Andy Votel Interview

DJ Equipment HQ is on fire right now! A huge thank you to Andy Votel for taking the time to do answer our questions. Here’s a little bit about Andy …

Andy Votel is a musician, deejay, graphic designer, record producer and co-founder of Twisted Nerve Records and the reissue label Finders Keepers Records. As a DJ, Andy began by mixing psychedelic music with hip-hop and jazz records at clubs like The Hacienda and Home And South in the early 1990s. He is an internationally renowned DJ and has deejayed at events such as Sonar, the Green Man Festival and the All Tomorrow’s Parties. He founded the B-Music Deejay Collective alongside journalist and ex-Hacienda deejay John Maccready. Andy has presented shows for BBC Radio 4 such as 2011’s Free Wales Harmony, which documented the history of Welsh protest music and he appears regularly alongside Stuart Maconie on The Freakier Zone show on BBC 6 Music.

What made you want to become a DJ?
Having been disciplined to not touch the sacred vinyl surface for most of my childhood it was very much a forbidden fruit thing. I was always a fan of noise before musicality and it was, in a way, a very mild rebellion to the people who had told me that I had to learn to play an instrument before I could make music.
The physicality of manipulating music on this large rotating format was very compelling to me aesthetically and sonically.
I recently re-saw the quote “You’re not doing it wrong if nobody knows what you are doing”, I guess that would have been my secret mantra back then and probably still is.

What genre(s) of music do you play?
I desperately try to play the style of music that you have never heard before and music that defies any type of genre, and for this reason most of my work is in the research (digging for records) which has led to me traveling the world to find very obscure music which I also promote through my label Finders Keepers Records.

Do you prefer using vinyl turntables, midi controllers or CDJ turntables when you do a gig?
Vinyl turntables are all I use.

Can you let us know the make and models of your current DJ set up? Any reason why you chose this setup?
Technics SL 1200 MK2 s original Japanese models, I’ve had the same set since I was 14 and when i can acquire one, a Pioneer DJM900 mixer.

Do you prefer a 2 channel or 4 channel mixer?
To DJ in a club I only need two channels, but I also use DJ equipment for separate live performances (creating music) with which I literally use all the channels on the desk to plug small instruments in.

Why do a lot of DJs still prefer the sound of traditional analog records over digital? Are you one of these DJs?
I crave the physicality over the sound quality, 90 percent of clubs and venues are in no way sympathetic to people who insist on playing vinyl so these days the sound is never better on vinyl . The other 2 reasons over the years have been a dedication to original pressings which enhances the obscurity of the records (which is of very niche interest) and the fact that I genuinely need to see big 12″ flags (sleeves) to alert me to the content. The choice of having 10,000 choices on a laptop would be potentially disastrous for me, I really stand by the discipline of preparing my set to some extent before you even step on the plane, in which case you remain honest to your original style, concept and judgment (instead of panic-playing for an unappreciative crowd).

What are your favourite DJ headphones and why?
I really can’t answer this question, but for reliability I should say Sennheisers. I was given some very expensive headphones for free recently and they are totally unreliable. After DJ’ing for 25 years I still need someone to impress me in this department.

Approximately how many headphones have you gone through in the last 5 years?
10 pairs.

What general advice would you give to someone starting out in deejaying?
There are obviously different types of DJ’s like there are different types of musicians but my opinion is that you really have to have your own style and play records that nobody else has. But you also have to either entertain and/ or enlighten the crowd, that’s your job, even if they remember you for all the wrong reasons you have to be absolutely unique. I’m generally motivated my people mouthing the words “What the fuck is this???” (pardon my French, Turkish, Farsi and Double Dutch).

Thanks Andy!

Don’t forget to check out Finders Keepers Records.