Groove Armada: I don’t think we’ll make an album again
As they embrace their new Red Light era, I caught up with Tom Findlay from the internationally renowned dance duo before their set at Exit Festival. Speaking about illegal downloading and moving on from CDs, he explains why Groove Armada won’t be making any more albums and also how he’d like to tempt George Michael to play in his ideal festival line up.
There are a lot of people waiting to interview you tonight. How do you handle the promotion side of things?
I don’t have to do it very often so I’m fine with it. There was a period in my career when it was quite a regular thing, so I look at people like Chase and Status – and they’re obviously having a great time, so good luck to them- and think they must be living that hell right now. It can become a thing where you’ve sort of forgotten the reason you got into it in the first place.
What do you get tired of being asked?
I get tired of being asked who I would want to collaborate with, you know.
Cross that one off then! Prince is the one you seem keen on…
Yes, Prince is the one. And in a way I wouldn’t want to collaborate with him because I wouldn’t know what to do as he’s 50 times the musician I am on every single instrument. It would just be a completely pointless experience for everyone. But I’d love him to come and play at Lovebox (the festival produced by Groove Armada), that would be amazing! Now he’s playing Hop Farm somehow that seems possible.
Lovebox seems to be getting more and more popular…
Yeah, the next will be the tenth year and that’s amazing considering it sort of started as a kind of gig on Clapham Common. Now it’s like, I go into the office I’m kind of humbled by the whole operation. I’m still very involved in it and I have a lot of input with the artists and stuff and who we book. And when we go to festivals like this I use it as a great opportunity – Santigold is playing on this stage in a bit so I’m gonna see if she’s worth the money. But it’s not really about us and I get kind of a bit annoyed when I read that it’s a festival that is curated and run by Groove Armada because it couldn’t be further from the truth. We are a very small part of Lovebox.
So in your ideal lineup, who would you have up there?
The way we break it down now, we do three days which are very distinctive; Friday is sort of the younger brother of the event so it’s a bit angsty – I’d love to see The Horrors play there one year, but they seem to be attached to Field day at the moment. Justice would be amazing. Saturday would be Prince, every year – he could have a residence there. Sunday it would be George Michael, who is kind of a real hero of mine, because basically I’m a bit of a soul boy really. Sunday is a gayer day for us, and apparently he wants to give back to the gay community so this is the moment to give back, so yeah, George.
You use kinect cameras in your new Groove Armada red light show, whose idea was it to include them?
Some clever fella – a friend of a friend called Jake. He had this idea and got hold of this clever guy called Matt who is a programmer, he managed to hack into this code and use them, so I can control how they look from a computer. The idea is we’ve got lots of decks and computers making funny noises but then we also run the lighting and the lasers and visuals at the same time, so it’s quite busy! And when it’s going well it’s great because we never play the same set, and this is more of a DJ vibe.
What could go wrong then?
Well, everything could crash which it does all the time basically but apart from that, nothing. You could not DJ properly, you know, get too drunk and fall over, there are a million things that could go wrong!
So could you get too drunk tonight?
Yeah – probably not actually! It’s almost midnight now so it’s unlikely unless I really go at it!
You’re obviously renowned for dance music, do you think Brits will get bored of it?
I don’t, because I kind of think you don’t need massive studios and you don’t need to be that musical to do it, it’s just this constant, constant innovation that just keeps coming. As long as Dance music innovates and doesn’t get lazy, I don’t see why it would ever go away.
Where are you favourite places to play?
Well this is great, this is amazing, but Australia is great. I love playing back in London every now and then because it’s a sort of home town vibe. I love going back to the States where dance music started.
Three years ago you guys joined Bacardi to make B-Live Share for file sharing, what are your views on illegal downloading?
You know what, I’ve kind of come full circle about it. There was part of me that was just like, the genie is out of the bottle so why don’t we just go with it? And now I think with independent labels, it’s so cheap now to buy a tune – so why don’t they just buy the tune and keep these labels going? They only need to sell 4000 copies a tune. So I don’t really share music with people in that way, I don’t think it’s right. I just think, be aware of what you are doing and who you’re putting out of business – there are little kids running labels on ten grand a year and that’s basically their bread and butter, so on that level I think it’s a shame.
You made Black Light without a record label, would you do that again?
I don’t think we’ll make an album again full stop. We’re launching a Red Light sort of label where we’re going to release our own music as EPs, and I’m doing that myself with a tiny little French distribution company. I was very fortunate to be part of the golden years of the music industry – the tail end of when people were buying CDs – and it was a kind of fascinating experience to be part of all that for a while, but I have no desire to go back to it.Tagged in: Andy Cato, dance music, Groove Armada, music, Tom Findlay
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