"If you're fond of sand dunes and salty air. Quaint little villages, here and there." The sun-kissed, sea-side reverie of Groove Armada's At The River almost singlehandedly spearheaded the chillout explosion of a few years ago, featuring on approximately 3,456 coffee table compilation CDs. But over the course of their seven year career the Armada duo have demonstrated a much wider repertoire than mere sophisticated lounge trickery, incorporating house, dub, hip-hop and psychedelic soul into their music.
With the distinctly un-hip accolade of Young Jazz Musician of the Year for 1995, and a junior career as trombonist in a Yorkshire colliery brass band, Groove Armada's Andy Cato may never have fashioned a career as an exponent of cool dance grooves. But Andy was saved from a lifetime of trombone recitals at the local village hall by his cousin Digs, who, as a member of the cult house collective DIY, introduced the 6ft 8" Andy to house music. "My whole youth was filled with music in school," recalls Cato, who plays a variety of instruments, including keyboards, and bass guitar. "I was going to go to a music school when I was 17, but thankfully my parents talked me out of it and I stayed in the real world."
Andy took up a DJ residency at the Spectrum in Cambridge before moving to London to establish the label, Skinnymalinky and met up with his future Groove Armada partner, Tom Findlay a fellow DJ, on the club circuit in London.
Tom was a Cambridge exile who'd spent his youth DJ-ing, seeking out obscure funk rarities and picking up skills on bass and trumpet. He relocated to Manchester and promoted a series of successful club nights. While there he honed his talent as a live musician, playing with several local funk outfits. Andy and Tom soon discovered they shared a love of jazz, funk, disco and house tunes. The pair decided to launch a joint club night, Captain Sensual At The Helm Of The Groove Armada before deciding to record their own music under a shortened version of the name which originated from a Kitsch '70's disco club night in Newcastle.
2000 saw Groove Armada moving into new musical areas and solidifying their reputation as one of the UK's most exciting live acts. Northern Star was re-released by Tummy Touch, and Groove Armada compiled the critically acclaimed Back To Mine album series, a compilation of their favourite tracks by other artists released on DMC Records
The boys have almost completed their most recent album for release in 2007 through Sony BMG and are currently touring Asia with Heineken as well as working hard on creating Lovebox events for 2007.
With their skilled musicianship, love of live performing and praise from the likes of Madonna (for whom they remixed Music) and Elton John, the accusational tag of "dodgy dancefloor chancers" is unlikely to ever be levelled at Groove Armada.