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EDM Feature - Andy Cato of Groove Armada Drops Knowledge, Magnetic Listens

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EDM Feature - Andy Cato of Groove Armada Drops Knowledge, Magnetic Listens

My Philosophy: Andy Cato of Groove Armada

From obscure house music 12-inches to their ubiquitous and anthemic “I See You Baby,” Groove Armada have put their stamp on nearly every facet of dance music. In the mid-’90s, Tom Findlay and Andy Cato were maestros of the free party circuit. In 2009, 50,000 revelers attended their Lovebox Festival to soak up an eclectic ticket that included everyone from N.E.R.D. and the New York Dolls to Florence and the Machine and Duran Duran. On the heels of dropping Times & Places, his first ever solo album and a sonic tour diary 20 years in the making, Andy Cato preached his gospel to Magnetic Magazine.

The teacher will now speak...

“Whether it’s the tour bus bunk, the plane, or a kitchen table at the after-party where you do a seven-hour DJ set, being tall is a disadvantage. The upside, of course, is that on stage you look quite imposing and you can always find people at the after-party.”

“My dad had to rig up a system with a bag of bolts going over a pulley on the ceiling and a sling around the trombone to lift up the weight. Nine trombone players out of ten, when they’re kids, play facing the floor. I always played straight out, and that was purely down to my dad’s bag of bolts.”

“If I think of any free party in the early ’90s, it’s a meeting of likeminded people and the music is totally groove-based. It’s not impact-based. It’s all about getting lost in it. It’s sociable. It’s quite sexy. It’s a groove thing. That’s Experience One. Experience Two is standing in the middle of an American football ground surrounded by massive billboards and sponsorships with 60,000 other people who all paid $100, along with an endless succession of dry ice cannons and massive drum fills. I’m not saying it’s not a laugh, but the two experiences have absolutely nothing in common on any level. There’s more in common between punk and house music than EDM and house music.”

“That free party circuit in the UK from ’89 to ’95, that was really special. When you were off for those weekends, you were just off. That was it. It was incredibly precious—a version of pure freedom and liberation—and that’s something that’s disappeared forever.”

“120 beats-per-minute is rather primeval. It’s just in there. It’s always been in there.”

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“Fatboy Slim’s remix of ‘I See You Baby’ did us a load of favors, particularly in America, so I’m not gonna hold it against him, but that became the version of the tune you heard everywhere. The original tune has a bit of a stupid lyric, and that lolloping, off-kilter groove had a charm about it, but in its Big Beat incarnation, it started to drive us mad. When we played live with the band we had to try and find a way of delivering the Norman version because that’s what everyone wanted to hear.”

“Having said that, when we’re DJing 15-16 year later, we can always drop in a little ‘I see you baby’ at some point and get a nice moment for free. It’s quite a handy thing to have in the locker.”

“It’s never been about getting great press shots and getting on covers of magazines and trying to become superstars. We’ll go from closing Glastonbury to playing records in some stranger’s kitchen an hour later. There’s no bullshit.”

“We set out on this long and winding road to play dance music live, but in a way that sounds fat enough to compete with the people before and after you who DJing, and that required refining our technical systems. From about 2005 onwards, when we were playing live with a combination of musicians and electronics...we don’t often blow our own trumpet, but no one’s ever done anything that sounds as good as that. I think getting that right is one of our great achievements.”

“All that plucked, slow roasted chicken stuff drives me up the wall. Isn’t it funny and isn’t it clever. All it means is that some poor bastard who’s got much better things to do has actually gotta go and find that. Our rider was always down to the really important things: various brands of tobacco, vodka and beer. The one thing we always added on there, because you can’t have too much of it when you’re touring, is a tube of toothpaste.”

“How would I describe Los Angeles in two words? Chateau Marmont.”

“We had some amazing times with Richie Havens. When he came on the road with us, we’d close with an afro-funk take on ‘Going Back To My Roots,’ which were some of the most electric moments on stage that I’ve ever had. He was one of those people who was just pure. He wasn’t doing music for any reason. He just was music. There are very, very few of those people left.”

“We’re two people who just love a groove in it’s simplest form. I listen to Barry White and the drummer doesn’t touch the cymbal in any of the recordings, ever. That stuff really appeals to us. The live instruments are there, but they were never overplayed and there was never the desire to prove that you’re a really good player.”

“The more talent you’ve got, the less bullshit you’ve got.”

“Now is the return to free parties and warehouse parties. Playing nice music in groovy places.”

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