If you know us well enough, you’ll know that no RSL Classical Violin syllabus is going to exclude those of you who want to explore other genres of violin playing. This week’s Classical in Conversation blog stars Clean Bandit, who are the perfect example of how a classical training can lead to mainstream success!

Strings Take Centre Stage

After meeting at the University of Cambridge, Grace, Jack and Luke formed Clean Bandit in 2008. Little did they know that 14 years down the line they’d be Grammy winning superstars, collaborating with some of the biggest names in the music industry.

After only a couple of singles released, Clean Bandit were already on their way to stardom. Their first album contains so many hits including “Mozart’s House”, “Dust Clears”, “Real Love”, and, our personal favourite, “Rather Be”. It’s safe to say that this album was REALLY strong.

What we love about Clean Bandit is their ability to bring classical music to typically non-classical audience. Every one of their songs features violin and cello parts, as do their sensational award-winning music videos. We love how they use the strings in their music. They aren’t just a background sound, or a tool to build up texture. They take centre stage with lead melodies and really prominent, catchy parts, bringing stringed instruments to the forefront of the piece and proving that the appetite for strings in popular music is still as strong as ever!

Did you know that Clean Bandit also have their own film company called Cleanfilm? They direct and produce all of their own music videos through the company, many of which have been nominated for awards. They’ve been hugely popular on social media, with the “Rather Be” video going viral, and “Rockabye”, featuring Sean Paul and Anne-Marie, garnering over 2 billion views!

Classically Trained and Killing the Game!

So speaking of “Rather Be”… we’ve all heard that absolutely iconic string introduction. This song did so well in the charts - it spent four weeks at number one and sold over 1 million copies! Not only that, this fresh and exciting tune won a Grammy for Best Dance Recording in 2015. It also became the second best-selling song of the year, just behind our guy Pharrell’s “Happy”. In true Clean Bandit style, the music video is like a work of art. It was filmed in Tokyo and follows a Clean Bandit superfan who keeps having visions of band members appearing in her daily life. Fun fact: the filming was a huge success, apart from the train scene. The crew weren’t aware that it is regarded rude to make lots of noise on a train in Tokyo, so the dancing and music didn’t go down too well!

We feel that Clean Bandit really represent a whole genre of string player in the 21st century. They’ve shown that to be classically-trained doesn’t always mean a lifetime of playing Mozart if that isn’t what you want, that string players are not only welcome in the pop music world but celebrated! Now that is what we like to see. Did someone say Clean Bandit are in the RSL Classical Violin Grade 8 syllabus?!...