The drum ‘n’ bass don prepares to play Dubai's Music Room
What are you up to Andy? I’m currently running around between meetings, I’m in the Ram Records office taking care of the business side of things. I’ve just got back from Miami and then I’m off to Dubai.
Miami and Dubai – two cities that aren’t exactly known for drum ‘n’ bass. Maybe Dubai. We’ve been doing Ram nights in Miami for 12 years and I just played to thousands of people. Dubai maybe not, I don’t associate it with drum ‘n’ bass, but I’ve been three times now and every time it’s been pretty lively.
You’re playing The Music Room again – where you played in January – it’s a little smaller than the kind of venues you’re used to. That’s what makes it exciting and different. [Last time] I didn’t know what to expect, and then you see the enthusiasm, everyone’s so up for it. Different places, different venues – I really love that. You play differently and feel differently, you see it in everyone’s faces. What I love about coming to Dubai is people at the shows are very, very passionate, they really know their stuff. You don’t get to hear drum ‘n’ bass as much out there so that brings a certain vibe, a ‘let’s have it’.
What’s the state of d‘n’b in 2013? I think it’s fantastic. Looking at my diary, this will be my busiest year ever. America’s gone nuts for it. And musically it’s in a very strong place.
When dubstep kicked off a few years back, was there any fear in the camp? No fear. People say they’re worried about fear, but if you like what you’re doing and you believe – what I’ve learned is that things are circular; a new music comes along and people say ‘we’ve got to jump on this’, but if you stick to your guns it will always come back round.
Is that because drum ‘n’ bass has got to the stage where it attracts a certain nostalgia? Sometimes you go out and see a lot of older heads that want to relive the days when they were going out. It’s been around so long that you get a beautiful mix. Drum ‘n’ bass has been the backdrop to most people’s experiences, it’s influenced a lot of genres. And drum ‘n’ bass is fantastic at taking on other genres and assimilating them and pushing forward.
Your label Ram Records celebrated 20 years in the game last year. Did it make you feel old? It makes one feel incredibly old. I feel lucky: right place right time, great music, great tunes and great artists. I can’t believe we’re still with the label – we’ve got lots of new releases coming up that I’m really pound of, but at the same time there’s an element of history there.
How much of your and Ram’s success was talent, and how much timing? I don’t know. When we did ‘Valley of the Shadows’, which was the one that really took off [in 1993], it was a miracle. It just came out of an evening in the studio, if me and Ant [Miles] hadn’t got together that evening… I believe in fate. That was meant to be.
Did you think back then you’d be able to make a living from music? No way. I hoped to make a living – it was that or get a job or go to school. I did my exams in May and then started the label in July. I left school at 16, that was the summer if ’92, and it was: ‘get a job? What can I do? I’ll start a record label. What have you got to lose?’ I borrowed a grand from my uncle and went from there.
And if the label hadn’t taken off, where would you be today? I really can’t tell you, I was going to maybe an apprenticeship at a printers. All I ever wanted to do was be a DJ, from the moment I got my decks that’s all I did day and night, from the minute I got home from school to the minute I left.
So you’ve never had a real job? What’s a real job? I’ve never had a nine-to-fine.
As a pioneer of a relatively niche genre, you are incredibly well known to fans, but a regular Joe to so many. Do you get recognised much? You do get recognised, but let’s face it, you’ve got to know your onions about drum ‘n’ bass to know who I am. It’s a beautiful thing, a very lucky thing, it’s nice that people dig what you do. I’m just a DJ, I wouldn’t categorise me as ‘someone’.
So 20 years on, do you think you’ll be on the road forever? I hope so. It’s an amazing, surreal life and a beautiful thing.
Surely there are nights when you’re not all that into it. When I’m there DJing, with a [drink] in my hand, why not? I’m going to enjoy myself. My party is when I’m playing. I’m trying to enjoy myself as much as the crowd. I don’t like to be studious.
How much of your set changes each night? It can change dramatically, but it really does depend – if you’ve got great tunes in your box, you’re going to play them this night, the next night, and every night for a month. A good tune is a good tune, and if I love it I’ll keep playing it.
Where’s bass music going next? Where’s it going? To the next party – it’s just going to create the biggest, baddest parties, crazy tunes with the old energy in the tracks. Where does it go? It always ends up at the weekend.
More and more DJs are crossing over and working with pop artists. Ever tempted to hook up with a big name Billboard star and hit the charts? Not really, I kind of enjoy just doing the records. If they called me up? I don’t know, we’ll see what can happen – but the chances of a main star ringing me up… I’d be surprised. Andy C plays alongside MC Lowqui for GlobalFunk at The Music Room on Thursday April 18, 9pm-3am. Dhs100 entry on the door.