if we’d still be here 15 years later and he said, “To be fair, no. When you’re doing a venue you’re just going with the flow. For me getting flown to the other side of the world and experience these huge raves, and now we’re growing and bigger and stronger than ever. Be it for the drum and bass or the whole incredible festivals you do over here.”
Back then, I would have asked who his inspirations were at the time and if there was anyone that he looked up to. As a veteran of the scene now it’s the other way around, he’s now someone who has inspired a whole new generation.
In response to that Andy C said, “When I got into the scene and first started DJing I was 16 years old I was obviously looking up to all the peers. It’s strange when people come up to you and say stuff like that. I don’t really like to dwell too much on the past. I always look to the future and always like to bring new stuff. So that for me, it doesn’t make me feel like I’ve been in the scene forever. I’m always like every year is a new goal. A new excitement. A new artist to bring through and new sounds to do so it always feel fresh.”
He continued, “The best thing with the label especially is to sign new artist and watch them grow to become huge in their own right. I think Wilkinson was a gardener or something like that and now he’s like a huge act and that’s a real pleasure.”
Ram Records was busy earlier in the year doing a release every two weeks and has since scaled back and gone into album mode. New albums are upcoming from Wilkinson, DC Breaks and Delta Heavy just to name a few.
Andy C is a producer but also one of a handful of DJs that looks forward to the long set. UK fans are familiar with his All Night sets when he’ll play for six hours and take people on a journey. Asked about that and the possibility of an All Night in the United States he said, “I would love to. You need to pick the right club. The one we did in April, man that was amazing. The people were there the whole time because it was a hard to get into event because it was sold out. To see them go through the whole night and go on that journey with them was a really special thing. We all looked a bit worst for the wear. To do that 6 hours is so liberating as a DJ because you’re not clock watching, you’re not thinking I’ve got to play that I’ve got to play that rush rush rush. I can literally be thinking I’ll give that a couple of hours and then go in that direction.”
Anyone familiar with a big club that’s drum and bass friendly in North America? Have the promoter get in touch with Andy C and make it happen. The next All Night will be held at the 02 Brixton Academy on October 31, 2014 in the UK.
It’s always refreshing to hear a DJ light up when they start talking about longer sets. “The longer the better. I’ve come all the way over here and want to play as long as possible,” he said. At a recent gig in Buffalo, NY he was slotted for 90 minutes and ended up playing another 60 minutes. Earlier in 2014 he played a four-hour set in Toronto. There’s a handful of DJs that are known for playing 10 to 14 hour sets but in an era where too many popular DJs immediately cut their set at the two-hour mark this is something worth mentioning.
We talked to Andy C backstage at EDC Las Vegas after he had opened up the main stage on the third night of the festival along with MC Armanni Reign. It was unfortunate that there was a small crowd at the stage for the majority of his set that could hold nearly 80,000 but when he started playing the gates weren’t even open and people still had to pass through security. Once the gates opened though people flocked to the stage as fast as they could. If you were there it was tough to see Andy C behind the decks because they had built an impromptu tent over the decks due to his vinyl which was melting. As he played he said he could see one after another just melt and warp.
“Such a unique experience having it melt in front of you,” he said. Anyone would prefer a set later in the night on one of the biggest stages ever constructed but just being up there he said, “it was a beautiful thing.”
He uses Traktor along with vinyl time code. Why is that? He answered, “I like the physicality of the three turntables and working up a sweat.”
Talking about EDC Las Vegas, the sheer scale and the size is unreal. There are people there to party but to someone like Andy C who’s involved with the back-end and making things happen he mentioned all of the logistics saying, “the way everything is set up, it’s unbelievable. I’ve not quite experienced anything like it.”
He went on to play another set later in the night at the bassPOD stage along with fellow label mates Audio, Calyx & Teebee, Ed Rush & Optical, I Am Legion, Sub Focus, Wilkinson and Loadstar.
When asked about American festivals versus elsewhere in the world he said that the people enjoying themselves is the same no matter where you go. One difference with some European festivals is that there’ll be a band on first before a DJ. As an example he said, “At Exit Festival I played after Billy Idol one year. Going from ‘Rebel Yell’ with his top off and then I’m going on. Europe is completely different like that.”
“The thing with this festival (EDC Las Vegas) in particular and American festivals is the sheer scale of the production and stuff, no half measures, it’s amazing. In terms of production this festival is one of the most amazing visually.”
One thing you won’t see an abundance of from Andy C is live recordings. The reason for that? He said, “I like people to come and experience it at the show.” We’re often over saturated with live recordings which takes away from the experience of seeing someone live.
From playing the massive EDC Las Vegas to a club in Buffalo, NY to Amnesia in Ibiza this guy plays everywhere around the world.Keep Andy C on your radar and don’t miss him when he’s in your area.
In case you missed it, here’s his EDC Las Vegas 2014 set from the bassPOD stage: