With her new single ‘Heaven On My Mind’ currently climbing high in the UK Official Charts Top 40, hitmaking singer-songwriter Becky Hill releases the second episode of her podcast, The Art of Rave. Over the course of the series, Becky discussed rave culture with some of its legendary pioneers, including DJ Zinc, Roni Size, Pete Tong, Sister Bliss, Groove Armada, Fabio & Grooverider and more.
In episode two of The Art of Rave Becky and Andy C cover a wide range of topics including Andy’s first rave experience (courtesy of his sister), the effect of technology on the “classic” and “happy accidents” in the studio, how a passion for sci-fi (and a disinterest in studying at school) shaped Andy’s early days of making music, setting up RAM records, legendary club nights AWOL and Movement, pirate radio, cutting dubs at Music House, and how the rave scene is in a better place than it’s ever been.
As with all Becky’s guests on The Art of Rave, Andy C brings along three records that mean or say something to him, whether that’s because they’re by an artist that influenced him, remind him of a specific place or time, or feature a beat that defined his sound. These records are: ‘Know How’ by Young MC, ‘Valley Of The Shadows’ by Origin Unknown, and ‘LFO’ by LFO.
Meanwhile, Becky selects the Andy C (& Shimon) record that exemplifies why she handpicked him as a guest for the series: ‘Bodyrock’, which Andy remembers playing for the first time at Movement at Bar Rumba after a drum n bass awards show.
While Becky Hill has an irrefutable aptitude for writing chart smashing pop music, her roots are firmly ensconced in electronic music. The Art of Rave provides the perfect platform for Becky to delve deep into the dance music scene she is so passionate about.
EXCERPTS FROM EPISODE 2 OF THE ART OF RAVE
On how Becky & Andy C first met
Becky: “The first time I met you was in some dodgy little cabin at the back of Global Gathering. I managed to sneak my way into your dressing room, and I started gushing about how much of a fan I was of yours and I just saw this look on your face go: ‘How did she get here? Who, did she show her boobs to the security guard?’ I was actually touring with Rudimental at the time and I decided to go ‘Oh I’m the girl that did Afterglow’ and everything changed…”
Andy C: “It all fell into place. And that kind of blew my mind that moment, having played that tune one thousand times by then and being amazed by the vocal and that tune. I thought it was incredible.”
On Andy C’s first rave experience and where his musical journey began
Andy C: “My sister’s five years older, and she was going out to all the early raves like Sunrise and Fantasia. I just wanted to be part of her gang… I was nicking mixtapes off her and drawing acid faces and all that… And she took me and my best mate James to an illegal rave in a barn in Essex, which was billed as an engagement party, but it was actually a rave. I was thirteen, and that was the first time I had any kind of experience of a rave. It was exciting, it weren’t that full, but it was a dusty barn with a few lights and some DJs playing.”
Andy C: “I was obsessed with Shut Up and Dance, listening to Pirate Radio… I’d be getting up for school and I’d be listening to Pirate Radio. At lunchtime, I’d have it on my Walkman. If anyone wants to know what a Walkman is, you can google it!”
Becky: “I had one once!”
Andy C: “I was very focused on wanting to be in music and I used to do my mates’ mixtapes. I used to stay up all night DJing, doing mixes at home and used to bring in mixtapes to school and that was my currency at school – sorting out people [with] mixtapes and stuff.”
Andy C on getting together and working with Ant Miles
Andy C: “Ant was a friend of the family, me and my Dad… One day he comes round and he listens to me doing these crazy [things]. I’d sampled three million beats, and basically had them all playing at the same time, chopped up in different ways… He had a studio set up and [said] ‘do you wanna come round? l I’ll come and pick you up and we can just jam and see what happens’… We just hit it off, you know. Loved hanging out. We had a great, likewise passion for like Sci-Fi and geekiness and used to watch Star Trek. Ants a big Treky. So we’d have that on, and we started making these tunes and sampling crazy stuff.”
Andy C on starting RAM Records
Andy C: “I’m 16, just done my exams at school, I think, (I can’t remember doing them). I didn’t pick up the results, my best mate James actually picked up the exam results for me, (bless him). I think he’s still got them. [My sister] was like, ‘why don’t you start a record label?’ and I was like, ‘what do you mean start a record label? How do you do that? What shall we call it?’ So, we were having dinner and we were thinking up all these silly names and she was like ‘well you know you’re an Aries’. And that’s where the name RAM comes from… And she sat down with a felt-tip pen and hand-drew the logo at the dinner table.”
Andy C on the making of Origin Unknown ‘Valley of the Shadows’ and that ‘Long Dark Tunnel’ sample
Andy C: “[Ant and I] just had this magical four or five hours in the studio one night when I was 16 and that’s where ‘Valley of the Shadows’ came from… The lights are off in the studio, Ant’s dancing around by the drinks machine he had in the studio, and the font it had that spelt out ‘drinks’ became the Origin Unknown font and [the name] Origin Unknown actually comes from a line from 2001 Space Odyssey, because we’re Sci-Fi geeks.”
Andy C: “[‘Long Dark Tunnel’] was sampled from a BBC documentary called QED about near-death experiences [which featured a] lady who actually had a near-death experience, you know when you’re going down a tunnel, in childbirth. Her name’s Barbara. Fortunately, she survived. As did the child… And years later, ‘Valley of the Shadows’ was getting played on Kiss I think, and we got a letter to RAM. I can’t remember exactly what it said, but it was something like ‘you don’t know me, but I heard your song on Kiss FM the other week and that lady’s voice is my Mum’s voice.'”
Becky: “Was the person messaging you the child that survived?”
Andy C: “I think possibly, yeah. Amazing. Like no way. So, we ended up getting in contact with Barbara”
Becky: “Was she due any PRS?”
Andy C: “Yeah, absolutely!”
On how technological advances have affected production
Becky: “Producing sounds a lot harder back in the day than it does now”
Andy C: “And out of that, because it was more difficult, mistakes happened, you didn’t quite understand how it happened, but it just sounded cool.”
Becky: “Right, so happy accidents?”
Andy C: “Today you get very analytical about it. So, you sometimes analyse those accidents and you don’t go with them, because in the technical understanding it’s not right.”
On cutting dubs at Music House
Andy C: “[Music House on] Holloway Road was where we went to cut our dubs. So the DJs would get in the queue and [it was] first come first served, unless Jah Shaka turned up and he was having a Soundsystem battle, in which case you were straight to the back of the queue and he’d be cutting 3 million dubs and you’d probably wait two weeks… It was kind of a hierarchical system. There were the dons, (Rider, Fabio, Frost), and naturally there’d be a sort of eco system where you’d sort of think “I thought I was third in the queue and now I’m sixth.” But it was all good. We’d just go for food runs and go get everybody food and drink and stuff. It was cool. What a community. You could turn up there at midday and still be there at one in the morning, but all you’d be generally talking about was music, tunes, raves, what’s coming up and all the DJs.”
On music discovery, then and now, and how that has affected the “classic”
Andy C: “[There used to be] the buzz of hearing a tune on Pirate Radio, [when] they didn’t say what it was and you’re dialling the studio [to] be like ‘what was that tune you just played three tunes ago?’, or recording it on your TDK tape machine and wearing that tape to the ground now. The difference is, we could be sitting here now and I could be like ‘do you remember this tune from 1994?’ and you’d be like ‘what?’ and I’d be like ‘boom, YouTube.’ It just exists. Is that worse? I don’t know. Is it better? Does it accelerate music faster? Does it mean it’s more throwaway? Possibly, because of the nature of this, it’s harder for classics to take hold. Because of the fast turnaround of music these days, a few potential classics haven’t become ‘classics’ because they haven’t been given the chance to breathe and grow and naturally [and] lay down their foundations. Whereas, back in the day, tunes would have to exits for 6 to 12 or 18 months before they was even obtainable. So, they became classics by the sheer nature of that.”
On how raving has changed for the better, Glastonbury and drum n bass today
Andy C: “Rave has changed massively, because now the access to it is so much easier. More organised choices. You wanna go to an overseas festival, well you’ve got multiple [choices]. You can pick and choose, you can try one every year. That’s a beautiful thing… So even though raving has changed in a big, big way… I think that raving is the best it’s ever been. I think that now people purposely organise stuff that’s a bit more grimy, so you can have that experience. We’ve all got Glastonbury, if we wanna get grimy, it’s right there for us and the British weather will provide it… We’ve also got the small grimy clubs… Drum n bass is so healthy right now with the influx of new producers.”
Becky: “Yeah. You’ve got this whole thing about horns now, in drum and bass rollers…”
Andy C: “That is where the real shit’s born and that’s where the next generation and the next decade will carry forward… I honestly think I see people having fun in so many different places, whether it be at the gigs I’m playing at, or whether it be that I come across stuff on Instagram, which looks fantastic, ‘cause I vibe off of that as well.”
Becky: “That’s amazing! I don’t feel like I’ve missed out anymore. I feel like I can go to raves now and live the best rave life that there has ever been.”
About Becky Hill
Renowned for her show-stopping vocal prowess and her credentials as a hitmaking songwriter, 25-year-old Becky Hill is one of Britain’s most in-demand musical exports of the moment.
Following a killer 2019 with the release of three hits – including ‘I Could Get Used to This’ (with Weiss), and ‘Lose Control’ (with Meduza and Goodboys) – Becky Hill closed the year as the 2nd most listened to British female artist on Spotify in the UK.
Becky has not only notched up over 1.5 billion streams but also 18 million monthly Spotify listeners. She has an impressive string of hits to her name, having written and performed on nine singles which charted in the top 40 of the UK official singles chart, including the recently released ‘Better Off Without You’ (which spent 5 weeks in the Top 20 of the UK Official Singles chart), the chart-toping, number 1, (‘Gecko (Overdrive)’ with Oliver Heldens) and two top 10 singles (‘Wish You Well’ with Sigala and ‘Afterglow’ with Wilkinson).
Over and above this, she has collaborated with the likes of Rudimental, Matoma, Lil Simz, and more, while her songwriting skills have been enlisted by artists ranging from MK, Tiesto, Jax Jones, and Martin Solveig through to MNEK and Little Mix.