In collaboration with VERO, HUNGER gets to know the genre-defying musician to celebrate the release of the acoustic version of "Higher" featuring Iann Dior and Gracey.
Since breaking through with electronic-classical mash-up “Mozart’s House” in 2013, Clean Bandit have been inescapable — topping the UK charts three times and selling over a million albums. Central to their success is their ability to inject the pop format with a sense of fun, joyfully flouting the musical rules.
To celebrate the release of an acoustic version of their latest track “Higher”, one third of Clean Bandit, cellist, producer and vocalist Grace Chatto — known to fans for her outspoken opinions and perennially bleached ‘do — stopped by HUNGER HQ for a shoot with photographer Jordan Rossi and a quick natter.
Scroll below for Grace’s take on UK touring after Brexit, a song that changed her life and working through the pressure of being in the public eye.
Great to meet you Grace. To begin, what’s your experience of lockdown been like?
It’s been a productive time. I live alone, which I’m grateful for because it has been an important period of self-reflection. I must say I have lived in a much more healthy way than the last 7 years, where we travelled around the globe in and out of vastly differing time zones all the time which was quite mad. I’d never been at hone for more than 2 weeks for about a decade, and I had recently moved into my new flat so it was good to get very well acquainted with every room! I am lucky to live very close to my bandmates, who I love. And I got into gardening for the first time since I was a child: I grew many vegetables and ate them. That being said, I’ve felt so much sadness and impotence regarding how to help all those suffering from the imposition of the lockdowns. I think we are going to see a very serious period of mental health and poverty pandemic as a result of the national trauma now.
That’s true, we’re going to be feeling the effects of the pandemic for well into the future — which is why doing what we can to stay positive is important. On that note, where’s the first place you’re going after we’ve all been vaccinated?
I’d like to visit my family in Italy or return to Japan where we have such wonderful memories as a band. We made one of our first little films there, the music video for our song “Rather Be”.
“Rather Be” changed your career, landing Clean Bandit their first Number One. Are there any other songs, not by Clean Bandit, that have changed your life?
Every song I’ve heard has changed my life a bit I guess, but the one that’s probably had most the impact on my creations was “All That She Wants’” by Ace of Base, it was the first pop song I can remember falling in love with as a tiny child. I just love the humour in all Ace of Base’s music and that juxtaposition of reggae beats with super sweet pop vocals, a winning match! Maybe you can hear something similar in our song “Rockabye”.
I’m curious, how has your working relationship within Clean Bandit changed over the years?
We are always learning more how to negotiate and work to each of our individual strengths. But we’ve always worked well together as we get on so well and are good at different things.
And how do you keep the joy of creativity alive when there’s the pressure that comes with being in the public eye and with your creative practice being your livelihood?
Good question! I sometimes wonder if it’s a good idea… But we just try to have as much fun with it all and see what comes out! We feel very creatively free when we write the scripts for our music videos especially, and even more while we shoot them: we tend to go to amazing places and then take inspiration from the nature around us.
What are your thoughts on the idea that the music landscape is increasingly genre-less? Do you think your work anticipated that?
Our work never anticipated anything! I think we have always made songs drawing on our love of various very different genres of music, like classical, rock, dancehall, house and jazz. [We’ve] never been too concerned with what genre we are in at the end of it, so it works well for us. Mixing classical with house music sounds like a car crash on paper, but when we did that with our song “Mozart’s House” back in 2010, that’s what caught the attention of radio and TV and in turn, our lovely fans!
Definitely! You mention the misconceptions around blending classical and house, but what’s a common misconception about you?
There was a time when the newspapers loved to write about how “posh” we are. I think because I have a posh accent, which my parents take the piss out of me for [laughs]. Maybe I am the wrong person to ask because I’m not sure what people think of me!
Let’s go back to the music: your latest track “Higher” features Iann Dior, who’s been a WFH fave of mine and will definitely be played on the HUNGER office speakers once we can come into work again. What made you want to collaborate with him?
I love everything about him. I feel like the style he is bringing in is so fresh. I love that Blink 182 vibe he has but juxtaposed with super youthful energy.
And where do you see your sound heading next?
When we get in the studio we never know what might come out! But we are really into Jamaican music and worked with a lot of incredible artists out there recently.
As a final question, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the UK’s handling of Brexit and European touring. How will this impact the UK music scene.
Oh gosh, I feel a shiver run through me at the word Brexit. I think the live industry is going to suffer terribly if musicians and crew need to get visas to get into Europe. As if the industry isn’t suffering enough already as a result of the Covid measures! It’s especially hard for artists who are just starting out of course. But let’s see how it all pans out, I really hope some kind of clever ideas or solutions come up, let’s try to remain positive! We are desperate to get out to Europe, we love performing in Italy, Holland and Spain so much.
19 March 2021