Andre “Shy FX” Williams has quietly been one of the most influential British producers of the last 25 years. From his groundbreaking jungle anthem Original Nuttah (a tune that has as much impact now as it did when it first smashed into the charts in the early 90s), to his timely switch into dubstep, house and roots reggae in the 00s, to his behind-the-scenes production work for multi-million selling pop RnB acts, Shy’s ability to fuse soundsystem culture with electronic futurism and classic songwriting has defined the music of successive generations. Now he’s prepared to drop a new album that deftly steps between tempo and styles, encompassing lyrical hip hop, sweet soul, and bass heavy breakbeat, drawing together the many influences that have kept him at the forefront of dance music for over quarter of a century.
Born into a musical family, Shy spent his formative years immersed in the bass heavy reggae played by his Grandfather, legendary soundsystem owner Ephraim Barrett, aka Count Shelly. When he wasn’t conquering rival sounds, Shelly ran the Tottenham based record shop and label Third World, one of the cornerstones of the British reggae scene, and the first shop to wholesale import Jamaican vinyl to the country. As a result, Shy received a musical education that was so constant it was as natural as eating or sleeping.
“I don’t have a first memory of music,” he muses “I was either in the record shop or round blues parties. I’d be sleeping and there’d be a shebeen downstairs. You’d just hear the bassline from the other room, nothing else would make it through, so that’s what I’d fall asleep to, and that’s what I fell in love with; the basslines.”
Aged just 14, Shy joined a dancehall soundsystem in Tottenham as the DJ. Desperate to make his own tracks to play, he begged his mum for his first computer. She scraped together the cash to get him a BBC Micro, and he recorded his first tunes; minimal percussive dancehall bombs, where the beats were stripped to raw drums and bass. Then, everything changed. A whole new sound swept through London.