Ground Control

Rudimental

Ground Control

As Rudimental set to work on their fourth album, clubs were shuttered, festivals were being canceled, and the future of live music was in disarray. But as has been the way for the London dance collective for over a decade, during which they’ve become one of the UK’s biggest acts, it only hardened Piers Aggett, Amir Amor, Kesi Dryden, and Leon “Locksmith” Rolle’s resolve. “It was that feeling of wanting to be in an environment where you can hear loud music and have subs playing loud; that was the thought process behind this album,” Aggett tells Apple Music.
Ground Control is the quartet’s most focused record. The flip side of not touring through most of 2020 and 2021 was that, for the first time since becoming huge, the group could put their full concentration into making an album. “We’ve actually had the most productive year we’ve ever had as a band,” says Aggett. “The last three albums were all done on the road in between tours.” What’s emerged is an album that celebrates dance music in all its forms, from drum ’n’ bass to house to UK garage to jungle and more, the interlinking theme that this is music designed to bring people together, to evoke the exhilaration of that communal experience. Ground Control is ready for takeoff. Aggett takes us through it, track by track.
“Come Over” (feat. Anne-Marie & Tion Wayne) “It’s almost like we remixed ourselves. In the garage days, you used to get these 1990s R&B tunes and then a garage producer like MJ Cole or someone would remix it. And we basically had an R&B idea with Anne-Marie and L Devine—who was the other writer in the room—and we wrote that. It was like 110 BPM, or maybe slower, a little slow vibe. And then in the first lockdown, we sped it up and produced the garage beat on it. It kind of set the tone for the rest of the album, I think.”
“Jumper” (feat. Kareen Lomax) “This is another track in that garage world. It was a song we wrote in 2018 with John Ryan, who wrote ‘These Days’ with us. We were looking for a vocalist and we knew Kareen Lomax from Diplo’s ‘Looking for Me.’ She was in Atlanta and we sent her the beat, she vocaled it. She just brought an amazing, amazing emotion to it; it really encapsulated the vibe of the song. It’s an Afro-centric, garage-inspired kind of mash-up—it’s got a lot of energy to it.”
“Straight From the Heart” (feat. Nørskov) “We wanted to rework a garage classic. We all grew up in London around a lot of them tunes, and Amir actually got mentored by [‘Straight From the Heart’ artists] Doolally in Camden at his youth center. It was just a special tune. We reworked it and put it in a modern context. Anne-Marie was on The Voice and met contestant Leona, whose artist name is Nørskov. We loved her voice and wanted to try her on the song.”
“Ghost” (feat. Hardy Caprio) [Refix] “This is another one of us remixing ourselves. Because in the pandemic, we had to really work with what we had. There were no sessions, no writing camps, no flying around taking inspiration from around the world or hooking up and doing sessions. So again, we remixed our own song that we’d put out on the [2019] Distinction EP. It didn't quite really kick off, but it was more of an EP filler track. So we got the vocal and put it into this garage relay and then got Hardy Caprio. It's a classic example of us reworking our own stuff to make these records work in an environment where you have to work with what you've got.”
“Remember Their Names” (feat. Josh Barry) [with MJ Cole] “We were in a studio with Josh Barry and we wrote an idea; it was around the time of the Black Lives Matter protests. We wrote this idea and then, separately, MJ Cole made this drum and bass tune with him on piano. And then we started singing the song that we’d written before over it because it was in the same key. We do that quite a bit, actually, because you write an idea and it doesn't always come out or the production isn't quite there for whatever reason. And then we sing our own songs over our newer beats.”
”Be Somebody” [with James Vincent McMorrow] “This was a kind of online pandemic collab where he had this idea, and James Vincent McMorrow sent it to us in the early days of the pandemic. We just needed something to work on when we were in lockdown. He had the song pretty much there; it was more about producing it and adding the elements. We kind of wanted to create something like a ‘Not Giving In’ Part 2, something that has the essence of the previous albums on this new record. And he's got a great voice, James.”
“Be the One” (feat. MORGAN, Digga D & TIKE) “We’ve set up a record label and publishing company called Major Toms, and this one is an example of the family. MORGAN is signed to our record label and TIKE is on our publishing company. This was a Afrobeat tune that they've also put out together, but we sped it up and put it into the Ground Control realm. And then we got Digga D, who is a really hot rapper. It's a feel-good, summery garage tune.”
“Handle My Own” (feat. Ella Henderson) “I'm going to talk again about the Major Toms family. Ella Henderson is one of the artists signed, and we've been writing lots with her over the last few years. On this tune, we wanted to tap into the whole soulful disco element. It's a sample from a disco record by The Jones Girls. I took a sample of a nine-minute disco tune, but it's just a core structure that I really liked and then we wrote a whole song over it. It's kind of got an Angie Stone feel to me.”
“So Sorry” [with Skream] “Skream is an old friend. We actually met Anne-Marie and Skream on an Annie Mac tour in 2012 and we all got on really well. I've been chatting to him for years saying we should do a collab and we finally got in the studio. He sent me the idea—he had a MIDI file idea that he hadn't really developed, but we then sent it to Anne-Marie, she wrote the vocal and sent it back to us. And then we all got in the room and finished it and put it through some synths in the studio. It's just a deep, emotional kind of rave-y tune. I think it's going to be one of them ones that we're going to play at 4 am in a club and then leave.”
“Distance” (feat. Maverick Sabre & Kojey Radical) “‘Distance’ was a bit of an older idea, maybe 2017, even 2016. It was an idea we wrote with Maverick Sabre. He's one of the best songwriters from this generation; he's such a great lyricist. I remember him writing the lyrics while we were making the beat and I was sitting down with him and we were talking about the song. And then he put the ‘Inner City Life’ by Goldie video on mute. He was thinking about the system and feeling caught in a system, the system that we're all in, and the feeling of that. And I think he really captured it, and then we got Kojey Radical in. He was the perfect person to put that to lyrics in a fast tempo. It's one of the ones you have to listen to on a loud system as well.”
“Instajets” (feat. BackRoad Gee) “This was a funny, interesting one. In 2014, we did a writing session with Ed Sheeran and The Game in LA. And we made six tunes, which are still not released. But we then went back and nicked a vocal from one of the tunes and crafted a new beat and then sent it to D Double E. I said, ‘Do you want to jump on this?’ And he jumped on it and then we got BackRoad Gee on it at the middle to end of last year. It was kind of another example of us playing with old ideas on our hard drive and mixing around vocals. And then we had to call The Game and say, ‘Hi, do you remember us? We met six years ago…’ That was a bit of a process, trying to get ahold of him!”
“Krazy” (feat. Afronaut Zu) “There was about 10 of us in the room, and there were lots of vibes in that room. I think we were drinking and just enjoying ourselves and listening to music. And then we just made that tune and it was kind of something more on the jazzy edge of garage. And Afronaut Zu, he's an artist to watch. He's got an amazing voice. Some tracks do take a long time, and you don't always nail the production every time, but ‘Krazy’ is an example of something that probably took about three hours to make.”
“Make You Move” (feat. Nørskov & Keeya Keys) “This is another track in the garage realm. It was a song that we wrote out on an LA trip with Tove Lo. We got Leona from ‘Straight From the Heart’ to sing it. And we brought in Keeya Keys, who's really a pioneer in that new garage sound as well, mixing Afrobeat and garage—part of that kind of NSG crew. And he's just a sick rapper. It really put us into that kind of 'when MCs jumped on garage' era. It felt like a really good, important moment for the album.”
“Hostess” (feat. MORGAN) “This is a Ground Control-style a remix of an original that MORGAN did; it's one of her songs and we remixed it for the album. We co-wrote it with her, and it's something we thought: ‘Let's go a bit jungle on this album and do something a kind of bit like Missy Elliott.’ I was then like, ‘Let's flip up and bring it into the jungle realm.’”
“C’est Fini” (feat. Rv & LOWKEY) “This one is an example of us really messing with sonics and just having a bit of fun on the production, using the synths that we were using. We had fun with the bass and put it into a real club environment. When we play this at parties and clubs, it's the one that really knocks your head off. No one's really done drill rappers on house before. Our production duo that we signed had a lot of drill rappers in the studio, so we brought them into the other room and said, ‘Do you want to jump on this?’ And they were into it. It was a kind of mash-up of stars. We like to play with genres, and this is an example of that.”
“Keep Your Head Up” (feat. Hamzaa & House Gospel Choir) “Our foundation is positivity, and we’ve all had a really tough year, so we’re bringing a positive to a negative in this tune. We wanted to do a tune with House Gospel Choir, who are amazing. We wrote it with 2fox, who are an Afro-house production duo. It was something we wrote at the beginning of this year; once we’d kind of done the album, we felt like we needed the positive kind of soulful, jazzy house tune. It surpassed what I even thought it was going to sound like. It came out really beautiful.”

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