Outside Lands Festival 2013

Outside Lands 2013: Interview – Rudimental’s Message

Aaron Sharpsteen / August 31, 2013
Rudimental. Photo by Aaron Sharpsteen
Rudimental. Photo by Aaron Sharpsteen

During the course of Outside Lands, SSG was lucky enough to get to interview one of the darkhorse favorites of the festival, a band from the UK called Rudimental. Their debut album Home started at #1 on the UK charts earlier in the year and had just been released on the 6th of August in the U.S. Bridging the worlds of pop, house, drum+bass, jungle, soul, and numerous other genres, all while maintaining a message of positivity in the face of struggle, Rudimental is set to attempt to storm into the hearts of electronic pop fans over in the United States. We sat down with all four members (Amir, DJ Locksmith, Kesi, Piers)  before their set at Outside Lands and got to know the basics of their sound and their intentions a little bit.

Your album debuted at #1 on the UK charts. With festivals like Outside Lands and touring the United States, are you making it a priority to bust into the U.S. scene?

Piers – I think its definitely a dream of ours to break America because we listen to so much American music, from soul music like Marvin Gaye to American hip-hop from the 90’s. To come over here and get on a tour bus and play live shows would be amazing, that’s a big dream of ours, definitely.

DJ Locksmith – A little over 2 years ago, we was working in normal jobs, 9-5’s and what not, but we’ve been doing music all our lives. We grew up with each other, sharing true love for music, so yeah, it was a dream to play live. But at the same time we always wanted to share the Rudimental message and Rudimental sound, which consists of soulful elements, electronic sounds, live instrumentation, and bass. At the end of the day we’re a band, and we want to see how far we can take this. If that means coming to America and a new audience, a massive audience, then so be it, we’re looking forward to the challenge.

Rudimental. All photography by Aaron Sharpsteen
Rudimental. All photography by Aaron Sharpsteen

Speaking about that American audience, are there any comparisons to draw between the crowds you experience over in the UK and the crowds you’ve had over here?

Kesi  –  We came over here in March for the first time and we did a good number of shows, and the crowds over here have got a lot of energy. Even though it might be a new sound to the American audience, we are probably getting a better response initially then we did in the UK when we were starting out. So its amazing to come over to the states and get such a reception from the crowd. We’re really enjoying  it.

Amir – Our sound is influenced by underground UK music, but it also has elements of soulful American music. So we combine those things, and it seems like people get what we’re all about over here, they seem to understand it, although they don’t have the background of drum+bass. Our audience here is the way it was a couple years ago in the UK, they are opening up to this fresh sound, so the sound is definitely coming through. We’ve got more of a message than we did back then, we’re stronger as a band, and this time around its been a wicked response. We love it out here.

Do you think if there are differences that they have been influenced by geography? I would say your music has a decent amount of drum+bass and jungle elements in it, as opposed to American EDM which recently has been affected by genres like chillwave, it seems a little bit more laid-back and synth driven over here.

Amir – When you listen to our record, we’ve got house influences on there, we’ve got garage influence which is a lot more soulful. From my experience here, the EDM scene is actually quite hard, they are just getting out of dub-step and playing house music, which is pretty hard. We do have drum+bass and jungle influence but we also have soulful house influence, which came from the U.S.

DJ Locksmith – We come from a raving culture back in the UK, you know? Our history revolves around different types of music and whatnot, and a pirate radio station community, and those illegal radio stations are where we first started off. That underground feel comes through in all our music. Although we may be seen as a drum+bass act, I think that’s so far from the truth, we’re really an everything act, we are a very eclectic group. Our influences range from Sly and the Family Stone to Massive Attack to Lauryn Hill and the Fugees to Dr. Dre, and we try and we’ve infused all that into our album Home.

Piers – Growing up in the UK is why we called it Home, because we’ve mixed that with the rave culture and clubbing days of our youth.

Lots of love at Rudimental's set at Outside Lands.
Lots of love at Rudimental’s set at Outside Lands.

One of my favorite songs, “Not Giving In” has a pretty good music video. How involved were you guys in the artistic direction of that?

Piers – We worked with the director, Josh Cole,quite and a lot, as well as the editing. We wanted to create a video that evoked emotion and had a storyline, and Josh Cole had a lot of film techniques and he managed to help us create that. That song was all about going through hard times, its quite an emotional song and we wanted to get that across.

DJ Locksmith – You’ve got 3 to 4 minutes to document your song in a music video and get your point across, and it very important that its not boring. You know, not just us four in a club, bling and big booties, although I wouldn’t necessarily say no to that…

Piers – …You just don’t want to film it.

DJ Locksmith…Its just good to evoke an emotion like Piers was saying, take people on a journey, and make sure people not only get the Rudimental message, they get a story behind it as well. All these videos we’ve got are real life stories.

Amir – The reality of it is a really important thing to us. The video is a real story, about B-Boy Mouse and the people he grew up with in Manila. What we decide on as an emotion message is a content of positivity and triumph, and we work with different stories and different ideas in all our videos. For “Feel the Love” it was all real people, no actors, “Not Giving In” there were some actors but it is based on Mouse’s story, and for “Waiting All Night” that was about Kurt Jaeger. That was actually filmed in L.A. So whether its L.A. or Manila or the UK, it’s the same struggle, and we’re trying to show the positive side of that struggle.

So it’s safe to say that positivity is the overarching artistic theme?

Piers –  Yeah. We come from various struggles and we’ve revolved around struggles, working with young people in schools as behavior mentors, and it’s a big part of our ethos of life, really.

The crowd at Outside Lands appreciated Rudimental's set.
The crowd at Outside Lands appreciated Rudimental’s set.

Do you have a crazy tour story that you wouldn’t mind sharing?

Kesi – We was on the motorway, I guess you call that the freeway out here? Driving to our next show in our tour bus, and on the back of our tour bus is a trailer with all of our equipment. Doing about 70 miles per hour down the motorway, and we hear this massive noise and look through the  back window, and the trailer has detached itself from the tour bus. Its swerving all over the motorway and eventually crashed. Cars was swerving around it, thankfully no one crashed into it. So we pulled up a few miles down the road, the driver didn’t even realize, and went back and got the trailer towed to our next show, opened it up, and luckily all of our equipment worked.

Wow, where was that?

Kesi – That was on our way to a show in the UK, it was quite lucky.

I’ll say!

Amir – I saw a massive truck, and he had put his foot down on the brake and there was steam coming out from all the tires. It was actually really dangerous, man.

Staying in the UK, you guys are coming from an underground scene there. Do you want to give any shout outs to people that might not be in the place you are right now yet?

DJ Locksmith – I want to give a massive shout out to MC Shantie, big up MC Shantie.

Piers – Big up to all the producers that inspired us, Shy Fx,  Andy C, Goldie, that have been doing the drum+bass thing for years that people in America might not know.

Kesi – Shout out to Kidnap Kid, he’s up and coming and on Black Butter records. He’s someone we know very well, and he’s up and coming out here as well, so look out for him.

Amir – Shout out to Black Butter as well, the label that nourished us at the start. Big up Black Butter.

With those shout outs, it was time to let Rudimental be on their way to get ready for their afternoon set, which ended up being one of the most energetic and positive of the entire festival. One can only hope that Rudimental will come back very soon to spread their message of positivity in the U.S.

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