M quiz Hackney dance act Rudimental on their incredible year and just how they’ve owned 2013…

Jim Ottewill
  • By Jim Ottewill
  • 13 Dec 2013
  • min read
For many 2013 will be known as the year British dance music exploded.

Stats from the Official Charts Company, released by the BPI earlier this year, showed that sales of dance music have been at their highest since 2006. Hackney-based dance act Rudimental are one of the main reasons behind this revival.

Their debut album Home topped the charts while they also enjoyed number one singles with Feel the Love (featuring vocals from John Newman) and Waiting All Night with Ella Eyre. These collaborations are at the heart of a ‘family vibe’ that producer Amir Amor believes is behind their success.

Couple these killer dance-pop hits with a euphoric live show and you have one of the biggest British bands of the year. M found some time in the band’s busy schedule to quiz Amir about their year, chart success and what the future holds…

Can you remember how you first got into music?

My older brother used to play a lot of soul – Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Sly and the Family Stone. It made me want to write songs. I used to have a little tape recorder which I’d record beats onto. I’d take it to school and sell them. It was the first taste I’d had of music as a job.

I soon worked out you could make beats at home if you had a computer and it snowballed from there. I just fell in love with it. Everything else - football, girls - all that went out the window. All that was left was music.

How did Rudimental get together?

Funnily enough, we went to the same 6th form but didn’t really know each other. I heard about Rudimental on pirate radio, then met them through Black Butter Records when I first started running the Major Tom studio in east London. This is where we’re all based now. It’s when things started kicking off. Within a couple of months we had Feel the Love which was our first number one. I joined, Rudimental became a four piece and we started working on our album, Home.

So you recorded Home at Major Tom?

We recorded and produced the whole album there. The studio has been my brain child for about six years. It’s home for Rudimental, MNEK and John Newman. It’s been a pretty vibrant place since I started it.

How did the various collaborations on the record take place?

Many of them were friends we’d grown up with or people we’d met really randomly. We saw John Newman at an acoustic night. We’d already written Feel the Love and didn’t have a singer. We heard him sing and were like ‘wow’ he’s a perfect fit for the track. We became friends after that and ended up writing Not Giving In. It started from there. We always keep an eye out for new talent and new singers.

What have been your highlights of the past 12 months? 

Aw man – there’s been so many. The Mercury Music Prize nomination was a big highlight. I’ve bought all the nominated albums over the last six or seven years so to be nominated for that was amazing, particularly as it’s based on the songs.

V Festival was another. We’ve played a lot of festivals this summer but that gig was really special. They had to lock off the field because there were more people trying to get in. It was the biggest crowd at that stage since the Prodigy back in the nineties.

Did you expect such success?

I’ve been involved in many different projects as a producer but this had a chemistry which was pretty special. It’s something that none of us had really experienced before.

Our success has definitely exceeded our expectations by far but at the same time, we were always ambitious and one of the things we talked about when I joined is what we’d be doing in five years time. We wanted to play Glastonbury and make important albums. It’s all happening a lot quicker than any of us imagined. It’s been a mad ride.

Why do you think you have been so successful?

Well at the gigs we see old school ex- ravers and younger pop fans. It’s the most mixed audience you’ve ever seen. But we try to stay behind the music – we’re not in the press materials or videos. The music speaks for itself.

The message we’re trying to bring is positivity. We have a wicked family vibe when we perform. There are nine of us on there. People see us enjoying ourselves and they enjoy themselves too. It’s more like a James Brown-sort of school of thought – every person on stage has their moment. We’re bringing positivity in the lyrics and a bit of happiness to dark times.

What are your thoughts on the current health of dance music in the UK?

It seems like it’s in the best place it’s ever been. You’ve got acts like Disclosure who came through at the same time as us. They’re playing undiluted dance music in the mainstream. People are listening to it and it’s getting in the charts. It’s in a really good place.

We’re in America right now in New York playing jungle music which first came out of London. It’s come pretty far man.

Have you got any advice for aspiring songwriters?

Stubbornness and persistency are two of the most important qualities if you’re working in music. There’ll be a lot of obstacles which could set you back. You won’t make any money at the start.

You need to be able to work with people, listen and collaborate. Making music is not something you can do entirely on your own. That’s something which has taken me years to learn.

What’s next for Rudimental?

We’re planning an album but we’ve still got a lot to do in terms of getting the message across with Home. People still come to our shows expecting to see a DJ. They don’t realise we’re a full live band. So there’s still work to do in playing and educating people on what it’s all about.

We’re always writing wherever we are. It doesn’t matter whether we’re here or there. It’s a continuous process. We’ve got a lot more coming. We’ve only just scratched the surface.