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In modern day musical history it has become incredibly difficult to be considered a ‘pioneer’. With so much having gone before, to be able to push the envelope, especially in a time of great change like the 90s, you have to be an exceptional talent – enter DJ Andy Smith! The first ever DJ to release a multi-genre mixed compilation on a major label, paving the way for the masses that have come along since. “The Document” album series became the framework which others followed and Andy was soon counted among the Top 20 DJs of all time by influential media outlets.

Andy Smith was born and bred in Portishead, a stone’s throw from the city that has spawned an unrivalled talent list when it comes to electronic music. A county with huge music heritage from Trip Hop, Bass and DnB from names like Massive Attack, Portishead, Tricky, Roni Size, Kosheen, and many more. There must be something in the water that produces such notable genius, as Bristolians clearly know their beats!

For Andy, the love for performing music hit him early. At the tender age of 12 you could find him DJ’ing at youth clubs and house parties on a make shift set up of two Hi-Fis hooked together – where there’s a will, there’s a way and Andy’s passion for music ensured he found it. Andy soon teamed up with his lifetime partner in crime and fellow hugely influential driving force in the electronic music industry, Nick Halkes, who went on to be Liam Howlett of The Prodigy’s Manager and Founder of the gigantic XL Recordings and Positiva Records. 

It was almost written in the stars that Andy’s path would cross with fellow Bristolians, Portishead. Andy had known Geoff Barrow from his days DJ’ing at Youth Clubs in Portishead itself and their passion for alternative sounds and pushing the boundaries clearly aligned. This kindred spirit saw Portishead turn to Andy to supply them with sample material for their first two astronomically successful albums. Their working relationship blossomed from there and as Portishead went out on tour to promote the first album, they didn’t have far to look when it came to selecting the perfect warm-up DJ and the only person they’d ask to be the Portishead Official Club DJ.

Andy’s skill of knitting together this globally renowned patchwork of musical brilliance is what has seen him named in the Top 20 Greatest DJs of All Time by Future Music Magazine and Music Radar. It’s also what lead to the seminal album ‘The Document’ which became the natural progression after Coldcut began releasing ‘Journeys by DJ’ which saw DJs such as Billy Nasty, Judge Jules and Paul Oakenfold shine a light on their individual genres. 

‘The Document’, released in 1998 on the US label FFRR/Polygram, was crafted expertly from a variety of genres, in a time when people were craving to explore a whole plethora of sounds - this album finally gave them what they’d been searching for. It went on to sell over 100,000 copies and continues to be a notably popular album to this day. Andy followed this with the second and third editions, that were equally critically acclaimed with all three vinyl releases becoming collectors’ items. 

Andy can turn his hand to pretty much any genre and has an unrivalled ability to stitch together a story that can ‘document’ a moment in time perfectly. So, after the huge success of the simply named ‘Document’ albums it was a natural progression that this format developed and branched out when the call came. World famous Trojan Records, a heavyweight within the Dub, Ska and Rocksteady scenes, came to Andy to produce an incredibly well received compilation album. Next on the list was Greensleeves Records, an adventure through Early Dancehall delivered in Andy’s unmistakeable style and not forgetting Andy Smith’s Northern Soul and Jam Up Twist for BGP Records and then hitting the Disco vibes for the Reach Up series out on BBE. The list goes on and on and on! 

Rave reviews of his albums have come from every corner of the globe. Adored in the UK, given the accolade of ‘Album of the Week’ on Australian FM radio stations to gracing the list of a very elite few with a BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix for Portishead. 

Alongside his next level talent in the studio, Andy has jetted all over the globe to wow crowds with his unique and mesmerising sets. Playing almost exclusively from 7” vinyl, but of course just as talented in the digital realms, Andy is of a breed of DJ that transcends the ordinary and goes way into the extraordinary – a DJ that you absolutely want to have strutted your stuff to, live, in the flesh and without inhibitions before you even contemplate hanging up your dancing shoes!

With this kind of history behind him, you’d forgive Andy for wanting to take it easy and just soak in his astounding achievements – but there’s no chance of that. As busy as he’s ever been and with the passion and drive that’s always pushed him forwards still burning bright, you can bet you’ll continue seeing his name at the top of the bill for a very long time yet!

DJ Andy Smith: Text
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