view counter

Putting the Party back into Party Politics: Interview with Clean Bandit's Grace Chatto

Photo Credit: Anna Patakarina

Later this month, the Southbank Centre will play host to ‘Love in Mind’, a one-night-only spectacle of sound and vision to launch the Harvey Parker Trust

The evening commemorates the life of the young gender-fluid and autistic musician, Harvey Parker who struggled with their mental health and sadly passed away in December 2021. Recognising that creative work is inseparable from personal identity and therefore often emotionally taxing, the trust endeavours to raise funds to take action to improve young creatives’ mental health as well as signpost wellbeing resources and support networks.

Performances from Clean Bandit, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, the National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain and many others will set the tone for a celebratory exhibition of creative talent and queer joy. 

Ahead of the event, we sat down with Grace Chatto, cellist and vocalist of the illustrious electropop group Clean Bandit to discuss her involvement in ‘Love in Mind’, why our government should be doing more to tackle discrimination and inequality, and how new music from the band could add a whole other meaning to the phrase party politics.  

Millen Brown-Ewens Hi Grace, thanks so much for speaking with Run Riot. At the end of the month, Clean Bandit will be participating in Love in Mind to launch The Harvey Parker Trust. Could you tell us a little bit more about what the evening is? 

Grace Chatto: Love in Mind is a very special concert taking place on the 30th April at the Southbank Centre that will launch a new charity called the Harvey Parker Trust. The evening will be a wonderful celebration of Harvey Parker who was a remarkable individual who gave so much joy through their musical creativity and suffered poor mental health. We hope this concert will raise greater awareness of the need for mental health care for all young people and to raise funds to take action to improve young creatives’ mental health. The line-up is incredible and reflects the many aspects of Harvey’s life and passions. All types of musical genres will be represented on the night, across classical, pop, jazz, choir and also dance at the Afterparty which is supported by Heaven and G-A-Y. Mark Rylance and Rob Madge, from hit show My Son’s A Queer will also be performing pieces as well plus some very special surprise names.

Millen: Why did you want to get involved with this project?                             

Grace: Since the introduction of the first lockdown, I have felt deep fear about the mental safety of young people. This coming at a time when their safety is already so deeply affected by long years of austerity and the dismantling of vital welfare services. The Harvey Parker Trust has a particular concern with young creatives who suffer discrimination, whether that’s on account of their disability, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference or social class, which is very important to me. When we were asked to perform at this concert, we immediately said yes because we would like to use our music to help this crisis in any way that we can. We will come together to perform our songs with the Chineke! Orchestra, which Harvey was a part of, and is the first professional orchestra in Europe to be made up of majority Black & ethnically diverse classical musicians. We are excited about the audience experiencing these new acoustic orchestral versions of our music, arranged by Mark Cumberland from the BBC. 

Photo Credit: Nickii Kane

Millen: Earlier this year, the government stated that they were increasing funding allocated to mental health services. As someone who has previously discussed their politics, I wondered whether you had any thoughts on this? It definitely appears to be a step in the right direction, but is there anything else that can be done, particularly for young creatives? 
Grace: I think it is brilliant that more money is being allocated in this way: it is now desperately needed. However, I think above all it is important that there is a government focus on combatting inequality, job insecurity and discrimination at large. We know that austerity policies and financial stress lead to rising levels of depression, self-harming behaviours and suicide. We also know that marginalised groups in our society are particularly at risk. I believe preventative policies should be a priority: government viewing health as a whole and creating a safe environment for everybody.

Millen: Clean Bandit has a reputation for releasing upbeat chart-topping pop songs but do you ever think you’d collaborate with an artist to release a track that reflects the band members’ political rhetoric?                            

Grace: Yes that is certainly something we’d be interested in. Living through this crisis moment in the world, and political crisis in our country, it is hard to know how to help with art, but I would like to stand in solidarity against austerity and discrimination. One of our most popular songs is our only song with an overtly political subject: Rockabye, with Sean Paul and Annemarie, which is about women left behind by the system. 

Millen: You’ve been in the music business for around 15 years now with Clean Bandit and have mentioned before that you’ve all managed to stay relatively anonymous. Do you think this degree of anonymity has influenced your relationship with the music industry? 

Grace: It keeps us a little bit safe in some ways, from the potentially damaging mental effects of fame, losing control over one’s life, and bullying on social media, all of which we have seen affect our peers. We can quietly beaver away in the background with our music and our music videos, which we love. That being said, there are difficulties within the industry. 

Millen: The band has worked with an eclectic cast of collaborators but who's at the top of your wish list? 

Grace: I’m obsessed with feminist icons Rosalia and Miley Cyrus.


To find out more about Grace and Clean Bandit, please head here. 

Love in Mind is a benefit, in memory of Harvey Parker, designed to support the mental wellbeing of young creatives. It will take place on Sunday 30th April at 19:30. To find out more about the event and book tickets, click here.

view counter