Groove Armada: The Moment I Knew

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It can be a track, gig, a piece of art, or absolutely anything. We’re taking a look at the moments when artists realised they were going to dedicate their lives to music. 

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We spoke to Tom Findlay of Groove Armada on the two decade success that he has seen as a part of the band and DJ. Being one half of arguably one of the biggest British DJ duos of all time, we wanted to get an inside look at the moments that pushed him into music stardom.

groove armada 5.2.16_026bb_both
PHOTO CREDIT: Groove Armada

Hi Tom, thanks for chatting to us today!

Thank you very much for having me.

So, who were your musical influences when you were both growing up?

Just all the usual stuff, growing up in a time when the UK house music scene was exploding. I know Andy loved listening to Sasha DJ, and played a lot with a Nottingham party collective called DIY. I came at it more from a funk/soul kind of background, artists like Prince, Stevie Wonder, DJs like Mancuso and Funkmaster Flex were my heroes.

What was a fundamental track that led you to wanting to produce your own music?

That’s a good question, and I think it was probably a version of ‘Back To My Roots’ by Richie Havens.

When you first met, did you imagine that your career together would span this far and have such an array of success?

No. I mean I still find all of it surreal, none of this was planned.

At what point did you feel that you were really starting to make it in the music world?

In some ways that’s hard to judge as when you’re in it you’re just in, so it’s hard to see those staging posts so clearly. But looking back our first album review in Muzik Magazine feels like a landmark, playing Glastonbury for the first time, and in a different, and maybe less wholesome way, driving around in the back of a limo in NYC hearing ‘I see you Baby’ on the radio for the first time. Then there’s snapshots of gigs all the time - closing the second stage at Glastonbury - that come back from time to time which feel important in terms of a ‘career’.

Would you say that your production style has kept up with the musical changes over the past two decades?

I think you have to roll with the changes as much as you can whilst still being true to yourself and to your abilities. There was something great about chasing the R1 playlists and all that jazz for a while, but you get to a stage in your life when that just doesn’t feel very dignified anymore.

House music though has essentially stayed pretty close to its soul for all the time we’ve been involved with it, so you can do a version of that for 20 years without getting too confused or confusing too many people! I’m proud of everything we’ve done, none of it is more valid or more real.

What are some of your favourite memories of being a band and touring the world?

We had some great times in Australia, playing the Hordern Pavilion five nights on the spin and Brixton academy too. We got about as close to rock n roll as I’d hoped to during those times. Playing Centennial Park in Australia to 75,000 people I mean that really wasn’t supposed to happen (laughs).

groove armada mens band
PHOTO CREDIT: Gemma Bell

How do you think your recent music and shows have changed in style since you produced "I See You Baby" and "Superstylin'"?

There’s no pressure to produce hits which I think can be a good and a bad thing, but clearly it effects the way you approach songwriting. We’re in such a different place now, we work very differently and separately largely due to the fact we live in different countries. That has effected the sound more than anything probably.

How did your relationship with ANTS come about?

I honestly don’t know, but it’s been a lot of fun. We love the spot we get playing at Ushuaia, the sundown set, such a great vibe honestly - and all the parties on the road are on point. We’re happy to be part of such a fine collective really, and the Summer with them looks great - sharing a stage with Waze and Odyssey, Eats Everything, Andrea Oliva, Maya Jane Coles, Kölsch, it’s a wonderful thing to be involved in.

groove armada mens ants brixton
PHOTO CREDIT: Gemma Bell

When you first started Lovebox in 2002 did you ever imagine how well it would be doing 15 years later?

No, and if I did I probably wouldn’t have sold it! Obviously its strange going back and it’s odd really, it being a 15 year anniversary and us not being there, but I still have friends that work there and I’m pleased it’s doing so well. I look at an artist like Frank Ocean playing there this Summer and it puts everything into some sort of perspective.

Have you got any big plans or festivals lined up for 2017?

Some great shows yeah - the residency with Ants is a highlight, Common People will be cool too.

Finally, is there any artist that you would love to work with in the future?

We’re in a lovely position now in the twilight of our careers where we get to do stuff without a huge amount of pressure, so we’re remixing London Grammar which is great, and at the same time working with Steve Lawler, and then Paul Simon, so we’re covering a lot of bases right now. I look back and think about working with Richie Havens, Neneh Cherry, and I feel fulfilled.

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