Clean Bandit's Grace Chatto Talks Global Smash 'Rockabye,' Premieres Autograf Remix: Exclusive

Rita Zimmermann
Clean Bandit

Clean Bandit, the three-member British electronic group, is currently riding high on charts across the globe with the smash “Rockabye,” an infectious dance track that also features vocal efforts from Sean Paul and Anne-Marie. The song is just the latest runaway hit for the group who was first known for their 2014 hit “Rather Be,” a collaboration with Jess Glynne that peaked at Number 1 the US Dance Charts and number 10 on the Hot 100. Here, hot on the heels of the rising global success of “Rockabye,” Bandit’s Grace Chatto talks the deeper meaning behind the peppy track, an upcoming US tour, and premieres a remix courtesy of Chicago production trio Autograf.

How did the “Rockabye” remix with Autograf come about?

It was (Clean Bandit member) Jack Patterson who knew their work and suggested it. Our managers got in touch and it was done. We’re so happy with it.

What’s it like when you hear a remix of a Clean Bandit song? It’s someone else’s interpretation of your track. Is it strange, gratifying…?

It’s really strange and it’s really gratifying. It’s exciting and such an honor when really cool artists put their own spin on our music. It’s always so unexpected and amazing to hear other people’s takes.

“Rockabye” sounds like a fun song when taken at face value, but the lyrics are quite serious as they focus on the trials and tribulations of being a single mother. How did you decide to have the song be about such heavy subject matter? I personally didn’t even realize what the song was about until much later.

It’s funny you said that because I have the same thing. I sometimes never really realize what lyrics are saying. The song is about doing anything you can to give your child a decent life, and what you have to sacrifice and go through with to do that. In the song and in the music video we made, the mother works as an excotic dancer in order to fund the life with her child. In the video, we did a take on it where we juxtaposed the mundane reality of being in a job you might not like, which is a theme we explore in a lot of our videos, and juxtaposed that with a kind of fantasy world with the joy that dancing can bring you. The mother character in the video that’s spoken about in the song, you really don’t know if she’s fallen in love with pole dancing or if she’s just living in a dream world.

Was there a certain inspiration behind choosing that specific subject matter?

I’m not sure why we chose that, actually. I’ve always been interested in alternative family structures. Obviously, being a single mom is a very common structure. I’m actually kind of studying that kind of world the moment, because I think we grow up being taught to assume that there’s one kind of family idea, but there are so many different ways you can do it.

Sean Paul has a memorable verse on “Rockabye” and the song has an obvious reggae influence. I was wondering if you had the song first and then asked Sean Paul to hop on, or did you know he was going to be involved in the track and then crafted its sound around him?

It was the former. We made the song and it was basically finished, but then we were in the studio with Sean Paul to work on some music for his own album. While we were there I was like, “Let’s play ‘Rockabye’ for him and see what he thinks.’” He wound up liking it and then on the spot made his verse. It was really amazing to hear him rapping about that subject; I loved the lyrics he wrote so much. It was a dream working with him because we grew up listening to music. About five years ago, Jack and I went to his concert in London and gave him our demo CD. He said he liked it and wanted to collaborate, and we were waiting since then. So, life is complete now.

You’re about to embark on a huge US tour across the United States in March. Do you ever get used to zig-zagging across the globe on tour?

Well, it kind of did get normal the past three years we’ve been quite solidly on tour since “Rather Be” came out. When it finished, I kind of didn’t know what to do with myself. We had a break this year just doing a small tour in Asia and it was so amazing that it made all of us super excited about coming to the States in March.

Do you prefer being in the studio or being on tour?

I think both are really important; we also make our own music videos as well. Keeping your lives as varied as possible is a good thing. This is such a perfect kind of career for me because I love making videos and being in the studio and being on tour. Though being on tour can be stressful, because we have a tour manager who tells us exactly what to do. It’s like being a child on a school trip sometimes. We get told when to eat, when to have a break. You kind of regress to childhood (Laughs). Meanwhile in the studio, every decision we make feels really important and can get stressful, especially just before a deadline when you have loads of opinions coming in and you don’t know what to do. It’s a relief to get away from that, to go out on the road when everything's done and we can just play our songs.

Clean Bandit Tour Dates:

3/31 - Seattle, WA – The Showbox @ The Market
4/01 - Portland, OR – Roseland Theater
4/03 - San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore
4/05 - Los Angeles, CA - The Fonda Theatre
4/07 - San Diego, CA – The Observatory North Park
4/08 - Phoenix, AZ - The Marquee Theatre
4/10 - Denver, CO – Gothic Theatre
4/12 - Dallas, TX – Trees
4/13 - Austin, TX - Emo’s
4/14 - Houston, TX - White Oak Music Hall
4/15 - New Orleans, LA – Republic New Orleans
4/17 - Atlanta, GA - Terminal West
4/19 - Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
4/21 - New York, NY - Webster Hall
4/22 - Philadelphia, PA - Union Transfer
4/24 - Toronto, ON – Phoenix Concert Theatre
4/25 - Montreal, QB – Le National
4/26 - Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club
5/01 - Detroit, MI - St. Andrew’s Hall
5/02 - Chicago, IL - House of Blues Chicago