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Music Interview

London Grammar: 'We've gone as pop as we can' - interview

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London Grammar press shot

This time last year, unbeknownst to the world, London Grammar were holed up in a studio working on their debut album. Hannah Reid, Dot Major and Dan Rothman were busy crafting a series of tracks which would launch them to the top of music bloggers' favourite list by the year's end.

"It's been a bit crazy to be honest," Dan notes. "I think it was slightly unexpected at first." The band uploaded 'Hey Now' back in December, which has gained over 590,000 YouTube views to date and, crucially, caught the attention of Radio 1. "We put it up with little to no expectation. It's been amazing what online can do purely, because that's all it was for us."

Naturally, their growing fanbase manifested itself on the live circuit, with fans scrambling to see the trio perform. "When it's online it feels like a number - it's not tangible," says Hannah. "It was our eighth show that was in front of 800 people and we'd basically just started gigging. I found that overwhelming." And it wasn't just the public who stopped and listened. "It feels weird that other bands and other musicians know who we are," Dot adds. "When we were at Rockness the Vaccines said hello, so people actually appreciate our music from the inside."



Effortlessly stylish, London Grammar's heart-tugging compositions have quickly become synonymous with the modern music lover's obsession with discovering the next best thing. It's placed them as an act who can top the Hype Machine chart in a matter of hours, but the band are fully aware that increased popularity means harsher critics. "I think if you do blow up quite quickly, you're going to get more people who will hate you," says Hannah. "You're kind of on a pedestal. There's more room for criticism. Are you authentic or not? Do you deserve what you've been given?"

London Grammar's striking vocals and the intricate production are easily deserved of grabbing the internet's attention, but they are conscious of the cynicism that can surround flourishing newcomers. "I always wonder how cynical I would be of us if I was perceiving it," Dan ponders. "I always follow new bands anyway, so I just wonder. As a listener of new music you can so easily be cynical of a band based on their image, rather than their music." Dot adds that some early fans don't like it when their sacred discovery slowly emerge into the mainstream. "They want you to stay in your place. Sometimes if you cross over, you're not allowed to do that."



It's a problem that troubled Hannah before the unveiling of their new single 'Wasting My Young Years'. "I was really worried about that before it went online," she admits. "For me, the songs I love the most are like 'Hey Now' and 'Darling Are You Gonna Leave Me'; the more unusual ones. So before 'Wasting' went up I was terrified. I was like, 'This is it, this is the end'. But people do like it, and I think that's as far as our 'pop' sound will go." Dan was more confident that they could hold on to their existing fanbase while broadening their appeal. "I just knew people would connect with Hannah's lyrics. I think they have to some extent."

When Digital Spy first wrote about London Grammar we likened them to fellow trio The xx. "We always get the xx comparisons - and I love them, so that's cool. Someone told us early on that our stuff sounds like Fleetwood Mac and Drake, which I thought was a nice summing up of our music," says Dan. However, it's Hannah's powerful vocal that has garnered the most comparisons. "I've had Florence, Jessie Ware, Lana Del Rey, Adele - I haven't had Jessie J, but I had The Ting Tings once." Surprisingly, it's the King of Pop who has inspired her vocal technique the most. "Vocally I'm influenced by Motown and Michael Jackson. He's probably my all-time - you probably can't hear that, but it's in there!"

A year in the making, London Grammar hope to have their first album out this autumn. "It's pretty much finished," they reveal, explaining that it just needs to be mastered. With a summer of live shows and festival appearances ahead of them, it leaves plenty of time for their ever-expanding following to make it one of the more anticipated debut releases this year.

London Grammar's 'Wasting My Young Years' EP is available to download now.

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