Andy H is one of the UK’s top turntable masters and has been the main act for Sheffield Tuesday Club since 1998. He has performed alongside the likes of Public Enemy, Chali 2na and Flying Lotus. Francesco Munari had the chance to sit down with him for Motive Magazine, prior to one of his gigs at the 02 Academy…
Fran: Take us back to when it all started for you.
Andy: Wow… a long time ago. I started DJing in ’95 when I was far too young to get into clubs or anything. I remember I saved all the money I had to buy a rubbish turntable and a mixer over Christmas… that was all I had for a while but I was so obsessed with it that I kept practising every day. Because of that, once I got my hands on decent turntables and a good setup, I was really appreciative of what I had in front of me and it was a bit easier for me to sharpen my skills.
F: Hip-Hop and the world of DJing have steadily changed and advanced ever since you started playing. How did you accustom to it?
A: I mean there’s pluses and minuses. It’s amazing to think back at the number of good friends I made simply by flicking through vinyl at old record shops. I was a little, quiet guy but for me, that was a good way to gradually meet people that shared my same interests so… that community was amazing. At the same time going online and being able to buy a track and having it right there in the moment is way more convenient than driving all the way to Manchester to find out they didn’t have what you were looking for… Oh and record boxes! I know it looks cool to have a good record collection but believe me, for someone who carries his own vinyl every time on stage, and inevitably always forgets some of his favourites, having a digital music library on your laptop is so convenient.
F: What’s keeping you on vinyl then?
A: You know I bought CDJs and put them in the corner of my room because that’s what everybody’s on now, just like in Tuesday Club. But every time I am about to play I take a look at them and then just turn my head back at my vinyl: they just feel too good to let go. They’re what I’ve been practising on my whole career and, as I said before, it’s more than just a nice collection. They are a lifetime of friendships.
F: It seems like you can’t let go of your vinyl records but neither of your city. You are and have been an iconic member of the Sheffield music scene for a very long time. What’s your relationship with your hometown as a Hip-Hop DJ?
A: I was born in Sheffield, I grew up in Sheffield: I have never gone anywhere. I kind of came through a time when it was either Jungle or Drum and bass or Hip-Hop… everyone was into a bit of everything, it wasn’t called urban music back then but that’s what you would call it now. At the time, anything that wasn’t mainstream, Radio 1, Top40 chart music was linked together.
And I was excited about it. The internet wasn’t like it is now so there was no access; I could only listen to the music I found interesting through pirate radios and some little, underground places scattered around town… and that’s what put me in.
F: Speaking of Sheffield, you’ve been the main DJ at Tuesday Club for a couple of decades. You must have played for thousands and thousands of students at your nights. How do you adapt to evolving music trends?
A: You know it used to be all in the same room. Now we have a room for Hip-Hop and R’n’B, one for Drum and bass or Jungle and the other one for Grime. We just switch them around depending on what’s bigger at the moment but… of course, it’s never been about me: there’s a certain crowd on a Tuesday night and you have to play for them! I’m not going down to have a great night out and play the music that I like; I look at that crowd of people who’ve paid to come in and I work for them. That’s what a DJ does.
But there are still some tracks that I play which sound like what was popular back then in the 90s. I come from that era when it was all 90/100 BPM and it was all about the words and the beat, the MC and the DJ. Current artists like Loyle Carner absolutely keep up with that tradition: I could play one of his tunes in the middle of a classic Hip-Hop set and it fits! The crowd loves it.
F: In conclusion, I would like to ask you about your experience with International Hip-Hop. Multiculturalism in Hip-Hop culture is something we particularly like to shine a light on here at Motive and we feel like this genre of music can only evolve by opening its cultural borders. What’s your take on this?
A: It’s amazing. If you think that in the US and in the UK this genre came through people getting old records, sample bits and incorporating them in their music, just think what can happen if you have people doing the same from countries with a whole different heritage and history. I’ve noticed myself a change in the last 10 years, watching the DMC (DJ Championships): back in the day, it was always a UK guy and a US guy, maybe a French bloke, competing, whereas now you have extremely talented DJs from all over the world and…
You can catch Andy H in Ashbourne at Camp Disco on the 21st of June or party to one of his sets any Tuesday at Tuesday Club.