site serif;”>Aonghus McGarry sits down with Raf Rundell of Dance’s new dynamic duo.
Dance music is too easily derided. Indeed, it’s a genre almost never featured in the humble paper in your hands. In the same way that this omnipresent genre is far too easy to throw away with all the David Guettas of the world, it’s easy to see The 2 Bears as a one man show. Joe Goddard, of Hot Chip fame, has been lauded with critical praise for years, and accompanied by the high sales of his bands records, is by far the more well known of these 2 furry creatures to the casual fan. Such an assertation, however, would be doing the other half of this duo a great disservice. Raf Rundell, a former press agent and A&R man, plays an equal role in creating some of the liveliest and accessible house music to come out of London, or anywhere else, in years – ‘Pop House’ one might call it (I’ve just made that genre up). “Well I was always DJing on the side while I held down a day job” Raf tells me on his exposure to dance music, “Producing on the other hand has been a more recent development, as a teenager I’d always be raving with mates, in the country side, clubs in London, all different kinds – (legendary drum &bass night) Metalheadz, we’d go see Carl Cox on a Thursday, Spaced on a Wednesday (run by Classic records), it was a great time for clubbing”. On getting together to work with Joe Goddard however, it was originally supposed to be The 3 Bears, the third being Joe Mount of the band Metronomy “We used to play a lot of these parties called Greco-Roman that were very chaotic, hedonistic warehouse parties, Joe’s someone I’d have a lot of admiration for, he’s in a really great band and he’s got great taste in music and is a really accomplished produdcer, but it’s definitely not a hinderance, him being in Hot Chip” . Indeed, much has been made of the nostalgia factor or The 2 Bears’ music, a common thread throughout their excellent new album Be Strong is that these tunes wouldn’t be productions totally alien to the work of Basement Jaxx, and the music that was played in their club night all that time ago; “That’s not necessarily an age we’re trying to recreate but it’s an age of music we love and connected over, it’s the kind of music we love to hear and play when we’re out, yea it’s a totally fair thing to say” explains Raf “but you can’t just put out 10 club bangers, it has to be something you can really listen to, I like to think it’s something that evokes club culture, and London club culture specifically”. On the recording of Be Strong, Raf describes it as very “un-rock & roll, Joe had just had a baby girl and we were just working between him taking care of his new family, it was just punctuated by playing with his baby, it was a very healthy environment to make music, hopefully there’s some straight-forward, uncomplicated good vibes”. The dance music made by The 2 Bears is more complex than Joe would let on; incorporating two-step and hip-hop influences much more prominently than other house records might, indeed Raf described at length the help the specialist shows giving the duo exposure on BBC Radio 1, which culminated in their essential mix getting the 2 hour slot on Pete Tongs’ show last week “There’s a big change around now with Skream and Toddla T getting their own shows now, there’s more to it than the ‘perfectly’ engineered tunes of the Guettas and what not”. In a just world the hyper-intelligent pop of Be Strong would sell by the million, and even it doesn’t, the critical success of The 2 Bears is all but guaranteed. The 2 Bears play The Button Factory with Benoit & Sergio on February 17th.