Groove Armada

groove armada

groove armadaBBM’S AJ GREEN chats to dance stalwarts GROOVE ARMADA about Aussie acts, live shows and their new album…

Dance music is fashion music; the trends change quickly and often people get left in a style they never evolve from, leaving them to sport an aesthetic that is ‘so yesterday’.
It’s much easier for the average punter to keep their wardrobe up to date than it is for dance music producers to maintain their relevence, but Groove Armada has been leading the catwalk of dance music trends since their first release back in1997, something that has been done by few others, including Daft Punk and The Chemical Brothers.
BBM sat down with Andy Cato and Tom Findlay, the core of Groove Armada live and the creators of epic Groove Armada singles Superstylin’, I See You Baby, At the River, Get Down, Song 4 Mutya, If Everybody Looked the Same and, most recently, I Wont Kneel, to chat about their sixth album Black Light, their new live show and their thoughts on Australian music.
Getting straight into the chatter about the newest release from the UK duo, the 200cm-plus tall Andy Cato tells BBM: “It’s called Black Light and it’s out in Australia before anywhere else in the world.”
When asked the reasoning behind launching a new record into a small marketplace first, Andy explains: “It was to link in with our Big Day Out tour. Now we are on an independant label, we can make sensible decisions like that which, in the old days, we couldn’t do.”
Two years ago, Groove Armada sailed away from Sony BMG and into a brief escape with Bacardi Music, before docking at Cooking Vinyl Records, home to The Prodigy.
“To be honest, we had kind of finished the record before we signed with Cooking Vinyl,” says Tom. “There was no A&R-ing the record, which was good. When you work with a major, all they’re really interested in, by and large, is singles. They drive you and drive you to write singles, which is handy, but they become slightly obsessed by it. Then you lose focus of the wider record. This one was a bit like the first record we ever made, except that one took a week. This one took a year.”
BBM quizzed the boys as to what the new album sounds like, with Andy giving the response: “It’s a cross between Groove Armarda live, if you’ve ever seen that, mixed with David Bowie and Gary Numan. It’s the best record we’ve done and completely different to any of the records we’ve done before. This is much more intense than the last record. It’s ready to translate straight onto the big stage. It’s definitely not club tracks for DJs.”
The guys also informed BBM that, unlike previous releases, Black Light features no sampling at all. To hear Andy and Tom speak, you’re thankful that they don’t do vocals themselves, so BBM asked who was lending their larynx to the new album. We end up discussing Australian music genius Nick Littlemore from Pnau and Empire of The Sun.
“He’s a real maverick,” gushes Tom. “(It’s) a very intense experience being in his company.
“He’s brilliant,” adds Andy. “The thing with him is that you’ve got to be quick on the buttons, because when he gets an idea he just leaps up to the microphone and goes into, what can only be described as, a frenzy, for quite a long period of time. The key is to capture those moments. You can’t miss them because that’s when it all happens. There’s a couple of things he did on the album where the microphone was actually broken. If you listen carefully, you can hear all the clicks and the pops. But it was just worth it because he had so much spirit, it didn’t matter.”
The conversation turns to a few other Australian acts that both Andy and Tom enjoy.
“I watched Jet the other day and really enjoyed them,” says Tom. “I was really surprised. It just sounded really, really, good live. Midnight Juggernauts are a band we’ve played with a few times that I really love. I feel like they should be bigger than they are. They didnt quite nail it in the UK the way I thought they would.”
The roundabout conversation ends up getting back to the new Groove Armada sound on stage.
“The band is stripped down and punky so we can play to 50 people or 50,000. It’s scaleable,” says Tom. “We stripped the production stuff. We used to run all sorts of stuff; three video screens were synced-up to the music and these things called versa-tubes, these crazy LED things. It was a right operation getting all those things up and down. It started a couple of years ago, particularly when we when watching a band we both like called Friendly Fires. Watching them, there was something really to learn. It looked really exciting. This album (Black Light) is very live and it’s very band driven and we wanted to take the focus away from the screens and put it right on the band.”
BBM probes as to what’s left in the live show.
“There’s a big lighting show and the lighting guy we’ve got is absolutely brilliant,” says Tom. “We couldn’t quite give up the lasers, so we’ve still got them. The screens are gone which is good. It’s kind of like when you put TVs in a sports bar and people zone out a bit.”
BBM only got to chat fleetingly with new Groove Armada front woman Becky Jones, AKA Saint Saviour, about her involvement with these giants of dance music: “It was a writing relationship before anything else,” she says, which has now evolved into her being the erratically behaved and elaborately dressed icon on stage for their relentless touring.
Becky moans that she had found some cool new outfits in Australia but wasn’t getting much love in return. “I went into this new designer called Romance is Born to see if I could blag anything, but they wouldn’t give me anything. They said they dont do anything for music people.”
Apparently, not even the Dolce & Gabanna of music can get their hands La Roux of fashion.