Talking Pre-Party Rituals with Shy FX

We’ve teamed up with New Amsterdam Vodka to take a look at the pre-club rituals of some of our favourite artists. First up: London’s jungle and drum ’n’ bass pioneer.
November 18, 2016, 12:15pm

It's Your Town, and with that in mind New Amsterdam Vodka and Noisey have teamed up to take a look at the pre-club rituals of some of our favourite artists. Every group of friends, in every city in the world, has their own unique rituals and traditions that make use of the group's own experiences and knowledge of the town around them. The club experience itself is shared with hundreds, if not thousands of other people, but before the club — well, that's just for you and your friends to do your own thing, and that's a special time. First up: London's jungle and drum 'n' bass pioneer, Andre Williams – known to you as the legendary Shy FX, who we caught up with at an East London studio ahead of his Hackney show that night'

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When the drudgery of the working week is done, it's important to remind ourselves that we are humans with free will. If you're a bright young thing living in the big city, chances are you will find your freedom in attempting to design the perfect weekend for yourself, over and over and over again. In no way should the importance of a big night out be demeaned or downplayed. The rituals and moments we share with our friends before, during and after a night out make us who we are – and the pre-party, with its sense of relief from what has just passed and anticipation for what is to come, is perhaps the most crucial part of any memorable evening.

With that in mind, we've teamed up with New Amsterdam Vodka to take a look at the pre-club rituals of some of our favourite artists. First up: London's jungle and drum 'n' bass pioneer, Andre Williams – known to you as the legendary Shy FX.

NOISEY: How often do you go out, when you're not playing?
Shy FX: It's hard to say because I'm DJing all the time, so I sort of mix that with the social. The last couple of months, it's been just Friday and Saturday as I've had loads of studio work, but the weekend can start from Wednesday through to Saturday. Most people I grew up with aren't in the music industry at all, so Saturday's usually my favourite day to go out as I get to chill with them.

What's your usual pre-party routine?
If I'm not working, I'll just go round people's houses and jam, you know? Listen to some music, have a drink and decide what we're gonna do. When it's a gig vibe, I'm usually either in the studio trying to finish a tune. I've been DJing since I was 18! So even now, it's more of a spontaneous thing.

I guess you must be away travelling a lot?
Yeah, yeah.

If you know you might be going away for days on end, and it's the last chance you'll get to see her or your closest friends, it must make the time at the start of the night even more special – especially if things are going to get chaotic.
Yeah, definitely. I do have my moments, do you know what I mean? But most of the time I'm trying to spend as much time with my girl as possible, if I'm not trying to finish something in the studio. That said, in my studio complex there is everyone from Chase & Status to Mark Ronson – so it can get a bit mad before a gig!

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What sort of music do you tend to listen to before going out?
Anything apart from jungle, ha! Anything apart from upfront music. It depends, to be fair – if I'm in the studio I'm usually working on my stuff. If I'm jamming with my mates or one of the other guys in the studio, I'll either be listening to their tunes, or we'll playing each other stuff we like – "Have you heard this, have you heard that?" It's more of a vibes thing as opposed to trying to get too turnt up. Things I've been listening to recently? Kaytranada's mixtape, before that Saul was playing some old funk, 70s, 80s stuff – everything and anything, really.

What about food. What do you eat before a night out?
Recently I've been on the paleo diet, so fish, vegetables. Something light. Gotta shout out the Nando's lot, too.

Is there any kind of routine or ritual that happens each week?
I wish that there was. I'm playing out tonight and this, talking to you now, isn't the norm.

How about on rare weekends off? Do you go out clubbing at all?
I do take a couple of weeks off in blocks sometimes, so I can go out, experience music and vibe with other people. So I can hear what people are playing. The other day I had a night off so I went to Benji B's night – Deviation. I love being able to be in the corner, skanking out to music. I really do miss it. Getting a drink and then club-hopping, trying to fit as much into a night as I can.

What's your pre-party drink of choice?
Vodka lemonade. A classic. Keep it simple.

Thinking about the peak of your set – you're in the dark, there are thousands of people, lasers going everywhere, it's very chaotic – is there a looming sense as your night progresses that that moment is approaching? Do you get nervous at all, and if you do, how do you counteract that?
I don't any more. I think the last time I got nervous was when we did Culture Clash, because of the nature of clashing another soundsystem and not knowing what's going to happen. And when I do really small, intimate gigs, which is really bizarre – I can do twenty, thirty thousand people and feel OK, but when it's 100 people or less, that's when I get nervous.

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How often do you do those smaller shows?
Not often. Which is probably why I get nervous as well! Sometimes I do people's birthday parties and stuff like that – just for really close friends.

Why do you think it's important to have that time before you get to the club where it's just you and people who are really close to you? To have those more sedate and intimate moments before you get to the full blare of the club?
For me, it's cos I'm stuck in the studio all the time and I don't get to see anyone, so I definitely need that time. Especially when you're going to a gig and you've got loads of people in front you who you don't know – even though there are so many people, it can be a lonely place. It can be a weird vibe, so it's important to have people around you who you know and who can keep you grounded. Make sure you don't get caught up in loads of nonsense.

As someone who's been out DJing in London since you were 18, do you feel protective over the nightlife in the city? It seems fair to say it's under attack at the moment.
It's definitely something all of us would love to protect. But it's been going that way for a few years and it's sad, to be fair. I was talking to someone about it earlier. The days when you'd be able to go to, I dunno, six clubs in one night, when there were many thriving underground scenes, and you'd discover music in a club… I don't wanna say they're gone, but it is more difficult now. People seem to prefer to go to bars rather than clubs now, a lot of the time. Maybe music isn't respected as much as it was back then. There are loads of variables. It's the way of the world and we'll have to adjust.

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What clubs did you go to back in the day, in that golden period you were you just talking about?
I started off in places like Bassbox and Roller Express in Edmonton. Voodoo Magic, Jungle Fever, Fun to Enjoy, Orange… there were just too many. We didn't realise how lucky we were at the time.

What is your advice for people on how to have a good pre-party?
Find a playlist, get some friends around, have a drink or two and just get into the zone. And drink water in between!

This Article is from the series Before the Club on Noisey, click here for more.

Keep an eye out early 2017 for new tunes from Shy FX.