He kicked off the first series of D&BTV’s Locked-In series on April 1 with a blazing benchmark-setting Energy set. Last week, September 18, he just brought it to an emphatic, at points electrifying, climax with an incendiary three-deck vinyl set that rinsed through some of the most game-changing, influential and rare dubs that helped sculpt the scene during the 90s and 00s. It’s A.M.C… And no amount of rave shutdowns that we’ve suffered this year can stymie his animalistic DJ methods.
Here it is, in case you haven’t seen it yet….
62 tunes heavy, well over a year in planning and, with any luck, a shutdown for those who think he’s syncing his tunes; from the moment Vault VIP ignites the mix to very last second of Marcus’s remix of Solid State rolls out the final tones, it’s an absolute steamroller of a mix that joins dots very few sane DJs would consider to joining and reminds us how timeless the genre is when presented and mixed in the right way…. And how much it fires up acute goosebumps and hazy memories (for those of us who got into the genre around the time he’s drawing from)
We have many questions. Luckily A.M.C has many answers. And he drops some pretty massive news right at the end, too. Let’s go deep:
Mixing on CDJs is one thing but you got the hot cues set up and things are easier or can be done quicker. But vinyl? That’s a whole other mission… Did you get the decks out and practice? Was there a lot of muscle memory or like riding on a bike?
This has been in planning for the last year! I had to go old school and work out a list and ended up with this [shows huge diagram to camera].
Sick! You should auction that for charity
Took the words out of my mouth mate. I think I’m going to auction this and give all the proceeds to the Help Musicians Charity because were all struggling like crazy at the moment. I’d say keep your eyes on my socials to know how you can bid.
But back to the preparation; the hardest thing with the set however was planning it. It’s a lot easier using Rekordbox to create lists and keep ideas on file.
Here’s a great tip actually… Bounce an empty track from Logic or whatever daw you use and import it into Rekordbox, just a blank one with no information. You can then use this as a paragraph marker so you can see your collections of mixes easier.
Before Rekordbox I used to have a massive white board on my wall which I’d write mixes down. Then I used to have a book with me wherever I’d play, and I’d have it by my side whenever I was mixing. If I was in a moment where I needed to switch up the style to suit the crowd, I could look at the book and find it. I went back to that style of organisation for this mix which was a lot of fun really.
Very. But yeah, back to your original question – I’ve been thinking, plotting and practicing that mix for a very long time. And really enjoying it too. It’s reminded me just how much I love the records. Like obviously the music but also how each record has so many memories and a story.
Yeah! First time you got it, where you bought it, where you cut it, who gave you the tune, the times it’s gone right off.
Oh, all of that. Every single record. Check this [grabs random record] I got this unreleased version of Tarantula with Shabba D on it for example.
Check this. [Plays record] It’s got a real dub vibe on the intro. I actually bought this one from someone online because it was a version I’d never heard. A while later I asked Paul El Hornet about it. He asked about it, where it was cut and all that and I won’t go into details but turns out this was a very dodgy dubplate. Around that time Pendulum thought someone was leaking their music and couldn’t never work out who. And this could be evidence of that!
There are so many stories geez. And most of them can’t be printed! I’m trying to find the first thing I got cut… [turns to rifle through collection] Here we go Block Control VIP. Tune speaks for itself, but I still remember when I cut it as if it was yesterday. Meeting Beau and him saying how Andy had come in and cut another belter. He was always saying that because Ram were on fire at that point. But I just remember that particular one because he said he was cutting something by a new kid Ram had signed. No one had heard of him. Sub someone. Anyway, the track was called X-Ray. You might have heard of it. You might have heard of Sub Focus, too. The X-Ray dubplate took me a little while to get my hands on to be honest but eventually I did and it’s the version I play in the Digging Deep mix.
There’s a lot of things in that mix. It’s interesting how vinyl changes the mixing style. Not so heavy on the doubles – basslines come in at different times, the music breathes a bit and the drops are kinda staggered. It’s really interesting. Like that mix of Deadline, Another Planet and Druids near the end. Have a word mate.
Ha! I was happy with that one. Yeah, I do agree but I have to say that I also love the capabilities of digital mixing because of that. I’ve got a really short attention span. I’m always working mid mix. So, on vinyl, even if I’m not doubling or tripling, I’m still really busy in the mix. Finding cue points, getting things ready, adjusting the tempo. I love it. Even the dirt on the needles and the little imperfections with the vinyl. All of it just makes it that extra bit special.
Did this remind you about techniques and mixes that you’d forgotten about with digital mixing?
Of course! Digging Deep, as a concept, is about all that. I did the first one back in what was East Village in Shoreditch as a test. I really enjoyed the set, but I mixed it how I’d usually do it. Like bish bash bang bang bang. It was good. But when I did the Hospital one last year, I let the music breathe in places and that made all the difference. So, Digging Deep is all about that.
Or those tunes which roll out the whole way through and you just tease little elements in there throughout. I think it’s like Power Of Rah, which is a bit of persy anyway. Then Midnight which is another persy. That’s a ridiculous mix anyway. Then throughout Midnight you bring in about three or maybe even four tunes. Stuff like True Romance. It’s like the spine and these other tunes are branching off it.
Spinal tunes are so important. They’re integral to DJing. I’d say that Midnight remix by M.I.S.T is in one of my top three tunes ever. It gives me goosebumps listening to it. I get mad emotional. Jenna’s voice is just incredible. It’s an amazing tune but from a DJ perspective you’ve got so many different avenues to explore. You could mix a vocal on that first breakdown because there’s no vocal on it. Then you got the drop which you can double something on. You got options for teases on every 32 then after that. The only danger is knowing when to stop teasing track over it because you’re just taking the piss.
Another tune similar is Block Control or the VIP. It’s a perfect example of a glue tune. Tunes that just transition you from different sounds perfectly. Block Control will take you from anywhere to anywhere. You could be playing a liquid style, or a jungle style and you want to take things to a different sound but it’s so far away from what’s playing you have no idea how you’re going to get there. Block Control or the VIP I guarantee will make that bridge for you. From Block Control the world is your oyster.
That’s a trick I’ve never forgotten, but I’ll tell you what, there are so many things I forgot I’d cut. I was going through old hard drives to hope and pray I’d find the original wav I got cut all those years ago. That version of Deadline you mentioned is actually Savage Rehab’s (Aka Saxxon). It was around the time when Digital put the parts up for a remix contest. S.R made this version and sent it to me at the time and it was one of those WTF moments. It was Deadline but on steroids. I loved it so much I made an edit for a special intro version and got it cut. When I came across that I was like ‘oh fuck, I forgot about this!’. I’m gutted but I’ve lost the file to that track so it will have to remain on dub only forever.
Anything else you’d forgot about?
Yeah, this version I got of Who You by Dillinja. I thought it had come out, but I asked Dillinja and turns out it hadn’t. Dillinja’s made so many tunes you can be forgiven for forgetting one or two. I tell you who’s got the best dubs? Randall. He’s got versions of tunes that even the person who made it wasn’t playing. There was a Dillinja dub of Deadly Deep Subs. Big tune. Big tune. Anyway, Randall had a version that I never even heard Dillinja play!. I found it again on YouTube last year and you can hear GQ losing his shit. It’s so good!
So yeah, all of these memories. Even down to the fact that when I was doing this mix and practicing it, I’d take a break and take the dog for a walk and I’d go to the park which is by the train station I’d use to go to Soho to get tunes. All these memories of getting off the train and running back home through the park as a quick as I could with dubs or white labels.
Nice. I got a more recent memory of you pointing to the tempo adjustments on CDJs on the last D&BTV Locked-In mix. Do you think a vinyl mix will stop this?
Probably not! I know most people will think it’s a retaliation against the people who say about the sync thing but in all honesty, I’ve wanted to do this for years. My record collection is deep. Six or seven thousand. Back when you got a dub cut chances are you didn’t have the original, you’d call up whoever had made it and ask if you could get a copy. If they said yes, then they’d tell you what cutting house had the CD and you’d go and get it cut. So many tunes got lost this way because these cutting houses were throwing CDs out by the hundred every week. Some of the stuff on dub or record you just can’t get on digital. I get really nostalgic man. Sometimes I go in my room, dig out a few things and just sit and listen and soak it all up.
Lockdown’s been good for that.
Definitely. And its great fun doing it. Every now and again you come across a tune – not just dubs or vinyl, this is digital too – that makes you go ‘fuck! I forgot about this, I’m bringing it back’ and you’d bring it back into your mixes. What’s special about vinyl though is even the tunes that were released, a huge load of it never got released on digital. Ask any DJ you interview who’s been around since the 90s if I’ve hit them up and pestered them about a tune they probably totally forgot about. That’s what’s great during lockdown is knowing a lot of these people are going through their DATs and archives and thinking about bringing things back. Or things like Bailey’s Virus show where he went through every record and told the stories. I love shit like that. I’m such an anorak about it.
Anorak up your kit too…
I thought I’d go all-in and get the MK7 1210s and they’re so nice. The new and improved motor is mind blowing. I’ve also got to big up MK Stands, too. That is one issue I’ve found with the MK7s. The massive rubber underlay the 1210 used to have underneath is totally gone. Low end frequencies come through the turntables, through the table and hit the floor and come back around the room and it can you put you off your mix. But MK Stands make these feet that absorb all of that and they annihilate the low-end frequency bleeding.
And of course, I’m also using the Pioneer-V-10 mixer. It looks weird to use a six-channel mixer on three decks, but it sounds incredible. Seriously the best sound I’ve ever heard on a mixer. You don’t have to use any EQ pots. Just put on the filter, put the resonance all the way down and that becomes your EQ sweep. It’s got a compressor/limiter for each channel so if you’re playing old tunes that didn’t get pressed very well or a dub that’s worn it punches it through. Honestly the sound of a V-10 beats every other mixer hands down.
Very handy for vinyl mixes where the record wasn’t cut quite well, or the production doesn’t stand up to modern production, but the tune is a vibe.
Exactly! There are however a lot of digital versions of old tunes that just sound crap. There was something about the wax that brought them to life. I think it’s all down to the fact that when you’re getting a tune cut the first thing the engineer does is rolls off all the subs. When you’re cutting a dub it’s like mother nature cutting natural bass into it. It sounds strange but some tunes just sound better on vinyl.
Nice. So, you kicked off the Locked-In series, you’ve brought it to a massive conclusion. What’s next in the life of A.M.C?
I’m doing a lot of stuff. One because of my attention span, I have to constantly do something, or I’ll lose my mind. If I have a day when I haven’t been creative, then it’s a wasted day. So yeah, loads of stuff. I got another tune with Phantom before the end of the year. I’m so proud of him, the amount of energy he’s put into these tunes has been inspiring so he deserves all the props he gets.
I also got a remix of Koven coming. Katie only lives around the corner and we’ve been mates for years so that was great. I’ve also been doing a lot of sync music.
A lot of producers do some of that on the side
Yeah, it’s a really interesting thing to do. You get briefs that make you think about things you wouldn’t artistically, but it almost always leads you into a technique or an idea that you can use on your own music as well.
Oh, and I’ve finished my next album.
Yeah. It’s called VOID and we’re gonna start releasing it at the start of next year. So, I’m really excited about it and, besides that, I’m just trying to keep busy, trying to stay inspired and trying to keep positive about the future…