Andy Buchan, 38, has been a steady purveyor of quality edits for years. With a signature blend of hefty beats, funky basslines and disco hooks to boot he’s taken tracks like Nu Shooz – I Can’t Wait, Freeez – I O U, and tons of edits on labels like Alpaca Edits. He has had tracks of his own released on labels like Peppermint Jam, Hot Digits and Midnight Riot and has been played by legendary DJs like Danny Rampling and Greg Wilson.
Andy started out DJ’ing when he was 18. Whilst working in Dubai Andy’s health declined and he experienced chronic fatigue and was unable to work. This sparked his musical career in a way.
We’ve talked to Andy about his rising status as an adept editor, his origins and rise to fame and recognition by both his peers and ever-rising following.
You’re an artist in your own right, but especially your dubbed out and melodic edits have been pinnacle to your success. How did you get into editing in the first place?
That’s very kind, thanks!
I’m an indie DJ by design – so I first started playing indie/electronica/curveballs and when I got a bit better at mixing, I started making edits purely for my sets. My first Soundcloud account went pretty well with one Arctic Monkeys edit (Knee Socks) getting around 500,000 plays a year, pretty heady days about a decade ago.
I actually got into editing/making music seriously when I fell ill with glandular fever. I was living in Dubai and didn’t get diagnosed and it ended up in chronic fatigue – had to take a year off life really, and didn’t leave the house for about 3-4 months. Quite dark days, but I had lots of time on my hands and towards the end had got the hang of Ableton. My first actual EP then got picked up by the Feel My Bicep blog and things slowly, ever so slowly, took off from there.
How does the process of selecting tracks to edit unwind?
Most often you make edits to fit into a DJ set, to give it a bigger, more modern beat that sticks to the 4/4 house/disco groove. But how you approach edits totally varies – I like to put my own stamp on edits (or at least try to!) and make them sound like me. So I’ll chop and cut and paste a lot, take the start and put it in the middle, layer different parts on top of each other, try and solo out the vocal etc. Basically play around with it as if it was a remix.
“I actually got into editing/making music seriously when I fell ill with glandular fever. I was living in Dubai and didn’t get diagnosed and it ended up in chronic fatigue – had to take a year off life really, and didn’t leave the house for about 3-4 months.”
Once I have a structure, I’ll then start adding beats – a kick, claps, hats, bongos, anything that fits in really. Sometimes I’ll add some music as well, like strings, a new bassline, keys etc. That’s the trickiest part – both as a music fan and an editor. You want to keep the track’s essence there, but sometimes adding strings or a piano line can really lift the track. Everyone’s different and everyone – in the dance music world at least – has an opinion on what an edit should be and what it should sound like so it’s best just to work for yourself and your sets as a basis.
I try to stick to my ‘sound’ too when it comes to edits – I’m never going to do a Chic edit for example. I’ve done edits by indie bands like Tame Impala, Spiritualized, Primal Scream, drum and bass edits, lost 80s classics like Nu-shooz and Freeez and then more obvious tracks by Shalamar, Elton John, Donna Summer etc. Then’s no hard and fast rule – I just try to be slightly less obvious and whatever sounds I hear on the radio, on TV shows, that people suggest to me as well.
One thing I’m always careful to do is to credit the original artist – so it’s nearly always an Andy Buchan edit. I think that’s important – I’m just tweaking the track for today’s dancefloors.
Totally agreed! All your productions have a very distinctive sound, which you managed to brand your amazing edits with. When did the editing game change for you, or are you still basically doing it for adding some nostalgia tinge to you DJ sets?
It’s still the same really – you hear a tune and instinctively want to give it your own update and spin. I love making original music, but making an edit and bringing a tune back onto the dancefloor is just so much fun as well, I’ll probably always be tinkering. I’m building up a following on Soundcloud too with over 10k fans, so I like to give free downloads and edits out once a month to keep that ticking over.
What would be your favorite crowd to play for, and what sort of venues do you get the best reactions to your 80ies tinged sound?
I’ve been DJing for 20 years, and about 15 in bars and clubs, so I’ve had most floors and crowds to be honest – even when it’s a quiet night, there’s always something to learn about DJing, so I’ve tried to enjoy every floor. That said, a small, packed club with low roofs and a big sound system – that’s about as good as it gets, close to the dancefloor energy. I’m a pretty versatile DJ having played alongside 2ManyDJs, Mark Ronson, Chase & Status, Todd Terje, Liam Gallagher and more, so happy to play DnB sets, indie, disco, house, edits, breaks and pretty anything else. A dream set would be a 5-hour set that lets me touch on all of those!
You have a new two-tracker out on Sundries – Tell me a bit about how that came to fruition, and the process of getting there.
It’s a straight edit EP – two big pumping, peak-time party starters. I’ve layered and cut and pasted the two tracks quite a lot, added filters, new drums and upped the tempo slightly. One’s a rerub of Al Green and the other is The Commodores. I’ve got another 4 track edit EP coming out on Masterworks soon after and I’m already planning 2020’s releases. There’s an original 3 track EP for Citizens of Vice, several remixes and then I’m co-launching a label later next year, all details to come!
As a true disco connoisseur yourself, whose work has had the biggest impact on you both sound wise and as an independent artist?
I wouldn’t actually say I’m a disco connoisseur – I don’t actually know that much about the scene to be honest, I’m still finding my feet. But my way into disco would have been through Daft Punk, and then realising that some of their tracks were based around disco samples. And in stuff like Robot Rock, pretty much just a more banging edit of Breakwater’s Release The Beast. Realising that made me do more digging and then you get into the glorious rabbit hole of finding older tracks and bands and exploring the 60s onwards for ideas. So definitely Daft Punk – such a cliche, but they had such a big impact on me in my teens and early 20s. I was lucky enough to interview them as well for a magazine I worked on, that was a dream come true!
“Some people say it’s a legal grey area, but there’s nothing grey about it – I have zero rights to release these edts, so in that respect I have no answer. Our only protection as it is is that it’s not worth their time to prosecute editors as it’s such a small market. “
You give away your work on a regular basis. Do you see the whole distribution thing of audio changing fundamentally, compared to 5 years ago, or do you recon that we’re still sticking to a standardized formula, when it comes to distributing and selling music?
I guess I give away regular free edits for reasons – the main one being so that they follow my Soundcloud pages so I have a bigger audience to promote my original music, which is something I’ve been working hard on for the last few years. And I like to give value for money I guess – they’re all mastered edits so they’re fine to play at home and on big sound systems. I grew up in the CD era really, so I have thousands of CDs I don’t play anymore so I know how quickly – and seismically – the music scene can change.
There will be a point where music is all streamed I think (or at least becomes commercially and physically viable in clubs and bars – even for DJs, I can’t see any reason why that won’t happen, and that will mean a lot of changes for artists and labels. That said, we are launching a label soon, and that comes just from the excitement and the level of control you can have over your own label, so we’ll have to manage those changes which will be fun!
Some parties, purists, might call foul and claim that you soil the good work of other people. Have you had any negative backlash on your work, edits in particular?
I can definitely see that point of view, so I try to be careful and make sure my edits are labelled correctly so it’s clear what I’m doing. I don’t think I have had any negative comments to be honest – I’m still pretty under the radar, so I doubt people I’ve edited have heard my work!
Some people say it’s a legal grey area, but there’s nothing grey about it – I have zero rights to release these edts, so in that respect I have no answer. Our only protection as it is is that it’s not worth their time to prosecute editors as it’s such a small market.
But there are plenty of good arguments for edits – they bring older music, maybe forgotten music back into circulation, they can help spread the work of the original artist and get them new fans. It’s a strange concept really – but the dance music scene is all about cycles and dancefloors always like to hear something they know, but with a modern twist, so it works for the scene as well.
That’s an interesting point, really. People like Dimitri From Paris and Joey Negro have taken the torch and have released official reworks of classic tracks by Chic, Donna Summer, Robert Palmer, Gladys Knight And The Pips. Giorgio Moroder has been quite enthusiastic about reworks, official and unofficial of his tracks. Surely this movement has had, and will continue to impact the dance music scene.
Disco was pronounced dead quite a few times. Do you think it’s here to stay, or do you predict an end to the second or third coming of Disco?
It’s definitely here to stay. As well as people discovering the original disco treasure trove, you have amazing people like Paper Street Soul, The Vision, Phenomenal Handclap Band and more making fresh, original disco, the future is in good hands.
As a special treat for you, here’s a special mix by Andy Buchan exclusively on Discoholics Anonymous.
The Millenium – To Claudia (Andy Buchan Edit)
Andy Buchan – Same Love (Bill Withers Edit)
Latimore – Keep On Burning (Andy Buchan Edit)
Bettye Swan – Bless My Soul (Andy Buchan Edit)
Silver Convention – Fly Robin Fly (Andy Buchan Edit)
Unemployed – Funky Thing (Andy Buchan Edit)
Blondie – Rapture (Andy Buchan Edit)
Andy Buchan – Life Is So Ordinary (Betty Wright Edit)
Barrabas – Take The Wild Ride (Andy Buchan Edit)
Skatt Bros – Into The Night (Andy Buchan Edit)
Breakwater – Release The Beast (Andy Buchan Edit)
Andy Buchan – Do That Thing (Jackson 5 Edit)
Andy Buchan – We Come One (Empire of the Sun Edit)
Andy Buchan – Feel Free (Cream Edit)
Crowne Heights – Say A Prayer (Andy Buchan Edit)
Andy Buchan – Caught in the Middle (Donna Summer Edit)
Sharon Redd – Can You Handle It (Andy Buchan Edit)
Shalamar – Right In The Socket (Andy Buchan Edit)
Elton John – Ready For Love (Andy Buchan Edit)
Andy Buchan – Don’t Do That (Jimmy Castor Bunch Edit)