Melodic, acid house
I’d have probably pursued acting.
When DJs are starting their careers, the balance between scoring gigs and making a living can be a tough line to walk. In the early stages of a career, it is difficult to earn enough on weekend gigs to support oneself. For Andy of Bontan, doing anything besides DJing was never a consideration.
“I was DJing five times a week in my local town just so I had enough money to not have to have a daytime job. I would play all night, wake up at 1 PM, make music all day, go back to DJing at night. I would play anywhere for anything just because I knew it’s what I wanted to do. I bit the bullet and was playing these crap gigs to just save money and not have to hold a full-time job.”
Andy’s parents got him his first decks when he was 14. At age 16 Andy started to fall more and more down the rabbit hole of house music, hearing it when he went out and with his friends. His first gig came one year later when he entered a local DJ competition with a friend. “We were 17 at the club. We lied about your age in order to get in and ended up smashing it. I remember being so nervous and there were probably 7 people there.”
The true breakthrough for Andy came when he was 18 and finally had the opportunity to see high-level professionals but on a show. Andy had never been to a proper concert before and his very first experience was one he would never forget. “There’s a big house festival that happens every year there [Southport]... I went when I was 18, and it was a life-changing experience. The first guys I saw were Dennis Ferrer, Masters at Work, and Kerri Chandler. They were the first DJs I’d ever seen in my life and it just grabbed me.”
As Andy began to focus more on getting his career off the ground, the first natural step was to release music. Unlike many who take years to get their tracks heard, Andy struck gold early on with a massive remix that is still played on dancefloors today. One of Andy’s best friends happens to be a fellow tastemaker, Josh Butler. Josh sent Andy his track ‘Got A Feeling’ to remix and for Andy, the remix was automatic.
“This one in particular felt a bit different. It took four hours. It’s taken me months before to do records but there was something about this. It was so simple and good. Kaveh [Pleasurekraft] helped me tweak it a bit but it was just easy and we knew it was too good not to release… It did feel slightly different. ‘Call You Back’ with Josh as well was one of those. I had a vocal for a while and it took me six months working on it until Josh stepped in and helped me push it through. We did that in a day as well.”
The connection between Andy and Josh runs deep even to this day. The two have played back to back countless times, even going on a special tour together in which they played extended (6+ hours) sets together. They have released many tracks together as well, most recently ‘Set Your Soul on Fire.’
Speaking on their relationship, Andy talks about how seamless it is for them to play together. “Our sounds are different but when we come together to play it just works… We don’t share what we’re gonna play. If we prepared it wouldn’t be authentic… It’s exciting when you see DJs play BTB and it’s a journey. We don’t force moments, we like to go in blind and just see where it goes. Deciding the first track is always funny, we get on the decks and whoever finds the track they want to play fastest gets to go first… We did rock paper scissors one time to decide the billing on our BTB Be True Tour… Josh won that one and it’s stayed that way ever since.”
Similar to his early success on the ‘Got A Feeling’ remix, Andy had a lucky turn of events that pushed him into a primetime festival slot early in his career, assisting in the speed with which people discovered him. After touring for only about a year, he got booked to play the iconic Creamfields festival. “I was booked to open the stage (Pete Tong Stage). We got a call right before saying they had to move my set time from 3 PM to 10 PM. I’d only ever played to 250 people… I had to switch up my whole set and it was hands down the most scared I’ve ever been before a gig. I also got the streamed live, my Facebook blew up and it just changed my career.”
Despite early success, it was important for Andy to stay fresh and maintain an output of music that was not too repetitive. Around 2015, Andy’s early sound became an incredibly common one. More and more artists started to dip into his brand of deep house and he felt it was the right time to make a change. “I had the EP with Hot Creations and I wanted to actively go in a different direction. I wanted to create melodic house but with a club-ready feel… it felt like those earlier records could’ve been made by anyone.”
Andy continues to tweak and develop his sound, with his recent output showing an incredibly diverse range of productions. “I started listening to old acid house and getting more history about older music in order to try and influence my sound in a positive way and keep it authentic.” Bringing freshness to his releases is key for himself, his fans, and his live performance. Andy likes to be able to play a variety of styles live, by switching up his sound recently he has opened the door to this.
“It was getting to a point where I was getting bored making the same sounds for every track. I don’t want fans to get bored either. Sometimes I dip into the Latin tribal feel. I just go in there and make something based on what I’ve been listening to and playing out recently. It can’t be the same every time. I like to keep it fun and exciting when I perform and the studio piece has to be the same.” Andy’s next track is a collaboration with Mele and will be out in mid-July around the same time as his BTB performance with Josh Butler at Elrow NYC on July 24th.
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