Ahead of a string of festival performances, including one at Forbidden Fruit, and with a new Fabric mix release in the pipeline, State catches up with Tom Findlay of the legendary duo Groove Armada to talk influences, learning to play dance music on stage, and of course, Andy Cato’s “massive arms”.
You’ve been making music for roughly 20 years now. What’s the secret to your longevity in an ever-demanding market?
I think we’re genuinely passionate about music. We still get a real buzz from DJing. I think the secret is to just never really relax, always try to do the next gig, the next tune, the next remix as well as you possibly can, and you know it’s boring to admit it but hard work helps. That and Andy’s massive arms (in the air).
What aspect of the music scene do you think has changed the most in the period since you’ve been together?
Everything has changed so much it’s bonkers. There’s been a real shift in terms of the importance of live music – and the labels aren’t as tightly in control of the scene as they used to be, and I think in the main that’s a positive thing. The internet has democratised everything, and that’s good and bad. It’s easier to get your music heard, to connect with audiences, but hard for bands to have longevity, to develop a career……oh and our rider has got a lot smaller ;(
What have been your biggest challenges as a group so far?
I think now can be tough with us living so far apart. Andy is in Southern France and I’m in London, so trying to keep the flow without the physical connection can be tough. In the early days just learning to play dance music live was a massive education. It took about five years to crack it, but we got there in the end.
In terms of style you’ve obviously experimented a lot over the years. Is there a certain style that you are most comfortable with or did you always see yourselves doing something different?
Not really. Personally I love soul, disco so that always creeps in, but right now house music allows you a lot of breadth. It’s a really inclusive scene, so there’s no need to feel constrained.
You’ve collaborated with a lot of different people throughout your career – can you name some of your favourites, and why?
Richie Havens was a real hero of mine, his version of ‘Going back to my Roots’ was kind of my first rave anthem, so recording and then playing live with him was a truly humbling experience. They save never meet your heros, but Richie was a don, a total gentleman, an amazing singer, and a really spiritual person. Recording with Neneh Cherry was ace too, but then you have to think of Mike Daniels (MAD), the voice of ‘Superstlyin’’, cos if that hadn’t happened our lives would be very very different.
Is there anyone in particular you’d like to work with in the future?
There’s a singer called Hollis P Monroe, and I just love his voice. That kind of falsetto soul thing does me every time.
You’ll be returning to Dublin to play Forbidden Fruit in June. Can you tell us a little about your set?
Not really cos we never really PLAN anything. There’s certain tunes I’m excited about, a few set plays maybe, but we tend to just rock up and go with the flow. The energy in the tent last year was amazing, so a bit more of that and I think we’ll all have a good time.
Is there another artist or band that you’re looking to see while you’re over?
It’s an amazing line up, so yeah I’ll be looking out for Jackmaster, Tiga (Live), Flume, Underworld obviously. I’ll try not to get stuck backstage.
What are the plans for the future? Might there be a new album in the pipeline?
Never say never. But right now no definite plans. EPs, remixes, that’s the vibe.
The ever amazing Groove Armada play Dublin’s Forbidden Fruit festival, along with a veritable feat of other fab acts, this coming Sunday, June 5th at Royal Hospital, Kilmainham.