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Groove Armada returned to the fray this year, re-establishing their house roots with the 'No Knock' EP on house label de rigueur, Hypercolour. This weekend sees them play the Hypercolour showcase in London alongside Todd Edwards, Maxxi Soundsystem, Alex Jones and Cedric Maison. We caught up with one half of Groove Armada, Andy Cato ahead of the show.
Your new EP's getting released on Hypercolour. That could be seen as a relatively sideways move. How did it come about?
Through the 10 years we toured with the live band and released albums on various majors, we were always DJing. From Sankeys, Zouk or the NY Tunnel to the Space Terrace ,and via any Afterhours we could find, the GA thing has always been rooted in the warehouse vibe where it all started. To anyone that knows East London's Shoreditch these days it's hard to believe we were throwing parties with a hole-in-the-wall entrance opposite the Bricklayers Arms. And before GA, we were crossing the country between DIY free parties as the current house sound was doing its first tour of the block, exchanging our latest white labels for for 12" in record shops the names of which only now exist in legend. So releasing tunes with Hyper is a welcome return to the vibe and feel of the early years.
What can we expect from the upcoming Hyercolour warehouse party? Will it be something slightly different from the usual Groove Armada show?
There isn't a 'usual' GA show. Weekends when we'd close a big festival with the live band, play a basement aftershow somewhere then do Space terrace on the sunday have been the way it is for a long time. Since we wound down the live band at the end of the Black Light tour in 2010, we developed a new type of DJ show in which we control everything, live, from the booth - lights , lazers, visuals, sounds, effects. The Hyper party will be the first chance we've had to put this setup in a London warehouse. It'll also be the moment to feature a lot of dubs and reedits that we can't fit into the mainstage summer action
How does playing a warehouse party compare with you to say, something like Lovebox?
Whatever the vibe or size of gig there's always the same desire to nail it. Too often people seem to forget that in the booth or on stage you're sound tracking moments that people have worked days, weeks and months saving up for. Going the extra yard has often involved spending any potential profits on extra lights lasers and speakers. Check out the Glastonbury footage of us playing the Other Stage for an example. We had so many lasers we managed to get complaints from Heathrow pilots. Live or DJ there's always a lot of editing and tweaking the tunes. Clearly the live gigs were big and all consuming operations. Playing live as a band involved a crew of around 20 on the road, endless rehearsals, you're playing all your own tunes and in the case of Lovebox, at your own festival. So when it goes off its the result of a lot of blood, sweat and tears and feels pretty special. But for all that, if you asked me and Tom to name some favorite nights of all time, a lot of them would be free parties, beach parties or warehouse parties, surrounded by a few hundred good people and playing the House we love.
House music's always around but it seems to have had a real renaissance in the last 18 months. Why do you think that is?
I think it's because house is at its best when it's simple, fat and deep and listened to in fields or basements. That sound and small scale party vibe have been rediscovered and revitalised in the last few years. You could walk into a house night in Dalston now and mistake the soundtrack for a Digs and Woosh mixtape from '91. It sounded wicked then and does now.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
House wise, the Hyper and Hot Creations stables are always on it. Also digging out a lot of late 80's Chicago 12". There are some real gems in there that slot in and lift alongside the new stuff. Like that 'Music Take Me Up' track we put on the Miami comp. But as it always has been, it's the unsung army of white label people and bedroom producers that make it happen.
Tom recently delved into the world A.O.R and 70s pop for a Late Night Tales compilation. Will you be dropping any of these tracks at the warehouse party?
I can say with confidence that these will stay in the box til we get to the Afterhours. At that point, all bets are off. Tom's playlist for that album was put together during endless hours of hotel rooms and tour buses. In my mind those tunes mean feeling somewhere between special and broken around daybreak.
Groove Armada play the Hypercolour showcase at Great Suffolk Street Warehouse this Saturday August 11. You can buy their latest single 'Pull Up' feat. Slarta John here