Yoyo, Ahead of the big gig this Sunday, we have managed to wrangle a chat with our guest of honour this Sunday, Andy BlakeBefore you read, you can check out Andy brand new podcast for Shock, HERE
Between 2007 and the end of 2009, Andyâ€™s ran the superb â€˜Dissident Distributionâ€™ imprint and released some of the most forward thinking, leftfield electronic music heard in years. Each record was pressed on single-sided slabs of vinyl and limited to 200 pressings. After bringing Dissident to a close, Andyâ€™s latest label, Cave Paintings, is on its second release of raw, organic machine funk, produced in the true tradition of Chicago House. In addition, a label representation of World Unknown (his innovative Brixton club night, co-organised with Bodyhammerâ€™s Joe Hart) is imminent. We caught up with the man himself for a quick chat.
Hi Andy, first of all can you give us a brief outline of who you are and what you do?
Iâ€™m a South-East Londoner with far too many records, but thankfully a fairly regular bunch of DJ gigs that I get to play them at.
Youâ€™re playing The Blue Note, Galway on Sat 21st May and 12 at The Bernard Shaw in Dublin the following day. This will be your first visit to Ireland â€“ how do you feel about it? Heard anything good/bad?
Iâ€™m very much looking forward to the trip. Iâ€™ve got quite a few Irish mates in London and they all speak very highly about both cities and the whole country in general. I've been given a list of things I have to do and places I have to visit that I've no chance at all of even making a dent in on one trip, so hopefully I'll be back soon. And Iâ€™ve heard very good things about the Blue Note and the Bernard Shaw from my good mate Sir Jonnie Wilkes of Optimo, so I'm well up for the gigs themselves.
The Optimo lads always go down a treat over hereâ€¦ Did you ever play Optimo Espacio at the Sub Club before the night finished?
Unfortunately I never did, but Iâ€™ve done all night at their Hung Up party at the Sub a couple of times and thatâ€™s always great. Itâ€™s nice to do the whole night from empty room to last man standing, especially there.
Youâ€™re well known for your vast collection of records. What is it about vinyl thatâ€™s so special to you?
I very much like the way records sound in comparison to digital files when turned up loud and I love how you manipulate records when you DJ. I also really like having a â€˜thingâ€™ that I can hold with the recording on it for some reason. It does make moving house an absolute bitch though, and I reckon if ever I stop DJing then, other than 500 or so, the whole lot is going to a home where theyâ€™ll be used and loved.
There was an interview floating around recently with Ivan Smagghe who spoke of losing 25,000 records in a fire - just about the most tragic thing Iâ€™ve ever heard! Have you ever lost any of your precious stash?
That must have been truly horrifying for him, the same thing happened to Don Letts a while back and having spoken to him about it seems that only losing a loved one or a limb is going to trump that in the tragedy stakes for a vinyl junkie. Iâ€™ve been very lucky over the years really, although Iâ€™ve recently developed a very bad habit of occasionally cracking 7â€s - a few times as I removed them from the packaging they were sent to me in - very bloody careless of me. And I did once have a 12â€ arrive in the post having been folded in half by the postman as he tried to get it in my letterbox. I did have the tone-arm come right off a turntable at a gig once though. Iâ€™m not entirely sure quite how it happened but we quickly found another deck and got it wired in before the record that was playing ran out so nobody noticed. Except of course the guy whoâ€™s turntable it was - he was none too pleased.
I read somewhere that you donâ€™t read newspapers or watch the news. Is this still the case, and if so, how far do you take this practice?
I buy things from the local shops most days so I get my dose of Bin Laden and Royal weddings from the red tops on the counter. The way I see it, none of that stuff is really any of mine or anyone elseâ€™s business, and itâ€™s just there to distract people from getting on with their own lives. I had a flick through that venomous hate-rag the Daily Mail the other day at the airport just to see how nasty it was, and every page was just headlines full of anger and spite toward anyone who isnâ€™t fat, white, English and Tory. And thatâ€™s before you even read the â€˜articlesâ€™ (and I use the term very loosely) themselves. Five pages in and I was done. Iâ€™ll have another look in a year or so I expect.
Would it be safe to say that where you think digital fails, it certainly has succeeded in helping artists bring what they do to a wider audience?
Most definitely. I think if itâ€™s used with a bit of suss the internet is one of manâ€™s greatest technological achievements, and the idea that you can find out pretty much anything you want if you are motivated enough to look for it and have access to the internet is an incredibly liberating idea. And its great that anyone can make something and put it on the internet for everyone to check out. Itâ€™s especially useful for DJs like myself who like to keep their DJing and recording/production activities fairly separate as it means we can give people a glimpse at what we do rather than having to try to get their attention via putting records out. But then thatâ€™s a whole other story in itself.
Have you always wanted to make a career out of music? What other career choices have you flirted with? Anything unusual?
Iâ€™ve never thought of it as a career really. I always wanted to be around good music as much as possible so I figured being a music journalist would be as good as I could get so I braced myself for that. Then acid house rolled up to London in early â€™88 and saved me from what would have likely been a very boring life.
Your DJing has taken you to many places, Andy. Do you have anywhere thatâ€™s really special to you or is there no place like London?
My favourite regular DJing jaunt for the last few years has been Glasgow, closely followed by Berlin. But from what I hear, itâ€™s possible that trips to Ireland may put in a strong challenge to those two. London can definitely be fun, I had a real blast at Fabric the other week for instance and played on a mental boat party on the Thames just yesterday, and of course London is where my mad little World Unknown parties take place, which I always really enjoy.
On the subject of travel, how do you feel about Ryanair?
Really, do you think we should? Iâ€™ve never actually travelled Ryanair and hopefully never will but itâ€™s definitely not an airline for someone who has to take big bags of records with him wherever he goes. Iâ€™m sure there are occasionally great bargains to be had so maybe itâ€™s fun for pure pleasure and exploration trips but for the flights I need to make often the likes of Aer Lingus and British Airways are just as cheap or even cheaper, especially when you factor in the trips to and from the airport depending on how close they are to the city you think it is youâ€™ve just landed in. And I do enjoy checking in online the day before and getting a ticket with a seat number on it rather than the unholy Easyjet/Ryanair scrum for a seat. Iâ€™m firmly of the belief that flying should be fun and exciting, not like a bus ride in the rain.
So, first was Dissident, then Cave Paintings and now I believe that weâ€™re going to see a label representation of you and Joe Hartâ€™s World Unknown party. What can we expect from this?
Each release will be a 2 track split-artist 12â€ with the music being in the vein of the more stripped-down and clubby stuff we play at the party, so kind of proto-house and new beat/heavy Balearic stuff. We describe what we play at the party as â€˜throbbing electronic music for dancingâ€™ and that sums it up quite nicely. Wilkes is on board, so is Neville Watson and our mate Franz Underwear - an Italian living in Berlin who runs a great label called Slow Motion - and a few other mates of ours including some very well known techno and dubstep producers who may or may not remain incognito when the time comes to release their tracks.
Andy Blake plays The Blue Note, West End, Galway on Saturday 21st May (8pm â€“ late, free entry) and 12Sundays at The Bernard Shaw, Portobello, Dublin on Sunday 22nd May (4pm â€“ late, free entry)