Clean Bandit’s Grace Chatto speaks about new album, Neil Milan leaving and working with Elton John

I got the chance to interview the lovely Grace Chatto from Clean Bandit ahead of their MTV Crashes Plymouth festival. Grace spoke to me about what’s next for the band and whether they thought about disbanding when Neil Milan left. The band consists of Grace Chatto, and brothers Jack and Luke Patterson.

The MTV festival is coming up, have you got anything special planned for it?

Um … well … we’re going to be performing all of our hits and all so our new song ‘Just Connect’ we made with Marina and the Diamonds. Louisa Johnson is going to be at the festival too, I’m hoping we’re going to perform our single ‘Cheers’ together, which is going to be amazing because we don’t often get to do it with her because she’s on her own schedule and stuff, it’s amazing when we get to meet up and sing it together

Amazing yeah, there must be quite a few people there that you’ve collaborated with in the past, you say you don’t get to meet up with Louisa, is that the same with the others?

Yeah, well, we have two singers who we tour with live and often they sound better than they do on the recording so I’m very happy doing it with them all the time. But it is nice now and then to come together with Jess Glynne, or Zara Larsson, or Sean Paul and it’s just really fun because it like keeps it different. We never know when we’re going to be in the same country and for it to work out. So I’m really excited to do it with Louisa. It just adds a different dimension, it’s quite nostalgic actually – kind of going back to when we made it together.

Is there any musician that you really want to collaborate with?

Um so Bruno Mars is my favourite at the moment, I just think he’s an incredible musician; yeah, I’d really like to do something with him.

Yeah that would be a brilliant collaboration, definitely in my opinion one that you should do. We’ve heard that you’ve worked with Elton John on some stuff, when are we going to hear that?

Oh, good question! I don’t know.  We had a few studio sessions together and made a couple of songs, I’m really excited about them. It’s not finished yet so I’m not sure when they will be, because we’re touring so much at the same time as we’re trying to make songs things just take ages. Yeah, but, we’ve got loads of material to work with so I just need to get in the studio with Jack and go through it all and start producing it because it’s all sort of piano and voice at the moment.

How did that collaboration with Elton John come about? Did you approach him?

Yeah, well I met him at a party … at the Ivor Novello awards a couple of years ago now. And he sang ‘Rather Be’ to me and jack and we couldn’t believe that he knew it! And we’d actually been listening to one of his early albums loads around that time, and it was just amazing to bump into him and hear him singing one of our songs to us. So we thought, “oh my god, it would be amazing to do something together”, we didn’t expect him to say yes and he did and he came into the studio a couple weeks after that and it was just a surreal day, he was so lovely and so, he just had so many ideas flowing immediately and he was playing the piano all day – it was amazing.

I don’t suppose you’d like to get someone like Liam Gallagher or Stormzy on a Clean Bandit song as well because they’re quite big right now?

Um … yeah it would be great to do something with Stormzy. We’ve kind of spoken about it a bit and he seemed up to it at the time. So I’m hoping we can find a time to get together in the studio. Yeah, he’s amazing.

It must be quite difficult arranging everyone’s schedules, like you were saying it’s hard to get everyone in the studio at the same time. That must be the hardest part of it.

Exactly yeah, it’s a nightmare.

But you come out with some great songs so it’s worth the effort I imagine.

Yeah, definitely.

When Neil left were there any thoughts that Clean Bandit would come to an end?

No, no. I mean, to be honest when I started the band ten years ago there were 7 people in it, and gradually everyone was going separate ways, actually, when the first person left in the beginning he was our lead singer and it was at that point that we opened it up to be a kind of collective and so since then there has been so many people involved. There has been loads of violinists and loads of singers, Neil and Jack have been there since the beginning so they’re a very special part of it, but changes just mean new chapters really, there was never any thought that we might stop.

Are you still in contact with Neil?

No not much, we’re just away all the time so I don’t really see any of my friends. Um, yeah, so it’s just been so crazy since ‘Rockabye’ came out actually, we’ve just been travelling all over.

Obviously you’ve got quite a big fan base, what’s the strangest thing a fan has sent you?

Um … when we were in Japan we were given this amazing box with tiny roses in it which were all multicoloured and shaped in our logo and it was so beautiful, but nothing weird or freaky – that was like weird in that it was so beautiful.

Obviously you were at the GQ summer party – how was that?

Yes! The other night! Oh it was fun, it was, I ended up going clubbing with Sean Paul and all of our singers and we saw Louisa Johnson at the party and I was dancing with her and it was so much fun. I didn’t really know who was gonna be there when I went. I went on my own actually, because jack and Luke were away, and my boyfriend didn’t wanna come so I went on my own and I didn’t really know who I was gonna see, but I saw so many friends and it was really fun. I had a great night.

Are you working on a new song, because obviously you’ve just released a new single, is there a new album coming out?

Yeah!  Well the album, I think early next year, we’re kind of nearly finished with our second album but everything takes so much longer than expected. And we’re working on our next single now, because ‘Symphony’ has been out for a while now so we’re trying to decide which song we’re going to bring out next but we don’t know yet, and we definitely don’t know who’s gonna feature on it because we tend to leave the vocals till last – so yeah we don’t know who’s gonna sing it yet.

That must be exciting for both fans and yourself – never knowing who’s gonna be on it till the last minute.

Yeah, it’s exciting! Maybe we’ll meet someone

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