INTERVIEW: With Clean Bandit’s supersonic front woman Grace Chatto

Clean Bandit

Four-time Brit Award nominees and renowned global hit producers – like seriously, ‘Rockabye’ and ‘Symphony’ from 2017 alone – are preparing to embark on another nationwide UK tour in the wake of their – currently incomplete – brand new album. 

The tour kicks off in Glasgow, 29 October, and in our totally humble, non-biased* opinion we know that opening to a Scottish crowd was a great decision to make. Someone pass us our dancing shoes. The trio’s tour news follows a monumental stretch for Clean Bandit. The release of their UK #1 single ‘Rockabye’ at the beginning of the year, made in collaboration with Zara Larsson, achieved historic success having spent nine weeks at the top of the charts – officially, the longest-running UK #1 in 22 years.

TSA’s Rhiannon chats to supersonic front woman Grace Chatto about goldfish, hide and seek, and preparing to storm the world with album number two.

 


 

The first night of your UK shows is in Glasgow, what are you looking forward to about playing here?

Glasgow is always one of the best shows of our UK tour because people are so ready to party. Because of the music we play often in other places, in England, people take a bit more warming up and it’s not as fun because its kind of dance music. It’s so great that in Glasgow people are just ready for it. King Tuts was our first show in Glasgow and it was just such an amazing atmosphere – and such a historic place as well. The people for some reason just made it different to down south in England.

 

Where did you get the idea from to take your goldfish, Dolce & Gabbana, to the Brit Awards? I have goldfish myself but it has never crossed my mind to take them out the house.

Well I saw it in the designer’s cat walk show! She had all the bags rucksacks and handbags like my one, with fish in them. They are literally fish bowls with handles so it was perfectly safe for the fish, they don’t really know where they are anyway.

 

 

It is quite different for band members to make and edit their own music videos. Why did you decide to do this. Do you face any problems taking this approach?

We started doing it because we didn’t have any other option. We didn’t have any money. We could hardly afford to pay our rent. We lived in one room together and there was no way we could get someone else to make a music video. We had always been interested in film. I have studied film theory as part of my university course, Jack had done a lot of visual stuff and photography in his life. He studied in Moscow to be a camera operator, so, when we were in Moscow, we just kind of borrowed a friend’s camera and went around. 

We thought of this technique – this was for our first music video, ‘Mozart’s House’ — where you filmed everything slowly so the singer is mouthing everything five times as slowly as it – actually ever filmed and then sped it up so it looked like everything was moving fast around us. That video made us realise the power of having a visual side to our project. Before that, we had music online that no one was listening to on Myspace for years, and we put that video up on YouTube and it kind of went viral. That’s how we managed to get our music on the radio. Radio 1 started playing it so we just carried on making more and more music videos. We have always just done it ourselves. Now we kind of see ourselves as music video producers, so we produce music and video and they can’t really be separated.

 

 

 

Some of your music videos reference pieces of culture. ‘Dust Clears’ and the ice-skating minister. How do you decide what to feature?

That came about quite randomly. The whole idea for that video was the guy who played the ice skating minister was our friend’s dad. We just found out that he used to figure skate when he was younger and so the whole idea came from that. We though up this world where he was working in a factory where he was really bored and hated it but then in the chorus break out into this fantasy dream world, ice skating on a vast lake. When we met to look at his ice skating to see if it was right for the film, he brought a print of that picture (Reverend Robert Walker (1755 – 1808) Skating on Duddingston Loch, by Sir Henry Raeburn) and said, ‘I think I should dress like this,” so it kind of came from him. A lot of our videos are very organic like that: it depends who we meet and little chats. For ‘Rather Be’ we went over to Tokyo to film it but we didn’t know that much about what we were going to do and we didn’t have any permission. It was kind of like who we met on the street and that turned into who was in the video and how it developed. It is very dependent on the location and that determines how things develop.

 

Where do you feel you get the best response: at your own concerts, where you are the headline act, or at a festival where you share the bill with other bands?

It totally depends really. I guess probably at our own concerts especially when we play really far away like South Korea or Japan because people are so happy that we have come so far. Whereas over here we play quite a lot. We did a load of festivals this year. It depends on what time of day you’re playing the festival because if its early on and people have just got out of bed they are not as responsive as if its 9pm in Glastonbury on the John Peel stage. That was really an amazing reaction, being inside the tent at night is more of a party atmosphere.

 

What is your favourite song to play live and why?

Probably ‘Rockabye’ or ‘Dust Clears’ but we never play that much anymore. ‘Rockabye’ is so uplifting and I love the beat.

 

Who has been your favourite artist to work with and why?

Maybe Sean Paul because he is just such a legend. He is so funny and charming; his voice brings back so many memories from my teenage years. Also, he came up with the rap about single mothers struggling. It was just such an amazing feeling. We don’t usually make political music but there was suddenly a deeper meaning and at the moment in the political climate it felt really special and to be doing that with him as well.

 

Are there any other artists you want to work with, who would be your dream collaboration?

Lana Del Rey or Bruno Mars.

 

With the release of new material – where are you at now and what is coming up for you musically?

We are just about to release a new single, very soon, so we are making a music video for that at the moment. I am really excited for everyone to hear that, its quite different. I guess all of our singles are quite different to each other but this one is different. I don’t want to say too much about it, I just want everyone to hear it. We are slowly finishing our second album as well, we thought we had finished it but we keep making new songs and it’s just deciding which ones are going to go on the album. Eventually we are just going to have to stop. I’m so excited for our new single. We will be performing that for the first time in Glasgow.

 

How do you find being the only girl in group?

I don’t see it as an issue. We have a lot of girls in the band anyway because we tend to feature female artist on the vocals. When we go around touring we have two female singers, Yasmin Green and Kirsten Joy, who are amazing. We have female violinist Stephanie Benedetti. So, it is actually quite girl heavy.

 

Do you do anything to prepare yourself on tour?

Before gigs I tend to just get dressed really quickly and then we chant some Craig David lyrics before we go on. Sometimes we do the insanity workout but I don’t think we will be doing that this time.

 

What is your funniest moment on your tour so far?

There have been a lot of funny moments. We have been playing a lot of games over the summer like hide and seek but where you have to get back to a base without being caught. When you get back you have to drink a shot from a roulette and we have the crystal maze theme tune playing which is actually really scary. We have had some really funny moments from that.

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