London Grammar

Who We Choose

Oct 16, 2013 Photography by Jem Goulding Issue #47 - September/October 2013 - MGMT
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While the La Pussy Parlure Nouveau may have been one of the relatively smaller stages at this year's Glastonbury Festivaldwarfed in comparison to the grounds' shadow-casting Pyramid Stagethe circular tent was at complete capacity with a queue of countless others outside by the time native English trio London Grammar started their performance. "I was really nervous before going, because I still get quite a bit of stage fright," recalls frontwoman and vocalist Hannah Reid. "So I was really scared. But then when we walked out there, as soon as we had done the first song it just felt great to have that many people there. I'm always surprised still."

Joined by guitarist Dan Rothman and multi-instrumentalist Dot Major, Reid has become more and more acquainted with this kind of intense, burgeoning interest ever since the band released their debut single "Hey Now" online last December. Swathed in minimalist electronica and phantom guitar melodies, all anchored by Reid's siren vocals, the track and the band's subsequent EP Metal & Dust has left the group garnering comparisons ad nauseam to the likes of The xx.

Both just 23 years old, Reid and Rothman first met while attending Nottingham University. "There's this rumor that's spread around that [we met when] Dan saw a picture of me on Facebook with a guitar and kind of started speaking to me, which makes him sound a bit creepy," says Reid. "The full version actually makes me sound more like the creep. Me and a girlfriend of mine were sitting in the canteen and we just said to each other that we really need to branch out and make some new friends because that's what university is about and we're being really boring. So I said, 'The next person that walks in the room is going to be the guy we're going to make friends with.' And it was Daniel. I was like, 'That guy. That is the guy.' And we started waving at him from across the canteen and he got really embarrassed. And from then we connected with each other on Facebook and he saw the photo of me and said, 'Oh you play guitar?' And we started playing music together."

"To be honest I was blown away by her voice immediately," says Rothman. "I remember it being a very immediate thing and knowing straight away that it was something quite extraordinary."

Eventually adding Major to the mix a year later, London Grammar quickly went from playing covers in various pubs to recording the material for their full-length debut, If You Wait. The album's title track is for Reid "one of the most emotionally powerful songs on the record.... It's about youth and the psychology of youth and the psychology of relationships when you are so youngthe reasons why the world works the way that it does and you pick the people that you pick to be with and why people have that natural urge to be in a pair."

Starting with that strange first encounter with Rothman, Reid has undoubtedly paired herself with London Grammar. And as with any relationship, it is still developing in its own unforeseen ways. "I think with anything creative you can grow into something you never expected to grow into," says Reid. "There was a time where every song that we wrote was just getting better, just because we were doing it. We didn't get together thinking that we were going to do this [professionally], just knowing that we wanted to make this kind of music. We just grew into it."

[This article first appeared in Under the Radar's August/September 2013 print issue.]

 



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