Clean Bandit crosses musical boundaries
British electronic/classical-crossover trio Clean Bandit continues to amaze. Formed at the prestigious University of Cambridge, the classically trained musicians were preparing for careers ranging from architecture to linguistics when the band first got its footing.
Grace Chatto, Jack Patterson, Luke Patterson, and Neil Amin-Smith finally broke through in 2014 with their debut album, “New Eyes.” The single “Rather Be” featuring singer Jess Glynne hit the top spot on the UK charts, as well as breaking the top ten on Billboard’s Hot 100. And in 2015, the song won the Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording.
Amin-Smith retired from the band and Clean Bandit followed the success of “Rather Be” with the Anne-Marie and Sean Paul-assisted 2016 single “Rockabye.” It hit No. 1 in 30-plus countries across the globe and broke the top 10 in plenty of others.
The band has steadily worked on a full-length follow-up to “New Eyes” and plans to release it sometime in 2017. But for now, they’re hitting the road.
PACIFIC recently spoke with Grace Chatto from her London home about it all.
PACIFIC: It’s North American tour time. Plenty of rehearsing/preparing going on?
GRACE CHATTO: We’re workaholics. We really work on it quite a lot. We focus on production, the visuals, and the music itself. And even though we do play the old songs, each time we go out, we change them up. We keep it fresh, as well as bringing in some new songs.
With a catalog that features so many different vocalists, how do you handle that in the live environment?
We don’t play recorded pieces. We have two singers who sing everything on the albums, pretty much. Jack and I sing a couple of the songs. And we will have Zara Larsson there to sing our new song, “Symphony.” She’s supporting us and will play her own set, and then will jump on stage during ours.
What was the catalyst that made you decide to merge the classical and electronic worlds?
I’ve always been a pop and dance music girl, since I was very young. But I grew up with a lot of classical in my house. My dad plays cello and makes cellos. So I started learning it from a very young age. Schubert was the first kind of music I fell in love with, but Ace of Base was the first album I ever bought. And I’ve always been into the electronic and dance side of pop music. When I was at University in Cambridge, Jack recorded a bunch of songs we did in a string quartet. We decided that we wanted to do something together and thought it would be fun to put on a club night and play some dance music. And he came up with the idea to create some new songs by speeding up a few of our recorded snippets. So we put on this club night, and invited all of our friends, and that’s kind of how it started.
You’re in a band with your dad as well?
Yes. It’s called the Massive Violins (laughs). Which is seven cellos and we all sing. And we do funny covers. We actually don’t do any Ace of Base, but we do everything from covers of Queen to the Eurythmics - loads of funny stuff. It’s kind of a comedy band. It’s quite fun.
Clean Bandit w/ Zara Larsson & Starley
When: 8 p.m. Apr. 7
Where: The Observatory North Park, 2891 University Ave., North Park
You seemed destined, or at least had viable options, to some kind of career in music. Was that the same for everyone in the band?
We all studied music from a very young age. Jack and Luke’s mom played the French horn in the Australian Conservatoire in Sydney. They’ve always had music around them. Jack also studied jazz, so he’s pretty amazing at improvising. And both of them played in rock bands when they were teenagers. But when we were at Cambridge, none of us were studying music. I was studying literature and linguistics, Russian and Italian. (Former member) Neil (Amin-Smith) was studying history and Jack architecture. Luke was in high school at that time.
“New Eyes” is almost three years old. You’ve since released singles and remixes. Are there any plans to return to the album format?
Yes. I think we will release an album sometime later this year. Well, that has been the plan. But at the same time, we’re kind of sick on working on one song at a time and then bringing them all together. We’ve always worked like that. We started the band 10 years ago and make our own videos. In the beginning, we didn’t have any money, so we did every element of it ourselves. And that meant it would take three or four months to make one video. The music scene would be in a different place by the time we started working on the next song.
But now you have your own production company in Cleanfilm, so you can pay people to take care some of those things for you.
It’s definitely amazing having more people involved. It really helps.
Will you be playing any of the new songs from the upcoming album on this tour?
We will experiment with some of them. I’d like to experiment with more. But we haven’t really had enough time to prepare a lot of the new stuff for the live setting. But we will try out a few. And that’s really exciting.
Do you help to calm the storms between the Patterson brothers?
They really don’t have storms, those two. They’re amazing. I think Jack has always loved Luke very much since he was a tiny baby. They’re really close and have a deep, mutual respect for one another. There are more storms between Jack and I, really, since we were a couple. It was much more rocky for those 10 years. Now it’s good.
I guess I should ask Luke that question.
Yeah! Definitely. (laughs)
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