Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Deep, Heavy, Soulful: Bristol's Andy Mac

Late last year, this humble little blog debuted with a not-so-humble barnstormer of a mix from Punch Drunk label head Peverelist.  Aside from a boatload of promising new material from Mr. Tom Ford himself, the mix included two other prominent debuts: Kahn's "Like We Used To" and Andy Mac's "Everytime."  In February, Kahn's track was released on the label to great acclaim, a perfect and poppy synthesis of dubstep, garage, and house.  Well, the next Punch Drunk release was the other debut from the mix's other standout, Andy Mac's "Everytime," two slices of dusty garage-inflected house striking the perfect balance between propulsive and catchy and doing it all with a rather on-point sense of age and crackle. I reviewed the single over at FACT, and Andy Mac's subtle and slightly dark tunes remind me a lot of what I love about another one of 2011's brightest new prospects, Kevin McPhee.

But really, who the hell is Andy Mac?  I had certainly never heard of him; I contacted Peverelist to find out more and it turns out he's a DJ ("first and foremost"as Ford puts it).  So who better to to do a Futureproofing post on than a producer with such high potential?  Liking his single so much, and wanting to hear how he would contextualize his sound in a DJ mix, I tapped Andy Mac for a mix and a short interview, and I'm glad I did.  Mac's mix is pretty much exactly what you could expect if you've heard his debut 12-inch, and if you have, then this is worth your time and then some.  Over the course of 90 minutes Mac feels out every tangent and influence that you could possibly pick out of his music: deep, jacking house, garage-leaning tracks, swift and smooth techno, spacey dub, and everything in between.  He doesn't provide a tracklist, but that's just all part of the fun: there are of course familiar tracks, but it's impressive how he manages to make everything sound both timeless and curiously, mysteriously aged, like some old mix unearthed from a decade and a half ago.  Interview and download after the jump.

Andrew Ryce: Who are you and where do you come from?

Andy Mac: My name is Andy Mac, I currently live in Bristol, although I was born in the midlands and grew up in Cornwall, down in Penzance. I've also lived in London a couple of times to but Bristol feels like home now.

How long have you been DJing for, and when did that turn into production?

I've been DJing for while now, maybe nine years or more? I was really into hardcore/jungle through various cassette tapes that came my way, but was way too young to get involved at the time, so when I grew up a bit hip-hop was the first music I really participated in. It was the main thing people were going out to in my hometown of Cornwall. There were some strong DJs playing really good hip-hop like early Slum Village, Lost Boys or Q-Tip, so that kinda inspired me to start DJing. I moved to London around 2001 or 2002 and that opened my ears to a whole lot of different music again. I'd be heading into town to go to buy hip-hop but then I'd check out Vinyl Junkies and listen to a load of deep house, and US stuff like Kerri Chandler, Dennis Ferrer and Osunlade or broken stuff like Afronaught, Seiji, IG or some Mark Pritchard bits. and of course I'd hear garage on the radio  whereever I went but I didn't really start buying or playing it at the time.  I moved back to Cornwall and still mostly concentrated on hip-hop, making beats inspired by Pete Rock and later on Jay Dee on a sampler I still use today. But I stopped producing for a long time before I started the stuff i'm making now. I never stopped DJing though, what I play just evolved through that period.

What kind of stuff do you usually play in your sets?

Good question! That really depends on the night, I guess I've been playing a lot of house, but not exclusively. I'd say basically deep, heavy, soulful underground dance music in a range of different forms. I like it when I have freedom to play around as long as, hopefully, it's a good track. I think there's definitely a certain vibe that attracts me, someone recently told me that its warm and raw... which sounds okay to me! I like it when it all becomes abstract, when dancers are so locked in you could play a techno record next to a soul record and then play some grime and it all makes sense, i guess its as much to do with the crowd as it is the DJ though.

How did you hook up with Tom and Punch Drunk?

I met Tom through Rooted, I was always buying records there, he was always behind the counter so we just got talking and one day, around this time last year I think, he asked me if I made music. I gave him a CD of "Everytime" and another track. It turned out he was feeling it so we kind of went from there. I really appreciate what he's done for me, putting out my tracks and helping me with the release, it's something I've always aspired to since the beginning but I never knew if it would happen.

Your music seems to have an older, very retro tinge to it, is this an intentional effect? Do you create your tracks with analogue equipment/hardware?

I wouldn't say I try to be intentionally retro, it's maybe just using elements that have been around for while in other forms of music, but I didn't have any particular styles in mind when I made both the tracks on the Punch Drunk release. I make everything on a sampler, so I find producing a bit like remixing my record collection, in terms of being influenced by things I hear and actually stealling noises from them to build my own tracks. The sampler has its own sound to which is pretty scuzzy, but again it's not really intentional, that's just what I know how to use to make music.

Am I wrong in detecting an influence of old 4x4 garage in there?

No that's not wrong, but it's in amongst other things too. It's in there but I'm certainly not an expert on the genre (as much as I love it and would like to know more!). I do play some garage of various kinds, but I couldn't go deep on 4x4 (or any kind really!). I was into those early Artwork bits and the Horsepower stuff on Turn U On, I'd say they really influenced me: it's vocals, but not chopped, so you don't know if it's samples or not; plus it's soulful, heavy and dark!

What (other?) sort of stuff do you listen to, what inspires you these days?

Well, really good DJs inspire me the most. People who select amazing tracks that you've never heard and put them together in a way that grabs you and sucks you in and can take you places. I really enjoy Theo Parrish's sets and his own music. Ben UFO is incredible, and Floating Points is too! But I'm inspired by all sorts I guess. I think Levon Vincent is an amazing producer and DJ. Elgato too, I dunno, loads of people! I think I like stuff that has an intensity to it but not necessarily noisy or chaotic, just genuine, real emotional content. I try to do that, but it's not easy, I'm not that good of a producer.

What other sort of music have you been producing? Can we expect any further releases from you in the near future?

There will be other releases, I'm not sure when, or really what they'll sound like though! But there are some things coming up.

Do you do anything else in music aside from DJing and producing on the side?

I'm part of a crew called Falling Up, and put we sporadically put on nights together in Bristol, and do regular mixes (check out the Falling Up SoundCloud). We DJ together a lot too, Type and Jay L are both wicked DJs (watch out for Type's music too!) and I'm really glad to have met them.

How did you record the mix and what was the thought process/concept behind it?

The mix was recorded a home with records, 1210s and a CDJ for a couple of newer bits. I just wanted to try not to mess about with the delay on my mixer too much... I think I failed at that though.

Finally, what's your favourite record of all time?
No way! That's impossible. I couldn't answer that. Black Joy - Untitled or Foul Play - Being With You.


No tracklist provided. (Have at 'er, trainspotters!)


Andy Mac's debut twelve-inch "Everytime" / "Asteroid Belts" is out on Punch Drunk now.

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