Need to Know: Clean Bandit

7.9.2014

By Alex Panisch

Meshing together strings and synths, the “Rather Be” quartet has changed dance music for good.

The first minute of “Rather Be” is a slow build. The track opens with souring strings and then shifts into bouncing synths, a driving, pounding beat, and airy vocals. All this culminates in the chorus, in which all of these parts come together to create one of the most infectious hooks in recent memory. 

“[Jack] wrote the main synth hook on his laptop while we were on a train in rush hour,” explains Grace Chatto, the foursome’s cellist. Jack is Jack Patterson, Chatto’s boyfriend and the group’s bassist/keyboardist/producer; he’s the guy who crafts the electronic beats and flourishes for the band. 

The group formed in 2008. Chatto and the band’s violinist, Neil Amin-Smith, were playing in a classical string quartet at Cambridge University. Patterson began adding synths and beats to recordings of their performances. When the trio’s new material garnered a very positive reception at a local club, they knew they were onto something. Patterson recruited his younger brother Luke to be band’s drummer and the rest is history; the band began releasing singles and EPs and got their big brake when “Rather Be” topped the Singles Chart in their native England. “It was on BBC Radio 1 and it was so exciting to hear it,” says Chatto about the first time she heard “Rather Be” on the radio. “I was in a taxi and told the driver it was my song but he didn't seem to believe me!” Last month their first-ever LP, New Eyes, dropped stateside. 

With audiences filling stadiums to see acts like Avicii and Tiësto and “EDM” on top-40 radio, electronic music is having a renaissance not only in the U.S., but worldwide. The genre is branching out from convention and embracing new influences and sounds. One only needs to hear Avicii’s country/bluegrass laden True or Klingande’s jazzy “Jubel” to see that future is of dance will be less about the wubs and drops and more about experimentation and eclectic sounds.

Having just wrapped up a world tour—“It was so surprising and wonderful to meet big crowds there singing our songs back to us,” exclaims Grace—the band is in the midst of festival season and is already gearing up for another, which kicks off stateside with an 11-city engagement. Then it’s off to the UK in October and Europe in November. “Bring on the party,” exclaims Chatto gleefully. 

New Eyes is out now on Atlantic Records.

Tags: Music
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