Interview with DJ Andy Smith


From the Funky Mofo archives: DJ Andy Smith is probably one of the finest mix-album makers around at the moment (you could liken him to those crazy Soulwax guys aka ‘2 Many DJ’s’). The ‘Document II’ is his latest release and plays like a newly polished Porsche – yes my friends, it is one smooth album. That’s not to say that it’s a laid back groove kind of thing, not at all. In fact it’s crammed with funky Hip-Hop beats merging Kate Bush into Craig G and Serge Gainsbourg gets a tad naughty (as always) after a crazy sax/drum mix from DJ Bombjack. To call the ‘Document II’ a party mix is somewhat degrading but it would go down a storm at any house party or random gathering.

Unlike many of the mix-album releases around right now (Dan Greenpeace/DJ Yoda, Herbalizer – to name but a few) you don’t have to be stoned or drunk to make it bearable, it’s a very ‘easy on your ears’ album – but it still rocks! Big time!

I think that’s enough praise for now. Time to get down to business. Andy Smith kindly agreed to answer some Funky Mofo questions via e-mail during a hectic tour around the U.S and Europe. We hope to catch up with Andy when he’s in town so check back for ‘part-2’.

Here goes…

Where the funky mofo are you and what are you up to?

I am currently in Portland (Oregon,USA). Did a show last night with Scott (Hendy) at the OHM club, also on the bill were Peanut Butter Wolf, Wildchild and Dudley Perkins (it was also a ‘stones throw’ records tour date). Today I have an ‘in-store’ appearance at a record store called ‘360 degree vinyl’. Tomorrow we head off to San Francisco.

You seem to be on tour constantly! Do you enjoy your time on the road?

It’s nice to get to other places to see the world (and buy records!) But travelling does get to be drag, just because I seem to do so much and sometimes I’d just rather be at home doing other things!

“The Document II”, your most recent release has received some reviews from the press. How has it affected you?

Most of the reviews have been good. At the end of the day I was happy with the way it came out and that’s all that matters. I think it is a progression from Document 1.

We know how hard mix albums can be to make especially when copyright is concerned (2 Many DJ’s are still battling). Were there any hiccups during the making of the album? Did it influence the final result?

You can never get all the tracks you want (if so then the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix would be on there – at least you get a ‘Hendrix’ cover version!!). It took about 18 months to track down the copyright owners and get the tracks cleared, and even then you only get some that you want.

“The Document” has a more black music/R’n’B/HipHop feel than the second release, it seems like “The Document II” will be accessible to a wider audience. What inspired you in melting so many genres into this latest project?

I don’t really agree that the first was more black music/r’n’b/hip hop than the second. They are both a representation of what stuff I like and it hasn’t really changed over the years – I like what I like and am not going to jump on any new hip music if it doesn’t ‘cut the mustard’ in my book. Its not like I’m going to turn around and play ‘broken beats’ or something. The stuff I play is timeless!

Do you think you can better “The Document II” or is a new direction on the cards? Any plans for a ive album?

I can do another one as good I’m sure. I’m thinking of doing an offshoot compilation of one style (maybe a ‘northern soul’ compilation or something – I don’t know yet. No plans for a live album??

Most record shops don’t have a clue when it comes to classifying music. How would you describe yourself musically and where would you like to be on the record racks?

“There’s good music and bad music” (quoting ‘Jimi Hendrix’). I like to think what I play is the first! – I’d like it to be all over the racks!!

You’re currently working with Scott Hendy as Dynamo Productions. Do you feel the “Document” albums could be overshadowing the collaboration?

It’s so hard to develop a new artist now (cause in general most people are just lazy and don’t want to check out new stuff). If the first Dynamo album had come out when Document 1 came out then maybe there would have been more interest in that – it’s just the times we are in I guess.

What can be expected from Dynamo in the future?

We are doing a remix album for the Australian market due to sheer demand (their scene is much younger than the UK scene and they do check out new artists!). Scott has been working on a ‘Sols Boca 45’ LP. When he’s finished that we will probably get together to see where to take it.

What are your favourite tracks on the decks at the mo?

‘I’ve Never Found a Girl’ – Joseph Henry (Daptone)
‘Bus People Theme’ – The New Process (tramp)

‘The Ownerz’ – Gangstarr (virgin)
‘Chump’ – Oh No (stones throw)
‘Funky in Jamaica’ – Bumps Jackson (chappy)

Is there any new talent on the Hip Hop scene in Bristol that we should be looking out for?

I don’t live in Bristol so I don’t really know – Scott was talking about Ryan from the Aspects last night saying he was a great DJ so there’s a recommendation from Scott!!

Your live experience, as a solo artist as well as part of Portishead, has taken you abroad quite a bit and it is reflected in “The Document II” (My, what have you done to Serge Gainsbourg? If he was still alive he’d probably well involved into the making of that sort of shit, for those who know about him, he was experimenting with reggae circa mid 1980s and his trademark French verve when France was previously very familiar with that musical genre). Do you have any interest for the likes of Afro Celt Sound System, who are bringing together music from several parts of the world?

Not really heard ‘Afro Celt sound system’ but it sounds like a good ethos.

Spending Christmas at home?

Yes, Portishead actually (with my folks), then off to Australia for a gig on New Year’s eve ’03!

Jo Whitby & C.B Lux

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