CLEAN BANDIT’S GRACE CHATTO ON MAKING CLASSICAL MUSIC MAINSTREAM – EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

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Grace Chatto photographed by Lindsey Byrnes for The Untitled Magazine #GirlPower Issue. wears stripe shirt by Again Apparel, and a hat by Lack of Color Hats.

“We never intended it to be a love song originally,” says twenty-nine-year-old Grace Chatto of Clean Bandit, referring to their track, “Rather Be,” which went platinum twice and won her a Grammy for Best Dance Recording. “We kind of finished the instrumental track before we started working on the vocals. Then it became focused on sentiments of love, which is really neat.” Clean Bandit’s EDM track-turned love anthem is reflective of how their style is far more interesting and eclectic than simply calling it electro-pop would have one believe. Their influences range from Mozart to Madonna, and the quartet melds classical violin and cello with contemporary synths and a full drum kit. “We have always loved different styles of music, a really exciting mix, not just classical and house but loads of different styles like garage, reggae and drum and bass.”

Of all her professional accomplishments, sharing classical music with the masses through the lens of EDM is what Grace is most proud of, proving it’s not a dead genre or one limited to stuffy auditoriums and weddings. The group’s mélange of electronic music and classical pieces by composers such as Shostakovich has landed them on the stages of Glastonbury, Coachella, and Governor’s Ball.

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Grace has serious history with her band and a wealth of pedigreed musical talent. “I started playing when I was really little. My dad plays the cello as well, and makes cellos and violins, so there were always loads in the house. I listened to a lot of classical music when I was really small… I was also really into pop music from when I was young, and then when I was a teenager, I got into dance music.” Formed in 2009, Clean Bandit is a group made up of two brothers (Jack and Luke Patterson) two best friends, (Grace and Neil Amin-Smith) and one couple (Jack and Grace). On paper, this could be disastrous, but in reality the four more than make it work. “Neil and I played violin and cello together… and then made a string quartet. Jack came to one of our concerts one day, and had the idea to do some kind of dance project together where we would play with some of the string quartets that we’d heard. He was adding beats and bass lines as a producer, and it was really exciting and it all stemmed from this one concert that we did. We all knew we were on to something that was quite interesting.”

Among her inspirations, she counts artists who have that same keen sense for vocals that drew her to Jess Glynne, who they featured on hit track, “Rather Be.” “I love James Blake, Frank Ocean, the British singer James. We are always looking for people to collaborate with because we don’t have a singer in the band. We would love to collaborate with him.” In addition to crafting hits, her current interests include studying up on gender theory. “I’m really interested in reading different schools of feminist thought at the moment, and I’m interested in gender politics in general. I’m reading a book by Judith Butler called Gender Trouble. You know, the world over, including in the UK and the States, there really isn’t an equal situation. I am interested in feminism, but there are of course totally different types of feminism!”

As for words to live by, hers are simple. “Just go for it and always believe in yourself. I think believing in what you do is so important because you get knocked back at so many different stages, and in different ways – in a way I think it is harder as a girl, to make it in the industry, because it’s very male dominated. You’ve got to go for it and really believe in what you do and what you want.”


Interview by Indira Cesarine for The Untitled Magazine #GirlPower Issue
Photography by Lindsey Byrnes
Stylist: Jordan Grossman
Makeup by Debbie Gallagher
Hair by Jennifer Alden
Photographed at The Orlando Hotel

This article originally appeared in The #GirlPower Issue of The Untitled Magazine (2015), pick up a print edition of the issue today!


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