Clean Bandit’s Jack Patterson talks production roots, gear and the future of the band

Clean Bandit co-founder and co-producer Jack Patterson has spoken to Audio Media International about his approach to production, the gear he can’t do with out and his unusual entry to the world of music making.

Last week, Clean Bandit released their latest single ‘Higher’, featuring US rapper iann dior and co-written by Bastille’s Dan Smith. The Grammy Award-winning three-piece, made up of Patterson, Luke Patterson and Grace Chatto, are currently working on a raft of new material, which Luke Patterson says they are keen to complete and release as soon as they can.

Here, Patterson speaks to Audio Media International editor Daniel Gumble about how he and the band have continued to work flat out through COVID-19, production techniques and his unlikely route into the world of music making…

When did you first get into music production?
My mum was a French horn player and my dad was a DJ, so it was quite a musical household. I got into piano when I was really young and then moved on to clarinet and sax. I played in lots of bands at school. I was in a jazz band – the Wirral School’s Big Band. That was quite an intense experience because it was run like a professional band, so we’d go and play all these working men’s clubs, which would run quite late and we’d be having pints on a Wednesday night at the age of about 13. I was basically learning all these standards and classic show tunes, that’s where I got the foundation of my musical knowledge.

That must’ve been quite an experience at such a young age?
Well, I sort of blagged my way in. I also played for a concert band on a Saturday morning and they had this baritone sax that was available to borrow, so I got in the jazz band because I’d gotten hold of that.

When did you start composing your own music?
I remember the first electronic production I did was using this software called Finale, which is like Sibelius, a score writing software. I was blown away by the fact you could input notes and the would play back. I didn’t see it as a scoring thing, I saw it more like a sequencer. That was my first DAW. And I remember handing in my music coursework on a floppy disc and saying, ‘can I just give it to you as a MIDI file’? They said it was highly unusual but fine!

When did you realise this was something you had a real talent for?
The composition stuff I started doing in music lessons and I was writing stuff for bands I was in during my teenage years. I found it really hard to get stuff finished, that’s one of the hardest things when you are working in the medium of digital music. Because it’s a limitless place it’s hard to know when something is done.

I met Grace at Cambridge and she had a string quartet. We decided to put something together and do a gig. We went on this intensive writing and production process over a few weeks where we tried to get something together to perform. That was the first time I felt the impetus and had an end goal in sight. It was a big shift. That was at a big club night we put on called National Rail Disco. That changed everything, it was like ‘this is how you get things’.

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Tell us about the making of the new single during lockdown?
I’m lucky because I’ve got this plush studio in my basement, which is perfect for this situation. It took about two years to build – I had to dig out the basement and Munro Acoustics fitted it all out and did an amazing job. Just being able to hunker down and get stuff done has been great. I’m in a bubble with the band so we’ve been doing a load of writing during lockdown.

What are your key pieces of kit?
The only thing I couldn’t do without is Ableton. We’ve been touring so much since 2014 that I’ve had to rely on a very minimal set up. All I really need is a laptop and a pair of beyerdynamic DT 770s. However, I do have a shitload of stuff in the studio that I love! I’ve got ATC 110s and they are amazing, so clear and detailed. I love the UAD stuff, I’m totally immersed in that ecosystem.

What are your plans for the rest of 2021?
It’s hard for us to make plans. Any offers that come through, we’ll do them! Any scrap of life, we’ll take! At the moment it’s just a full on assault on finishing music and getting it out there.

Clean Bandit’s new single ‘Higher’ featuring iann dior is out now

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