Music lovers are celebrating this week after ‘local lad’ Charlie Andrew became the UK’s top record producer after scooping not one, but two prestigious awards.
Charlie, 35, beat off competition from famed producer Mark Ronson to be named British Producer of the Year in the BRIT Awards, which airs live tonight [Wednesday] on ITV at 8pm.
He was awarded the trophy automatically earlier this month, following his triumph in the highly respected Music Producers Guild (MPG) Awards in London.
The MPG gave Charlie their top honour of UK Record Producer of the Year for his work on albums by Indie band Alt-J, and singers Sivu and Marika Hackman in 2015, and the BRIT Award named him British Producer of the Year.
“To win these is unbelievable,” said Charlie. “The MPG Award stands for a lot, from people I admire, and it is lovely to have a BRIT as well. It’s very exciting and it’s a bit surreal.”
Charlie grew up near Hawkhurst and still has a home in Benenden with wife Kirsty and three-month old daughter. His brother Ross is Deputy Head of St Ronan’s School.
Charlie learned to play piano, saxophone and drums at Bethany School in Goudhurst, and was soon ‘sitting in the shed making tunes’ with his future Laurel Collective bandmate Bob Tollast. The highlight of the band’s career was playing Glastonbury one year.
“Bob went to Cranbrook School but lived down the road, so we could walk to each other’s houses. I was brought up in the middle of fields so I could make as much noise as I liked,” explained Charlie, who went on to play with the Kent County Youth Orchestra.
“I went to a lot of gigs at The Forum as a teenager,” he said. “I remember seeing guitarist Gem Archer there, who went on to play with Oasis, and I went there a few months ago to see a band called Lectures, who we are working on at the moment.”
But his love of the drums came from watching Phil Collins: “When I was 10 my uncle took me to a Genesis concert at Earls Court, and I saw these enormous drum kits – the size of a house. When Phil Collins and Chester Thompson did a drum duet that went on for about 20 minutes that gripped me and stoked the fire.
“But it dawned on me that I was not going to be a professional performer, so I decided to be creative on the other side of the glass – that really fascinated me. And Bethany invested in a studio, which encouraged me.”
Mr Francie Healy, headteacher of Bethany School, has arranged for Charlie to come back to the school in the spring to celebrate his rise to the top.
“I’m so proud that Charlie has won the BRIT award,” said Mr Healy. “He arrived as a shy young boy and left as a confident young man ready to follow his dream of a career in music. Charlie’s success is truly inspirational, and we are excited to be welcoming him back to Bethany in April to pass on his wisdom and continue to encourage our pupils to strive for their very best.”
The ticketed event, An Audience with Charlie Andrew, will be held on April 21.