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It's the music, not the Grammy, that transformed Clean Bandit

It’s easy to dream of a Grammy: Accepting the award, thanking the all the people. It seems so glamorous. So life-changing.

And it's so not that simple.

Jack and Luke Patterson get this. They won a Grammy. Their lives did change. But they are not sure it’s the trophy that did it. Rather, it’s the song that got them there – “Rather Be,” the world’s second best-selling track in 2014, and the winner of the Grammy for Best Dance Recording – that transformed their group, Clean Bandit. The deejay brothers are two-thirds of the English electronic music group, which also includes cellist Grace Chatto.

Clean Bandit will be playing June 18 at Canalside as part of WKSE-FM’s annual Kiss the Summer Hello concert. I sat with the Pattersons this week after the group’s set at another radio show, the PXY Summer Jam in Rochester.

At a table inside Clean Bandit’s trailer, with a couple of half-finished ginger beers in front of them, I talked to the brothers about the effect of having a hit, the art of the remix, and Clean Bandit’s new single “Symphony,” which features vocalist Zara Larsson.

Here’s an edited version of our conversation:

How did the Grammy change your life? How did it not?

Jack: It’s difficult to say. “Rather Be” was such a big global hit. Everything kind of changed at that time. So it’s difficult to know if it was the Grammy or that the song was being played all over the world. But things definitely did change.

Luke: It was our first proper hit.

Jack: It does change some things. It changes the credence you have. We got to meet so many amazing artists from being in that environment. You’re in a different level of whatever.

Luke: And it makes you think it is possible to do.

Let’s talk about those amazing artists you’ve met. Who has taught you something that has impacted you?

Jack: I always say that if you’re going to come to the show, you have to bring energy. I learned that from Stormzy. He’s always saying that. He is always telling his fans that if they don’t bring energy to the show, they can’t come. (He laughs.)

Basically, you should bring energy to your own live show. I think that’s what he is saying. He is bringing all this energy to his show. If you don’t show me the respect and bring your own energy, then what are you doing?

When you are making a remix, do you picture how the song will play in a dance club?

Luke: I think you have to, although it depends what you’re trying to do with the mix. Some remixes are songs that are not necessarily for the dance floor. It depends on your goal. If you want to own a dance floor, you should think about how people will react.

Jack: We just did one for (he names a major artist, but moments later asks to keep the name off the record, “because it may not be official yet”). It hasn’t turned it into a club banger. It’s just turned it into a different kind of song. We left the a cappella pretty much intact and reimagined the production. That’s quite interesting for us — to flip the genre of a track.

Take me into the studio for the recording of your new single “Symphony.” What were you trying to accomplish with it?

Jack: It’s an emotional banger. We produced it, and we’ve tried to deconstruct it again when we play it live. You build up and build up in the studio, and have loads of layers. When we sat down to learn it, there are tracks within the track and when you strip out the top layer, there is a ready-to-go remix.

But making the musical video for “Symphony” is where we really felt the message is coming through.

Luke: Yeah, definitely.

Jack: It was the first time we directed a fully narrative video and worked with professional actors. I think the message comes across most succinctly when you watch the song and the video together. … “I want to be part of your symphony” is like a metaphor for “I just want to be part of your world.”

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