DJ Andy Smith is from Portishead and long time collaborator with the band of the same name. He has just released his Greensleeves compilation as part of his Document series and Alex Humphrey caught up with him to find out whats up.
Why Greensleeves and how did you get involved in the creation of the mix?
Andy Smith: I have been into Greensleeves since the early 80’s and always wanted to do a compilation of their 80’s output. I met the guys at Greensleeves as my cousin works at Sony who had recently taken on the Greensleeves catalogue for publishing.
What is your favorite Greensleeves track on or off the CD?
Andy Smith: That’s a difficult question but probably ‘King Tubby meets the Rockers Uptown’ as its one of the greatest dubs ever!
The Greensleeves CD has London based MC Brother Culture offering his vocal flair over some of the tracks. Have you worked with an MC before either live or not and do you enjoy it?
Andy Smith: I have worked with Brother Culture on some live dates (I first met him when I was promoting the ‘Trojan Document’ with the Trojan Sound System and he jumped on stage to MC on a Frankie Paul track).
You give some Greensleeves classics a remix what record would you most like to remix if you could?
Andy Smith: I think I’ve just done it but I don’t know if it will ever come out? I just did a remix of the new Tom Jones track with Lack Of Afro but the label cant seem to clear the sample.
How long have you been DJing and how did you get started?
Andy Smith: I have been DJing as a hobby since about 1978 (with two hi-fis stuck next to each other in ‘78, disco decks in ‘81, Technics decks in ‘1986). Only consider myself to be doing it professionally since 1995.
How did you get involved with Portishead and do you prefer doing your own thing or working with them?
Andy Smith: I grew up in the place called Portishead, which is where Geoff Barrow grew up. I used to do hip hop jams in the youth club in Portishead in the late 80’s and we just got chatting about original breaks.
I enjoyed touring with Portishead but as I was only the warm up DJ, I was always wanting to do my own thing. When the US label ‘FFRR / London’ asked me to do my own mix CD (the first ‘Document’ CD) I felt I was starting out on my own journey.
The Document series is such an eclectic mix of musical genre’s, where did you get the idea from and how do pick what you put on?
Andy Smith: I was always into lots of different music from when I first got into it (maybe because 1978 was a good mix of punk, reggae, disco and decent pop?)
I pick things that sound interesting if you’ve never heard them before coupled with things I have played out at DJ gigs that work.
You also did mixes for the classic labels Trojan and BGP. What importance do you think these record labels have on modern music?
Andy Smith: They form the history of music as we know it now and shouldn’t be ignored.
What do you think of modern U.K. hip hop and do you have any favorite artists?
Andy Smith: Modern hip hop is getting worse and worse – I find it harder and harder to find new hip hop I like and when I do its stuff that seems to be looking back at the old days. The stuff everyone else calls hip hop is pop, they just don’t know it – hip hop used to be cutting edge. Now 50’s R&B is more cutting edge to me!
You have a weekly radio show (on Colorful Radio) and residencies at Jazz Café and Madam JoJo’s. Do you prefer playing to an audience or for yourself?
Andy Smith: They are both good. You see the instant reaction in a club, but on the radio the emphasis is not on the dancefloor, so I enjoy both.
You’ve toured the world DJing what was the best place you played?
Andy Smith: Generally Ireland or Australia tend to always be good.
How big is your record collection and where do you buy your records?
Andy Smith: My record collection is too big (I’m looking into strengthening my loft right now). I buy records when I go away to DJ anywhere. I also use eBay. For what little new stuff there is I use Fat City mail order.
What do you think of digital mixing using laptops? Do you think it will cause the death of vinyl?
Andy Smith: I sometimes use Serato for out of UK gigs, but much prefer going to Madame Jo-Jos with a trolley full of 45’s on a Saturday night. Serato is handy but does drive me mad as the visual bit is ripped out (especially if you use aiff’s as they don’t hold images!)
I also read you are working on an album project for K7! Records. Can you tell us more?
Andy Smith: I am working on an album project (no longer with K7! though) hopefully something might be out later in the year.
And finally on your site you have your top five old school video games, what is the king of all arcade games in your opinion?
Andy Smith: Defender is the king of all video games in my opinion. I played a gig in Denver in the US about three weeks ago and they had a working Defender machine in there which I played all night!
By: Alex Humphrey