Written by Dom Loomes
- News & Culture
- Rudimental Ready?
Born from the backdrop of London’s underground music scene with the capital’s exuberant and raw world of pirate radio, impromptu studios, exclusive beat chambers, and the multicultural ends of musical and cultural dynamics come Piers Aggett, Kesi Dryden, Amir Amor, and Leon a.k.a Rudimental. Active since 2010, the quartet have taken the British music scene to new levels, with their unwavering ability and approach to sound and stage presence, the group confidently adopt their own identity, with the many different backgrounds of each band member clearly felt, and forever evolving. Rudimental’s music videos are also accurate expressions of the human condition, detailing diverse cultures, geographies, and intricate storytelling. Their videos, as well as their music to complement, are what makes the group so unique and compelling. From the ends of Hackney to worldwide recognition, Junction 1 welcomes Rudimental to the main stage on the 18th of June this summer along with some very special guests. Grab your tickets while you can, this one is bound for a sell-out.
Rudimental are a quasi-expressionistic example of elegance and elevation, and a double-sided paradigm of both “traditional” songwriting and contemporary electronic energy. The group fuse live instrumentation (with hammond and rhodes keys, horns, and live bass percussions) with sophisticated digital production. Rudimental’s Piers puts it this way, “Our sound is organic. It’s the result of years of raving, listening to pirate radio, listening to dubs, to tapes older brothers would bring home, and being inspired by all of it. We’re products of our individual musical journeys and of London.” All four individual members of Rudimental have experienced distinct environmental influences that enclose and encapsulate the band as a whole. Kesi for instance who masters keys and percussions, is a self-confessed hip hop enthusiast, having been influenced by old school and new school alike. He was also a former DJ at Deja Vu FM. Piers, on hammond and keys, details how diverse blends of jazz and blues stream heavy influence on his music compilation, alongside huge grime figureheads such as Dizzee Rascal. Leon, sound design, and disc jockey master equally enjoy glimpses of grime and street mentality raps. He goes further to accentuate that the band’s success can be afforded to its ability to revamp and subvert some of the best underground sounds of the day, with garage, dubstep, and drum and bass included, along with their own taste and phonic appreciations. On guitar and fellow keys crusader, Amir spawned from the hard-headed and well-connected heartland of the Camden streets. The elaborate graffiti, infamous night scenes, and multicultural offerings of this London-side soundscape are evident in Amir’s style and musical values. In 2001, he won a PRS songwriting award and spent the winnings on a new guitar setup and a mentoring scheme. Amir met Plan B who educated him on guitar complexities at age 16 and subsequently he went on to earn wide public appraisals as one of NMEs ‘Top 20 Hottest Producers.’ Rudimental’s sound is a seize of situational backgrounds and beats, Amir avows: “The unifying thing [in Rudimental] is the soul influence and the bass influence, those two things are always there.”
The coining of Rudimental’s name holds an interesting history. Kesi Dryden’s childhood piano lessons were noticeably useful, for the music Rudimental produce, but also for the appellation that we all came to know. Dryden’s piano preparations consisted of a book called the ‘Rudiments,’ and his teacher would regularly berate him for forgetting it. “I always used to hear 'rudiments, rudiments, where are your rudiments?” Dryden remembers. “When I was a teenager, I was looking for a producer name for myself, and I would call myself 'Rudiments'. And when we started collaborating and sharing music together, Rudimental sort of felt better for a band name." Since Dryden perfected his piano skills, and all Rudimental members honed in on their skills, the group have adopted and elaborated on one another’s skill sets. The upshot of this sound synchronicity is euphoric energy, adorned with layered basslines, live multi-instrumental journeys, and communicable catchy hooks that resemble and resonate with London life and easily translate outside the city.
In 2011, the trajectory of Rudimental positively shifted. In March, the band released their debut single "Deep in the Valley", featuring MC Shantie, an underground, head-to-heel mimicry of top bassline flows and full-speed lyrics. In June, the group released another drum and bass enthused track featuring the lyrics of Adiyam, and in the latter months of the year, the group started to collaborate and prepare for new musical turnarounds. In 2012, “Feel the Love,” the group’s most esteemed and widely celebrated track was released. This period was also the first time Amir Amor was introduced to the band. Amor leads the team on the track with his music operatics, along with the seraphic vocals of John Newman. The single surfed the UK Singles and Dance Charts at number one during early June of that year and sold 93,841 copies in the same month, and 619,000 copies throughout the whole year, making the tune the 16th best-selling single of 2012. The track went on to inhabit eleven consecutive weeks within the UK Top 10 and was subsequently selected as BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe’s Hottest Record in the World on 29 March 2012. The music video that accompanied the release was documented in Fletcher Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and details young horseback riders and localised scenes from the informal Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, an adept and homegrown project focused on the youth of the community. As of January 2022, the single has reached over 100 million views on Youtube. Also, the hit single was also a feature on the video game Need for Speed: Most Wanted has also been used to promote the likes of The Pauly D Project, Doctor Who, as well as a place in the 2015 film Kingsman: The Secret Service.
It was not only “Feel the Love” that dropped loudly, singles such as “Spoons” featuring vocals from MNEK and Syron received wide-ranging acceptance. The track was released as a free promotional single on iTunes, with many listeners expressing curiosity and taking note of its creative production techniques. The treble for the song was produced entirely with the sounds of spoons, which accordingly became the title of the track. “Not Giving In” was another single that bought attention to various attributes of modern society. The track’s vocals are carefully curated by John Newman and Alex Clare, with the music video of the song being staged in the vibrant yet risky habitat of Manila’s slums and the culture that surrounds upbringing and societal and economic strife. The track perhaps reflects the similar surroundings that encircle the streets of London, a possible cross-cultural parallel in faith, hard work, and a strong mentality; something that is extremely familiar for Rudimental themselves. The song reached its summit at number fourteen in the UK Chart singles. Above mentioned releases as well as a myriad of accompanying tracks were assorted for Rudimental’s “Home”, their first album drop in 2013. Other songs on the compilation include “Waiting All Night,” “Right Here,” “Free,” “Powerless,” “Give You Up” and many more, with all feature songs being accompanied by exceptional music videos that embolden energetic and intricate human stories, often coupled with elements of nature, animals, and our inborn relationship with internal and external worlds. The album also features vocals from astounding artists such as Ella Eyre, Foxes, Emeli Sandé, Becky Hill, and more. “Home” was revealed on the 29th of April 2013 by the triumvirate of Asylum Records, Atlantic Records, and Black Butter Records.
Jump two years and Rudimental drop their second album “We the Generation.” The piece encompasses an array of disparate, talented artists, from the likes of Ed Sheeran, Will Heard and Annie-Marie, Lianne La Havas, Dizzee Rascal, Mahalia, Foy Vance, Ella Eyre, MNEK, and Bobby Womack. Several singles were previewed before the album dropped, including “Bloodstream” in collaboration with Ed Sheeran, a number two on the UK Singles Chart. “Never Letting You Go” alongside Foy Vance premiered on BBC Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac’s Hottest Record in the World in late April of that year, and was launched with a coruscating and high-spirit video to match. The visuals reveal various locations across the world including Ukraine, Los Angeles, Morocco, and the group’s native soil, the U.K. Each individual in the video is embroidered with a different colour, perhaps symbolising the many different fragrances and multi-faceted ways of our human expression and how we decorate ourselves with colour for meaning, appearance, feeling, and confidence; something Rudimental and the video choreographers carefully communicate. The album overall scored well internationally and reached peak positions in Europe and the US alike.
Emancipating themselves from one specific sound and making an indelible mark on British pop culture with their hat trick album, “Toast to our Differences,” this piece delivers, distinguishes, and outdoes previous work, with the group pushing forward alongside big-name partnerships and performing numerous live shows before and during the album’s drop. The compilation has been declared as “the rich fruit of the collective's past three years of work" as well as "an emphatic celebration of difference and a coming together of cultures and genres." Kesi Dryden mentioned how the group are "always looking for up-and-coming talent. We've got this great opportunity to give people a platform," and called the vocalists featured "amazing.” Tracks include “Sun Comes Up” alongside vocals courtesy of James Arthur, “These Days” featuring Macklemore, Jess Glynne, and Dan Caplen, which climbed to the top position on the UK Singles Chart, “Walk Alone” featuring Tom Walker, and “Let Me Live” shared with Major Lazor and featuring Anne-Marie and Mr. Eazi. MTV also commented on the tracklisting, saying the album was “hefty” and named it an album to look out for in 2019.
Continuing to kindle the consciousness of spirit, dance, and unity, Rudimental’s fourth album release “Ground Control” hit the speakers in late 2021. During the season of COVID19 lockdowns in the UK, Rudimental were preparing for their fourth musical creation. Interestingly, whilst being interviewed with HMV, Piers Aggett discussed the various processes of the album build, stating how the material for the album was even starting to blossom before the release of the third album “Toast to Our Differences.” Aggett recalls, "COVID was actually a bit of a blessing for us. Normally we tour all the time, certainly all summer, and it gave us a summer at home for the first time in a long time. We made the whole album in lockdown. A lot of the songs were actually written in 2018." He continues, "We went to Los Angeles and we did a bunch of writing out there. Lots of the songs are from those sessions. That’s the way we tend to work, we go on a trip, we write a lot and then it takes us a long while to actually work on the songs and finish them. The pandemic made us productive because suddenly there wasn't a gig at the weekend and we could really focus." The time and room to focus that the group were handed certainly shows, with elements of soul and rap appearing alongside the groups more traditional approach to electronic and drum and bass sounds. Upon release, the group mentioned how the record is assorted into two sides: the first being influenced by their icons, early pirate radio, and underground days, and the second enveloping flows that go beyond the visible textures of technology, touching upon the soul of the human voice, and appraising the beauty of their feature vocalists. Some tracks to look out for include: "C'est Fini" featuring RV and Lowkey, "So Sorry" with Skream, "Keep Your Head Up" featuring Hamzaa and House Gospel Choir, and "Remember Their Names" with MJ Cole featuring Josh Barry.
Rudimental have pioneered and populated the 2010s era with a wealth of incredible sounds, videography, and performances. Hackney was a unifying starting point for all four members, and only enriched and went on to explain the reasons for the diversity and realness of their visual and phonic identity. Piers elaborates on this saying that: “it’s important for us to tell a story as much as we can about the things we’re passionate about – what’s happening on a grassroots level in cities because that’s where we come from.” Rudimental are an extended family, crafting and orbiting the musical spheres, continuing to innovate and vitalise atmospheric feeling to all around. Their stage presence is not just a performance, but more familiar to that of a summer carnival, with brass players, percussionists, string players, and cultural and elaborate displays of colour and dance. Rudimental will be coming together at Junction 1 for an unforgettable display of traditional and novel sounds and will continue to usher in the energy this summer. Tickets are available on our website.