ARTISTdirect.com Groove Armada Q&A
Mon, 10 Jan 2011 10:09:32
Andy Cato of Groove Armada was tucked in a remote area of France, in late 2010, when ARTISTdirect.com News Editor Amy Sciarretto tracked him down for a chat about the band's Grammy nomination for Best Electronic/Dance Album with Black Light (OM Records.) It's the band's third nomination from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences; they enjoyed a Gramm nod for Best Dance Recording for "Superstylin'" in 2003 and for "Easy" in the same category in 2004.
But the nomination for Black Light as an album is special for Cato and partner Tom Findlay, who've been contributing quality beats to the electronic music scene for over a decade. Cato opened up about the nomination; where he'd put the golden statuette if Groove Armada does indeed win; the positives of being remotely located in France; and how to distill their live set energy in the studio.
I am glad we are able to make contact since I understand you are sequestered somewhere in remote parts of France.
I am in the middle of nowhere, and it's out there, but I'm not a million miles from civilization. [Laughs] Just about an hour from it. I love it. It's our first proper studio, with no neighbors. We spent a long time in the nightclubs and on the tour buses, so it's a nice change. We spent our first 10 years in London.
Why did you choose to put your studio in a remote portion of France?
We were in Barcelona, so the geography is that it's three hours from there in a car, in American terms, so it's down the road. It sort of reminds of us the free parties we would have in the fields in '88. It has that '80s house music spirit. We fell in love with that. It's agricultural out here. But it is a community of music lovers. That's not easy to find.
It's serendipitous that you are nominated for a Grammy for the album that you recorded in the deep recesses of France in your own studio.
We did everything: produce, mix, engineer. Some people hand their music over to someone else, but we are very much a part of it. There's bedrooms and a basement. It's weird and wonderful. There's no one around and it's like a barn with a window and big space.
So this is your third Grammy nomination, for Best Electronic Album with Black Light?
Yes. We were nominated twice before for "Best Song." It's always nice, because it is out of the blue because we've never been a media band. Our fans follow us. Our live shows are so definitive. We distill the live energy from the stage into the studio. But it's nice to get the recognition.
How do you feel about your chances of winning, honestly?
I'd be lying if I said we don't care. It is out of the blue and it is difficult to be objective. We've been together for 15 years and it nearly split us up and we have different vocalists and we try and capture the magic of what we do live. We've done it without the front pages and without the headlines, but through our fans discovering us through word of mouth. We've filled auditoriums from Moscow to Sydney. And it's like this is the album.
How difficult is it to distill what you do on stage into the studio? Is it difficult to capture?
It's difficult to capture on the road! We have had the same team of people for 10 years. What we do onstage is unique and our fans testify to that. We have to have our festival stage equipment in a big enough room to capture it.
What's next for Groove Armada in 2011?
We're going to release White Light, which will have live festival versions of songs from Black Light. There will also be Red Light, which is the opposite and a return to the DJ side of things. We're going to do a new type of DJ show.
Tell us about the new type of DJ show.
It's going to be like our live gigs. There will be lots of experimenting across the board, sonically and as individuals. It's going to be like the spirit of '88. We'll be in Miami in March at the Winter Music Conference and we'll debut it there. But I don't want to spoil the surprise.
What is your favorite moment or viewpoint of the '88 era you've referenced twice?
It happened by chance. I was 16-years-old and in the right place at the right time.
What do you think about the American electronic music scene? Is it as prolific as it is in the UK or Europe?
The US embraces dance music as much as overseas. From Groove Armada's perspective, as a band, as DJs and players, we toured America for the fifth or sixth time last year, playing classic theatres like the Fonda in LA or the Fillmore and the American public certainly appreciates live music.
What's a current dance artist that you love?
It's difficult to say. We run our own London festival [Lovebox] and we always look for new bands. One band I would say nails it is Friendly Fire.
Finally, you've been together 12 years and I am sure it would be nice to walk away with the Grammy. Where will you put it if you win it?
Where the record was made, of course.