http://www.kmag.co.uk/editorial/features/andy-c-interview Andy C is drum & bass royalty. The Ram head honcho is celebrating entering his fourth (!) decade of destroying dancefloors with the release of the Nightlife 5, the latest instalment in his popular mix CD series. Knowledge caught up with him on the eve of Friday's launch party at Fabric to talk moving, commercial success, behind-the-scenes at Ram and being coerced into documentary appearances... So, Nightlife 5. People certainly get value for money tracks-wise on your compilations. How important is it to you that this series really conveys the feel of what it's like to see you live? I hope that I can express that on the CDs. Obviously I've played longer sets over the last few years, so that's why I've made it two CDs. Also I feel there's a wealth of music around; I probably could have made it three CDs quite easily. I thought about how I would structure it, so I didn't want one CD that was 'oh, this is the party mix, and this other CD is the alternative mix', because to me it's all one scene, one music, and I try and express that in my set. Hopefully it'll be a representation of what it's like seeing me for a couple of hours in the club. Would you say your ability to blend different styles is the reason behind your longevity? I go out there and I have fun. I try not and get caught up in one particular style. People are tuned into the music so much now, and it's different to what it was. A lot of the line-ups I play now are multi-genre nights, not even lots of different drum & bass DJs, just lots of different musics. You can like different sides to it, so I definitely try and represent it all. You've already sold out the launch party at Fabric, no mean feat... I guess not! I'm chuffed. It's going to be a big night down there. Everyone's coming to party, and I'm even getting a cab down there, so I can have a few drinks! How has the move from Matter to Fabric gone? It was obviously very stressful when it first happened, because we were two weeks away from a sold out, where we'd sold 3,000 tickets. Fabric already had a gig in their venue, and they'd sold tickets for that, but they worked wonders down there and they managed to do a bit of shifting around, and got us in there. The first night was great and the second night was phenomenal, because it was always meant to be at Fabric from the start. Coming from a club like Matter... it was so huge. We went from The End, you know, a thousand/11 hundred people, to suddenly going to 3,500 people at eight shows, and then we had to move venue again. The difference between Fabric and Matter is massive; the main room's huge, so we have to adjust the line-ups. I love Fabric, I've been going there for ten years, but we've got to make it our own, make it unique and make it feel like Ram. You have this behind-the-scenes documentary with Handlebar Films coming up. Any dark secrets revealed? Did you have to tidy the office? [Chuckles] I don't know mate, it's a work in progress. They've got a few bits and bobs, so who knows how it's going to transpire. I thought it was just an interview and it's turned out to be a documentary, so Scott [Red One] has obviously sneaked something up on us there! I'm playing it by ear. I'm a mere spectator. How has the success of Sub Focus and Chase & Status affected the label? It's affected it only in a positive way. When we signed those artists... with Nick [Sub Focus] it was more a case of discovering him, then nurturing him, always seeing that he had album potential. So when we started on the long road that would eventually lead to his album, there was the thought that we wanted to turn Ram into an album label. That was the premise behind signing Chase & Status, because we thought they were a very exciting act. Also, they were hungry. There's a lot of very, very talented producers out there, but it's difficult to identify people that are hungry enough to want to see it through. There are a lot of people out there who say 'yeah, I want to make an album, I want to work every single week and make loads of tunes', but there aren't that many out there who're up to the task. You have to be on it. With the success that those guys have had over the last couple of years, they're still in the studio every day, without fail, working on new material, or at least adjusting stuff, preparing the live show, and that's the dedication that it takes. I think our scene contains tons of artists like that, it's just about getting the best out of them and working it right. Do you think this puts Ram in a bit of a strange position? Do you have to work that bit harder to preserve the underground vibe of the music? Not at all. We're in a great position. My philosophy has always been take care of the underground first, because I like tunes and music that grows organically. Take Body Rock for example, which everyone would term a massively commercial tune now, but when we made it, it was anything but commercial. It was just some freaky little ditty that was knocked up in a few hours, but ended up capturing people's imagination. The same with Tunnel, probably quite a few Sub Focus tunes, Trilogy tunes, coming all the way through to the Chase & Status album. I think that it enables us to push the underground more. Artists don't have be overtly commercial to be successful. They just need people to buy into them and be excited by them, and they to be tuned in to know what they're doing. If you look at some of the most successful artists, bands, or hip hop artists, they just have a sound that makes them successful. So we're trying to get that ethos going with Ram. It helps the scene, which is really healthy. I went out last weekend to play three gigs in the UK, and there was over 10,000 people there between them. It's all very well and good to say 'we want to keep it underground and play to our six mates', but that's not what it's about. There's room for everyone, and I love the diversity of our scene. Other labels in your position might have moved onto bigger premises, but you've stayed where the label's roots are in Hornchurch. Not tempted to upgrade to an office overlooking Regent's Park? (Laughs] There's just no need to move! Everybody we know is here, we've always been here. We might have to get on the tube and go into London for some meetings, but we like being out of the hustle and bustle. We're only 20 minutes from central London, so it's no problem. You've signed a few new acts to Ram recently. Do you want to tell us a bit about them and what they mean for the future of the label? Hamilton is an experienced head in dance music, and I think he's got a lot to offer. He's learning and he's trying, but he's got talent there. I think his sound bridges the old sound with the new. In his demos he'll always put a bit of old skool or hardcore in the intros, then marry it with a new, more up-to-date sound, and that excites us. Delta Heavy are two young guys who are really hungry. Their music is high impact, big on the dancefloor at the moment, but I can see they're hungry to push themselves forward as an act. Wilkinson is an incredibly talented young guy, and I can't tell you how blown away I am by all the demos that he sends me, both sonically and his ideas. I think he's going to surprise a few people. I've featured a few of his tunes on the new Nightlife. He's got a great studio and a great mentality towards working and trying out ideas, Just for that reason, signing him was a no-brainer – the guy's got big things ahead of him. DC Breaks have been in and around the label for years now. We like what they do, they want to do some interesting stuff in an album scenario and we like that as well. We think with this stable of acts – as well as Culture Shock, who's incredible, Xample and Lomax, who've got their Loadstar project, the new Sub Focus project, the Chase & Status singles, and we've still got the original crew – we've got a really nice, diverse camp there, to cover every angle of drum & bass, which is what we want to do.