If you were picking a list of the most rock and roll instruments, it’s unlikely that the violin or cello would feature high on the chart. Sure, indie bands will slap a string section over their latest four-chord plodalong to give it an unearned air of gravitas, but it’s rarely an integral part of the music. Even in dance and electronic, where a wider palette of sounds is the norm, they will usually synthesise their string players rather than resorting to creaky wooden instruments operated by real fleshy humans.
All of which makes the string-powered Clean Bandit pretty unusual. Coming together at Oxford University, they offer a lively concoction of chart-friendly dance music with cello and violin arrangements at its beating heart. Working with a range of different vocalists, a run of singles including ‘Dust Clears’ and ‘A&E’ alongside tireless work on the festival circuit has seen them quietly build up their profile – despite being lumbered what has to be one of the worst names in modern music.
Regardless of their lah-di-dah Oxbridge background and classical stylings, the members of Clean Bandit have an impressively wide array of musical influences.
“Well the first album I bought was by Ace of Base,” cellist Grace told Spark. “But before that a lot of Mozart, Haydn and Beatles etc via my parents. Then after leaving primary school I got into Nirvana and frequented a club called the Dome in North London. Jack and Luke frequented a similar club in Liverpool called the Crazy House, and have both played in rock and funk bands prior to Clean Bandit. Jack’s main love growing up has been jazz musicians such as John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Django Reinhardt etc. Neil is the DJ and violinist amongst us and grew up on garage and violin.”
Mmm, garage and violin. Two great tastes that taste great together.