This time next week, fans of all things electronic music will be preparing to descend on South West Four 2016.
The two-day festival, which takes over London’s Clapham Common across Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 August, will see Drum & Bass legend Andy C hit the main stage for his ultimate end of summer set, among loads of other huge names.
As we continue our countdown to SW4, we chat to Andy C ahead of the Bank Holiday Weekend extravaganza…
Hey Andy! How’s summer been treating you so far?
“It’s been fantastic; pretty special. I’ve been here, there and everywhere. It’s mad; the first half felt like it went on for a while and the second half has flown by. It’s going to be over before we know it! But I looked at the weather report for next week (South West Four festival) and it’s looking amazing so I’m looking forward to that.”
Does playing on home turf make South West Four that bit more special?
“It does! It’s our homecoming festival for the end of the summer. I’ve just done the guest list and I’ve got about 30 people going down there, so we’re going to have lots of friends and family in there. We’ll be doing the RAM tent which is going to be amazing, and I’m on the main stage. It’s just a great way for us all to have a big blowout at the end of summer.”
Does the main stage excitement ever wear off?
“I definitely don’t think it will ever wear off [laughs]. It’s a beautiful thing, it really is fantastic. With a festival like [South West Four] I turn up early, I hang out and I check out what’s going on. When you pop your head up on stage and look out, you definitely realise it’s pretty cool. But there’s always a magical moment throughout the set where you zone out and you look out at the crowd and think ‘man, I am such a lucky sod’. During those moments I do think to myself, ‘take a mental picture, try to remember this’.”
You’re able to play the likes of Glastonbury and South West Four in the same year, do you think Drum & Bass appeals to a more diverse audience than other genres?
“I always think that [because] we have such an amazing pool of artists and influences. I think at festivals, we’re able to scoop up a lot of the crowd because they might be coming from a dance background, a rock background, all different kinds of things. With Drum & Bass, you can identify with the energy and the general vibe that it brings. Over the summer, I haven’t seen any tents going off as much as they do in the d&b tent [laughs], because it brings a positive vibe. At places like Glasto, you end up with such a huge audience because everybody can resonate with it over the years. Drum & Bass has obviously been around for a while, so we cover such a broad spectrum of people and that transfer itself to festivals like South West Four. We’re going to be doing out thing not only in the tent but on the main stage as well.”
How do you think the Drum & Bass scene has changed over recent years?
“Put it this way, the first parties that I was doing were in a barn, in a field and not strictly legal. And now, we’re doing main stages at festivals like SW4. I was doing all-nights on pirate radio at the top of a tower block, so it’s changed a bit!”
Do you feel like those early years toughened you up for when you broke out of the underground?
“Definitely, one million per cent. That kind of experience is invaluable. If you start out like that, when you get put in front of an audience you appreciate it! You think ‘I have absolutely got to do my best here’. Obviously I do the all-night sets now so maybe doing the six-hour sessions at pirate radio stood me in good stead then. It’s all part of the make-up of yourself as an artist. Instead of nowadays having one big record in front of twenty thousand people to play music for an hour, you got all that history and you served your apprenticeship, so you can put that experience to good use.”
What’s the most important advice do you give to new artists on RAM?
“It differs from artist to artist but we always want artists that want to be unique, they want to be themselves and they have to be focused. They have got to aim for the best and it’s important that they try to be true to themselves, but also ready to think that not everything is going to make the cut and they’ll keep going until the best tunes come out. We have been blessed with a fantastic roster at RAM, so we’re very happy with what we’ve got.”
How important do you think having that kind of thick skin is for artists today?
“Massively. I think it’s important in every walk of life and with everything you do. If you’re easily offended by stuff, you’re not going to learn. If someone sends me a tune, for example, and I’m able to tell them that actually it isn’t the best thing since sliced bread. I think you need a thick skin in every walk of life. Sometimes you need it when you’re stood up on stage in front of twenty thousand people and they’re not dancing yet [laughs], you need to find a way to make it happen! It’s about adapting, trying to be the best and doing the best that you can.”
South West Four Festival will be taking place on Clapham Common across the August Bank Holiday weekend (Saturday 27 and Sunday 28). Check availability and book now at Ticketmaster.co.uk/sw4.