Andy Whitby hard house interview for Frenzy
Andy Whitby is currently one of the leading lights of the hard house scene, playing at top parties week in week out in the UK and across the globe. In the lead-up to Frenzy and Resonate at Bournemouth's Old Firestation in February, Frenzy and Andy Whitby took the time out to have a quick chat about his views on how hard house should sound, his hardcore plans, and his new years resolutions for 2007.
1. A few topical ones first: If you were to assemble your own Celebrity Big Brother house, who would be in it and why?
Hmmm, I'm not sure really, I rarely watch TV and I HATE big brother so I have no idea who I'd have in my Celebrity Big Brother house! In fact... I wouldn't even have one! Sorry!
2. Hahah, well let's move on then.. I guess you like Christmas though? Did you get any good presents this year and was Santa particularly generous?
Well I must have been a good boy this year as I got some amazing presents from Santa’s sack. Those included a very posh trip to Paris staying in a gorgeous hotel, a Nintendo Wii, a little scotty dog puppy (which was for Cally, but as I do all my music stuff from home during the week I will play with him the most!). Some jewellery and lots of Ikea vouchers to get some new bits and bobs for Whitby Towers! All in all a bloody good Christmas!
3. What about New Years resolutions? Did you make any this year, and more importantly have you kept to them so far?
To stop smoking! I just hope Allan Carr doesn’t let me down as his book is leading the way for me! I’ve bought some special Nicorette Gum which taste lovely and fruity for the first 2 chews and then *BANG* it turns into what I imagine eating an actual slab of nicotine would taste like.
4. Good luck mate, anyway, Frenzy's based in Bournemouth, which is a well-known summer holiday destination. Where did your parents take you on holiday when you were a kid?
They took me all over the place really. We went to France, Belgium, Ibiza (the nice part, not the club part) to name a few. I remember my brother and I used to have our own suite away from our parents, it was really nice to relax and also spend some good time with Mike (my little brother). My parents always liked to make sure we had at least two holidays a year so I saw lots of nice places.
5. Moving on to the music side of your life, we’ve heard many of your hard house bootlegs and mash-ups on your Andy Whitby mixed series. Is there anyway these could ever be released or are they for you and you alone?
They’re just for me I’m afraid! A few years ago I made the mistake of giving a few of them to a select number of ‘DJs’... but one of them, a member of a semi-known duo, put it up on Soulseek for the evil children of Downloadland to steal. Since then I've realised that I don't need to send out my tracks. I prefer to keep them for myself!
Having my own special mixes and bootlegs means people know that the only way they're going to hear them is by coming to watch me. So if you want to hear my Bliss Inc remix, I'm the only guy that's got it! Every track I play is a special edit that I’ve made, meaning you’re always going to have a totally unique listening experience.
6. You’re also very well known for your creative deck trickery. How much preparation goes into one of your gigs so you have a new soundbite or sequence to debut? Can the Frenzy faithful look forward to anything on February the 17th you might have under your belt!
During the week I'm always working on ideas for sets but I never actually plan a set, that would just be crazy! You have to go with the flow of what the clubbers want and usually a lot of the mixes and tricks I do I haven’t tried before... They just come to me when I’m up there, in a spur of the moment thrash down!
Anyway, you can tell the DJs who practice set-routines or tricks in their bedroom, as the moment they go to do it their head goes down and off they go through the motions of what they’ve rehearsed. It’s everything DJ'ing isn’t about.
At Frenzy on February 17th I’ll have a new track to debut that me and Technikal have done, plus lots of other new bits and bobs to keep the dancefloor rocking! I can’t wait!
7. What was the first record you ever bought? Frenzy's was 'Knocking On That Green Door' by Shakin’ Stevens.. Is yours just as embarrassing?
Not quite! It was by DJ Dan and called ‘Needle Damage’! As far as first records go, I was always cool! *laughs* Go find 'Needle damage' now and have a listen, it's a damn good track!
8. Speaking of records, do you have a top five of favourite tracks? They don't have to be hard house (after all, there is more to life than 150 bpm dance tracks!)?
Hmm, a good question! I have many songs that I love, but can’t really think of a top 5 of tracks that aren’t hard dance. I love ‘Angels’ by Robbie Williams. That always makes me sing out loud.
My top 5 for hard house would be:
9. Nice choice of tracks, are there any from that list of five that you wished you'd written yourself?
I definately wish I'd written 'Til Tears Do Us Part', as not only is it my favourite ever hard house record, but the amount of compilations and things it has appeared on would mean I could live off the royalties alone!
In a way I feel sorry for Paul Chambers. His Flash Harry remix is the most well known hard house track of all time, yet he just got his remix fee!
10. What about your spare time? Do you get much time to chill out when not producing music and DJing?
I have little spare time to be honest. Music takes up everything! Not that I’m complaining as I’m living my dreams and am very grateful to be in the situation I am. When I do have a moment of non-music based activity I like to eat in nice restaurants with friends, or relax with everyone at a bar with huge sofas, nothing too full on. Shopping is another pass-time of mine when I’m away from music, can’t beat a good shop can you!
12. Who is the most famous person you've ever met and how, and is there someone you haven't met yet that you would like to?
I’ve met a few semi-famous people, but nobody immensely famous, that’s increasingly hard nowadays as people get famous by doing nothing, which I don’t really class as famous at all.
13. Did you have a favourite TV program as a kid?
I think it was either ‘Jason and The Wheeled Warriors’, ‘Trap-door’ or ‘Stop It & Tidy Up’. All were classics and one day I intend to watch them again only to discover they weren’t that good at all... it always works out like that doesn’t it! Nothing is ever as good as you remember!
14. Very true! We bought the Battle Of The Planets DVD the other day and it was terrible! Speaking of old skool vibes, at Frenzy, we’re well renowned for the hard house sound from 2000 to 2002. Some say we’re stuck in the past, but we think hard house was more fun back then. What’s your take on this, is it all a bit too serious and hard nowadays?
Well, apparently part of the reason Mixmag called me the 'saviour of hard house' was because I recognised that back in the day our scene was fun, and by doing so brought the fun back onto our dancefloors.
Over the last couple of years clubbers around the country started to enjoy themselves to happy music again and things like ‘bounce’, which was criticised so much a few years back, is now getting a much bigger reaction than most of the other new-age hard dance. It’s kinda gone full-circle and makes things very exciting to see where things go in 2007!
Clubbers come out at the weekend to have a great time with their friends and go home with a smile on their face, not be educated by some god-awful tech-loop new-age hard dance arrangement that although produced very well, has the entertainment factor equal to that of my father's slippers.
15. Finally, what’s coming up for you at the moment? Any releases or forthcoming news that the Bournemouth clubbers should know about?
2007 is all about my two labels; AWsum and another one I’m starting with Matt Lee (known to you all as Gammer) which will be an outlet for all our hard dance colabs.
I’m really excited about getting in the studio much more this year and releasing a lot of euphoric hard dance. I’ll also be making some new bounce as no one makes fun bouncy records anymore and there’s definately a huge market for it, especially based on the success of the Ultimate NRG series, the first one selling over 100,000 copies in only a few months. Well done Alex K! (leading Scouse House DJ).
Admittingly, the records on those albums are much more commercial than the power-bounce I play, but it shows that there’s definately a huge interest in off-beat chaos right now.
I’ll also start playing hardcore sets, branching out to a new genre. I really enjoy the vibe that hardcore has, which I’ve noticed from playing at places like Slammin’ Vinyl and Westfest. Keep browsing to www.andywhitby.com for my forthcoming news!
Note from Frenzy - So is Andy Whitby the saviour of hard house? The only way you can find out is by coming to Frenzy and Resonate at Bournemouth's Old Firestation on the 17th of February. See you there!