A string quartet that’s more hip-hop electronica than Yo-Yo Ma, whose videos feature Lily Cole as a half-naked mermaid and whose fans are mashed-up Oxford students on drugs? Meet Clean Bandit, the most eclectic band you’ll ever meet. They gift us an Aaron Lipsett remix of their track Nightingale, and cellist Grace lets us into their weird world ahead of their EP release.
What made you guys take the leap from classical string quartet into electronic music?
It wasn’t really a leap because we’ve always loved both and still play string quartets as well. But it happened a few years ago when Jack made some recordings of the quartet and started experimenting with adding synth lines. We thought it would be great to play live together and things went from there…
What’s the weirdest or most unusual gig you’ve played?
Probably a secret university society party in a field that seemed to be hosted by the richest students in Oxford University. When we were booked we didn’t really know what to expect but it was quite wild! There was a drugs tent with two dealers and various large bags spread across a table. We shared our green room with the strippers and some falcons.
What are your influences?
It’s hard to know, I’m not really sure….but if I had to name a few then Michael Jackson, The Stranglers, Hudson Mohawke, Radiohead, Sean Paul and the Dirty Projectors.
You first hit on our radar was your video for UK Shanty – how did you convince Lily Cole to be in it (and also, is she kind of naked as the video implies)?
No, she’s not naked! She’s a mermaid and we wanted a weird skin tone so she is wearing a see-through pink dress, but no shots show it properly. We have some mutual friends with Lily and that’s how we were able to get in contact and ask her to be involved. She was really great to work with – extremely hardy and professional! The water she had to swim in was pretty cold: it was January in England.
If any you could take any old classical composer (Mozart, Bach, whoever) to the modern century, who would you want to play with Clean Bandit?
We’d probably have Rachmaninov on the keys but have Mozart around for the jokes: he definitely had a great sense of humour!
A&E is released on the 9th December. cleanbandit.com