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Here's What Happened When Rudimental Met Naughty Boy

D&B music makers Rudimental and Naughty Boy are huge in the UK and Europe. Like 185 million YouTube plays huge.
November 21, 2013, 7:00pm

Rudimental and Naughty Boy. Just sharing a charcuterie board and some olives, as you do.

If you mention the names Rudimental or Naughty Boy anywhere in the UK, the response will normally be enthusiastic, or at the very least you will receive a nod of understanding and a vague anecdote about someone losing a shoe in a muddy field while dancing like a lunatic to one of the aforementioned at a festival. Both artists are at the forefront of a huge resurgence of early UK Garage, Drum & Bass, and jungle. But their take is a long way from the underground warehouse parties of the late 90s—Rudimental and Naughty are making beats with polished mainstream appeal. Along with the likes of Disclosure, these unassuming and largely faceless producers have worked with some serious homegrown talent (Emeli Sande, Sam Smith, John Newman, Ella Eyre) to earn their title as the masters of a massive UK dance scene.

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Outside of Europe however—despite hundreds of millions of YouTube views between them—their names don’t hold quite the same weight. It was by rare and happy coincidence that they both ended up in New York City on exactly the same day doing some touring (Rudimental) and promo (Naughty Boy). Obviously we took the chance to throw them together. And who better to interview both artists than each other.

Here’s what happened when Naughty Boy, aka Shah, and ¾ Rudimental (Amir, Piers, and Kesi—Leon was in bed with a throat infection) got met up in a bar next to the Bowery Ballroom, ahead of Rudimental’s sold out show later that night. They talked about collaborating with Nas, getting tanked at awards shows, faceless fame, and their first forays in America. As you might imagine, a beautiful bromance was born.

Uh, this Rudimental video has had 51 million plus views. WTF!

Naughty Boy: How can we do this? I’m outnumbered, there are three of you so we’re all going to talk over each other. Maybe we should have to put our hands up when we talk?
Kesi: Maybe bum slaps?
NB: No, not bum slaps.

[At this point everyone decides to put their phones in the middle of the table and turn them upside down so they can concentrate. This is what happens when four well-behaved, polite Brits interview each other and it is amazing.]

Amir: First things first, where did the name come from?
NB: There is a naughty boy in me that comes out sometimes, an alter ego. Not like schizophrenia, more like, creatively. He comes out when I drink and when I’m in the studio. But I’m actually pretty good. I was really well behaved as a kid.

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Piers: So what brings you to New York?
NB: I’ve actually never been before, I’m here doing some promo and meeting people, it’s been crazy. You guys are doing a show right?

Amir: We are here doing a mini-tour, we did Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, which was amazing actually, such a weird and wonderful festival, then we played in DC, which was insane. It’s just wicked for us because all of the shows have been sold out.
NB:It shows the strength of the music I guess. I remember when I was first over here, about a month agao, in LA signing to a label, and I was in conversations about Disclosure, Rudimental, Naughty Boy. It’s nice to be part of a wave of talent that’s almost faceless. That’s the power of it—it’s taking it back to basics and it’s really about the music.

Amir: Yeah it’s like a hybrid of dance music and live music.
NB: But also the name carries the weight. Only recently does anyone know what I look like which feels good for our generation, when everyone is so fame obsessed—and obsessed by that part of it—before being obsessed with the craft itself. It feels good to be mentioned alongside people like you guys and Disclosure who are really bringing it home at the minute.

Amir: Definitely, it feels like the British music scene is in a really good place.
NB: And we’ve got some of the best singers in the world, like Emeli (Sande) and Sam Smith. And I’m not even saying that just because they’re British, because I’ve been listening to everything, but they really do have the most amazing voices.

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I love the Nas thing as well. [Nas jumped on a remix of the Rudimental track “Free” featuring Emeli Sande]. The direction he took “Free” in, talking about freedom and being so honest, that shows why he’s still the best.

Piers: Yeah when we had that sent over to us we all had a bit of a moment.
NB: Yeah I would’ve lost my mind.

Amir: I literally shed a tear. We were in the back of our tour bus in Australia and I was sat there just listening to it, it was unreal.
NB: And that’s your first track in America?

Amir: Yeah “Free” is the first thing we’re putting out over here, the process takes a lot longer over here than it does in the UK.
NB: What would you say has been highlight of 2013?

Amir: There’s been a lot, man. I mean working with Nas was definitely a highlight, working with The Game as well…
NB: Has any of that stuff come out?

Amir: No not yet, we need to finish it…
Piers: We’ve just been touring so much. But we were doing studio sessions in LA with Ed Sheeran and The Game and it’s just so casual out there, we were upstairs recording with Ellie Goulding, Ed Sheeran, and the Game, and Jonny Depp was downstairs recording with Alice Cooper. So that was a weird moment.

There have been some other big festival moments as well, like V Festival [which takes place in the UK every August], was our biggest festival, we got the biggest crowd they had had since the Prodigy in 95 or something.

Uh, this Naughty Boy video has had 185 million plus views. WHHHHHHHAT?

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Kesi: The MOBOs were pretty surreal too. [The MOBOs are a UK awards ceremony commending “Music of Black Origin."]
Piers: We played at a MOBO after show and it was so hot in there everyone just started taking their shirts off. It got kinda weird. All the guys in their room just had their shirts off; it was really sweaty.

NB: Yeah I saw that party, I thought it was maybe one big orgy or something.
Kesi: You were at the awards too right?

NB: Oh God yeah, I was really drunk, I should not have been allowed up on that podium. I won the first award and they make you go backstage and drink this cocktail called the Boris Johnson or something and have your picture taken with it and I wasn’t expecting to win anything else that night so I just drank the whole thing. Then when they called my name again I was fucked. I forgot to thank the guy who directed the video. But he understands, I tweeted him after. Things like that you have to be sober for, I’m learning that.

You guys though, you just have so much energy on stage. I watched you guys play in, Belgium, or Ireland, and it really reminded me of how bands used to be back in the day where everyone on stage is a star—there isn’t one main person. That doesn’t happen anymore with bands.

naughty boy

Champagne poppin', pussy strokin', sweet sneaker-sportin' Naughty Boy. Bravo this picture, bravo!

Amir: The thing with playing in America is they seem to get that a lot more, they have this history of funk and soul bands. Even James Brown, you had about five people singing on stage and sometimes James Brown would just be quiet for a bit or he’d give a backing vocal. The instrumentalists would be the stars at times.
NB: Yeah and everyone on stage is just as important and that’s the energy I get from your shows. I’m still learning about that. My first ever show was at the Capital FM Ball this year at Wembley Stadium in front of 80,000 people, so I haven’t really had time to build up that intensity at the smaller shows and start from there.

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Amir: Yeah our first proper show was in front of 8000 people and before that it had been about 200 people, so we went from nothing to a massive crowd.
Piers: With the live show you don’t always have to make it exactly like the track though. We spend hours crafting a sound in the studio and then when you go to play it live it just doesn’t work. But that’s okay. When you’re live you can use a new sound and do something different with it.

Amir: The better we are getting, the more we‘re just jamming and playing things that sound completely different from on the record. Its good to be able to have that freedom on stage and get away from the electronics a bit.
Piers: yeah we all come from working with other people and producing for other people, but then it’s great to finally be able to work on your own material and get really into the music.

NB: And I think it makes you respect the music more, you know we are all musicians at the end of the day and not polished pop stars.
Amir: No we’re definitely not polished. It would be a nightmare having to look good the whole time.
NB: Yeah and there’s something very British about that: we’re all a bit rough. Not rough looking, but rough round the edges.

RUDIMENTAL

Rudimental: Bit of rough Piers: So how did it get started for you?
NB: That’s one thing I talk to about with up and coming producers or people who are just getting started—don’t think there’s a blueprint. I was at university and I dropped out. I ended up on a television game show where I won a lot of money and used it to start making music and building a basic studio.

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Piers: Oh yeah I heard about that. And then how did you meet Emeli? [Naughty Boy produced a majority of Emeli Sande’s album, for which he won a prestigious songwriting award called an Ivor Novello.]

NB: It was at an aftershow. She’d been playing and there were a lot of people in the room but no one was talking to her and I was just in awe, I went up to her and just had to convince her to get on a track.
Amir: We love going to talent shows and little showcases to find people to work with.

NB: Yeah and all those people I’ve worked with—Wiz Khalifa, Ed Sheeran—we’re friends now, there is a real mutual respect there.
Piers: Everyone we’ve worked with we are just proper friends with now, we’re a family, we all go on tour together and spend every day together and honestly I miss them when we get home after being on tour for so long.

Amir: Yeah tour is crazy though. You see each other so much and spend so much time together, it’s like being in the army or something. You get home finally and you don’t know what to do with yourself. I can’t even sleep in my own bed now because it’s not rocking like a tour bus.
NB: That’s crazy, I’m about to go into tour mode for the first time, I start my UK tour next year.

Amir: You’ll grow to love it and you won’t want it to end.
Piers: You’ll find it hard to sleep on a bed that doesn’t rock. NB: Because it’s rocking you like a baby?
Amir: Yeah it’s like a womb.

Georige Okell is a Brit in NYC and these she’s on Twitter - @GeorgieOkell.