The London-based quartet are a strange mix of classical, hip hop and electronica but it seems to be working, with hits such as Mozart’s House and A&E. Grace Chatto (strings) talks to us ahead of a tour which sees them perform at Leeds Cockpit on 21 October and at Gorilla, Manchester, on 24 October.
Where do you find your lyrics emerge from?
The writing of lyrics is done by a lot of people, so it differs from song to song. The lyrics for The Telephone Banking were written by Ssegawa, the singer of the song, our friend from university (who also sings on Mozart’s House). The phrase ‘Hey Grace, guess what? Cool’ is based on how he thought my conversations with Neil (violin) always go. Sseg found this funny and wrote the song around it.
You have so many different aspects to your sound. Do you ever have too many ideas and have to self-edit?
Yes, sometimes things get overcrowded and we ditch stuff. Jack plays a million different instruments so it’s often tempting to add layers of instruments. We like to have string quartet parts in most songs and because Luke is such a master drummer, we like to challenge him with complex beats.
How do you select the right vocalist for the tracks?
It is fairly instinctive, although often we write the instrumental part with a particular vocalist in mind. For example, our song UK Shanty we wrote with the singer Eliza Shaddad. We knew we wanted to make a video in the sea, and to have her folk vocals, so we wrote that sea shanty melody. We heard her busking on the street in Shoreditch and knew she was perfect. Recently we’ve been working with a lot more female vocalists than male, but we have actually just finished a song that we definitely want a deep male voice for.
Did you enjoy playing the festivals this summer?
It was absolutely amazing. There was actually a lot of recognition for the songs. The best crowds were at Reading and Leeds. It was amazing to see tents full of teenagers going absolutely crazy to our songs. It was definitely very surreal.
How important are the videos?
They are as important as the music. We see them as being a perfect compliment to each other. One would not exist without the other. We like to think that we produce music videos, not just music or videos.