What I love about Clean Bandit is that despite the many many different artists, vocals, and different cultural blends you manage to infuse into your music, it still sounds like a Clean Bandit record. Why do you think that is, and how do you manage to do it?
Well I think there are a lot of sounds we like using – the synth sounds you hear during the main melody in ‘Rather Be’. It’s the same sound and feeling as ‘Rockabye’. Obviously we always use acoustic cellos and violins, so that sound kind of creates a similar texture in all of the songs. We always try to have an element of fun and humour in the music even when it’s kind of sad, like ‘Symphony’.
Let’s talk about your relationship with Jess Glynne. Both of your careers skyrocketed with ‘Rather Be’. Did you envision that happening when you first started recording with Jess?
The extend to which ‘Rather Be’ went all over the world was a surprise, definitely. We finished this song and performed it live for about a year with our own singers. When we decided to release it – because the way the audience was reacting to the song was quite different to the other songs. They were just kind of singing along when the chorus came, even though they hadn’t heard it before. So we decided to release it as a single while looking for the right voice. Jess’s voice worked really well. And then we went on to ‘Real Love’ with her and worked on some of her music as well – ‘Hold My Hand’.
Can we expect a third collab with Jess anytime soon?
Oh! Hopefully… [laughs]
Is that a hint towards your new album set to come out this year – maybe?
Well, no. We haven’t made anything yet. But hopefully.
Speaking of collabs, I think the fans have been hounding you for at least two years now for Disconnect, which you performed with Marina and the Diamonds at Coachella 2015 [Grace laughs] Any updates on that?
We’ve been so obsessed with making ‘Symphony’ and ‘Rockabye’ that it’s taken so much of our time. It took many months to make both those songs, and we made the videos ourselves so we stopped working on ‘Disconnect’ about a year ago…
…but we will now that the singles are out. We now have more time to address the other songs. We and Marina are keen to finish it soon!
So it’s a maybe, hopefully, sometime soon.
Yeah it will be soon but I can’t say exactly when. It always takes longer than expected, and we’ve got a million different versions of ‘Disconnect’, but we’ll probably end up going with the original version anyway [laughs]
You guys produce, direct, and sometimes even edit your own music videos. Where do the ideas come from? There’s one where you’re playing a piano on fire, smashing violins with amazing visuals in the studio, one of you guys riding on a sledge in the alps, and they are all beautifully made.
Sometimes we think about the visual ideas while we’re making the music. That can dictate how we make the music. There’s one call ‘UK Shanty’ (it was never a single or anything) but we wanted to make it a video in the sea in England with boats and underwater with mermaids. We wrote this melody – which we will be playing tonight right at the beginning of the concert that’s a sea shanty folk song, so we can make this film in the water.
The idea of ‘Rockabye’ came from the lyrics. [Grace recites the first line of ‘Rockabye’] So she’s a sex worker. I met the pole dancer who’s in the music video. When I was living in Italy – she’s Italian – she runs a pole dancing academy and she’s winning all these competitions all over the world – she’s like a champion acrobat. The idea came from her because she has a son, and she’s very driven, talented, and she does everything she can to give herself and her son a good life. I really wanted her to be in the video and she agreed. But she’d never acted before, and she didn’t speak any English, so I had to direct her in Italian which was difficult.
How many languages do you speak?
Three. Russian, Italian, and English, but my Italian isn’t very good.
You take dance classes as well. Can we expect you to do a full dance sequence in a Clean Bandit music video?
Oh hopefully! But I don’t really take any classes often enough to get good at it. But yeah, that is a goal, one day.
What are you currently listening to?
I listen to a lot of Jamaican music – Vybz Kartel, and I love Katy Perry’s new music as well.
Clean Bandit performs at Urbanscapes 2017 tonight.
For more info, visit http://cleanbandit.co.uk/