Grove has had an exhausting 2023. They’ve released their wicked new EP ‘P*W*R/PL*Y’, where they destroy and rebuild dancehall, D&B and trip-hop to explore their relationship to power and love. They’ve also spent their summer touring at countless festivals (including a return to Glastonbury), and have just recently finished off a headline tour.
They’re finally cozied up in Bristol, ready to put down roots again – Grove walks us through their busy year and what to expect for 2024.
You’ve had a big 2023 playing festivals and releasing P*W*R/PL*Y. How do you feel?
It all feels really fulfilling to be able to travel and spread the good word of landlord beheading [see track: ‘Fuck Ur Landlord’] and stamping on the heads of the monarchy [‘Big Boots’] (laughs). It’s felt super expansive, super grateful that people want us in all these different places. Also looking forward, I’m really wanting to embody a bit more activism.
How do you plan on doing that?
Over the next few months, I’m having some really deep time off to think about how to best use my voice in the world and how to best align my voice with my actions. Amidst expressing rage and anger, which I believe to be very important to do, there’s a bringing together I want to do with an understanding of love within that.
With P*W*R/PL*Y, there’s a lot of thought around: how do you harness your own individual power? How does that become part of collective power? As well as stoking the rage of the first half of the EP, the second half acknowledges the more playful, beautiful sides of power. But it’s been a journey in how I’m able to access power within me.
In the first half of the EP, you collaborated with political punk duo Bob Vylan for ‘Stinkin Rich Families’. How did that come about?
I actually had that track half-written whilst we were on tour together. I asked them: ‘hey, would you want to feature on this track? I’m going to play it tonight.’ As soon as I performed it straight after the show, it was like, yes – let’s fucking do this.
It took a year and a half for the whole track to come together with his verse included. I remember first hearing it: my ears were on fire, my body was on fire in the best way! It was just perfect.
You then end the more rage-filled first half with ‘Dead Bird Blues’, a more downbeat, jazzier track. What was your intention for taking that direction?
There needs to be a juxtaposition to pure frustration that delves into something a bit more beautiful, which is just as potent and just as powerful. It’s the perfect bridge track as well to the second half of the EP.
Collaborating with James Storm, it was like a beautiful coming together of our two brains. Yeah, probably one of my favourite tracks I’ve ever released.
Will you release more music in the future along those lines?
Definitely, that’s what my heart is leaning towards. I love artists like FKA Twigs, Sevdaliza, all of these people who make beautiful, hypnotic music in a very energetic… I hate to say feminine, energetic way, but that’s how it resonates with me. And mixing that with the more brash, harsher sounds. I think there’s a balance to be found in that with stuff I want to do in the future.
Your second half of your EP opens up with ‘MILF Magnet’. I associate dancehall with youth culture, was this meant to subvert that?
Honestly, I didn’t think too much about subtext or context. I was just like, this is what I’m feeling right now. It’s going to be a bit silly, and dancehall is going to be the vehicle. I love fucking with dancehall, because it’s so straight… and to just be singing about MILFs.
How does that go down live?
All the women love it, older women love it. Husbands love it as well. And also queer people who love older women love it as well. So it becomes a unifying song (laughs).
You’ve collaborated with EJ:AKIN across both EPs – how did you guys meet?
We met during the first lockdown. I came across their Instagram page because they’re a designer. I was like ‘hey, please design a logo for me’. We got a Zoom call and got on like a house on fire. As soon as lockdown finished, we ended up meeting up like… is this a date or are we just queer friends? Met up a second time, it was definitely a date. Now we’ve been together for the past three years!
How has being in a relationship changed your relationship with love?
It’s been totally transformative. Growing up, there was no real look of what love was at all in my life. I’ve had to learn how to cultivate and deepen and learn my relationship to love and how I express love and the complexities but also the simplicity of it. It’s something that I’ve come to really deeply feel and want to deeply share.
You returned to Glastonbury for the second time – what is was like playing there again?
It felt really great. The first year, we did four performances, which was bonkers. This year, we did three. God, it feels like such a long time ago as well. It was a beautiful week that we had, super special to be surrounded by more and more friends as well who were playing shows there. Yeah, a joyous experience.
You’re putting a more distorted twist on D&B and dancehall – what’s the audience reaction to it live?
It feels great. As you’ve mentioned, I love distortion, I love bass. Bass is such a bodily feeling; bringing out energy through people’s bodies to want to dance in protest of something, it’s a really unparalleled feeling.
So often, you’re on social media and everyone’s minds are communicating with each other. When that is also transformed into the body as well, it’s like an accumulation of power and oh! It just feels ripe for the next step to be happening.
What are your plans for 2024?
Honestly, right now I’ve got no plans. I feel like I’ve had plans, plans, plans for the past three years. To be formless for a bit would be nice.
I’m going to really be working on my craft again. In terms of my voice: how do I want to use my voice? Do I want to start singing more? Do I want to change my rap flows? I’m going to work hard on that for a little bit, and also falling in love with playing piano and keys again. Ultimately, I’m just taking it back to basics: falling in love with my favourite bits about music again and seeing where that takes me.
Get to know more of this year’s Future Five