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Hallelujah! U.K.’s Andy Almighty Doing Some California Dreamin’

by Jim Hauck
Friday Jun 10, 2011
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Whenever Andy Almighty (a/k/a Andy Wetson) takes the helm, a magical dance floor journey awaits. The DJ is known for delivering those special moments when the music elevates your soul to a state of dance euphoria. Recently this master of musical layering and I had a chance to catch up on his love of music and the buzz around his upcoming trip to the U.S.

One of the amazing talents behind the long running success of the SLAGS (South London Action Girls Society) Chill Out party at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, affectionately known as the Tavern or RVT, Andy is friendly and energetic, with a twinkle in his eye and a great personality. When in the DJ booth, he is deeply immersed in the work he loves. Rarely distracted, he glances up at the crowd and enjoys the energy he is building on the dance floor.

As we talk through the history and magic of his work, there is a tremendous joy that swells out of his experiences. Music is clearly Andy’s passion in life.

Almighty calls himself the "Last Gay Disco DJ", and pushes back at being called a club DJ. Andy harkens back to a time when the disco was about a community not just a dance floor in a club. The disco was a place to gather, have fun, share time with friends, have a joyous experience, and celebrate life. Andy brings this energy and spirit with him to every gig.

Properly British, Andy shares much of the glory of his work with others he has worked with over the years. A great admiration for his partners at the Tavern,Simon Le Vans and Sean Sirrs is clear; Andy proudly holds the prime-time set in residence every Sunday and on bank holiday Mondays along with these two maestros.

The RVT Chill Out party was born at a time when the clubbing community of London would all gather at someone’s home around London to "chill out" on a Sunday afternoon after a full night of clubbing and before heading out to the next destination on Sunday evening. The house parties were infamous on the scene.

Over a decade ago, someone decided that the Tavern would become the home of the Chill Out T-Dance tradition. "We literally took the chill outs out of people’s living rooms by directing them to the RVT!" Almighty says. And it worked; for over 13 years, it was the busiest gay club in London on Sundays.

He Lives the History of Gay London Scene
Andy calls out DJ and legend Marc Andrews of Love Muscle at the historic Fridge in Brixton as being a large influence in the DJ style he produces, both musically and technically. Creating unique sets of music while holding a certain level of continuity week over week is what gives Andy his greatest buzz.

It is not beyond him to spend many hours the night before a set working out final edits and layers that he wants to use. Andy chops apart songs, cuts down the verses, and creates a musical journey where one phrase ends and the next phrase begins. He can work 30 tracks into the same time frame another DJ plays around 20.

Andy’s pushes himself to keep the music interesting, forward moving, planting seeds of tunes and teasing tracks, so that nothing is stale. In his own words "music must move forward or the club will become stale". For his weekly residency, Andy carries music in his case that is often less than six months old.

Fresh remixes of standards and classics: Andy has the music for those who love their anthems and vocals, and brings them to a state of joyful bliss. His ongoing new hits are balanced by extra-special Bank Holiday Mondays, when Andy pulls out well-loved versions of anthems he has created which have the crowd singing along at the top of their lungs.

The Almighty name is a hold back from the days of Andy’s involvement in Almighty Records, a Hi-NRG U.K. label. Almighty Records is synonymous with the joyous, hands-in-the-air sound of summer dance music and is well loved around the world.

Almighty Records produced Dance-Pop and Hi-NRG remakes and mixes of mainstream pop songs. Their first release was a 12-inch dance single of the Limahl single Morning Music classic, "Never Ending Story," from the movie of the same name.

Masterminding the team’s global success, Andy was able to work with the amazing talents, including an early remix Cher’s "Believe," along with major productions with Jennifer Lopez, Pink, Pet Shop Boys, Deborah Harry, Kylie Minogue, Faith Hill, Donna Summer and so many more.

Parting ways with Almighty Records, Andy partnered with Jon Dixon and in 2008 formed 7th Heaven Remix & Productions. The 7th Heaven sound is uplifting House and Dance-Pop music, while steering away from the Hi-NRG sound.

Early remixes for Freemasons, Loleatta Holloway and the Ting Tings put 7th Heaven firmly on the remixing scene and a major hit with a remix of the song from Katherine Ellis’ soul-funk-House anthem "Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ on But the Rent" (originally released in 1986 by singer Gwen Guthrie), placed 7th Heaven on the charts on both sides of the Atlantic.

7th Heaven has released several hundred such popular dance anthems. By 2010, it was one of the U.K’s most prolific remix teams. Recent 7th Heaven remixes of Taio Cruz ft. Kylie and Travie McCoy’s "Higher," Shakira featuring Pibull’s "Rabiosa," Talay Riley’s "Make You Mine," and Kylie Minogue’s "Get Outta My Way" are hitting the top tracks right now in many clubs.

California, Here He Comes!
Almighty promises there are a number of great remix tracks in the works. Listen this summer for some new remix tracks, including LeAnn Rimes, Darren Hayes and LMFAO ft. Natlia Kills, as well as another collaboration with Katherine Ellis.

Speaking of the past, Andy’s pride in his career and accomplishments is clear. When asked about his favorite dance party moments, he calls out New Year’s Eve at the Tavern as his all-time favorite nights. Andy loves that night because he knows that people are coming to this party, when so many choices are offered, because they know what they are going to get, and he is only more than happy to deliver that to them on the special night. Andy loves knowing when he has Americans in the audience, and it brings him joy seeing his international following making the pilgrimage to the RVT.

With a legendary fear of flying, Andy Almighty rarely performs outside of the British Isles. Previous trips to the United States created a hardcore base of raving fans that are excited to travel themselves and see Andy behind the decks whenever they can. Almighty now says he is ready to get over this fear of flying.

This June, Andy Almighty will make a trip to this side of the pond for two rare evenings on the West Coast. The first appearance will be on Friday, June 24, at Club Eleven (8811 Santa Monica Blvd.) in West Hollywood for one of Jeffrey Sanker’s "Fresh Fridays." The second appearance will be for San Francisco Pride, when he will appear at my own event, The Juice Box Presents "Reach SF Pride T-Dance" on Sunday, June 26, at Club Mighty (119 Utah St.).

Expect to hear the unmistakable sound of Andy Almighty’s magic, throwing your hands in the air to new and old anthems, hearing song upon song woven together in a magic carpet ride of dance floor joy.

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