Groove Armada Biography
However, he credits his cousin Digs (a member of the cult house collective DIY) for his induction into the acid house explosion that swept the length and breadth of Britain. "We crossed the country in my Hillman, stopping at service stations and waiting for the phone call with the final location...the DIY parties; Basics [Leeds], Hacienda [Manchester], Kaos 1989-95 were like nothing I've seen anywhere in the world".
In 1991, Andy moved to London. "I was in Brixton on the dole, with a bedroom studio bought with a bank loan, teaching myself all aspects of the business. During this time I went through every music business cliche of management sharks, record company politics and missed opportunities. Success? In the end, it's just like your Gran always said. Stick at it."
Tom Findlay discovered at a very young age that his life would be defined by the obscure funk and soul 45" discs he played non-stop. Throughout his youth, his music tastes evolved to embrace everything from punk, jazz, disco, Black Sabbath and electro before, eventually, he discovered house music. He'd set about learning keyboard and guitar in his bedroom, and by the age of 16 he was DJing at parties.
From Cambridge, Tom became a familiar face in the free-rave scene. In 1991, he signed up to Manchester University. Upon realising that he spent more time in the Hacienda nightclub than at lectures, he and a few likeminded friends (now better known as Grand Central and Simian Mobile Disco) launched what would become hugely successful music careers by beginning their own weekly club night. Then, on placement at a college in America, Tom embarked on a lifelong love affair with the sound of black America, a groove that would form the foundation of all of his later productions.
Having met in the early 90's, not long after they'd started discussing music Tom and Andy were promoting their first London club night together. Called 'Captain Sensual at the Helm of Groove Armada' it took place at the Gardening Club 2, Covent Garden, getting off to a shaky start. However it was this night in 1995 which led to a series of parties, a band and eventually a festival. All of these grew from strength to strength and continue to thrive in their individual rights to this day.
Groove Armada's Tom Findlay and Andy Cato started pulling together ideas in poky little studios more than ten years ago. Since then, their careers have blown up.
Their first production, a limited edition 7" 'At the River' surpassed everyone's expectations in the world of dance and media. Signing to Tummy Touch Records in 1997, Groove Armada's debut album 'Northern Star' was released the same year.
From such instantaneous success it felt like a short hop and dancefloor skip to worldwide fame, via 4 further studio albums, various compilations, remixes and 'Best Of's', becoming one of the best known and most loved dance acts. Marking 10 years since the release of their debut album, 2007 saw the band celebrate their anniversary by releasing compilation album 'GA10 - 10 Year Story'.
Uniquely, Groove Armada have always managed to straddle the worlds of upbeat dance music and mellow chill-out tunes. The former have filled stadiums with crowds bouncing along to the big band sound, while their down tempo work made it on to the thousands of chill-out compilations that saturated the 1990's. By making tunes that soundtrack the party warm up, the party proper and the day-after-the-night-before, they're the ideal companions for a night on the tiles from its beginning to its bitter end.
Groove Armada can't help but create songs that burst out of the studio and spread all over the place. At The River, If Everybody Looked the Same, Superstylin', I See You Baby - these are towering songs of our times. But if you're restlessly inventive, you don't want to be defined by your past, no matter how shiny and brilliant. They continue to be a global force in dance music, having incorporated everything from folk to psychedelic soul to country-rock into their bassy house style.
Today, their songs belong to all the clubbers, gig-goers, Top 40-watchers, festival fans, and the three million people who have ever bought one of their many artist albums or compilations.
Their next studio album is due for release in early 2009.
Naturally, being so popular means that Groove Armada's tunes translate best on stage in front of enthused crowds. Since their 1995 inception, their live shows have offered euphoria, skilled musicianship, immersing light shows, energy and love...
Seminal singles such as 'Song 4 Mutya' and 'I See You Baby' sound idyllic in a live setting. One minute you'll be jumping in unison, arms in the air, alongside thousands of others to 'Superstylin'. The next you'll be swaying to 'At the River', marvelling that the trombone solo still sounds as magical as the best sunrise anthems did during Britain's late-80s rave culture.
As core visionary geniuses with penchants for brass sections, strings, keyboards and excellent, energised vocalists, the duo's combined love of so much different music inspires them to dish out house basslines, 80's pop samples and stonking anthemic choruses with equal aplomb. Put that on a stage and you've got dance music's most enlightened musical firework show. To engage with them while pogoing in a field or concert hall is the ultimate buzz.
Needless to say, their live set up is the cornerstone and catalyst for everything else they do. 2008 saw both boys on stage for the first time in several years, although GA live is certainly not just about Tom and Andy, incorporating a 9-piece band, amazing visuals, lights and laser show.
The band has played all over the world, 2007 alone taking in Russia, New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey, Los Angeles, two sold out tours of the UK, which culminated in three consecutive sold-out nights at London's Brixton Academy, and two-sold out tours of Australia, ending with a live New Year's Eve gig for 20,000 people on Bondi Beach, Sydney.
Festival appearances that year included Rock Ness, Isle of Wight, Fuji Rock, Pukkelpop, Amsterdam Dance Event, The Falls Festival & Southbound, amongst others. Not ones to slow down, Groove Armada upped the ante in 2008, playing live in Ibiza, Belgium, Spain, Lithuania, Ukraine, Miami, a 2 week tour of South America, various UK dates and several international festivals - the pinnacle of which was their show-stopping headline performance on the Other Stage at Glastonbury.
"Go in BIG, grab the balls, settle into some chunky groovers, build up into a mixture of big tunes and old time underground classics, drop 'Superstylin'... Adjust to taste." Tom and Andy are, of course, describing their DJ sets with a twinkle in their eyes, for just as no two Groove Armada singles are the same, neither are two Groove Armada DJ sessions.
The secret to their deck wizardry is down to knowing each other so well. Ten years of working side by side comes with the prize of being able to read each other's moods to work a crowd together. Usually they'll play three records on, three off, "or two on, two off when we're feeling racy," laughs Tom. Complementing each other's style, they propel clubbers to ecstatic heights.
A history of spinning at small house parties initiated Groove Armada's passion for playing at venues where they're 'on a level with the crowd'. It's how their charm works best. That's not to say that they don't do large crowds; on New Year's Day 2008, for example, they had 25,000 dancers going nuts in Melbourne. They've DJ'd together and apart all over the world and are particularly enamoured with the birthplace of disco, New York.
Playing at the highly paid celeb bashes has also been interesting - and they've played for a few superstars - because as Andy reasons, "a bit of people watching is always good, and now and again you end up in a hot tub with someone you never thought you would."
Most notably, Tom and Andy have enjoyed (and survived) several summer seasons DJing in Ibiza, including residencies at Space, considered by many to be the mecca of all European clubs. 2008 saw them team up with Pete Tong for a new night 'Wonderland' at Eden in San Antonio, hosting the Lovebox sessions in the backroom as well as playing their fair share of main room slots.
At the turn of the new millennium, Tom and Andy decided that they wanted to develop a winning formula for great parties with that extra special something. Out of a love for the many different types of music that feed into music culture, Lovebox was created with the intent of bringing fresh and extraordinary sounds from a variety of genres, to people's ears and feet.
Lovebox has grown from this humble concept into the capital's most unique and authentic music festival. Starting in 2000 on Clapham Common and attracting 20,000 guests, today the Lovebox Weekender is an annual music, arts, gastronomic, creative and family fun-filled outdoor event. It now takes place every July on Victoria Park, Hackney, with 45,000 people attending.
Lovebox continues to be lovingly put together by a growing team of enthusiasts who live and breathe music, art and London culture in its many variations. The result is an annual event that stays true to the origins of music festivals. With a winning musical formula now established, new bands clamour to play while the headline acts get bigger; Manu Chao, The Flaming Lips, Goldfrapp, The Human League, Blondie and Groove Armada have all topped the bill.
In 2008, a fully fledged Lovebox magazine was launched and distributed with Vice Magazine, the new and cutting edge Lovebox website has received critical acclaim, Channel 4 screened a two part documentary on the festival, XFM broadcast live from the event, Volume 2 of the compilation CD series was released and Time Out ran a full page leader dedicated solely to the dozen strong Lovebox after-parties. Onwards and upwards...2009 can only get bigger.
Groove Armada's parkland affairs have proved that Londoners don't need to get on a motorway to get their festival fix. What's more there is an on-going year round roster of events in the UK, Ibiza and beyond, all of which are underpinned by the same uncompromising music policy. If you don't live in London, you'll be seeing Lovebox in a city near you very soon.
Exiting their 5 album recording contract with Sony BMG in 2007, Groove Armada are now spearheading a new era of forward thinking in the music industry.
Signing a one year multi-faceted marketing agreement, GA are set to record and release new material exclusively through Bacardi rum and its popular Bacardi B-Live global music experiences. They will also perform live at multiple Bacardi B-Live events across five continents, headlining and curating each event line-up, which feature one-off collaborations with both local and internationally known artists. Bacardi will film and record all of these events so fans will be able to keep up to speed as events unfold throughout the months.
"After Groove Armada's tenth anniversary year of huge gigs (in 2007), we were looking for ways to take things to another level. Working alongside Bacardi we have the chance to take the GA travelling show to new people and places, find innovative ways of getting our music out there, and keep the stories flowing for the GA Road Movie with Bacardi B-Live," says Andy Cato of Groove Armada.
This innovative partnership is particularly topical as artists and the music industry seek to find new business models and partners. Groove Armada's new collaboration promises to set a precedent as to how both artists and brands can reap the rewards of a mutually beneficial relationship.