Dancing Up a Storm
Talented music man/producer DJ Chucks and singer/interpretive mover & shaker Mr Bruce are The Correspondents, an electrifying dance act from South London
Article by Adrian Peel
Part electro-swing, part drum ‘n’ bass, part jungle, part funk and part jazz – and now in their tenth year as a band – The Correspondents are currently putting the finishing touches to their second album (the follow-up to 2014’s Puppet Loosely Strung) and hope to release it later this year.
“We’ve got two tracks that we’re probably going to release as singles with a couple of videos, hoping to get some stuff out before the summer,” explained Mr Bruce, famed for his frenetic dancing and on-stage charisma, “in time for festival season.”
The duo, backed by energetic drummer Holly Madge, are particularly active during the summer months and have performed at many of the UK’s most popular outdoor festivals, including Glastonbury (where they were included on The Telegraph’s top 10 highlights list for two consecutive years), Bestival and the Wilderness Festival.
Elaborating on their music, Mr Bruce continued: “Live, I think a lot of people would think of us as a drum ‘n’ bass act because the last third of our set is very heavy drum ‘n’ bass and jungle. But the stuff that we actually make, we don’t necessarily listen to that kind of music. “I love dancing to it on stage and singing it and that kind of thing, but as far as the music we listen to, our tastes are a bit slower, more considered, I guess.”
Chucks and Mr Bruce grew up in Wandsworth and their parents were friends. They started making music together in their teens, before Mr Bruce went up to Scotland to attend the Edinburgh College of Art and Chucks went off to university in Leeds. When they did finally get together ‘officially’ as a band, fame and fortune was never really their long-term aim. Mr Bruce wryly comments, “it’s funny because over the course of 10 years, we’ve played with so many different people.
“Back in the day, Florence and the Machine supported us for one or two gigs. It’s that weird thing where you see these people rocket to fame, and it’s something that we’ve never particularly wanted – we were more looking for something that was slow and steady and relatively consistent.
“It’s quite nice because we have this great career, and I never thought I’d say the word ‘career’ in connection with music… It’s fun; we get to go to great places and meet lots of great people.”
Mr Bruce also earns a living as a portrait painter. “I kind of split it down the middle,” he observed. “Because we make dance music, it means we’re not really asked to play Wednesday evenings! “We’re very much a weekend band, and very much a festival band as well. So in that respect, from Monday to Friday I’m in my studio painting. I do a lot of animation work as well, for The Correspondents and for other people, and have quite a big hand in all our videos.”
Commenting on their well-deserved reputation as an unmissable festival attraction, Mr Bruce said: “I think it’s a formula that works – it’s very upbeat, something people can dance to. We are that high-energy, high-octane thing that I think people want at a festival.
“Obviously you can go and listen to some amazing singer/songwriter or something, but if you’re not very well known, I think it’s way easier to get people on your side at a festival where you’ve potentially got thousands of people drifting around not knowing which stage to settle at.
“If you can get them all dancing, they’re more likely to stick around. We like the randomness of it and, because I dance the whole way through the set, if you enter that tent at any point you’ll see me at full-throttle!”
Mr Bruce is also known for his flamboyant dress sense. Who makes the striking costumes he wears on stage and in the band’s videos? “There’s been a few people over the years,” he replied. “Carley Hague used to make them, and then someone called Rachel Freire. The stuff they do is incredible.”
When not performing, the multi-talented artist favours tailored garments. “Graham Browne is someone I go to a lot,” he said of the clothiers he frequents. “Then we’ve recently done a few shows for a new company called Labassa and Wolfe who make very nice suits.”
Mr Bruce cites “Fear and Delight” as the song he would use to introduce newcomers to The Correspondents. “And I’d probably show them the video,” he added. “I think it would give them a good idea of what we’re into. There’s a bit of jazz in there, there’s a bit of electro, there’s a bit of drum ‘n’ bass…”