In the world of electronic music, there are few bigger names than that of Andy C. Regarded as one of the greatest DJs ever to touch a turntable, the Ram Records founder has relentlessly dedicated almost two decades of his life to the music he loves, flying across the globe week in, week out, to demonstrate a mastery of craft that has earnt him a status as one of the most iconic and important figures in global dance music culture.
Much more than just a DJ, Andy C is a true figurehead for the drum & bass movement, within which he has been an instrumental player since its very beginnings; his DJ sets and own seminal productions helping to evolve the genre through the many stages of its evolution. Andy’s dedication to dance music is only matched by his list of achievements, and his is a journey that has taken him from sneaking into raves in barns as a 13 year old, to the glamorous terraces of Space in Ibiza and being invited to speak at Oxford University.
Growing up in Hornchurch, Essex, the young Andy got his first taste of the rave culture that was sweeping the UK in the late-1980s from his older sister, Sarah. At just 12 years of age, Andy would obsessively educate himself by listening to her rave tapes and local pirate radio, eagerly absorbing the sounds of the nascent rave scene and desperate to become involved in its rapidly emerging culture.
At 15, Andy first met Scott Bourne (Red One) through a school work-experience placement. The slightly older Scott ran a rave called Imagination in Bishopsgate, London, and it was here that Andy’s attention was first captured by the DJ controlling the crowd. After buying a cheap pair of decks, plenty of sleepless school nights spent practicing, and endlessly mailing out demo cassettes; luck struck and Andy was asked to play at Elevation on London’s Shaftsbury Avenue. Residencies at legendary raves such as Telepathy followed and, as Jungle emerged from Hardcore, Andy C became a name to watch.
With his career as a DJ taking flight, although still yet to finish school, Andy was also busy cutting his teeth as a producer, grappling with the rudimentary music-tech of the early-90s under the guidance of family friend Ant Miles, and creating his own tracks on reel-to-reel tape players and monophonic samplers. Having spent months working on the four-track ‘Sour Mash’ EP, the young DJ was determined the tracks should find a release. As such, just one week after finishing his GCSEs, Ram Records was launched, taking its name from Andy’s star sign (Aries) and with a logo hand-drawn by his sister on the kitchen table at home. Little did anyone involved realise then, but what would go on to become one of the biggest and most powerful brands in dance music had just been born.
Ram’s third release, the classic ‘Valley Of The Shadows’ (with Ant Miles under the Origin Unknown moniker) in 1993, assured Andy a place in the history of dance music at the age of just 16, but the teenager from Essex wasn’t about to rest on his laurels. As the 1990s went on, and Drum & Bass emerged from Jungle, Andy’s impeccable DJ sets consolidated his status as an essential at any big rave, while Ram continued to develop into one of the most forward thinking and consistent labels in dance music.
Two albums followed for Origin Unknown, ‘Speed Of Sound’ and ‘Sound In Motion’ in 1997 and 1998 respectively, before Andy and Ant linked up within another longstanding local friend, Shimon, to form the mighty Ram Trilogy. In 1999 the trio released ‘Molten Beats’, a landmark drum & bass album that signified just how far the genre come in the few short years since the emergence of Jungle in the early-90s.
Over the following decade both Andy and Ram refused to let up. DJing more than ever, in almost every corner of the planet, Andy was - and continues to be - repeatedly voted Number One at every D&B awards ceremony going, confirming his reputation for near super-human skills behind the turntables with every set, and demonstrating a technical and musical erudition that led to his fond labelling as a ‘robot’ by the fans that religiously attended the packed-out Ram events at The End nightclub in London’s West End.
In 2003 Andy released the first in his ‘Nightlife’ mix series, winning universal acclaim for its selection and construction and spawning four further instalments over the years that would follow. While Andy kept himself busy with a tireless DJ schedule during the first decade of the new Millennium, Ram was busy too – signing up the brightest sparks from D&B’s new wave of producers. Among these were two names that have since become some of the biggest producers working in electronic music today; Sub Focus and Chase & Status, who have both gone on the record to expressing their gratitude for Andy’s role in their unprecedented success as producers.
Despite this incredible career, the future is set for only bigger and better things for a man who has dedicated the vast majority of his life to the music he loves and believes in. After a year that saw him unleash the latest ‘Nightlife’, moving the Ram nights to London’s Fabric superclub, signing a whole raft of fresh talent to the label and even lecturing at Oxford University, as the new decade develops the man they call ‘The Executioner’ isn’t softening up… in fact, he’s sharpening his axe.