Clean Bandit tackles real world sh*t in their “Symphony” video
It’s no secret that musicians can get a lot of shit for voicing their political opinions. Artists are often dragged down for speaking about anything other than their latest single or where they blacked out last weekend.
Still, that doesn’t stop artists like Clean Bandit from voicing their beliefs. While the Grammy-winning electronica trio are responsible for some of the most popular dance tracks out there (“Rather Be,” “Rockabye”… the list goes on), they are also super serious about creating things that don’t just make people want to get lit, but actually have an emotional impact on the world.
Their latest video for their hit single “Symphony” (featuring Zara Larsson) focuses on the relationship between two gay black men, a minority group that you def don’t see starring in any movies or music videos. With all of the political chaos happening in the world, Grace, Luke and Jack want to make sure they can be as involved as possible. Check out our Q&A with them below.
I know you produce your own music videos. Why was it important for you to focus on a bit of a darker storyline for the Symphony video when the song is so upbeat?
Grace: The song did feel more emotional than normal, like more kind of epic. So we wanted to reflect that. Most of our videos are quite collage-y and fun.
Jack: I think we saw it as an opportunity to create a much more kind of narrative video and work with professional actors. It’s something we all want to try and do more kind of fiction films and moving out of music videos eventually.
Luke: We’re all obsessed with TV.
Grace: I think with everything going on in the world right now, it’s difficult times, especially for certain minority groups. We definitely wanted to make something with more meaning than just us going about our day. (laughs)
I heard you’d given a speech on gay marriage in Russia and had gotten booed. Did you take anything away from that experience? Did that inspire the storyline for Symphony at all?
Grace: It was mixed. It was in this huge arena, but the cheering was kind of drowned out by the booing. We’ve always wanted to make a video about being gay in Russia, so when we were coming up with this idea that was one idea. But then we decided not to do that. That was a long time ago actually, I think it was three years ago. So this kind of wasn’t that related.
What is your opinion on haters who may say that artists should keep their political opinions to themselves?
Jack: I think its only the people who don’t like what the artist might have to say, say that. I think what just happened in the UK really has proven that. I feel so proud that Grace got so heavily involved (in regards to the UK’s general election), using our platform. I feel like the young people and the young musicians that were involved in the political campaigning definitely had an impact.
Grace: It’s been the largest turnout of young voters.
Luke: Yes, 72%.
Grace: I also think that because so much of the newspaper and news outlets are biased for whatever reason, it’s really important now that we have Twitter and Instagram, anyone can just say their opinions. Often you can get a more reliable news source than the actual papers that are being funded.
Did you have a lot of people reaching out to you on social media after the Symphony video was released?
Grace: The Rockabye video we had a lot of mothers and people who’d grown up with single parents and that was really touching seeing the comments on YouTube.
Jack: Yeah, comments we weren’t expecting kind of saying how it really emotionally effected them and that we should put a help line on the video. We weren’t really weren’t expecting that reaction at all. It’s quite overwhelming to know that you’re having that kind of effect on certain people.
Grace: For Symphony, I haven’t actually been on YouTube and looked at the comments but from people we know they say they’ve cried watching it.
Luke: Yeah, our parents cried watching it!
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I’ve always wondered if “Rockabye” was based off of a true story, is it?
Jack: We wrote the song with an amazing songwriter called Ina Wroldsen and she kind of had the idea. It’s not really a true story, it’s not like her story. But what I did find interesting was that she did have a six-year-old kid and I felt like she could really put herself in the place of the woman in the story. I think that’s why it kind of rings true in the delivery.
Grace: Actually, it turned out to be the true story of Rita Conte who played the mother character in the video. But when we’d asked her to do it, we didn’t realize it was her story and she got very emotional. Really, we’d asked her because she’s an incredible gymnast but during the shooting she got quite emotional and said the story really touched her. She was an exotic dancer trying to make money trying to give her son a good life and then she opened this pole dancing academy where she teaches.
Have any of you written a song about a specific relationship or person? If so, what do you think they’d say if they knew it was about them?
Luke: I haven’t, no. I’ve written in the mindset of someone else, imagining someone else’s situation, kind of like Rita.
Jack: Me too, we need to grab the bull by the horns and expose ourselves!
Grace: I guess because often the lyrics are written by the singers or other lyricists, we focus on the music. Rather Be was almost finished before we knew what it would be about in terms of lyrical content.
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What is your go-to love song?
Luke: “Something About Us” by Daft Punk.
Jack: “How Deep Is Your Love” by the Bee Gees.
Grace: I don’t know, I think if I was heartbroken I’d try to avoid music because it just makes you cry! Like any song. I’d probably listen to “Tears” by Clean Bandit.
What usually helps you get through a broken heart?
Luke: Music, because I feel like it inspires you to get on with it.
Grace: And exercise! We’ve all kind of gotten quite into exercising lately.
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Ok, one last fun question. What’s the last photo you took on your phone?
Luke: I think it was of a swimming pool!
Grace: I think mine was of my hotel room.
Luke: Oh no! It was of Abelton (music production software)! That says a lot.
Jack: Mine was of Pro Tools (music production software). That’s the last one I took.
Photography by @photosbykeridolan
Catch Clean Bandit on tour
Clean Bandit US Headline Tour (With Anne-Marie)
Oct 1 in Orlando, FL at The Beacham
Oct 2 in Miami FL at Revolution
Oct 3 in Tampa, FL at State Theatre
Oct 5 in Charlotte, NC at The Fillmore
Oct 6 in Norfolk, VA at The NorVa
Oct 7 in New Haven, CT at College Street Theatre
Oct 9 in Brooklyn, NY at Brooklyn Steel
Oct 10 in Pittsburgh, PA at Mr. Smalls
Oct 13 in Indianapolis, IN at Deluxe
Oct 14 in St. Louis, MO at Ready Room
Oct 16 in Kansas City, KS at Granada
Oct 17 in Omaha, NE at Slow Down
Oct 19 in SLC at Grand at the Complex
Oct 21 in Los Angeles, CA at NoVo