Words: Miljan Milekić
If you ask me, A.M.C winning the Best DJ at the Drum & Bass Arena Awards in December was long overdue. Honestly, I thought it will happen sooner, and I had that belief since I first heard him live in 2016. However, things turned out even better for him, with the award only rounding up his massive year, after the release of his debut LP ‘Energy.’ We decided to join the celebration by catching him for an interview.
Congratulations on the award! I think it was just a matter of time when will it happen, and I’m glad it finally did. How does it feel to finally have it in your hands?
A.M.C: Thank you! It was an amazing feeling when they gave it to me, I literally had no idea. It feels great to own the award, but if I’m honest, it was never something I was aiming for. However, I cannot thank the people who voted for me enough, the support I receive is on another level, and I’m very grateful for it.
In the age of producers, I was amazed at how far you managed to get in your career, almost exclusively as a DJ. How hard was it to build your name that way? What do you think – is it possible nowadays to have a big career solely as a DJ?
A.M.C: When I started DJing, the scene was totally different. You had some DJs that would be playing the tunes on the weekends, and then some producers who made the music during the week. Then they both started to merge with each other even more than they had already, and the DJs who were just DJs started to lose out. It’s sad this was the case, but it was inevitable it was going to happen. I was lucky, as I was one of the last DJs to make it in the scene just as a DJ. It was very hard to build my career, but I knew I would have to focus on production eventually, so when I was doing well on the circuit as a DJ, I was teaching much self how to make music. However, I do think these days it’s still possible to have a career as a DJ. If you look at DJs such as Mollie Collins and Harriet Jaxxon, that proves it’s still possible – although Mollie produces now, and I’m sure Harriet will too. It’s all down to creating a fan base. If you can do that, then promoters will start booking you because you can sell tickets.
So, how did it start for you? How did you get into DJing, and drum and bass sound in general?
A.M.C: The first time I DJ’d was when some friends and I were bunking off school, and we saw a guy throwing out some turntables. We took them back to our friend’s house, hooked them up, and started messing around with some music. A few weeks later, it was my 13th birthday, and my parents bought me some Numark belt drive turntables and a two-channel mixer, and for the next year or so. until I bought my 1210’s, I stayed in my room practicing over and over. Before all of that, however, I used to be really into my heavy metal and nu metal, etc. It was when a friend of mine called Lewis, who now goes by Innate MC, came up to me and showed me a tape of Nicky Blackmarket and Stevie Hyper D that I was hooked on drum and bass.
I had a chance to see your set at the Shuriken Winter Festival in Novi Sad a couple of years ago, where you delivered the best set of the event. How do you prepare for your sets? Do you do any research, or do something differently if you come to a new place for the first time? Do you have a different approach for clubs and festivals?
A.M.C: That was a great festival, glad you enjoyed it! I do prep for every show, try to anticipate what the crowd will want to hear, and tailor my set to that. However, most of the time for the duration of a set, it never goes the way you planned musically, so I have backup ideas of mixes that I can use. I 100% do my research on a place before I got to play there. I feel it’s important, so you have an extra connection with that particular crowd, plus it’s also fun to do because I’ll end up finding tunes I totally forgot about or haven’t heard before.
This year was huge for you, and not only because of the award – you released your debut ‘Energy.’ How long did you work on it?
A.M.C: I made the ‘Energy’ LP a little differently than most artists make and release their albums. When ‘Mind the Gap’ came out at the beginning of last year as the first single from the album, the rest of the album hadn’t been finished at all. I knew the rest of my deadlines for the singles before the album, so I finished each track as each deadline came, and then allowed myself two months to finish off the rest of the album before it was released as a complete package. It was a little stressful doing it that way, but it gave us the best marketing and PR opportunities, and it eventually became a big success.
The album reached #3 spot at the Drum & Bass Arena Awards. Was it something you expected? How happy are you with the feedback so far?
A.M.C: Honestly, because of the other award, I totally forgot ‘Energy’ came 3rd. I really didn’t expect that either, but it’s nice to know people enjoyed it. The feedback from the album has been incredible. I think we hit 600,000+ streams of it the other day, so I’m very happy.
You released ‘Energy’ via your own label, Titan Records. What was your motivation for starting the label?A.M.C: When I was just a DJ, I wanted to start a label because all of these young artists were sending me their great music to play, but yet none of it was being released. It’s because of that, that I decided to start Titan as a platform for the new and unestablished artists.
So, what does 2020 bring to you?
A.M.C: This year, I have some major Energy events happening. The first is the biggest show I have ever done, in London at E1 on the 20th of March. Then, also in March, I have my Energy event at Roxy in Prague. Both shows, I’ll be playing for 3 hours, so it’s going to be a proper journey. Musically, I have some remixes I have done coming out, there are some amazing remixes of my ‘Energy’ LP that will come out too, and I have loads of singles and a special project with Phantom that will be dropping. 2020 is going to be a mad one.