Cambridge electronic three-piece Clean Bandit have just released their sophomore album, What Is Love?. We spoke to drummer Luke Patterson about clip-making, drum-marching, and what it’s really like working with Luis Fonsi.
You have an enormously impressive list of collaborators on this album. What do you think it is about the way you learned to play music, and the environments you learned in, which means that you’re into cooperative recording instead of a more restricted, private approach?
Well, Grace trained in cello and classical performance, but me and Jack came from different backgrounds. I was already playing in rock bands – I was in an indie rock band for a long time, so I’m less classically trained. I’m kind of focussing on that now actually: getting into jazz and learning different styles of drums. But, I feel the fact that we were both in bands has definitely had an impact in terms of the way we like to collaborate. We do practice our instruments privately as well, [but] we’re definitely more focused on being a part of a group and bringing our own ideas and working in a way that makes sense as a collective unit.
Your single Baby features Despacito singer Luis Fonsi, and is written in a latin pop style. Across the album, it seems grooves on the off-beat are a preference of yours. What do you like about the style?
I guess we’ve been experimenting in all sorts of electronic music – all kinds of genres. Latin music is always based around having this feel that really makes you want to move… you instantly want to dance to it. Especially using drum machines and various different synthesisers, you can create really nice feels and grooves in that style. I think Baby is definitely one of my favourite songs we’ve done.
It also includes vocals from the wonderful Marina (Marina and the Diamonds). What were Marina and Luis like to work with, and when did you decide they were the right vocalists for the track?
Collaborating with Marina and Luis has been so good, so rewarding. [The track] was always [going to be for] Marina. It always had that feel as well: a Latin vibe but with a kind of melancholic twist – the way it was delivered vocally by Marina, it’s got a hint of sadness. A friend of Grace’s wrote the second verse and there was always an idea of having someone else singing on it – we weren’t sure who. We reached out to Louis and he was just really up for it. He was like, “This is amazing.” He was such a good guy to work with. He was really up for anything. That is such a good way to be in the music industry. If you’re just up for anything, it will definitely take you places.
And, making the video in LA was equally rewarding. We all came together and had this pretty intense shoot, and were just really happy with the result. We’ve always made our own videos and this one’s been a real collaboration between all of us. We’ve all chipped in to the editing process and directing, and Marina just looked amazing.
I know you and Grace formed your own production company at one time. Have you always seen film and music as parallel passions in your life?
Yeah, all three of us have kind of dabbled in our own areas of filmmaking. Now we all come together and create it as a unit. It’s really difficult because a lot of the time we actually have to be in the video, so it’s been tough trying to control it when we’re actually in the shoot!
Also speaking of clips: In the vid for I Miss You, you’re wearing some sort of harness so that you can play the snare drum standing up. You seem very comfortable in it. Have you ever been in a marching band?
No! That was the first time. There’s a kind of drumline rhythm throughout the song, so I felt for the music video it made sense to have that kind of marching band style, to represent that. But no, I’ve never really trained like that. Glad to make you think I might’ve. I was just winging it. Thank you.
Which of these new songs has grown on you the most, maybe unexpectedly, since recording?
There’s a song called 24 Hours that features Yasmin Green. She’s one of the singers that we take with us on the road to tour with us, and knows our repertoire. That song, in the last few days, has actually really grown on me ‘cause I’m trying to figure out how to play it live. There’s a hook in it which sounds like an accordion, that’s just – I don’t know, there’s something really catchy about it. It has just grown on me.
What Is Love? is out now via Warner.
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