Rudimental Talk 'We The Generation,' Major Toms [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]
UK electronic outfit, Rudimental, have been responsible for some of the most soulful dance tracks of the past few years. Their 2012 breakout single, "Feel The Love," propelling the duo to become stars in the UK and Europe before the release of their debut album, Home, the following year. After touring constantly for the past three years, the foursome of Piers Agget, Amir Amor, Kesi Dryden and DJ Locksmith are ready to release their followup sophomore effort titled We The Generation. Music Times had a chance to catch up with the band a short while ago before a listening party where they played a lot of the songs from the album (and for the record, they sound bigger, more soulful and bolder then the Rudimental we have come to love). We chatted with Rudimental about the album, the challenges they faced while making it, Major Toms and much more.
Asked jokingly if they would ever have Major Lazer on Major Toms, they seem open to the idea, but concede "it's just about being in the same location for more then 24 hours without partying."
We also discussed with Rudimental how they were able to get the various collaborations on the album and go back in time to when they were in the studio with Steely Dan's Donald Fagen.
Catch part one of our interview here and watch the recently released video for Rumour Mill featuring Annie-Marie and Will Heard.
MT: What does the title of your album, We the Generation, mean?
Locksmith: We the Generation is about family. It's not just about music -- it's not just about what you do. It's about family and everything. We see it as our music revolutionizing not only the world, but us as well. We need to take that to as many places as we possibly can so this is not just about us -- it's about you, working your interviewing jobs. It's about the person over there working his job whatever he's doing. We're all coming together and we're standing up for a belief that we feel strongly about. We're doing it for music obviously, but we are the generation and we're standing for it and we're coming for it and we're coming to a place near you.
Amir: It's a title that really covers the whole sound of this album. We come from a very eclectic place and unintentionally represent all sorts of different backgrounds in our music and that's really reflected in the whole sound. "We the Generation" is actually a song that we wrote on the record and the name came at the end of the album. When we finished the album, we were thinking of names and it summed up that it was the most obvious answer because all of the different influences that we grew up with are represented on there and the message that, naturally, we push on all of our lyrics. Again, we don't do it intentionally, but when looking back at the whole record when we finished it, the message here is always positivity. It's always having hope, whatever background you're from, whether it's from a dark place. We've experienced a lot of different inspirations throughout the last three years after Home and I think this really encompasses that. It's that same positive message.
Locksmith: It's a movement that we're doing. We're feeling like we're having to knock down barriers and we have to defy odds. This is a dream for us so with all that said, we are the generation bringing a new music, a new sound.
MT: How is it different from Home, what you're doing now?
Kesi: I think there are some similar elements to the first record, but it's a progression from it as well. The last three years of us playing together live has really helped us in terms of producing the new album and the way we write our songs. When we get in the studio and start vibing together and having fun, the cohesion between us is so much stronger. The music and ideas we create are so much stronger as well. I think the new album has a little more of a live element to it. It's still promoting some of the similar messages as the first one, the positive vibes and moments to take people on journeys.
Amir: The soul influence has come out a lot more this time. Just naturally the way we write the songs now is a lot more organic. We know each other better -- we've been on so many stages around the world together and we feel a lot closer as friends and as a family. Musically, as he said, it's moved on in a sense that it's more live; it's more soulful but still has the same energy as the club culture that we came from which is grime, drum and bass and house music.
Piers: There's also so much sh*t out there, this is much better.
MT: What was the biggest challenge in making this album?
Amir: It's a blessing and a curse because we traveled so much. We got straight into success after our first hit, "Feel The Love," and had to go on the road straight away. It's been two years since our first album came out in the UK, but actually for us, the amount of time spent on it is a lot less than that. But having said that, the inspiration that we've picked up from around the world and we took back into our studio in London is immeasurable really. It's really boosted our confidence in our music making. We're a lot more unified and our music is a lot more refined.
Piers: I think the biggest challenge is our personal lives kind of just took a back seat for about three years. I think one of the hardest points for me is trying to come off tour and remember what my life was three years ago. We've all got our different personal backgrounds and it was like trying to pick up where you left off because we literally went on the road for three years. You'll have the labels and various people around you saying are you going to change your sound, are you going to be the same, and you have to forget all of that and be like, "alright what does this song need?"
Amir: The great thing about us is that we're a unit; we're a cocoon in our own world. So the label pressures and pressures that people put on us for the second record is actually nothing compared to the pressure we put on ourselves. So it's good that we're stubborn in that way and we've progressed with our sound and pushed through with it regardless of any sort of other factors that may influence that.
MT: Will the new album impact your live show, like, who you bring on stage as guests?
Piers: Yeah definitely. I think we love to ask a few of our collaborators to come out with us. I think our live show, as it stands, is big enough as it is we've got 11 people on stage. We have Will Heard, who's one of the unknown singers on the new album. He plays saxophone with us and then comes to the front to do his songs. There's lots of those moments on the show without even asking any of our special friends like George Clinton or Donald Fagen to come out on stage with us... Without asking Ed Sheeran to join us. We've got those moments in the show because the show is all about the whole band, it's not about one person shining. The influences we draw from people like George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic and Sly & Family Stone... It was a group of people -- it's a vibe and it's a family on stage.
Kesi: With the first album, to start at the time, we had John Newman and Ella [Eyre] come sing with us. So we've kind of replicated that with this new show having the new styles of the new album. Anne-Marie and Will Heard come sing with us in all of our live shows. It's a great platform for them and also for us promoting our new album.
MT: What's the vision for your label now?
Amir: Major Tom's started as a way for us to (firstly) keep our outside influences and be confined within our own environment. It naturally was that anyway. It started as a way to keep our singers as part of the family and then when they're ready to fly away, they'll fly away with us still working with them producing, writing and things like that. On the first album, obviously we discovered some artists who went on to do massive things on their own.
Amir: Major Tom's at the beginning of it was an idea to hold on to these singers and to continue collaborating in the future. What it's become now is much more than that. We're looking at producers; we're looking at a whole roster of people. We look at it as a generation of new sounds and new music coming through a platform for people who wouldn't have had a voice before. This album showcases some of the voices, like Anne-Marie, that we're going to put out through Major Tom's and through our future albums as well.
Locksmith: I think that these artists, with them coming to perform with us. The development process that this label can provide for these guys, we look at some of our vocalists like Anne-Marie from the start to where she is now and it's more or less unrecognizable. That's the kind of element we want to keep in the record label. The fact that we're seeing the raw talent within these individuals and we know we can harness that, heighten that, as well as give them some of the knowledge that we've picked up over the last 3-4 years and then hopefully they go on to do bigger and better things. It's about developing; it's about providing the platform because we're lucky enough to be in the public eye now where we perform to 20-50,000 people every weekend. So there's no better way of developing an artist then putting them in the forefront in front of 50,000 people. I think that's what the label's about.
Piers: Major Tom's is like the Rudimental Academy of Music, School of Excellence. There's a quote for you. If you look at it like how school is run.
Locksmith: In essence, Major Tom's has always been around us. John Newman came through Major Tom's, although he may not have on paper, the whole essence of it he did. He grew through that.
MT: Have you road tested any of the tracks yet?
Piers: We're playing quite a few of the new ones. This year we've been rehearsing and finishing the album, in and out of the rehearsals and then back to finishing the album. So the good thing about us is what really helps us finish records is playing them live. Over this year, we went out and played some gigs and we went back to the studio and tweaked them. It really helps our craft to discover new ideas and how to finish records. Sometimes it comes together live.
Amir: For me, it's almost like starting again. That excitement we had coming into the first album, it feels renewed again because we're playing these new songs and we've changed things around on stage. Kesi's playing drums at one point. We're swapping instruments again and it's so much fun for us to do that. Whenever we have new songs to put in a set, it's like a blank canvas, like "how should we play this one, what should we do this time?" So it's really exciting for us to have the new songs in. We have been playing them for a few gigs, but we're still improving them and changing them slightly each time. By the end of the summer, by September, when our album is out, these songs will have been refined throughout the summer. We would've played them a whole lot of times by that point.
Locksmith: Which I think is compelling because I don't know about you, but when I go to see a live show I don't want to see the clean-cut, this is perfect. You want to see the raw side of it sometimes. You're definitely going to see us f*ck up over the summer. Be prepared for that. But I think there's a beauty to that because it's a part of the finishing process, the audience were a part of that.