Not many dance acts start life as string quartets — but Clean Bandit’s fusion of classical and electronic music has powered them to worldwide success.
Clean Bandit have become one of the UK’s biggest acts of recent times. Their six top-five singles included two number ones in ‘Rather Be’ and ‘Rockabye’, while their 2014 debut album New Eyes reached number three, and they have sold 13 million singles and more than a million-and-a-half albums worldwide.
They’ve come a long way since forming back in 2008 as a Cambridge-based musical experiment meshing classical music with dance music. Originally a four-piece comprising keyboardist/programmer Jack Patterson, cellist Grace Chatto, drummer Luke Patterson and violinist Neil Amin-Smith (who quit the band in 2016), Clean Bandit first bonded at university as a result of Jack Patterson dabbling in recording Chatto and Amin-Smith’s string quartet.
“I’d been using Ableton for a while,” says Patterson. “I was helping out with Grace’s string quartet and making recordings of their concerts. Sometimes in Ableton or sometimes just on a field recorder, but bringing it into Ableton to edit it, just to help them with their web site and stuff like that. Then suddenly I had all this string quartet stuff in Ableton and I was just dicking about basically and started adding drums and bass.
“I played it to another friend who was a singer, this guy Love Ssega, and he had some ideas as well. We basically decided to make a band and try and do a performance. It was all really quick. It was in the space of a few weeks. We just got a load of material together really quickly and put on this club night.”
And so Clean Bandit were born, initially performing at their National Rail Disco club night at the Fez Club in Cambridge. Patterson and Ssega’s ideas for the band included mounting piezo pickups onto the string players’ instruments that could be fed directly into Ableton, meaning that their performances were manipulated live by Patterson before they reached the front-of-house PA.
“I was dubbing it up,” he says, “but doing some other mad stuff like rhythmic gates. So they’d be playing chords and I’d have a MIDI...
You've only read 10% of this article, so to continue reading...
Option 1: Login to read this article if you have a Digital Subscription or Industry Controlled Circulation account
- To read the full article online (in HTML browser format), please LOG IN at the top of this page.
- Note: Your Digital subscription does not include downloadable PDF articles free of charge.
Option 2: Buy a Digital sub from our shop
- A Digital sub can be bought from our Shop and used immediately, or contact our Subs staff to discuss an upgrade price to add Digital access to your existing Print subscription.
Option 3: Buy and download this SOS article in Adobe PDF format
- Buy this article now and immediately download the PDF file to your computer.
- PDF articles look identical to the printed magazine layouts (but exclude advertisements).
- Note: Some shorter articles don't always have a PDF version.