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[Herald Interview] Clean Bandit supports ‘expandability’ of Seoul Jazz Festival

Grammy-winning band hopes to collaborate with BTS

Clean Bandit’s Seoul performance is drawing near with the 2019 Seoul Jazz Festival slated to take place in late May.

The British band’s performance is much anticipated by the South Korean audience, as last year’s appearance was canceled at the last moment.

“Very excited. I have been to Korea once before, but we had to leave almost immediately after the show so I was disappointed,” Grace Chatto said via email, representing the trio of three siblings -- herself and brothers Jack and Luke Patterson. 

Clean Bandit (Private Curve)
Clean Bandit (Private Curve)

“But the Korean fans are absolutely the best, so I am really glad I get to see them again. Also I am quite a big Korean food fan myself, so I am very excited to go and try some authentic local food.”

At the festival, the band will play some remixes that mash “Rockabye” and “Symphony” -- two of their best hits -- and versions offered only live.

Clean Bandit, formed in 2008, created a buzz as a crossover band, achieving unprecedented success with its blend of classical music and dance-pop songs. The band has recorded numerous chart-topping tracks and “Rather Be” won the Grammy Award in 2015.

Meanwhile, the annual jazz festival has been embracing other crowd-drawing music such as indie rock and pop on top of its main offering, a move some criticize is aimed at commercial success.

A veteran of genre-mashing music, Clean Bandit supports the festival’s new attempt, stressing the “expandability” of music.

“I think it is always good to be expansive, not exclusive because all music comes from the same place. From birth. So it is kind of mad to separate genres anyway,” Chatto said.

“My bandmate Jack is from a jazz background. He plays the saxophone as his main instrument, so he tries to bring elements of Jazz to our stage. You will see him improvising not on a real saxophone but an electronic saxophone -- he can do crazy solos on that.”

The cellist emphasized that new attempts should always involve thinking outside of the box.

“Allow your mind to be free from the restrictions of what should and should not go together. Because on paper, classical music with beats and bass does not sound like a good idea but then when we tried it, it really worked. So I think you just have to allow yourself to think outside of what is normal,” she said.

The band has changed how people think about classic music. “I am really happy every time I get messages from people who first started to play violin, or cello, and maybe consider listening to classical music, thinking of it as cool. I will feel really pleased if we had any effect in that way,” Chatto said.

Asked with which Korean musician the band would like to collaborate, the answer was “Of course BTS!”

“But honestly that is also because we don’t know any other K-pop musicians otherwise. We would love to do more research. I am also very excited to see some Korean musicians while I am at the Seoul Jazz Festival,” she said.

The annual music festival takes place on May 25-26 at the Olympic Park in eastern Seoul. Clean Bandit will perform at 9:30 p.m. on the first day.

By Im Eun-byel (