A Sit Down With DJ Groove Armada
From their roots in raw house music and 90s raves, there's little that Groove Armada haven't turned their hand to over the course of their two decade career. Aside from their own instantly recognisable productions, Cato and Findlay have clocked up a famed Late Night Tales compilation; played a key part in establishing one of Londons biggest music festivals, Lovebox; played iconic live shows at some of the world's best venues, and released eight studio albums which collectively have sold millions of copies and garnered both Grammy and Brit nominations.
"I always find it hard getting on conceptually with self-indulgent DJs. The role of the DJ is to entertain, first and foremost, rather than educate."
You'll be representing our capital city. Talk us through your relationship with London, what were your early clubbing experiences there?
My first London clubland experiences were at raves in industrial estates around the M25. When I moved down here, I was in Clapham North and Club UK was the scene of some of the best and wildest nights inside a licensed venue that Ive ever seen. My first big DJ gig was at a night called Rude in SW1. It was me and Mark and Adrian Luvdup. By the time GA started, we were playing at TummyTouch parties in what where then the disused warehouses of Shoreditch. We were at the opening of Ministry and of Fabric, which makes the return of our Fabric residency all the more special.
What are your thoughts on the dance scene at the moment?
I thinks its in really good shape, for me in terms of DJing its in a great place right now, because were coming out of the end of a long minimal curve and into a more house music end of minimal. So its a sort of stripped down minimal bass line, which always appeals, and a bit more of the rocking house music feel on top. Theres loads of that stuff out there right now.
How do you feel about Lovebox now? How has it changed? How does it fit into the current festival landscape?
I think what theyve got now is a really professionally run dance event in London. Its very different from what wed imagined it to be. For us, the line-ups I love were when we had Roxy Music, Dizzee Rascal and Grace Jones on the same line up. Now if you look at the line-up its much more of a whos who of contemporary dance music. Theyre doing that really, really well and I think its been really successful. Thats better in a way but it feels like a very different animal. Its been run in a very slick fashion.
The track from the 80s that is still relevant to todays music
Touch Me by Fonda Rae was so ahead of its time, it sounds contemporary even now.
How do you find London's clubbing scene is at the moment? How have you seen the parties develop over the years?
It goes in waves. From small raves in disused buildings, to the golden club era of Turnmills, Bagleys, The End, SW1, Ministry, Fabric, Heaven... and back down again now to the smaller basement vibe. Musically there have been years when house has been pushed to room 2 by the new style on the block. But house is timeless and always comes back.
Over the years, the sound Groove Armada has evolved a lotdo you feel most comfortable in the house scene?
Im not too sure. On all the vast variety of music that has been made over all the different albums over the years, I think it sounds greatI think weve acquitted ourselves well in all of the fields that weve gone into. But the way that the cycle has gone, we are now back in a world where this type of house groove is so engrained in us, and we have always spent a lot of time on dance floors and after-parties, so it just feels natural.
Are there any funny stories you can tell us before you two became Groove Armada as you are today?
I just remember running clubs and losing a lot of money! We used to run a club night called Captain Sensual At The Helm Of The Groove Armadaand we booked Dave Seaman and lost our shirts on him, so that was good. It was the same time as Euro '96, and we booked Dave Seaman to come and play on the same day England beat Spain, and the headline coming out on Sunday morning was Seaman sinks Armada which made me chuckle. So we got sunk by David Seaman, us and the Spaniards on the same day!
Looking at your career now, is there anything you havent done that you still want to? Any goals or future collaborations youd love to do?
Weve been lucky because weve done a lot of amazing things. Weve toured a lot of amazing places. Weve done Glastonbury, the Sunday night closing slots and all that. Its been amazing. We were on the road with a pretty unique gang of people in terms of road crews and musicians whove never changed. It was the same team. It was a sort of weird communist commune type of thing basically a 15-year long stag do.
Can you just explain the reasons why you wanted to return to your house roots?
Around the Black Light touring bit, there was a sense that we were always playing on the main stage of a dance tent; we were always doing the same slots, coming on after Laidback Luke or Calvin Harris, and it wasnt really the scene that we wanted to be part of. At the end, we did the two nights in Brixton and it just felt like that was the right time to close that chapterit was a great way to end, right at the top. The music was all sounding great, but that big electronic scene was not where our heads were at. Instead, we felt the need to go back to what we had always doneand we decided to go that way, playing nice house sets, having a good time, rather than pushing this large EDMsize stone.
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