Clean Bandit:
What is Love?

The very likeable trio of Grace Chatto, and Jack and Luke Patterson formed pop electronic powerhouse, Clean Bandit, back in 2008. They've shifted 13 million singles and 1.6 million albums since; and hit superstar status in 2014 when their first number one single, Rather Be, in collaboration with Jess Glynne. The following year, they landed themselves a Grammy; and in 2016, they were UK Christmas number one with Rockabye, featuring Sean Paul and Anne-Marie.

At the end of 2018, they released their second studio album, What Is Love?, which has a real hip hop underbelly, and no less than 22 guest artists: Charli XCX, Craig David, and Rita Ora to name a few. We sat down at Strongroom Studios in Shoreditch, London, the day before the album came out, to find out more.

Watch the Interview

Rae Clara Gray sits down at Strongroom Studios with Grace, Jack, and Luke, to talk about the making of Clean Bandit's second record, as they share some fun musical anecdotes, and reflect on that time Jack almost melted on stage..!

Grace Chatto

The Clean Bandit Evolution

We always thought people would like our sound, I think; it was only after we started doing it that we started thinking about it. Really, the first thing we did after the songs were made was perform them live in a nightclub; and people were surprised to see violins and stuff in the club, but it was an electric atmosphere, and part of it was the surprise of that mix. We played Frank's Cafe in 2010 – that was when we first played in London – and it was to 2,000 people on a roof in Peckham, and no-one knew us; they were all hearing the songs for the first time, and everyone was dancing.

The new record came about organically; there was no plan, as such, about the lyrical contents; the only thing we did have a plan about was to try and approach the writing differently, as the first album was all produced as it was written. It was done at a computer, while making sounds straight away, but with this one, Jack wanted to write at the piano, with piano and voice; and it was clear that the songs worked in that kind of stripped back form. With the first album, some just wouldn't work like that: like Mozart's House, for example.

On the album, different stages of romantic love are discussed, but then there's family love in Rockabye, motherly love, and the sacrifice that goes into parenting in Rockabye which is an unusual theme in pop music; and one called We Were Just Kids, which is about being brothers - Jack and Luke are obviously brothers – that's featuring Craig David and Kirsten Joy.

I think Swedish people are just dominating music in a big way; there are so many great Swedish artists. A huge priority is given to creative people in Sweden, especially if they're songwriters. You can get amazing support, and it's taken very seriously. But that's not why we like Zara Larsson! [laughs] The first Hit Factories were in Sweden in the early '90s, which pioneered the premise of modern pop music - it's groups of geeks writing great songs, and then they're on the radio – people don't know the hidden geniuses doing this.

It started with Ace of Bass, which was crazy, because it was four Swedish people who no-one knew at all; and Dennis Pop produced [Ace of Base hit] The Sign, and suddenly it was number one in the US for six weeks! And since then, that group, with Max Martin and Dr Luke, have really dominated writing for everyone.