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  Offworld Music
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  Andy Hughes Interview

Andy Hughes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  from www.andyhughes.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  click cover for CD review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Florida-based DJ/producer Andy Hughes, has completed years of building energetic house music sets for dance floors across America, the UK, and Ibiza. His latest release, Progressive House Elements, released on Neurodisc and distributed throughout the US by Capitol Records, is a collection of bass-driven tracks that combine to create an aura of merging the dancefloor with the music. This release, the first of a planned three, has proven to be a strong-selling disc for a somewhat underground label, showcasing the depth of talent from Hughes, who has been a mainstay in the Florida scene for many, many years, with jobs ranging from serving as his high school's DJ to on-air DJ and Program Director at WFIT while in college. It was during his time at his college radio station that Hughes was selected to serve as the feature DJ at station-sponsored events, leading to his first club residency where Hughes managed to stuff over 700 fans into a space capable of holding just 250. Hughes seized this opportunity and began the first late night in the area and first house music night along the space coast.

After college, Hughes got a job working as an electrical engineer at the Kennedy Space Center, but continued DJing when available. Over the course of the next few years, Andy became a regular at several legendary clubs, including playing to packed houses all over the state at The Club At Firestone, Marz, The Edge, Simon's in Gainesville, and many others. In addition, Andy started playing around the country in cities such as Atlanta, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Charlotte, Portland, Seattle, Philadelphia, Ottawa, Toronto, New York, and Indianapolis. After producing his first track "Yummy" with Chris Marchese and Chris Hand, Hughes would later found his own label, MAFDDAP (Mothers Against Fat Drunk DJs and Producers). Andy proved to be a successful label head with each of the releases from MAFDDAP being licensed to various compilations. Prior to his PHE release, house music fans have been blessed with Hughes' releases "Audiophile" (Plastik Records) and the first mix CD release on Bliss entitled "Altered States", which sold over 20,000 copies. Upcoming projects include a 3 CD deal with Neurodisc Records for the Progressive House Elements series, and MTV has picked up 13 of his tracks for the Real World television show, following using his "Gotham City" track in The Real World: Chicago. Collaborations are also in the works with Los Angeles DJ Thee-O, Orlando DJ and Guinness World record holder Martin Boss, and longtime studio partner John Sexton. Andy has also teamed up with adult film star Victoria Andrews to produce music for her upcoming HBO series and interactive X-rated DVD, and a planned release of his latest original track "Thirty Thirty" with remixes.

With a plate this full, it should come as no surprise that Hughes is continually traveling to bring his pumping brand of house music to as many willing souls as he can find?

How many records do you have?

I lost count around 25,000. I have been getting rid of lots of stuff lately. Anything that's been a big club hit for me I've kept. But, you know, things I bought just to have, I'm getting rid of. There's so much vinyl that I'd never be able to, even if I sat and played each one record one more time, I'd never be able to do it. Unless, I'm gonna play it again, I'm not gonna do it.

How do you get rid of them?

Ebay.

On your revamped website, why offer so many mixes for download that you could put out as a disc?

Why did I do that? Just because everybody has their own certain favorite and because I have a super cool Webmaster. She was a big fan of mine and she said I see your site was down because I had had my other provider pull it down, because I was unhappy with the site, I was with everything. So she says, "well I do web hosting and I'll cut you this deal"? Well my goal, I want a hundred demos up there and she said OK. And I don't think we've reached it yet, but everybody, you know I put at the bottom email Andy for a request and I'm getting tapes and title that I thought were terrible, people was their favorite one that I made. So, I'm going through the list and getting them up there and ended up being so many because everyone has a different one they liked.

I still have the 'voices Of Energy' tape that I picked up one weekend while at the beach surfing. I used to go at least once a week and pick up a tape.

I figure the more Andy Hughes stuff that's floating around the better. I mean that you can't over promote and there's nothing like having, you know, mix CDs and stuff out there. The website makes it easy for people to download. I mean I did this show at Indianapolis on Sunday night and people actually had CDs that they had downloaded off my site, burned them, and brought them to me to sign them. I thought that was neat.

You did a remix for Savannah from the Monsters of the Midday radio show (on WTKS 104.1 FM in Orlando), how did that come about?

I got a phone call, this is back probably 1998 I think, from Dirty Jim and he was looking for someone to create a club track of one of the Monsters? songs. And Savannah was the one that had the most songs out at that point and so they wanted us to remix 'trailer Trash' that was her biggest song. And there was, you know, no pay involved, but 99.9% artistic freedom. They wanted a touch of the original in there, that's why it's in the center. But other than that, they made no requests. I said, "Yeah, I'll do it." I mean that was going to be great publicity and it would be fun, ya know, I love the Monsters of the Midday. I think they are all great and I think it would be a lot of fun. And my studio is out in Tampa, so I emailed Savannah a bunch of things to say in the microphone. And I went over to the studio and picked it up, then drove out to my studio in Tampa, loaded it into my computer, chopped it up, put it into my samplers, and it was 360 different soundbytes of her talking. And then we started working on the things that she said and just built the song around it.

I've actually heard it, but didn't realize that it was you until a caller called in asking about it.

It's great, I travel around and people will mention that song. And it's strange that markets that it's been big in, like it was a big hit in St. Louis, it was big hit in Pittsburgh. Some country, I forget, maybe it was Puerto Rico or something like that that I can't remember that it was big in. Maybe it was Brazil. But, I mean when that song first started hitting the radio and they started pumping it, I got calls from old college roommates. Some saying, 'my god, you know I heard this song and they mentioned your name'? and it was awesome. I have actually been trying to get a hold of Savannah to actually to do another one, a sequel to it.

Didn't you have a show at Foundation Radio in Orlando?

Yes.

What's happened to Foundation? What's the story there?

The FCC came and got them. I mean, I don't know. I got involved because I liked radio and you'd at least get to go down and play records for a couple of hours a week. You know I definitely got what I needed out of it. It was fun. The station got busted 45 minutes before my show started, I was actually on my way down to the station when my cell phone started going crazy with, you know, 'don't go down there, the FCC is down there.' And they decided to keep broadcasting and I pondered it. I had a week until my next show to figure out what I was going to do and during that week I decided that I wasn't going to do it. I just didn't want the hassles. Since then there has been some discussion on the Foundation newsgroup that they probably couldn't do much to you when you're caught broadcasting, it's just I didn't want the hassle.

It was cool because it had several of the local guys in the area, yourself, Cliff Tangredi, Noel Sanger amongst others, any number of local guys who don't get the exposure they deserve to the local people.

It was neat and I had several discussions with Ed, the owner of Foundation, about going legitimate and I encouraged him since I was a part of radio for a long time in college, seven years, and I loved it. I have always wanted a radio station and wished I could find a way to get one, but it's just so much damn money. You know applying for grants and stuff; if you had enough time you could probably pull it off. I thought with Foundation going so well that he would have the drive to go legit, plus it's mad money. It was a great idea; I just wish that they could have taken it to the next level. There was a great group of people down there; I mean I thought the lineup was great. I thought the way that they scattered the formats around the different nights of the week, I thought it was really well run. It was interesting to listen to.

You have been a major figure in the Central Florida for years, how have you seen it change since you've been playing during the past, say, ten years?

Well, we definitely had our heyday. When Firestone and The Edge were going, you know, 7, 8, 9, 10 o'clock in the morning. Those were some crazy times. I mean, our scene made the cover of Mixer magazine saying Orlando was going to be the next London. You know, everyone was moving here from overseas, it was the next big think tank as far as music goes. And then comes Glenda Hood (the Mayor of Orlando) and killed our late night and scattered the talent around the rest of the country. I guess everyone went out to LA. You know it's changed a lot. Also a lot of the negative publicity of raves and the heat that the music has taken. And the incoming of the next generation of music, which is the hip-hop wave. It's changing. You know, dance music, house music got real commercial for a while. Every club was doing it every night of the week and now it's brought on some hard times for people who are still involved in it now. But, I think what is going to happen is it is going to go back underground to what it was ten years ago. You know where somebody just has a free night of the week, do some minimal promotions to it, and bring in some good talent and hopefully the people show up. I guess we'll just start over. I try to figure out exactly which direction the Orlando scene is going in. I think breakbeats also took its toll on the scene. Because that also helped usher in the hip-hop thing because they're so closely related. Because their all funky beats, house music kind of got pushed out. Then again, this is Central Florida, between Orlando and Tampa it's the birthplace of breakbeats. I hope some more house music nights pop up and club owners and promoters with some patience and determination will pull it off. I see these great guys getting nights in town and, you know, three weeks, four weeks, they get their nights canceled because the numbers weren't what the club owner was expecting. And I think that's sad, because if you build up a crowd that quickly, they're going to disappear that quickly. But if you take six months, ten months, a year, and develop a good solid crowd, that's a crowd that'll last you three, four, five years. No one, I mean, I haven't seen anybody give it a chance to do that in this town as far as house music goes lately. In the last couple of years, I mean, I think it's starting to show.

What do you think about, for example, Thee Grotto with Eli (Tobias of Event Horizon promotions)? I know you're like a resident there right?

Oh yeah, I love Thee Grotto.

What are you, monthly resident is it?

I do every other Sunday old school and then every now and then it depends on what the occasion is I'll do a house night in there. That's actually a great spot, I mean, I love Eli to death. He's been talking about building a club forever and I'm glad he's gotten the chance to do it. Me and (DJ) Jeffee were talking about it the other day and we agreed it's pretty much the best place to play in town. I mean you just have so much fun.

What is it? Is it the crowd? The club?

It's everything I guess, you know, the magical combination of all the right essentials. The right people. The reputation of the people running it, obviously Eli's reputation has a lot to do with the fact that it's successful. I mean, everyone loves Eli. It's got a great sound system. Because it's so small, everything is cut to down to its minimum, but that's sort of the neat thing about it. You know there's not stupid decorations all over the place. It's just a neat little club and it's fun. And you get the people in there and you get them moving, and it can become really intense, really quick. It's definitely a breath of fresh air.

I have only heard good things about that club. I know obviously some of the bigger names, I mean, there's yourself, Jeffee, DJ X play there?

(The One and Only DJ) Sandy has played there.

Haven't they had a couple of CD release parties there?

Debbie D had one. I had one.

About Progressive House Elements, first off, how did you end up at Neurodisc?

I got an email through the Trance Domain website where I did a slot for Lance a long time ago. I got an email saying that, "I have been trying to get a hold of you forever. I work at this label called Neurodisc and I'd like to talk to you about doing a mix CD."

This was Troy [Kelley - Neurodisc rep]?

Yeah, I think I got that email within 48 hours of when I left Bliss. And I was like, OK, the Bliss thing is over and I didn't really have a good experience with them. And I was ready to go out and seek out the new mix CD. So, I called Troy the following business day and he said why don't you come down to the conference [The Winter Music Conference in Miami, Florida], and come and play our event, and meet all of the people involved. So, I went down and met everybody and they treated me great. So, we shook hands and sat down and discussed some ideas. And within a couple of weeks the contracts were signed.

When you started putting the tracks together for Progressive House Elements, how many of them came from your being a member of Balance Promote?

Most all. Balance is awesome, I really don't know how else to say it. I have been involved since day one and it's quite a treat to be in that [record] pool. It's a great pool, it's a great organization, there's definitely nothing else like it as far as underground house music goes. That's my primary source for new music and when I was putting together stuff for the new CD, I didn't want the CD to be, you know, out there musically. I wanted some definite club hits that people had heard me spin. So when the CD came out there would be some records on there that people would recognize as Andy Hughes type songs, like the "Woven Air" track. I had been playing that song for probably six months before the CD came out. I think I debuted it on New Year's Eve and the CD came out in September, so it was about nine months old. There were a couple of tracks on there that I had been playing for awhile, so I mixed those in with tracks that I liked that would be fresh when the CD came out. Just hitting the shelves. It ended up working out exactly the way I wanted it to.

My favorite track out of the mix is 'storyreel'?.

Yeah, I fought real heard for that. Apparently, that was an expensive record. I really wanted that song. I felt it was important to have a strong vocal track on there like that and it hadn't been released yet while the CD was in the development stages. It's definitely one of the most talked about songs on the disc.

Do record labels understand when you tell them, "I have to have this track and this is why??"

This was, Progressive House Elements, is the by far the biggest production. Going through the Capitol Records distribution network, and Neurodisc, by itself, being the biggest label to release a CD. It was a different sort of battle, but I knew they were all fighting for the same thing, a good quality product.

In your words, what qualities make a good progressive track?

A good drum line, a good, solid, bass line, you know, progressive songs tend to have a more enveloping bass line as you are standing on a dancefloor or you are listening to it on a really big sound system or in your car. The bass sort of wraps around you, holds you. Also, I think progressive house music is leading the way with really skilled production and engineers and artists. In that, if you just listen to the sound effects and the delays, and the ways people are getting sounds of synthesizers that you are really not supposed to be getting out of synthesizers. They are really pushing the envelope as far as, you know, technology. But it really has to be because we are dealing with instrumental music. To make a song memorable without having an original vocal or without sampling you're going to have to really work your keyboards. That was something I ran into when I was putting together the CD. I posted in a couple of newsgroups that I was putting together a CD and to send me your new music. And I received like 100 CD-Rs from all over the world. Some people I knew, some people I didn't know, and it was all really creative music. If you listen to the songs on the CD, you 're going to hear good solid bass lines, you're going to hear intelligent drum programming, and you're going to hear really creative use of strange sounds.

Was there a goal for this disc at the beginning?

I wanted it to reflect the way I was playing. I wanted it to be, you know, an accurate reflection of Andy Hughes and that's what we got.

So this is more of an "Andy Hughes club mix" than an "Andy Hughes these are tracks that I like mix"?

Well it's both. I think every song on the disc is club worthy. I don't play every song on the disc out in the club, but most of the songs. You know, with it being a dance-oriented disc, it's going to lean more towards the club. But the bpm is about the same bpm I play in the club, which is about 132-134. If I had a really, really good night in a club, [Progressive House Elements] is what you would hear. You would hear that disc. And that 's what I was shooting for, the perfect "got the crowd in front of me" set where you would walk away from the turntables and be like, "Wow, that was a great night."

I mentioned 'storyreel' before, but another track I liked is 'slaves'.

Oh yeah, that's one of the older tracks. I beat up many dancefloors with that track.

Are there any of the tracks that you have found you play more often than the others?

That "Woven Air" track by far. I'm still playing that. That song is just phenomenal. I mean, it's simple, that song right there typifies exactly what I was looking for. It's got really creative sounds in it, the bass line is incredible, the drums are fantastic, and it just takes the dancefloor. That, to me, is like the model song of the [PHE] CD.

Are you putting together a 3-CD set for Neurodisc?

Basically. Progressive House Elements Volume 1 is obviously the first one and hopefully there will be a second and third set.

It's a series of discs as opposed to one 3-CD release?

Yes, it's a 3-disc set of single CDs, 3 different discs. Although, I wish they would do a 3-disc or 2-disc set.

I want to thank Troy Kelley at Neurodisc and Scot Shapiro at USDJS for setting up this interview. And especially Andy Hughes for taking the time to sit down with a longtime fan.

-- written by Shawn Wallace

 

ace="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">   Andy Hughes Interview

Andy Hughes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  from www.andyhughes.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  click cover for CD review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Florida-based DJ/producer Andy Hughes, has completed years of building energetic house music sets for dance floors across America, the UK, and Ibiza. His latest release, Progressive House Elements, released on Neurodisc and distributed throughout the US by Capitol Records, is a collection of bass-driven tracks that combine to create an aura of merging the dancefloor with the music. This release, the first of a planned three, has proven to be a strong-selling disc for a somewhat underground label, showcasing the depth of talent from Hughes, who has been a mainstay in the Florida scene for many, many years, with jobs ranging from serving as his high school's DJ to on-air DJ and Program Director at WFIT while in college. It was during his time at his college radio station that Hughes was selected to serve as the feature DJ at station-sponsored events, leading to his first club residency where Hughes managed to stuff over 700 fans into a space capable of holding just 250. Hughes seized this opportunity and began the first late night in the area and first house music night along the space coast.

After college, Hughes got a job working as an electrical engineer at the Kennedy Space Center, but continued DJing when available. Over the course of the next few years, Andy became a regular at several legendary clubs, including playing to packed houses all over the state at The Club At Firestone, Marz, The Edge, Simon's in Gainesville, and many others. In addition, Andy started playing around the country in cities such as Atlanta, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Charlotte, Portland, Seattle, Philadelphia, Ottawa, Toronto, New York, and Indianapolis. After producing his first track "Yummy" with Chris Marchese and Chris Hand, Hughes would later found his own label, MAFDDAP (Mothers Against Fat Drunk DJs and Producers). Andy proved to be a successful label head with each of the releases from MAFDDAP being licensed to various compilations. Prior to his PHE release, house music fans have been blessed with Hughes' releases "Audiophile" (Plastik Records) and the first mix CD release on Bliss entitled "Altered States", which sold over 20,000 copies. Upcoming projects include a 3 CD deal with Neurodisc Records for the Progressive House Elements series, and MTV has picked up 13 of his tracks for the Real World television show, following using his "Gotham City" track in The Real World: Chicago. Collaborations are also in the works with Los Angeles DJ Thee-O, Orlando DJ and Guinness World record holder Martin Boss, and longtime studio partner John Sexton. Andy has also teamed up with adult film star Victoria Andrews to produce music for her upcoming HBO series and interactive X-rated DVD, and a planned release of his latest original track "Thirty Thirty" with remixes.

With a plate this full, it should come as no surprise that Hughes is continually traveling to bring his pumping brand of house music to as many willing souls as he can find?

How many records do you have?

I lost count around 25,000. I have been getting rid of lots of stuff lately. Anything that's been a big club hit for me I've kept. But, you know, things I bought just to have, I'm getting rid of. There's so much vinyl that I'd never be able to, even if I sat and played each one record one more time, I'd never be able to do it. Unless, I'm gonna play it again, I'm not gonna do it.

How do you get rid of them?

Ebay.

On your revamped website, why offer so many mixes for download that you could put out as a disc?

Why did I do that? Just because everybody has their own certain favorite and because I have a super cool Webmaster. She was a big fan of mine and she said I see your site was down because I had had my other provider pull it down, because I was unhappy with the site, I was with everything. So she says, "well I do web hosting and I'll cut you this deal"? Well my goal, I want a hundred demos up there and she said OK. And I don't think we've reached it yet, but everybody, you know I put at the bottom email Andy for a request and I'm getting tapes and title that I thought were terrible, people was their favorite one that I made. So, I'm going through the list and getting them up there and ended up being so many because everyone has a different one they liked.

I still have the 'voices Of Energy' tape that I picked up one weekend while at the beach surfing. I used to go at least once a week and pick up a tape.

I figure the more Andy Hughes stuff that's floating around the better. I mean that you can't over promote and there's nothing like having, you know, mix CDs and stuff out there. The website makes it easy for people to download. I mean I did this show at Indianapolis on Sunday night and people actually had CDs that they had downloaded off my site, burned them, and brought them to me to sign them. I thought that was neat.

You did a remix for Savannah from the Monsters of the Midday radio show (on WTKS 104.1 FM in Orlando), how did that come about?

I got a phone call, this is back probably 1998 I think, from Dirty Jim and he was looking for someone to create a club track of one of the Monsters? songs. And Savannah was the one that had the most songs out at that point and so they wanted us to remix 'trailer Trash' that was her biggest song. And there was, you know, no pay involved, but 99.9% artistic freedom. They wanted a touch of the original in there, that's why it's in the center. But other than that, they made no requests. I said, "Yeah, I'll do it." I mean that was going to be great publicity and it would be fun, ya know, I love the Monsters of the Midday. I think they are all great and I think it would be a lot of fun. And my studio is out in Tampa, so I emailed Savannah a bunch of things to say in the microphone. And I went over to the studio and picked it up, then drove out to my studio in Tampa, loaded it into my computer, chopped it up, put it into my samplers, and it was 360 different soundbytes of her talking. And then we started working on the things that she said and just built the song around it.

I've actually heard it, but didn't realize that it was you until a caller called in asking about it.

It's great, I travel around and people will mention that song. And it's strange that markets that it's been big in, like it was a big hit in St. Louis, it was big hit in Pittsburgh. Some country, I forget, maybe it was Puerto Rico or something like that that I can't remember that it was big in. Maybe it was Brazil. But, I mean when that song first started hitting the radio and they started pumping it, I got calls from old college roommates. Some saying, 'my god, you know I heard this song and they mentioned your name'? and it was awesome. I have actually been trying to get a hold of Savannah to actually to do another one, a sequel to it.

Didn't you have a show at Foundation Radio in Orlando?

Yes.

What's happened to Foundation? What's the story there?

The FCC came and got them. I mean, I don't know. I got involved because I liked radio and you'd at least get to go down and play records for a couple of hours a week. You know I definitely got what I needed out of it. It was fun. The station got busted 45 minutes before my show started, I was actually on my way down to the station when my cell phone started going crazy with, you know, 'don't go down there, the FCC is down there.' And they decided to keep broadcasting and I pondered it. I had a week until my next show to figure out what I was going to do and during that week I decided that I wasn't going to do it. I just didn't want the hassles. Since then there has been some discussion on the Foundation newsgroup that they probably couldn't do much to you when you're caught broadcasting, it's just I didn't want the hassle.

It was cool because it had several of the local guys in the area, yourself, Cliff Tangredi, Noel Sanger amongst others, any number of local guys who don't get the exposure they deserve to the local people.

It was neat and I had several discussions with Ed, the owner of Foundation, about going legitimate and I encouraged him since I was a part of radio for a long time in college, seven years, and I loved it. I have always wanted a radio station and wished I could find a way to get one, but it's just so much damn money. You know applying for grants and stuff; if you had enough time you could probably pull it off. I thought with Foundation going so well that he would have the drive to go legit, plus it's mad money. It was a great idea; I just wish that they could have taken it to the next level. There was a great group of people down there; I mean I thought the lineup was great. I thought the way that they scattered the formats around the different nights of the week, I thought it was really well run. It was interesting to listen to.

You have been a major figure in the Central Florida for years, how have you seen it change since you've been playing during the past, say, ten years?

Well, we definitely had our heyday. When Firestone and The Edge were going, you know, 7, 8, 9, 10 o'clock in the morning. Those were some crazy times. I mean, our scene made the cover of Mixer magazine saying Orlando was going to be the next London. You know, everyone was moving here from overseas, it was the next big think tank as far as music goes. And then comes Glenda Hood (the Mayor of Orlando) and killed our late night and scattered the talent around the rest of the country. I guess everyone went out to LA. You know it's changed a lot. Also a lot of the negative publicity of raves and the heat that the music has taken. And the incoming of the next generation of music, which is the hip-hop wave. It's changing. You know, dance music, house music got real commercial for a while. Every club was doing it every night of the week and now it's brought on some hard times for people who are still involved in it now. But, I think what is going to happen is it is going to go back underground to what it was ten years ago. You know where somebody just has a free night of the week, do some minimal promotions to it, and bring in some good talent and hopefully the people show up. I guess we'll just start over. I try to figure out exactly which direction the Orlando scene is going in. I think breakbeats also took its toll on the scene. Because that also helped usher in the hip-hop thing because they're so closely related. Because their all funky beats, house music kind of got pushed out. Then again, this is Central Florida, between Orlando and Tampa it's the birthplace of breakbeats. I hope some more house music nights pop up and club owners and promoters with some patience and determination will pull it off. I see these great guys getting nights in town and, you know, three weeks, four weeks, they get their nights canceled because the numbers weren't what the club owner was expecting. And I think that's sad, because if you build up a crowd that quickly, they're going to disappear that quickly. But if you take six months, ten months, a year, and develop a good solid crowd, that's a crowd that'll last you three, four, five years. No one, I mean, I haven't seen anybody give it a chance to do that in this town as far as house music goes lately. In the last couple of years, I mean, I think it's starting to show.

What do you think about, for example, Thee Grotto with Eli (Tobias of Event Horizon promotions)? I know you're like a resident there right?

Oh yeah, I love Thee Grotto.

What are you, monthly resident is it?

I do every other Sunday old school and then every now and then it depends on what the occasion is I'll do a house night in there. That's actually a great spot, I mean, I love Eli to death. He's been talking about building a club forever and I'm glad he's gotten the chance to do it. Me and (DJ) Jeffee were talking about it the other day and we agreed it's pretty much the best place to play in town. I mean you just have so much fun.

What is it? Is it the crowd? The club?

It's everything I guess, you know, the magical combination of all the right essentials. The right people. The reputation of the people running it, obviously Eli's reputation has a lot to do with the fact that it's successful. I mean, everyone loves Eli. It's got a great sound system. Because it's so small, everything is cut to down to its minimum, but that's sort of the neat thing about it. You know there's not stupid decorations all over the place. It's just a neat little club and it's fun. And you get the people in there and you get them moving, and it can become really intense, really quick. It's definitely a breath of fresh air.

I have only heard good things about that club. I know obviously some of the bigger names, I mean, there's yourself, Jeffee, DJ X play there?

(The One and Only DJ) Sandy has played there.

Haven't they had a couple of CD release parties there?

Debbie D had one. I had one.

About Progressive House Elements, first off, how did you end up at Neurodisc?

I got an email through the Trance Domain website where I did a slot for Lance a long time ago. I got an email saying that, "I have been trying to get a hold of you forever. I work at this label called Neurodisc and I'd like to talk to you about doing a mix CD."

This was Troy [Kelley - Neurodisc rep]?

Yeah, I think I got that email within 48 hours of when I left Bliss. And I was like, OK, the Bliss thing is over and I didn't really have a good experience with them. And I was ready to go out and seek out the new mix CD. So, I called Troy the following business day and he said why don't you come down to the conference [The Winter Music Conference in Miami, Florida], and come and play our event, and meet all of the people involved. So, I went down and met everybody and they treated me great. So, we shook hands and sat down and discussed some ideas. And within a couple of weeks the contracts were signed.

When you started putting the tracks together for Progressive House Elements, how many of them came from your being a member of Balance Promote?

Most all. Balance is awesome, I really don't know how else to say it. I have been involved since day one and it's quite a treat to be in that [record] pool. It's a great pool, it's a great organization, there's definitely nothing else like it as far as underground house music goes. That's my primary source for new music and when I was putting together stuff for the new CD, I didn't want the CD to be, you know, out there musically. I wanted some definite club hits that people had heard me spin. So when the CD came out there would be some records on there that people would recognize as Andy Hughes type songs, like the "Woven Air" track. I had been playing that song for probably six months before the CD came out. I think I debuted it on New Year's Eve and the CD came out in September, so it was about nine months old. There were a couple of tracks on there that I had been playing for awhile, so I mixed those in with tracks that I liked that would be fresh when the CD came out. Just hitting the shelves. It ended up working out exactly the way I wanted it to.

My favorite track out of the mix is 'storyreel'?.

Yeah, I fought real heard for that. Apparently, that was an expensive record. I really wanted that song. I felt it was important to have a strong vocal track on there like that and it hadn't been released yet while the CD was in the development stages. It's definitely one of the most talked about songs on the disc.

Do record labels understand when you tell them, "I have to have this track and this is why??"

This was, Progressive House Elements, is the by far the biggest production. Going through the Capitol Records distribution network, and Neurodisc, by itself, being the biggest label to release a CD. It was a different sort of battle, but I knew they were all fighting for the same thing, a good quality product.

In your words, what qualities make a good progressive track?

A good drum line, a good, solid, bass line, you know, progressive songs tend to have a more enveloping bass line as you are standing on a dancefloor or you are listening to it on a really big sound system or in your car. The bass sort of wraps around you, holds you. Also, I think progressive house music is leading the way with really skilled production and engineers and artists. In that, if you just listen to the sound effects and the delays, and the ways people are getting sounds of synthesizers that you are really not supposed to be getting out of synthesizers. They are really pushing the envelope as far as, you know, technology. But it really has to be because we are dealing with instrumental music. To make a song memorable without having an original vocal or without sampling you're going to have to really work your keyboards. That was something I ran into when I was putting together the CD. I posted in a couple of newsgroups that I was putting together a CD and to send me your new music. And I received like 100 CD-Rs from all over the world. Some people I knew, some people I didn't know, and it was all really creative music. If you listen to the songs on the CD, you 're going to hear good solid bass lines, you're going to hear intelligent drum programming, and you're going to hear really creative use of strange sounds.

Was there a goal for this disc at the beginning?

I wanted it to reflect the way I was playing. I wanted it to be, you know, an accurate reflection of Andy Hughes and that's what we got.

So this is more of an "Andy Hughes club mix" than an "Andy Hughes these are tracks that I like mix"?

Well it's both. I think every song on the disc is club worthy. I don't play every song on the disc out in the club, but most of the songs. You know, with it being a dance-oriented disc, it's going to lean more towards the club. But the bpm is about the same bpm I play in the club, which is about 132-134. If I had a really, really good night in a club, [Progressive House Elements] is what you would hear. You would hear that disc. And that 's what I was shooting for, the perfect "got the crowd in front of me" set where you would walk away from the turntables and be like, "Wow, that was a great night."

I mentioned 'storyreel' before, but another track I liked is 'slaves'.

Oh yeah, that's one of the older tracks. I beat up many dancefloors with that track.

Are there any of the tracks that you have found you play more often than the others?

That "Woven Air" track by far. I'm still playing that. That song is just phenomenal. I mean, it's simple, that song right there typifies exactly what I was looking for. It's got really creative sounds in it, the bass line is incredible, the drums are fantastic, and it just takes the dancefloor. That, to me, is like the model song of the [PHE] CD.

Are you putting together a 3-CD set for Neurodisc?

Basically. Progressive House Elements Volume 1 is obviously the first one and hopefully there will be a second and third set.

It's a series of discs as opposed to one 3-CD release?

Yes, it's a 3-disc set of single CDs, 3 different discs. Although, I wish they would do a 3-disc or 2-disc set.

I want to thank Troy Kelley at Neurodisc and Scot Shapiro at USDJS for setting up this interview. And especially Andy Hughes for taking the time to sit down with a longtime fan.

-- written by Shawn Wallace

 

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