Rudimental: Kickin’ It Old School

source: Danny North

Exploding onto the world stage from London’s thriving underground scene with infectious grooves, genre busting productions and an incredible live show to boot, Rudimental has set the global arena on fire. As showcased in their debut album Home, which garnered rave reviews from critics worldwide, Piers Agget, Kesi Dryden, Amir Amor and Leon Rolle have perfected the art of marrying analogue instrumentation with electronic production not just in the studio, but on stage as well with a melting pot of talent around them plucked from relative obscurity. All while maintaining their ethos of spreading positivity and love wherever they travel through their music. With a list of chart-topping singles and three nominations from  BRIT Awards (with one win for Best British Single) under their belts, things are looking up for the four-piece collective of producers from Hackney. Performing at Future Music Festival Asia 2014 next month in March, JUICE chats with Piers about their upcoming sophomore album, crazy live sets, and what the future holds for them.

It’s been nearly a year since Home was released, and lately you’ve been working on your sophomore album. How have the recordings been going so far, and any idea when we can expect it to be released?
It’s been great to get back in the studio. We’re always writing music and it’s something we love to do, so it’s been fun to get back in here and work on the new album this year. Well, you know, I guess the classic answer would be “when it’s ready,” but it ought to be released either at the end of the year and if not that, the beginning of next year. But yeah, we’ll work our arses off to try and get it out.

Are we going to see any exploration, stylistically from your next record? What can we anticipate from this album?
Definitely.  For the last record, it felt like we were just scratching the surface of Rudimental as a team. We feel a lot tighter, and we’re a lot more in tune with each other now I guess. We’ve been around the world touring, playing live together. So, coming back into the studio, it definitely feels like we’ve progressed as a band. We’re going to keep it classic Rudimental, and we’ll never start making music that sounds completely like something else. I guess it will have a new vibe, with some new artists on it such as Ed Sheeran, Ellie Goulding and the Game, as well as some from the old one.

How was it like working with an artiste like Ed Sheeran in the studio?
Ed Sheeran’s great, man. He’s a lovely guy, and we’re very like-minded musically. We tracked probably four or five songs, and there was a wicked vibe. He’s a really talented musician and a songwriter, and I’ve heard a few snippets from the album and it sounds great.

How is the writing process and creative workflow of the band when it comes to producing new music?
Well, the basis is the instruments. We get in and write the songs with the instruments, kinda old school. Either with a vocalist, or on our own.   Normally, Amir will be on the guitar, I’ll be on the keys, Kesi will be on the keys and the percussion, and we’ll start vibing an idea. All the electronic sounds you hear in production are normally added after that. We get the song structures down first , whether it’s a crazy one, or a normal one.  We make sure that the core is tight, then we throw in the additional parts.

With your meteoric rise to the international stage happening so quickly, where do you guys see Rudimental in five years?
Wow. Well, I see Rudimental, on maybe our fourth or fifth album. Touring the world, spreading love, and you know, having an even better live show that we can take around the world, especially even to Malaysia, as we haven’t been to that part of the world yet.

As a collective that blends electronic music with analogue instruments, what was the reasoning behind performing with a full band live, instead of just the four of you behind the decks, as is the norm in your genre? Does the live factor add more spice to your sets?
Yes, there’s nine of us on stage, and we’re really inspired by bands like Funkadelic, Sly and the Family Stone, those great funk era bands where there were loads of musicians on stage. You know, we grew up listening to them and soul music is a big influence. We make our music with live instruments and so we wanted to make our live shows representative of that. So you know, our drummer plays electronic drums and acoustic drums, and it’s a real important part of what we do. I’d say it’s one of the reasons why we did so well in Australia and the UK, especially in the UK, because we had a great live show. I guess when you come to see us you’ll understand it a bit more because Rudimental is four producers, and not necessarily the vocalists. When you see us you’ll see us rotating several singers, and different people onstage at different times. So I guess when you come to see us live, you’ll understand who’s making the music and what makes it such a great live show.

If you could have your pick of any artist or producer to collaborate with, dead or alive, who would it be?
Well, I guess I’m going to go with Charlie Wilson. We recently met him and he was amazing. Probably Lauryn Hill too. We’ve been big fans of her since we were young and it would be great to work with her.

Several of your music videos and lyrics showcase depth and a social message that a lot of artistes nowadays don’t delve into. Could you tell us about the inspiration behind your creations?
I guess with the creation, we want to it to bring emotion to music. We’re not necessarily the singers, and we didn’t want to be in the video, and be in a club popping champagnes and that’s not really what we’re about. We’re about positivity and breaking through barriers, cause we’re all from different walks of life with different struggles and we wanted to showcase that. In ‘Feel the Love’, it’s all real people where none of the people were actors and we wanted to paint a picture, really. And I guess music has kind of gotten lost in recent years about videos and albums where the message has gotten lost in a whirlwind of money and partying. We wanted to stand out and be a little different from the rest.

What can Malaysian fans expect to see from your upcoming live performance at FMFA2014?
Well, you can expect a big party on stage. Lots of people onstage, and positive vibes that will just make you want to dance. You might even see us partying next to you throughout the festival!

Before we end, are there any bands or artistes that our readers ought to look out for in the year to come?
One of our favourite artistes over here is James Blake. You guys might even have heard of him, but he’s not exploded like we thought he would. Definitely check him out.

Rudimental will be down in KL on the final day of Future Music Festival Asia 2014 on Saturday 15 March 2014 at Bukit Jalil National Stadium.