About Clean Bandit
“So you think electronic music is boring? You think it’s stupid? You think it’s repetitive? Well it is repetitive.” The opening words to Mozart’s House, Clean Bandits’ entrance into the world of dance music, were very different from your standard dancefloor anthem. But then so was their path – and so is their approach to music.
The quartet, formed of three interlocking pairs – two brothers, two childhood friends and a couple – have kept control over every aspect of their music, including their videos, during a story that spans over 4 years and 2,000 miles. And with the release of debut album, New Eyes, on hand, it’s all coming to beautiful fruition.
Despite the delirious rush of joy that is Rather Be, their first number one and the fastest-selling January single in almost 20 years, the foursome came together in the studious air of Cambridge University and classical music. Here Grace Chatto and Neil Amin-Smith, who performed together from the age of five in North London, were one half of a string quartet. Grace’s boyfriend Jack Patterson began “writing beats and basslines to little snippets of recordings of our concerts to create something different for the people who were coming”, explains Grace.
It’s not just dance music – and it’s not just music. Clean Bandit’s selfwritten, self-directed videos have become a fixture of every release. Jack is the key figure here, having become, in his own words, “quite good with computer graphics” when working in an architectural visualisation studio. “We see the music video as the product as opposed to the song or the video alone,” he says. Until the unavoidable demands of a release schedule took the inevitable toll on Clean Bandit’s working time, they’d refuse to start recording a new song until the video for the old one was complete.
Despite Jack’s skills with graphics, they’re committed to live action video, too. “Jack is very keen on making everything real, says Grace. “As you can tell from the fear on our faces,” adds Neil. So far their videos have seen them battered and blown on a cold January day off the Cornish coast with Lily Cole, dancing on ice (falling through the cracks in Grace’s case), strapped to the roof of a moving car with just a belt as harness and driving a giant motorised snake up one of London’s tallest buildings (OK, that one was CGI).
When Grace, Neil, Jack and Luke first resolved to introduce classical music to some new and interesting ideas, this wasn’t quite what the audience had in mind. Contrary to some reports though, they retain strong links with that world, citing invites to play the Lewes Chamber Music
Festival and the “super-cool” Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, as well as a recent show at Tate Britain, where they started with a 10-minute acoustic movement from Mozart before Jack and Luke joined in for a regular Clean Bandit set. “We were kind of just hiding, waiting for our turn to play” recalls Jack. “We need to figure this out, a box to jump out of or something, like Spinal Tap.”
Now who says electronic music is boring?
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