Andy Skopes started his foray into the d&b industry as a DJ based in Croydon and has since made his name across a wide variety of d&b styles, releasing on labels such as Inperspective and Utopia as well as running his own night. Off the back of a killer 12″ on Utopia, Reading From the While Lake/Distance From You we caught up with him for an exclusive guest mix and to see what he’s got in store for us.
Hi Andy, give us a bit of an insight into yourself first, what fills your time other than music?
Hello. I live in the town of Croydon and work in the town of Slough, living the dream. At the moment a lot of my time is filled by my day job, I work in an A & E department which can get pretty manic, but I really enjoy it. This does mean I’m not the most prolific of producers or DJs.
What three albums couldn’t you live without?
That’s difficult to answer as it could change hourly. So I’ll go with Radiohead – Amnesiac (or maybe Kid A), Helios – Eingya & Metalheadz – Platinum Breaks.
How would you describe your musical upbringing? Were you into electronic music from a very young age or has there always been other genres close to heart?
I was into metal at an early age, long hair and all! I have played the guitar since I was about 13, I would also say I’m a part time drummer (I can keep a beat!), I’ve been in bands ranging from death metal to Post Rock/ Alt Rap hybrids.
Electronic music entered my life around ‘95. First there was east coast hip hop, then the Prodigy and Leftfield. After that Goldie’s Timeless sealed the deal. Some friends introduced me to Photek and Source Direct (hello Ben, Matt & James!). Once I heard Seven Samurai it was official, I was into Drum n Bass.
In the last few years my musical tastes have changed. I love D&B and hip hop but also listen to a lot of post rock and film score inspired music. I’m hoping that comes across in my tunes.
You used to work at the legendary Wax City record shop in Croydon. Are you still a big vinyl junky? How do you feel about the rise of the digital format within d&b?
RIP Wax City. Working there was great fun, I must say hello to Jon and the mighty Groovegran (it’s been a long time). It helped to expand my record collection, get the new promos first and make great contacts and some lifelong friends.
I do love my vinyl. I have never been a fan of CDJs. Then Serato came along, I couldn’t turn down that opportunity, and I still get the feeling that I’m playing vinyl (that’s my excuse!). The rise of MP3’s is sad but inevitable; I guess you have to go with the times.
Your first big residency was at The Cage in Croydon, I understand this was before you began to produce? Do you think mixing before producing has shaped your output in any way? Also, how do you feel about the decline of the purist DJ in DnB, with promoters favoring producer names in order to attract crowds that way?
I think DJing before I started producing was a blessing and a curse. Sometimes I think about the DJ when I’m building a tune and what will work well in the mix. I try to stop myself, but sometimes I can’t help it.
It should just be about making a good tune and not being constrained by the stereotypical intro – drop – breakdown – same drop. Like old Source Direct & Hidden Agenda tunes, it wasn’t about sounding good and easy in the mix, it was just about the music, I miss that.
One day I’ll make an album that isn’t just separate DJ friendly tracks, but one piece of music.
I do dislike a producer being booked on the merit of their tunes, not their DJing skills. I run a night in Croydon called Spectrum @ The Blacksheep Bar and I choose my guests carefully! Having said that, there are a few ‘old skool’ DJ’s who are quite average at mixing but still get booked on the strength of their name and the fact that they were big ‘back in the day’.
What’s your studio setup like, and what comforts can’t you live without when working on beats?
My set up is very simple, Cubase and some monitors. I like to use various guitar FX pedals through synths and also get sounds out of guitars that don’t really sound like guitars.
My studio comforts are pretty sparse. A nice cup of tea will do. I’m too busy making tunes! Am I getting old or something?!?!
What state of mind do you find you produce best in, and what elements do you lay down first?
I think the only state I have to be in is awake!
The elements I start with have changed, it used to be all about the break first, recently I’ve tried to focus on the bass, but I’m always learning. I need options before I start. There has to be an idea for each tune, like a few themes and direction in my head, or a group of samples. The style of tune will definitely change as I get going, and that is a good thing!
You just dropped a 12”, Readings From the Lake/Distance From You, on Mako’s Utopia Music label, how would you describe those tunes?
Reading From the White Lake is influenced mainly by the lady in my life and was arranged with her in mind. It’s one of those tunes when the samples are just too good to ignore and are just begging to have a warm sub attached. Distance From You has a kind of post rock intro and then goes all dark. I have to say hello and thanks to my friend Coerce for his creative input, it’s another tune where the samples and arrangement sort of flowed. I couldn’t help the big drop, it just had to happen.
I also have to say loads of thanks to Steve Mako and Mute for all their help, support and putting out the tunes. Utopia Music is going places.
Having produced a range of styles from the smooth palette of those tunes to the darker sounds of Drop the Truth, Where do you see your style moving in the future?
Hopefully going further down the post rock, ambient and experimental route. I’m very happy with the fact I can keep my options open.
Is there anything else is coming up release wise?
I had a release recently on Seba’s Secret Operations label. Call To Arms b/w Trash Talk which I made with my main collaborator, Mr Joseph.
Another tune just out that was made with Mr Joseph is Gatcherman on the new Liquid V album. Available in all reputable retail outlets (M&S etc).
There’s many, many other tunes in the pipeline that are signed but I don’t want to say too much as getting releases out these days is tough work. I really, really appreciate and admire anyone putting tunes out these days. It’s a tough and massively over populated market to break through and there has to be a lot of love and motivation to keep involved. So cheers for that people!
Lastly, you’ve done a guest mix for us, how would you describe the vibe of that, any stand out tunes for you?
Well, it’s basically given me time to showcase all of my new tunes, most of them are collabs with Mr Joseph. It starts off chilled but doesn’t stay that way for long. I like the tunes to blend nice, it’s not about playing the newest tunes all the time.
Andy Skopes – Reading By The White Lake (Utopia Music – OUT NOW)
Lenzman feat. Riya – Open Page (Metalheadz)
Andy Skopes & Mr Joseph – Same Mistakes (Dub)
Heavy 1 – Specium (Vampire Records Dub)
Andy Skopes & Mr Joseph – Unsound (never to be released dub)
Andy Skopes & Mr Joseph – Stalker (31 Records Dub)
Jubei feat. D Bridge – Patience (Metalheadz)
Lenzman – Fade Away (Soul:R)
Commix – Breaking Through (31 Records)
Andy Skopes & Mr Joseph – Random Tosh (Dub)
Andy Skopes & Mr Joseph – Call To Arms (Secret Operations – OUT NOW)
See, I told you it was and Andy Skopes & Mr Joseph pimp out!
Cheers for the time Andy! Any last words, shouts or links to share?
No probs. Thanks for having me. I’d like to say hi to a few people: Loads of love to the Irish one, hi Phil! Shout to Mike Rea (Dog Section) & Coerce (Webb of Sin). Big thanks to Mr Joseph, I’d be even less prolific if it wasn’t for him creating half the tunes!
Shouts to Madcap and the collabs, Utopia Music, Steve, Ben & Andrew, Chris Inperspctive, Blackeye, Goldenchild, Jerona Fruits for my first break and banter, Seba, Doc Scott, Bryan Gee, Bailey, Steph and all at The Blacksheep Bar. I think that’ll do. Sorry to everyone i haven’t mentioned.
Check Andy on Soundcloud here and stream/download the mix below.