“Going back to where we started”: Rudimental on music methodology, touring & the magic third album.

RUDIMENTAL are an act that need no introduction. Since 2011, the UK band of four have been making crowds dance across the globe with their culturally and sonically ambiguous beats. They’re chameleons of progressive, soul-filled electronica with an arsenal of unique sounds and an impressive discography featuring some very big names (we’re talking Ed Sheeran and Angel Haze to name a few). Right now, Rudimental are gearing up to release their third studio album, a body of work titled Toast To Our Differences that features EVEN MORE impressive collaborations with artists such as Macklemore, James Arthur and Jess Glynne. Their most recent single to be unveiled was an infectious track titled ‘Summer Love’, that featured the vocal stylings of the fabulous Rita Ora. Gosh, do these guys KNOW some people.

In February, Australia will be lucky enough to see Rudimental live in action as they come down under to celebrate the release of their new album with their Toast To Our Differences Tour. The tour will see the band grace stages from Darwin down to Adelaide and across to Perth in what is sure to be a spectacular show (and a definite boogie). Purple Sneakers caught up with band member Kesi Dryden to chat about the upcoming album and tour, as well as all of the things that have led to Rudimental’s monumental, long lasting success.

Hey Kesi! So I’ve just caught you saying how keen you are to be playing in Australia again. Is there anything you particularly enjoy about coming down here?
Yeah! I feel like Australia has always been almost our second home right from the start. We had huge support when ‘Feel The Love’ came out and we’ve just had ongoing support from Australia. The first time we came out and performed, I think it was Future Music Festival, the crowds were loving it right from the start. They were really up for it and they really love dance music and we really love performing it and just having a big party on stage really [laughs]. And yeah, I think the Australian fans just really enjoy that too.

Yeah! And it goes even beyond that! Like, I remember way back when Deep In The Valley came out and we would dance around to that. I think we’ve developed a bit of a reputation for being party people down here…
[laughs] Oh yeah definitely! And I think that’s why we do so well when we come to Australia, like, we’re Rudimental and we love to party. So I think it’s just a relationship that’s just meant to be you know? 

Yeah for sure! And I guess thematically your songs touch on themes like being hopeful, not giving up, loving each other and all of that kind of stuff that’s just really empowering and a lovely feeling for audiences. Do you guys feel that when you play them and write them?
Yeah definitely, I mean it’s always our intention to write uplifting music that can take you out of a negative headspace and put you into a good one. It’s definitely something we think about and we like to feel when we’re writing new songs. I’m glad it comes off that way and people respond to it in a good way because there’s a lot of negative things happening in the world and there’s a lot of negative music as well. So it’s good to sort of be like a positive light sometimes.

We got no time to sweat the bad stuff! And speaking about hopefulness and perseverance, you guys recently announced that you will be performing a show at The Royal Albert Hall raising funds to support the Teenage Cancer Trust in the UK. Do you feel like playing to support charities like that ties in well with the type of music you create? Do you have a history with this particular charity? What’s the story there?
We don’t have any particular charity that we like to support, but we always like to support people who are doing good things and helping people. We just thought we should put on a great big show, invite loads of guests and try and raise some money. The Teenage Cancer Trust is a great thing over here, so we thought what better way to celebrate the new album than to put on a show and have a fundraiser.

And I guess it would feel so wonderful knowing that you’re able to use the high platform that you’re on to promote such great causes.
Yeah it is! It’s something that we’ve always tried to do. We’ve worked with some different charities and it’s always good to help out when you have the platform that you do.

You just mentioned celebrating the release of this imminent album. First of all, congratulations. It is the third one. How are you feeling about it in the lead up to its release?
I feel really excited about it. It’s been a long time coming, so we’re just super excited to finally get it out there, I think it’s January 25th that it comes out. We’re really excited because we’ve taken a couple of years off the road touring, so we’re going to drop the album and then we’re going to get back on the road and we’ll be… I mean, you guys in Australia will be one of the first to be shown this album.

Oh, we know and we’re very excited [laughs]. So, considering it is the third album, and you know there’s this whole thing about when it’s the first album it’s your introduction to the world, second one is backing yourself up… are you feeling more relaxed with the third in terms of the anticipation of the release?
Yeah, I think so. We’ve always kind of been relaxed in terms of the way we do things and make music and I remember before the second album there were a lot of people asking us if we were nervous because there’s a lot of pressure – but I don’t think we’ve ever really felt that pressure. We just really wanted to make music that we loved and then just put it out there. If it does well then that’s great and if it doesn’t, well, we loved it anyways so we’ll move on to the next one.

So it’s as long as you guys are happy then. That’s cool! Going back to this new album, in terms of sound, how can we expect it to be different from your previous stuff? Are there any particular vibes or sources of inspiration from new places that fans can listen out for?
I guess with the album being called Toast To Our Differences, over the past four or five years we’ve toured all over the world and taken in new influences and met artists all over the world. This album is really about celebrating everybody’s differences and we’ve got some amazing artists collaborating on there from all walks of life like the Caribbean, Jamaica, from Ghana in Africa, from East London. It’s just a big mix of all these people together and sometimes they feature in the music in places where you wouldn’t expect them to. And yeah, it’s just a celebration of cultures and different sounds.

I guess being able to represent these cultures and paint them in a different light but placing their sounds into music where you wouldn’t expect it is a great thing itself. Do you feel a sense of gratification in being able to do that?
Yeah, and I think it’s something we’ve always tried to do, you know. To try something that’s a bit unorthodox or slightly unusual or different that might just make a piece of magic. Like our first single ‘Feel The Love’ being like a drum and bass record, and then we threw a trumpet solo right in the middle of it. People were like “You can’t do that!” and it’s just like, why not?! And it turned out to be one of the biggest parts of that record. So we always try to do things that are a bit unorthodox and slightly different.

In terms of mixing it up, you guys do tend to fluctuate between a lot of different styles- is there a phrase you use to describe yourselves to people? What do you describe your sound as?
Can I say it’s like a cross between electronic and soul? Kind of like soul-filled electronic music?

Soulful electronic?
[laughs] Yeah you could say that. It’s definitely something you can’t really box. 

And that’s interesting because there are a lot of people out there who would say that electronic music can’t have soul, but obviously your music puts a lot of feelings out there. What would you say to those people?
Well yeah, I mean it definitely can have soul. And I guess the way that we write music, although a lot of the finishings have an electronic sound and the production is electronic, all the songs are written using live instruments. And there are a lot of live instruments in our finished productions anyways and we mix them together. The way we create in the studio, we just normally get all the instruments out and press record and have a jam. We jam ideas together and that’s where I guess all the emotion and soul comes from because we’re literally just having fun and jamming as a band. And at the end of the session we sort of listen through and take all the good bits and write the songs to those. So yeah, electronic music definitely can have soul.

You guys are a band creating electronic music whereas a lot of other electronic artists work independently or in a duo. Do you think this gives you an edge creatively?
One-hundred percent. The fact that there’s four of us really shakes up our sound and we all get involved at every level from the writing to the production. We might have arguments about what’s best and certain sounds that should be in there and with the four of us its just the perfect formula really.

How do you guys settle the arguments? Do you fight it out?
Ahh, yeah. But I guess it’s a good thing. Like if we’re really passionate about a certain sound then we’ll fight for it and then the rest will be like “Heyyyy, maybe he’s onto something here.” and vice versa if we don’t like something. That way we will end up with the right balance.

And how do your collaborating artists influence these discussions? Is it different every time?
Yeah it’s definitely different every time. Sometimes we write the songs ourselves and then look for a collaborating artist and sometimes we’re in the studio writing with the collaborating artist. There’s no formula that we stick to and every song is a different process. It changes song by song.

What was the predominant methodology with this upcoming album then?
It was probably a bit of both. I’d say half and half. About half of the songs we wrote and then looked for the perfect collaborator and the other half we would be in the studio with the artist starting from scratch.

Do you have a preferred way of doing things personally? Or just open to whatever?
I think it’s fresh to keep mixing it up. I think if you just use one method it will get a bit boring so it just keeps it exciting when you’re changing up the process every time. 

So would you say changing it up is definitely you guy’s secret to keeping it up to date, modern, new and just generally fresh?
Oh yeah.

Cool! And in terms of the instruments, you guys have used quite a few different ones over the years and travelled through quite a few different vibes. How have you guys gone about finding those particular sounds?
I guess it’s just a lot of the experiences we’ve had and places we’ve been you know. The first album was like our introduction album to the world and we were basically at home in our studios and all of the sounds we had developed over the years sort of went into that first album. And then with the second album, it was being written whilst we were on tour, so we had a lot more live instruments and I guess that kind of shaped the sound of that album a bit more. Just being on the road and coming off stage and getting straight into the studio and sort of working on stuff there. With this third album, it’s more of us coming back to our studio at home and in a way going back to where we started and just building up a whole new sound bank of sounds and putting them together and really getting stuck into creating new music. 

Do you feel like the sound on this new album is going to be more well rounded and richer just because you have have had so many new experiences that you can draw from?
I think so. 

And apart from fighting it out over sounds, how do all four members of Rudimental’s different personalities influence the daily happenings of the band, like in studio and with playing shows and touring?
Well we all have quite different personalities as well. I’m probably the more, like, reserved one… most of the time. [laughs] You could catch me on a night out and see a different side to me but most of the time I tend to be more quiet and reserved. 

Quiet and reserved until otherwise influenced…
[laughs] Yeah exactly. And then you’ve got Locksmith who can be very outgoing and is kind of like the front man of the band and very out there. But at the same time, he can be very reserved and humble. And then we’ve got Amir who’s kind of like the cool cat and is always very cool and a deep thinker and Piers is kind of like the guy who brings us all together and is the comedian and loves to be head of the party. I think all of our different personalities create a nice balance and we all grew up and went to school together which is cool.

It must have been really cool to grow up with each other and see each other change over the years as well.
Oh yeah it’s been amazing. And we’ve been fortunate enough to be friends from school and now we’ve been touring and doing well in a band together traveling the world. It definitely makes things easier because there’s nothing we can’t say to each other. If someone’s feeling down, we all know straight away and can check in on people and see how they’re doing. It definitely helps when you’re touring the world to be with friends you’ve grown up with.

And I guess you can’t really hide too much when you’re on tour could you [laughs].
[laughs] No, no you definitely can’t. 

And speaking of touring, before you guys come to Australia, you’ll be performing a bunch of shows all across Europe. Do you have any particular places you love to go or have anything you love to do in different places that you’re keen for?
I think some of our favourite places in Europe are maybe Amsterdam, Belgium… I think mostly the fans over there are really vibey and we always seem to have great shows when we’re there. 

Do you notice your different crowds responding differently when you play specific songs? Like, in Europe versus Australia for example.
I mean you do see slight differences in different parts of the world. It’s hard to remember off the top of my head which songs went down better in different places but it’s always interesting to see how different songs get reactions. And some songs that were just album tracks and not even a single might just kick off in Australia or Amsterdam and don’t even kick of at home in England so it’s always interesting touring the world and seeing what songs really connect with the people that live there. 

In terms of the whole UK “scene” with electronic music and I guess music in general, how do you feel like that fostered you guys when you were younger?
It was definitely a big influence. When we were young, we grew up around that whole rave culture. There was that whole thing of sort of jungle and drum and bass music in London and a culture of going to warehouse raves and having all these big parties. And then there was the whole garage and house scene that came through a bit later and the grime scene after that. Growing up, all these sounds definitely influenced a lot of the music we make today. And where we all grew up was a very culturally diverse area of London so we had a lot of different cultures around us and things like reggae music and a lot of African music and folk music. There were all these different sounds and cultures just coming out of the London streets.

It’s so interesting to see how a community can foster a sound and even produce new sounds that have never existed before.
Oh definitely. It’s amazing.

TOAST TO OUR DIFFERENCES TOUR

FRIDAY, 8 FEB
MARGARET COURT ARENA, MELBOURNE | ALL AGES
Tickets via https://premier.ticketek.com.au

SATURDAY, 9 FEB
BONYTHON PARK, ADELAIDE PRESENTED BY SPACE EVENTS | ALL AGES
Tickets via https://premier.ticketek.com.au

SUNDAY, 10 FEB
OLD MT GAMBIER GAOL, MT GAMBIER PRESENTED BY SPACE EVENTS | ALL AGES
Tickets via https://premier.ticketek.com.au

WEDNESDAY, 13 FEB
HORDERN PAVILION, SYDNEY | ALL AGES
Tickets via https://premier.ticketek.com.au

FRIDAY, 15 FEB
MINDIL BEACH, DARWIN | ALL AGES
Tickets via https://premier.ticketek.com.au

SATURDAY, 16 FEB
RIVERSTAGE, BRISBANE| ALL AGES
Tickets via www.ticketmaster.com.au/

SUNDAY, 17 FEB
R.A.C. ARENA, PERTH| ALL AGES
Tickets via https://premier.ticketek.com.au

Photo by Dean Chalkley

Interview by CLARE NEAL.

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