Feel the Love with Rudimental - interview

The Mercury-nominated success story talk ahead of Sandance

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Ahead of their Sandance gig, Rudimental’s Amir Amor talks to Peter Feely about their meteoric road to stardom.

With a UK No. 1 album and singles all within the past year, Rudimental are big news. Their debut chart topping track ‘Feel the Love’ became an overnight anthem and catapulted the group from playing to audiences in their hundreds to playing to thousands of adoring fans. Having seamlessly blended house music, drum and base, soul, funk, horns and live instruments, their music has a raw immediacy and their live performances have become major events, which Amir describes as a carnival with the ‘feel of a James Brown show back in the ’70s.’

The band members knew each other from their school days but learnt of their mutual appreciation of music through the London pirate radio scene in London. The name, Amir explains, came from drumming lessons at school, where you have to learn the basics of drumming, or ‘the rudiments’.

With such an eclectic number of sonic aspects to their sound, Amir mentions dance music, underground urban culture, London grime, garage and jungle as the scene they were into when they were growing up. Yet the key thing which differentiates Rudimental from other dance music outfits is their musicianship. In Amir’s words: ‘After school I think we all had this common thing of being into real instruments and playing real music.’

Through his interest in sampling old-school soul, Amir learnt to appreciate some of the great pop music legends ranging from Parliament-Funkadelic , Sly and the Family Stone and Ray Charles to Marvin Gaye and Otis Redding. These influences can be heard in the soulful melodies on their records. ‘Feel the Love’ features the vocals of fellow Londoner John Newman. Like the group itself, the collaboration was natural and organic. In fact they met him in their local pub. ‘He was doing an acoustic set at an open mic night in a pub and we were there. So we were there and we thought that is a wicked voice. And we already had ‘Feel the Love’ written so when we heard his voice it was the perfect fit for the track.’

With the exception of the critically acclaimed and Brit Award winning singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé, Amir explains that this process of turning to their mates was how they made their debut album Home. He explains. ‘Most of the people we worked with on the record were unsigned at the time and they’re all people that, as a producer, I was working with before Rudimental. When we put Rudimental together we just called up everyone that we knew and pretty much everyone we knew who we went to school with.’

The album was made in their local studio in Hackney, East London, and they simply drafted in musical acquaintances John Newman and trumpet player Mark Crown to contribute.

In the case of Emeli Sandé, they met at the Brit Award nominations in London. After a chat, she hopped in a cab and they headed straight to the studio. ‘We played her these ideas that we had and she helped us finish them off and we ended up with two songs.’

When the band hit the stage at Sandance, there will be nine people on stage with live horns and drums. Amir on the guitar, an organ and three singers. In Amir’s words the set will be ‘entirely live’.

But for all the recent acclaim, Amir still seems slightly taken aback by the success of the band’s music. He refers to a recent appearance at the Hackney Weekender as an example. Located on London’s Hackney Marshes, the venue marked ‘where we used to play football,’ Amir says, adding: ‘You can see Kesi’s [bandmate’s] mum’s house from the stage that we were playing on for 8,000 people – so that was a pretty
surreal experience.’

I ask him if he’s getting recognised on the street yet. In response, Amir merely quips that he’s ‘got the best of both worlds – musically we’re famous but we’re really not’. How long this remains the case however, has to be open to question.
Rudimental appear at Sandance on November 15. Dhs295-500. Atlantis Beach, The Palm, Palm Jumeirah. www.timeouttickets.com

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