Photographer Joshua Shultz www.joshuashultz.com
Location Sunset Marquis Hotel
Bellus Magazine (BM): How was Clean Bandit formed?
Clean Bandit (CB): Neil and I grew up in the same area in London and have played classical music together since we were children, in orchestras etc. When we found ourselves at university together, we started a string quartet and put on lots of concerts. Jack was a close friend and we wanted to collaborate with him. At the time he was playing in a funk band, but was beginning to experiment with writing electronic music. He took recordings of the quartet that he’d made in our concerts (of Mozart, Shostakovich, Janacek, Dvorak, Beethoven) and added electronic beats and bass lines. We all found it exciting and put on a club night to perform this stuff. It was a great night and things went from there!
BM: Tell us about your new debut album “New Eyes”
NB: We put together our first album 6 years after we first started playing together. Some of the songs from those early days are on the record (Mozart’s House), but most are new and were made over the last two years. We never recorded the majority of the older stuff using classical music so only the people who came to our club nights have heard it: maybe one day we will try to record that stuff. We began writing our own string parts in various styles and Jack developed his production skills. He recorded nearly everything himself, mostly in South Kilburn Studios, where he built a little recording studio with Luke and our friend Josh. Some of the strings he recorded in a church (eg, the songs A&E and Nightingale).
The music has organically come out as a kind of celebration of juxtaposition: a mix of various styles of music that on paper, should not work well together. For example classical and house, reggae and folk, UK garage. But this was never a plan, it’s just what came out of Jack’s head! The album features 12 different vocalists and they all bring their own styles and personalities to the music.
BM: What inspired the song “Rather Be” ?
NB: We were listening to a lot of old school stuff like Closer than Close by Rosie Gains, and started out wanting to make something in a similar style. Jack wrote the string line first, when on a train. Then the beat and the piano parts. The vocals he wrote last, with Jimmy Napes, a lyricist with whom we’ve collaborated on several songs. We then met Jess Glynne several months later and she performed the vocal line.
BM: “Rather Be” was #1 on UK Singles Chart for 4 weeks! How did that make you feel?
NB: Amazing! We are so happy that people like the song.
BM: What is next for Clean Bandit?
NB: We are performing at many festivals in England and Europe over the summer. We are coming back to America for our first headline tour in September!
BM: What advice would you give to other aspiring artist out there?
NB: To always believe in yourself and don’t get knocked back by small failures along the way.
BM: Where is the best place for your fans to get up to date information on Clean Bandit?
NB: The best thing is to sign up to our mailing list on our website: CleanBandit.co.uk
BUY NEW ALBUM ‘NEW EYES’ (out now on Big Beat/Atlantic Records): http://smarturl.it/neweyes.dlx