From London to our tropical shores, Clean Bandit’s debut concert in our city was the perfect inclusion to this year’s Urbanscapes lineup. It’s only right that before their big night, JUICE met up with brothers Jack and Luke (sans Grace) to talk about upcoming projects and so-called music experts who have a lot to say about their classical crossover style.
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You guys were obsessed with making music videos at one point, from really quirky and somewhat weird creative video like ‘Mozart’s House’ and ‘Dust Clears’ to your recent video for ‘Symphony’, do you still apply a lot of original ideas into your videos like before?
Jack Yeah, the last video we made was for our song ‘Symphony’, and we’re very proud of that one because we kinda took it to a whole new level of production. It was kind of, I don’t know, it was the first time we’ve worked with professional actors in a video and it’s the first time we’ve tried drone piloting in the video and it was probably the most people we’ve ever worked with on set, so lots of new challenges for that. We’re really pleased with how it came out so yeah, and Zara Larsson is fantastic.
“If you ever see an instrument that’s being broken, it’s one that’s broken already.”
I also heard that there were many near death experiences while filming. But I’m more concerned about the instruments that were used. How many instruments were actually harmed in the making?
J If you ever see an instrument that’s being broken, it’s one that’s broken already. It’s like recycling it (laughs). It will be an instrument that was already on repair, you see what I mean? It looks like it’s tidied up just for the shot but it was already broken.
Each of you seemed to have a lot going on before Clean Bandit blew up and won a Grammy. Have you ever wondered what would’ve been if you carried on with your architecture degree and film school?
Luke I haven’t thought about it too much. I don’t know, I’ve always felt like I’ve always wanted to do music. So I think I would’ve done it in some shape or form.
J I think I’ve always kinda gravitated towards music. I think we’ve all tried doing things in the real world briefly but all of us end up wanting to make music.
Many of you said that you still haven’t figured out what was the winning recipe for your hit ‘Rather Be’, and I think a lot of us can agree that the song’s opening tune is the most memorable and recognisable. How did that specific tune come about?
L We had an inkling that it was gonna connect with people and just because when we play it in festivals people were already singing the words even though they’ve never heard it [before], but in terms of production, we never knew it was gonna be massive when we actually brought it out. We still just thought it was just a nice song, not like a smash hit or anything, it’s just…
You enjoyed it?
L It’s a decent tune.
It’s been awhile since your last album and we’ve been getting hit after hit from you guys. Should we look forward to something more concrete from you guys any time soon?
J Yes, this year.
“It’s a difficult climate now in the music industry, there’s so much focus on individual songs.”
Maybe the end of the year?
L We haven’t got like a date…
J But there’s definitely an album in the line, if not two.
L We’ve got lots of songs.
J When did we finish New Eyes?
L Like 2015?
J Yeah, 2015, and we’ve been writing kind of solidly since that. We toured that album for almost two years, so yeah, I filled like two laptops since, we’ve got a lot of music. It’s a difficult climate now in the music industry, there’s so much focus on individual songs, and one song is so important for, y’know, for the label and stuff like that, and who we work with.
L And it takes so long for that one track to get any kind of traction, cause it’s all on streams now so it just takes a lot longer.
J So there’s a big emphasis on that and because of the way we used to work. Essentially, when we started out just making song by song, we make music videos and then another music video. We would originally kind of see them as probably a single project, but now we’re trying to get this album together. It’s difficult, there are some things to negotiate, but it’s definitely there and I think it’s gonna be a much more coherent album than the first. It might be in two parts, like A and a B. It’s gonna be like quite a poppy album. One half is gonna be like in the same vein as what you’re hearing now and then there’s gonna be like a part B, which is a bit darker and a bit more esoteric and bit kind of weirder.
Most of your hottest singles are led by distinct female vocals. Is there a pattern when it comes to choosing ‘the voice’ of a song?
J Yeah, it’s really difficult. Every song we do is different, depends who we’re working with. A lot of times in the first album we’d be writing with singers who would potentially just stay with the song, so it was quite a simple process in the beginning, but now there’s a lot more of…
L … more writers involved.
J Yeah, we’re writing with people. We’re in the world now where we’re kinda writing with songwriters as well. We’ve got so many, kind of writing relationships with people who don’t necessarily wanna sing and stay on the song so it becomes complicated in that way because you got these demos and then you try to find the right voice. So, there’s a lot more pressure now as well. We’ve had some success and y’know, there’s more riding on it I guess. At the same time, because we’ve got a bigger profile now, we have access to amazing talent who we’ve never thought of working with like Sean Paul.
Dance music is fun and is universally appreciated. Classical music however – let’s just say there’s a niche market and it is an acquired taste. How do you deal with negative comments from cocky “music experts” about your group’s attempt to mash two genres together?
L Well, yeah, we’ve received some negative comments in the past.
L But I don’t think we really listen to it that much; everyone’s got their own acquired taste, it’s just what you like and don’t like. I don’t think we pay too much attention on it otherwise.
J Yeah, you shouldn’t. You get so many comments on so many levels, you just gotta keep going and just keep doing what you do.
L As long as you’re happy with how it sounds, then it’s fine. Just keep doing what you do.
Rock shows expect a mosh pit, pop shows see a lot of sing-alongs, with EDM you see a bunch of sweaty people dancing their asses off. What can we expect during a Clean Bandit show?
J I think we had a mosh pit once.
L Where was this?
J I think it was Leeds, a festival. But I think with the crowd there it could’ve been any music and there would’ve been a mosh pit.
It’s the people!
Both Yeah, it’s the people!
J But yeah, lots of um…
L … I think it’s combination of all of those things. Sweaty [people], mosh pit, lots of sing-along.
J We try to put on a show that’s quite… I don’t know, we have lots of musical instruments on the stage like saxophone, cello, violin. Lots of drums…
L Live instrumentation all over the place.
J Yeah, so hopefully there’s stuff to look at and try to figure out what is it that’s making that noise but also you can…
L … get lost in it.
J And sing along and sweat as well, and mosh.
Clean Bandit performed at KL Live as part of this year’s Urbanscapes – an annually held creative arts festival.
Follow the band here for more news and music releases.