Following our industry-centric conversation with their manager Dan O’Neill we caught up with one half of Groove Armada, Andy Cato, in his French country-side recording studio where they are busy laying down tracks for this summers’ festival fit ‘rock n’ roll’ album.
So Andy, can you see the music sharing mechanism working?
We’ll see, it’s one of those things, once you do it its reasonably straight forward. If you want the free EP you go to the site, you get the URL, you get your first tune. If you’re into it you share it with certain people and when you hit a certain number you get the next one [track]. I think anyone that can turn a computer on will be actually able to do it, it probably harder to explain than to do.
What tracks are on this mini-album?
It’s a four track EP or will be when people finally get all four together. Its basically going to showcase what’s coming up later in the year. We’re doing an album in March and as always the summer will be continuing our Ibizan residencies.
We’re dividing the Groove Armada sound up now. A lot of the album is really going to pursue what has being going on with our live shows for years which is quite rock n’ roll and guitar based and quite sort of punky. So that’s going to be the sound of the album. And then there’s going to be a straight up house music record to go around the Ibizan kind of thing. So we’re dividing it in two. And the EP is the same there’s two tunes with the live band sound and then two dancey tracks to finish it off.
Are you going to have two albums or a double album?
Two albums, totally separate things. The principle album, with the band is just really exciting to pursue that sound, you know, and not have to try and work in some big house track into the middle of that. So we’re going for the band thing both live and in the studio. Something like our closing set at Glastonbury, but we’re stripping it down a bit.
Any collaborations on either of those albums?
There will be yeah, there are some collaborations on the EP. I think its track 3 of the sharing system is a 21st Century version of SuperStylin’. It’s a track we did with Slarta John an MC from Birmingham. That’s a big one I can feel that one, that’s definitely going to be a big dance floor tune.
On the rock side there’s two tunes that feature a girl called Becky whose band is called The RGBs. She features a lot on the album and is going to be coming on the road with us for the summer. We have the same management, so we ended up doing quite a few festivals where they were playing. They’re a good band.
Where are you based these days?
I was in Barcelona but in France these days.
So when it comes to recording or producing a record how do yourself and Tom work?
We used to work separately and come together with ideas, we’re trying to do that less this time round. We’re spending more time together, so it’s a combination of doing some writing in Tom’s basement in London where he’s got quite a tasty collection of old synths and stuff so we get some ideas in there. Then I’ve got a big studio here in France where we can record with the band, just set up camp here because its out in the middle of nowhere and stay here for as long as required.
What are your thoughts on the dance scene at the moment?
I thinks its in really good shape, for me in terms of DJ’ing its in a great place right now, because we’re coming out of the end of a long minimal curve and into a more house music end of minimal. So it’s a sort of stripped down minimal bass line, which always appeals, and a bit more of the rocking house music feel on top. There’s loads of that stuff out there right now.
So you wouldn’t be a fan of dubstep?
No, not really, when it comes to the dance floor I’m a straight up house music man. That’s what I grew up with and that’s the groove that I love. But our DJ sets are a combination of that and a Diplo style kind of mash up, a bit of everything really. The better end of the mash up thing mixed with straight ahead house is kind of where I’m at right now.
So you’re recording now, are you using analogue or digital?
Yeah, I’m recording to tape as we speak, well I pressed stop when you rang, but I use tape a lot. I’ve got an old 8 track tape machine here and, you know, I don’t know how you find the words to describe it but if you’re doing live performance stuff its just sounds brilliant. It’s as simple as that. I don’t know why we can’t emulate it or replicate it digitally but we can’t. There’s nothing quite like it. Its not about resolution, its just the tape is human.
Are you still using a lot of samples?
We’re a bit less heavy on the sample side now, its more for noise rather than loops. We tend to do less of the whack a loop in and go for it because it doesn’t sound particularly contemporary any more so we’re been working with the band a lot more. But we’re always on the look out for noises but definitely noise as opposed to the disco loops of the past.
Do you have the band with you in the studio when you’re recording? Or do you guys put the track down and rehearse with the band for live?
Normally, this time, we’re putting the track down, rehearsing it, then putting it down again with the band as the actual final version of the tune. So they’ll be here in the studio in a couple of weeks time.
When’s your next festival?
Well this summer apart from doing our Lovebox festival, which we run in London, we’re going to stay out of the UK this time and do the European festivals. We were in Japan and various places last year and the UK a lot, so we need to get back out there and do those ones. And then we’re going to come back and do a proper tour of the UK on the Autumn.
Lovebox came to Dublin last year?
It did yeah, Lovebox has come to Ireland a couple of times and its hard to get the spirit of the London one across because it has to be on a much smaller scale. But we have a new plan for this year which is shortly to be unveiled. I think finally it could be the answer.
What else have you been doing?
We’ve just done a DJ tour in the US, the first time in a long time. Which ended up at this amazing gig, I don’t know how they got a licence or if they got a licence, but we DJ’ed on the steps of Los Angeles town hall. Which was amazing, outside this really kind of iconic building. There were several thousand people dancing in the town hall gardens which was definitely a memorable way to finish.