Groove Armada chat to James Heavyfeet about Ants at Ushuaia and playing their 60th, and last ever set at Space Ibiza. They also talk about plans for the rest of the year, playing Manchester Pride 2016 and how their sound has developed.
Your locked into Unity Radio, this is the real sound of the city. Myself James Heavyfeet here in Ibiza, just played Ushuaia as part of our 5th birthday celebration in association with Duck And Cover. We are in the restaurant backstage with Groove Armada, just finished their set and interrupted their dinner. Andy, Tom, how we doing?
We’re alright, we’re lining up for our next set for our 6 hour marathon set on the Space terrace, our 60th and last set on the terrace, it’s the end of an era.
Wow. So summer 2016 so far, how’s it been?
Yeah it’s been good, this has been great, ants here is really lovely. This is the first time we have played here. We have played Ushuaia a few times before, but playing here in the back in the ram. It’s a nice vibe, it’s a different thing. It takes me back to the kind of gigs we used to do on the beach, it’s really worked out for us.
That’s the kind of thing with Ants at Ushuaia, it stands out from the rest of the nights, I presume you have seen the other line ups and what goes on, a little more underground. How does it differentiate and enable you to do differently to other DJ sets to other nights in Ibiza?
Well, Ants itself is the only night at Ushuaia that’s house, as we understand the word. So it’s nice there’s at least one, and it’s nice that it’s very popular, I think it’s the most popular or one of the biggest nights so it’s doing really well which is nice because it’s good music, and playing here in the back is like playing on the Space terrace before the roof went off so it’s got a nice old school vibe to it.
This is a big question, and I’m sure you could talk about it forever, but the music your making right now and playing fits in with what’s going on right now. It’s a far cry from Soundboy Rock, White Light album and the Red Light album. Are we still on a Red Light thing here?, is this the kind of thing that’s going on now?, how did we get here?
Yeah we did kind of make a conscious decision, we felt like in 2010 we hit our peak as a live band and we kind of felt it was never going to get much better than that. There were certain battles and we were fighting with the EDM onslaught that is a main stage act, which is kind of hard. There’s only so much of that much white noise you can take. So we kinda put up the white flag and felt like we wanted to go back to playing house music, which is where we were when we first met and how it first started. It started with us DJ’ing together, so it felt natural to go back to it, we have always DJ’ed. We have great chemistry playing together for 20 years now, we know each other really well, we know our sets really well. It’s a good instinctive vibe when we are in the booth, it’s always live and we kind of know where were going all the time so it’s nice it’s a really lovely vibe. We’re never saying never to a live thing again but this is really working for us at the moment.
There must be some pressure from people who want to hear, and want you to make those big tracks that everyone knows. And your way of dealing with it is presumably doing your own thing and slotting a little bit at the top. Just so people know that, hey we have done some good stuff.
Yeah I think when we did the black light album there were some fantastic songs on that record, and there was a decision taken by the powers that be and the kind of wider media and radio that weren’t going to play it. So I think we wrote some of the best songs of our career there, and now there out there and people are finding them and it’s lovely. There’s no point of pushing and pushing, we have had our time when we was doing the main stages and now it’s time for us to go back underground again.
Do not quote me on this, and do not blame me if I have got this wrong. You did a track with Will Young right?
Yeah we did its called history, you know he’s on strictly come dancing?
In 2017 can we expect one of you two on there?
Damn right, me and will are going to do a duet!
So once the summer is over what’s next, are you hitting the studio or maybe going on tour?
We have some gigs that roll through for the rest of the year, we have some good new tunes coming out on a few different labels. We have a big tune that’s coming out on Viva, I think there pushing it back till 2017 but that’s a big one.
And you guys have done something with Riva Starr?
Yeah that’s coming out in October. He has done a great re edit of ‘Superstylin’ which we played tonight actually so that was good. He’s been great, the Snatch label has come on leaps and bounds where the last few releases have been really strong, He’s great he’s a hugely supportive bloke. I don’t know how people run labels but he’s completely hands on with everything.
Because myself and the people who I am here with are involved in a radio station in Manchester, Unity Radio. I want to bring it round back to that, You guys were at pride last weekend?
Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant.
I have seen video’s, It looked good.
Yeah the only downside was that we only had an hour set because we were running over from Creamfields. But it was brilliant one of the best crowds for a decade I’d say.
High praise indeed, and your back in Manchester for the Ants tour at Warehouse Project later in the year. And I think before that were going to get you in the studio at Unity Radio, going to have a chat and get on the decks right?
Apparently, that’s the rumor (laughs)
And Space tonight, all night long on the terrace, what is going to go down? Who is taking charge and pointing direction?
You know what is nice about the all night thing, it is a lovely concept and there is something nice about playing that first tune and building something. It creates a certain energy and you got to kind of match that with some weirder, deeper bits that we can drop for a few hours. It kind of really will be an emotional thing for us. Its us as sort of actual house DJ’s, Space is where it really started for us you know, Space believed in us. When we were making records like ‘At The River’, Space was still booking us for house sets. It will be a little emotional, It’s our 60th set on the terrace tonight, and the last ever.
It’s been a few years since ive been back in Ibiza and everyone has told me it’s changed, but it looks to me like that magic is still here. What makes it so enduring?
It has changed, the last 3 or 4 years I think it needs to watch it abit but you know there’s that thing if your tired of London your tired of life, and I think it’s the same if your tired of Ibiza then your tired of life, but you need to look harder these days.
Tom, Andy its been an absolute pleasure.