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Decades ago, the electronic music scene was nigh unrecognizable from its worldwide integration and popularity today. Andrew John Clarke was younger then, attending illegal raves with his friends in the English countryside. One such party came to mind when someone sent him a photo from many years over social media, reminding him of years past.
“It was one of those parties where somebody put out a phone number to call, and you met up at a service station on the road. Then this big convoy of cars made its way through the countryside to this back garden [in Kent] and we had a rave,” he recalls. “That’s how we used to do it. But now look at the kind of stages we do at EDC Las Vegas.”
It would be years before Andrew John Clarke would become known to most as Andy C, and he never would’ve guessed he would be where he is today. But his love of music and what would become drum ‘n’ bass led him down an unexpected pathway.
He helped create what many view as one of the most influential drum ‘n’ bass tracks of the 1990s—”Valley of the Shadows” under his Origin Unknown moniker with Ant Miles—and began to make a name for himself through his energetic DJ sets. Around the same time in 1992, he created RAM Records with Ant Miles, not knowing the influence the label would have over the next 27 years.
“Things are doing awesome [at RAM],” Clarke says enthusiastically. “We have an absolute steady stream of releases coming out every week. It’s relentless, but that’s how we like it. We make up one part of this beautiful scene of ours, and we’ve been there for everything. It’s a beautiful thing to still be at the forefront, you know?”
RAM had incredibly humble beginnings, starting out with Clarke picking up records in the trunk of his dad’s car and stamping the labels in his bedroom.
“Now, we’re streaming millions of streams all over these new mediums and touring the world,” he says. “It’s unfathomable, really.”
Though things have changed drastically since 1992 for RAM Records, Clarke maintains an optimistic viewpoint.
“I always think change is for the good,” he says. “I like to look forward. I appreciate the past because it invokes so many beautiful memories for me, but I love to look to the future. That’s what keeps the excitement there for me.”
Clarke is as excited about today’s drum ‘n’ bass scene as he was years ago. He says he’s “seeing a resurgence” in the United Kingdom, where the scene has “gone up to another level” in recent years. He’s also enjoying seeing the genre’s boom in the United States, where it’s been steadily getting more recognition and gaining traction.
“We seem to be seeing a lot of social media talk from people [in the States] who play drum ‘n’ bass tunes in their sets or are wanting to make dnb,” he says. “It seems to me we’re turning it up a notch.”
But Clarke would love to see even more drum ‘n’ bass coming out of the States. In fact, he encourages it.
“I know the United States is full of sick producers and people who want to smash the sound,” he invites. “Bring it to us.”
To those pursuing production, he offers advice that rings true for many aspects of life:
“If you want longevity, you’ve got to be true to yourself. If you’re pushing a sound and you’re passionate about it and love it, then you should stick at it and somewhere, hopefully, the crowd will get on your wave.”
When it comes to the style of music, Clarke notes he’s noticed today’s drum ‘n’ bass returning to “rawer sounds,” which delights the producer since that’s background he comes from.
“It’s been great to see the younger generations sort of battling it out week in and out to see who can make the sickest drop,” he says. “That’s what I’m feeling right now.”
But trends in music are unpredictable, and many producers scramble to figure out how to ride the current wave while staying true to their own sounds. For Andy C, though, the capricious nature of electronic music is a huge part of what makes it fun.
“I have no clue what drum ‘n’ bass will sound like in five years or even six months, and that’s part of the excitement” he says. “It just takes someone to come along and do a genre-defying song or create the next big bassline or take on a beat, and then it goes off on a tangent. That’s the beauty of it. Time goes pretty fast, but I know [drum ‘n’ bass is] going to be in an even healthier position than it is now.”
Clarke’s passion for drum ‘n’ bass and the scene surrounding it is driven by “the energy, the people, and the sense of community.” He calls the genre unique and says that “when you feel it, you really get it, and it becomes a strong passion within you.”
Those who have embraced this strong passion span generations—something that’s truly special to Clarke when he performs.
“At the events I do, there can be people spanning a 25-year age gap, and everybody will be raving together. It’s all ages, but that passion is always there. There’s a real beauty to a passion that never leaves for a style of music.”
When asked if he thinks the scene has changed for the better over the past few decades, Clarke’s answer is instantaneous.
“Of course! As much as I like raging in the back garden with 12 people, I definitely love being able to play all over the world to thousands of people. I’m such a lucky guy. It’s humbling and beautiful.”
Catch Andy C at one of this remaining 2019 shows. Learn more and get tickets here.