Andy Willyam takes his global sounds very seriously indeed. Never an artist to follow the crowd or even be contained within one genre or sound, the London based DJ and producer owns two of the capital’s most diverse and rule breaking labels in ISM Records and Midnight Riot, both exploring house and disco music’s many incarnations.
There’s been a healthy focus on house and dance music cultures from across the world, all being soaked up within the nucleus of London clubbing. Kuduro from Portugal, Baille Funk from Brazil. Andy – known as Yam Who? – has been championing the sounds of the Mexican electronic music scene, offering artists such as Andre VII, Sequencers and Salon Acapulco the means and methods for their music to be heard outside their geographic region, whilst also releasing grooves from Ron Basejam, The Revenge, Joey Negro, Ashley Beedle and lots more over time. He’s launching his new album in conjunction with Mexico’s Electrique Records – aptly titled The Mexican Ne ave – at the Queen of Hoxton on the22nd September featuring The KDMS, Kathy Diamond, Toby Tobias and many more (tickets can be obtained from here). Time to get the lowdown from Andy himself on his eclectic, utopian musical vision…
So you’re gearing up to launch the Mexican New wave album at Queen of Hoxton – what have you been up to in the run up to this? It’s a pivotal release for us. Ism Records branching off into a worldwide series, obviously every party is special for us and we try to do something individual and unique every time
What did you have in mind when you were rounding up the support acts? What do the likes of the KDMS, The Dead Rose Music Company, Electric Boogie and Toby Tobias bring in terms of flavour? We always look to program a night with artists we respect and usually haven’t worked with before, or maybe sometimes we’ve released their music. Others just ‘cos we love what they do. In this day and age, the quality of bands and DJ's is at an all-time high, especially in the 'uber' centre of London.
There's talk of an uninhibited night full of fun fancy dress - do you think London's clubbing scene has become much too serious? Having been involved in the club scene since the late 80's and the way it has developed I’ve seen the way in has evolved into big business. The big clubs are purely a corporate entity, whereas the real fun has always been in the intimate, more makeshift venues. The whole city is a designated party zone, bring on the fun, we’re all only here once!
Have you worked with the disco legend that is Kathy Diamond before? Always one person I’d love to work with is Kathy, been a long term fan; such a natural talent!
Apparently the album is influenced by a real selection of different sounds, from Theo Parrish to Quincy Jones - what was your entry into music? The original idea of Yam Who? was to bring our American influences but make our own sound coming from the UK. We came along in a true golden era, straight out of Goya in West London, that was exciting, the whole broken sound.
Yam Who? album developed from recording Odyssey and recording live in the studio across a few days, with musicians and then overdubbing. My entry was early 80's soul, electro, breakdancing, ‘Street Sounds’ albums, clubbing at an early age, then it was house music, acid jazz, Balearic and so forth.
These styles are not as disparate as some may think… so what is it you look for when making music? What is your focus? Just create and develop your skills, it’s a process. If it turns you on, inspires your day or night, don’t question it too much, just live in the moment and enjoy yourself. A song or production needs a few basic elements that are simple and function well together… the vocal, top line or melody will find its own place.
How long have you been working on the album? And how did the relationship with Mexican label Electrique records come about? The Mexican New Wave album came about from our Midnight Riot releases, we pretty quickly realised something was happening in Mexico and South America. Also the Midnight Riot artwork is inspired from the street art you see in Mexico City so we already were keen to get involved more.
What is the Mexican New wave sounding like? What can the uninitiated expect from this area of the world and how are they forging their dance culture? What I really love is where they’re placed geographically and it is a new developing scene, similar to what we had in the early 90's before the cult of the DJ took over. All the artists on the MNW are in their early 20's (apparently) and their approach or style is very different and evident in their musical output. It challenges your pre-determined musical filters, that’s really important, just because you done a few miles can often distract about your initial first thoughts, feelings and what originally drew you towards music. I’m sure, in Mexico, that the corporations will move in, bringing bigger name DJs and their predictable big room sound.
Ism Records and Midnight Riot have both released music from some of the coolest artists across all genres – what is the benefit of releasing across 2 imprints, and how do you decide what record is going where? By starting Midnight Riot this has allowed us to define the labels more clearly. Ism is mainly for albums, bands & artists. I want to develop into a modern day Island Records. Timeless music that appeals to everyone, and at Midnight Riot we can indulge ourselves more with club & DJ music, one off projects, and an anything goes approach.
Finally what can we expect in terms of releases on Midnight Records and Ism? You seem to put out a lot of music – will you be slowing down at any time soon? We’re actually speeding up, becoming more focused, as the amount quality music being sent is breath-taking. Live bands is an area I’d love to work in more, spreading out into different genres such as afro, reggae, soulful rock, experimental indie, perpetual dungaree wearing glow wave… the usual madness!