Raff Law’s new band debut their first single, a heartfelt “fuck you” to a bad few months.
I’m sitting in the bar of the South Place Hotel – a boutique, 5-star setup in the centre of Shoreditch – looking for a quiet corner to interview Raff Law (yep, Jude Law’s eldest son) and Rudy Albarn, one half of new London-based band Outer Stella Overdrive.
But before I can order a drink I’m ushered upstairs, and not because the pair are here on staycation. Raff’s art-music-clothing collective, and now record label Something To Hate On is throwing a party with Jamal Edwards, founder of media channel SBTV. The whole first floor is lined with Halloween decorations, a CÎROC sponsored bar, and I’m told the laser machines are about to arrive. For the laser room, obviously.
Their anticipation is palpable – for the party, but more for the release of Outer Stella Overdrive’s first single, “State Your Name.” Of course, a certain hype is to be expected for a group so embedded in the worlds of music and fashion: they’re already distinctly culturally relevant; they already have the eyes and ears of thousands of like-minded young people. But that’s not why they’re about to blow up.
See, Outer Stella Overdrive are really, genuinely good. They play me “State Your Name” and the whole room instinctively starts to move; everyone’s tapping their foot or their pen or nodding their head. Raff (lead vocals & lead guitar), Rudy (drums), Amin (keyboard), and model Kelvin Bueno (bass guitar & backing vocals) are arriving with something entirely new and energetic, a fuck-it, dance with us anthem. It’s funk-infused drum and bass-led rock, with psychedelic synths. But “our attitude is definitely punk”, they insist…
We talked State Your Name, their first headline show, and a dream to headline Glastonbury…
How did you all meet? Raff: Kelvin, who I met because he was going out with my sister, wanted to start making music so we started writing a bit and then Rudy, you hit me up? Rudy: I messaged you on Instagram like, do you need a drummer? Raff: Every drummer I found before was so unreliable. Rudy’s very sane and if anything, he’s the most reliable out of all of us – he’s vegan, he can make coffee, he can play in time… it’s great. The final member was Amin, the keyboard player. Since he’s joined our whole sound has improved, we’ve written so much by just jamming.
Do you write a lot of your songs that way? Raff: The music comes so much more naturally when you all do it together, it kind of just writes itself. Since we got the core team of the band, we’ve been so interlocked with our writing that we’re just churning them out. Rudy: It has to feel right and it has to feel natural. To come into a band where everyone was on the same wavelength I think was really important.
What makes Outer Stella Overdrive special? Raff: I genuinely think there’s no one writing this quality style of music in London, or anywhere at the moment. I always grew up listening to punk rock band music, old school classic rock ‘n’ roll. Me and my dad and brothers always swapped bands, and I haven’t been able to show anyone a new band in years because it’s just not there. Rudy: Our sound’s quite raw as well, it’s not too overproduced. With a lot of music now they make a beat on the computer, and they get someone just singing along to it. When we’re on stage it’s all live instruments, you’ve got to have that feeling.
How did you come up with the name? Raff: We went through so many horrendous names, it actually started getting annoying. We rehearse in this place in Camden called New Rose Studios and we always go out for cigarettes to smoke and chill when we’re not playing. There’s this bin outside that said Outer Stella Overdrive graffitied on to it, it just made sense. And I knew there was a Pink Floyd song called “Inter Stella Overdrive.”
What’s State Your Name about? Raff: This was the first song we actually wrote as a band in the studio. At the time I’d had kind of a shit few months: I’d fallen out with people who I thought were my friends, I realised they were kind of in it for the scene and weren’t really giving back. I acted a bit reckless, I felt like I wasn’t very healthy, I wasn’t really doing anything. Then when I found this band and started playing again I started feeling really confident, like I’d found my place. So this song is kind of a fuck you to those few months.
How do you want people to feel when they listen to it? Rudy: Blown away! Completely immersed. Raff: I want people to hear my music and dance without even thinking. I want to make people feel angry, happy, pissed off, like they can do this, like they can’t do this. I want to make them feel everything.
Something To Hate On has such a rebellious and community-based spirit. Is that something that’s fed into the band? Raff: Yeah, I think they kind of feed off each other. I set up Something to Hate on for artists, designers or musicians to be able to collaborate together, and feel like they don’t have to be scared to express themselves in their natural element. They compliment each other, even though they’re very separate, they’re linked. Rudy: It’s about like-minded people as well. Who you surround yourself with. People that we find interesting and keep as our friends maintain the whole feeling we have.
Do you think it’s got quite a London edge to it? Rudy: Definitely, we want to reflect our surroundings. Raff: I want the feeling of like an English Beastie Boys, that’s what I want.
Who would be your dream collab? Rudy: There’s an Arctic Monkeys track with Dizzee Rascal, and it sounded sick having the band with a rapper over the top. Raff: Once we’ve put out this album it’d be cool to do an EP where we work with a different rapper, get people like Octavian or Bakar on a track.
What music have you got coming up? Raff: The plan is to get this song out so everyone can understand what’s going on. Then I’d be happy putting out a song a month, we’ve got so many recorded.
What about live stuff? Raff: So we’ve got a headline show 2 weeks today at Café 1001, in Shoreditch. Rudy: I’d like to be doing festivals by next summer. The last gig we did at Village Underground back on 1st July was so good. But we only played like 4 songs because there was 10 artists playing, so it’ll be nice to do all our own songs and show everyone what we’re about.
So what are the big aims for the future? Raff: I want to headline Glastonbury. I want to tour the world, go platinum. Rudy: We want to do everything, take over the world. Raff: I am going to take over the world, it’s going to happen… State your name, first single, let’s go. Rudy: Let’s fucking go mate!