Andy C interview: ‘When everybody is vibing with you – there’s no better business’
- Credit: Andrew Attah
When I finally speak with Andy C he’s busy running through the soundcheck for a six-hour set in one of London’s biggest nightclubs.
You’ll be hard pressed to go to a festival where Andy C isn’t performing this year. The drum and bass pioneer is set to appear at up to 40 of them, both at home and abroad.
In London you’ll be able to catch him at Clapham’s South West Four Weekender and at We Are FSTVL, Upminster, just a stone’s throw from where the acclaimed DJ went to one of his first illegal raves from his home in Hornchurch.
It takes me a few attempts to get through but that’s understandable given the bassy licks undoubtedly being blasted out at the other end.
It’s the second time the internationally acclaimed DJ has performed the marathon gig, which stands as testament to his passion and dedication to the drum and bass music he helped pioneer.
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When we eventually talk there isn’t a hint of nerves in his voice – which carries an Essex twang that gives away his proud Hornchurch roots – despite the prospect of performing to a sell out crowd of close to 2,000 people ahead of him.
But then for Andy C, who has been on stage in front of vast numbers both stateside and in Ibiza, this is small fry. The primary concern is to pace the night’s drinks – vodka namely, “any way you like it”.
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A regular on the bass music seen since the early 1990s, the 38-year-old has become an even more familiar face at festivals across the UK and abroad.
He’s set to appear at close to 40 this year – “it’s going to be a good year” – including the South West Four Weekender in Clapham and We Are FSTVL in Upminster.
For the executioner, as he is known to fans, festivals are an occasion to party “like everybody else”.
It’s also a rare chance for the master DJ to check out other artists from different genres and, as a self-confessed “massive” fan of English rock group Radiohead, there’s no guessing where Andy would be if they were on the stage.
“There’s just something about festival season,” he says. “It’s just such fun when you have got everybody out.
“Especially if it’s a nice day. Everybody has made an effort and they have been looking forward to it for ages. It becomes a special thing – not only for the people that are there but for the artists too.
“It’s a different proposition from maybe a nightclub where we are all in one room from midnight to the early hours. But at festivals people are going from tent to tent.”
It would have been hard for a young Andrew Clarke to have imagined the giddy heights his DJ alter-ego would attain as he mixed on his decks from school-out to sundown and listened to pirate radio.
It was his sister, Sarah, who first introduced him to the rave culture then sweeping the UK and took him to some of his first – often illegal – raves in his early teens.
But it was always Andy C’s dream to be good enough to play professionally and he was willing to work hard for it.
“It’s want I wanted to do. I knew that I loved it, I never thought it would turn into the career that it has but I always wanted to practice hard enough to play in clubs”, he says.
“If you are going to dedicate yourself and try hard enough and put the right effort in and be right with people then I don’t see that it’s unattainable. I dreamed it and it worked out.”
After founding a record label – Ram Records – being invited to speak at Oxford University and appearing on some of the world’s biggest stages, including performing on the Great Wall of China, Andy C is still as invigorated as ever by what he does.
“There’s nothing that comes close when you are stood up on the stage performing and you get interaction with the crowd and you get a connection and go on a ride together,” he says.
“It’s all about having fun and when everybody is vibing with you – there’s no better business.”
Fans will be pleased to know that he often spots familiar faces in the crowd who are regulars on the London club circuit.
With a packed summer ahead of him, I find myself asking Andy how he copes?
“It’s kind of cool when we are in that mode because there is no time to chill – you don’t really get tired until you take a break. After that it hits home.”
Until then, it’s on with the next festival.