Drum and bass pioneer Andy C tells us why he loves playing festivals, and what to expect at Reading and Leeds Festival.
Multi-award winning DJ and co-founder of RAM Records, Andy C, is well into a very busy year. As we sit down with him for a chat ahead of multiple festival appearances, including a high profile headline slot on the Dance Stage at Reading and Leeds Festival later in the year, he tells us of his current schedule. Just days later, he’ll be jumping on a plane to the United States for consecutive weekend appearances.
It’s testament to his significance in the drum and bass scene. As well as launching some of the biggest names in drum and bass, he’s developed an iconic DJ style that both showcases and reinterpret his contemporaries.
With his schedule only set to get busier as the summer unfolds, Andy C tells us of his love of festival shows, the role of drum and bass in the current music scene, and just why Reading and Leeds Festival is so dear to his heart.
How are you feeling gearing up for the summer?
It’s really busy. I just finished the XOYO residency, which was incredible. I finished that on the last Friday in March. Straight off the bat from that I’ve been to Puerto Rico for a festival, I’ve been Snowbombing, then I did Lost & Found in Malta, before going to New Zealand and Australia for a week. I was out a Romanian festival on Friday and then I’m off to America. It’s non-stop, but I love going around all the different countries and cultures, and seeing the drum and bass vibe smash it.
Did you ever see yourself doing this when you started off?
It’s incredibly removed from the Prison club in Stoke Newington, which was my first ever show. Pretty far removed from that. These are things you only ever dream of and I’m one of the lucky few who get to do it. I’m extremely lucky.
People always ask me how I do it, and I just tell them that if they stood up there on the stage and felt the vibes from the audience for a minute, they’d be like, “this is all I want to do”. It’s that beautiful natural high that’s such a wonderful thing. I can’t even explain it. This has been the dream, and fortunately I’m out there doing it.
Do you prepare in any particular way for the festival shows?
It’s so different from playing an all-night set in London at a drum and bass event. I’ll be thinking about what I want to fit into that slot to not only entertain the audience but also to get across the drum and bass vibe properly. It’ll be a cool balance. There are so many killer tunes you want to put in, and so many different vibes.
OK I can go out and play banger after banger, but I also love the beautiful electronic parts too and want to explore those elements of the set. And the dark and dirty stuff too. It’s about finding a way to concertina all of those styles together into a shorter set. It’s quite a cool challenge, actually.
It must be exciting to have that drum and bass accolade though?
I guess when you put it like that; it’s great that they picked me. For people who have never heard the music before, they might be standing there thinking that this is the guy they’ve picked to come and play it, so let’s find out what it’s all about. There’s this thing about rising to the challenge and entertaining the people.
How has the representation of drum and bass at festivals developed over your career?
It’s definitely out there more as the years go by. It’s been a slow burn in terms of getting onto the big stages at the festivals, in relation to how big the music is. The drum and bass scene has a very healthy underground. It always has. The clubs are packed out week on week. It’s taken a while to get to this point, but it’s become a beautiful thing where you get invited back to the big festivals year after year.
We’ve been around a while, haven’t we? You can’t deny the vibe of drum and bass. One thing’s for sure, I’m really happy that festivals are pushing it. To be headlining the Reading and Leeds Dance Stage this year is a very cool feeling. Those festivals in particular, every time I’ve played them, those crowds are nuts. It’s outrageous. I played it a couple of years ago and it was just incredible. I played the after-party in Leeds last year and there were 17,000 people in the forest just going loony at two in the morning. I’m looking forward to getting back to them.
Do you have any particular personal highlights from Reading and Leeds that makes it so special for you?
People go particularly nuts at Reading and Leeds. I just recall looking up from the first tune and thinking, “this is going off”. It didn’t relent for the whole set. I remember looking to the side of the stage and everyone was stood there thinking it was just crazy. You’re on such a high when you finish sets like that.
What’s your favourite part of performing on those stages?
You do really different shows and vibes, and you wonder what it’s going to be like each time. There’s always a point in the set, especially at festivals, where it just clicks. You and the audience just click, and it is on. All of the tunes start to present themselves to you without you having to think about what has to come next. You are all on a level when you are connecting, and it’s such a beautiful place to be. That’s what I really, really love about the festivals.
Andy C will be appearing at Reading and Leeds Festival in August. Tickets are available now through Ticketmaster.co.uk.
Photo by: Tiefenrausch