This time last year, four London friends took to a stage in their home borough of Hackney and performed to thousands of people.
On the same bill as megastars such as Rihanna and Jay-Z for Radio 1’s Big Weekend, it was their second live performance and they did it on the marshes on which they played as children.
Rudimental – Piers Agget, Kesi Dryden, Amir Amor and DJ Locksmith – had only been asked two weeks beforehand to perform, but they’d never actually been on stage together.
Piers explains: ‘That was crazy. After we performed we went to DJ Locksmith’s house to get showered and changed, and we could see Jay Z’s performance from his window. It felt like we were playing in our backyard to thousands of people.’
A year on and the four friends have arrived full speed in the limelight and appeared again at the Radio 1 Big Weekend in Londonderry-Derry last week. In April their début album, Home, shot to No1 in the charts and they’ve had two No1 singles with Feel The Love featuring John Newman and Waiting All Night featuring Ella Eyre, which still sits at No.5.
Tonight the group will be at Goodwood Racecourse to perform at the first of Three Friday Nights.
When we speak, the lads have spent the past week flying around Europe. Last night they were in Holland and Piers has spent the whole day sleeping at home to recover.
Piers sounds shell-shocked: ‘We’ve been pretty busy, but it’s amazing as well. I mean I’ve only just got up because in the past week we’ve played in Holland, Belgium and we were at the Cannes Film Festival and did live TV. It all sounds so crazy. The past year hasn’t really sunk in yet.
‘But I’ve heard a lot about Goodwood and it’s going to be a good night I think.
‘We’ve come such a long way since that performance in Hackney. We are trying to better ourselves and we’re all enjoying it.’
Considering that a year ago Rudimental had barely played live, it has been a whirlwind for them. They’ve also recently finished a UK national tour, with Brixton being a particularly memorable venue: ‘At the end the whole crowd just screamed along to Feel The Love. It was pretty special. We’ve come such a long way and it felt like we’d arrived as a live act.’
Although it will be the first time the boys have played at the West Sussex course, they have been in the area before when they performed on a small stage at Bestival. And they’re back at the Isle Of Wight festival this year too.
Having spent years going to the festival with his friends, it was pretty incredible for Piers to perform there as part of Rudimental. He explains: ‘I’ve got a tight family of friends who I always go with every year, it’s pretty much how I know Portsmouth because you have to go through it. And now Rudimental performing there again – I can’t wait.’
Piers learnt about music playing piano in his dad’s blues and 1960s covers band, but used grime instruments under the name of Darker. He grew up with DJ Locksmith and Kesi, and the trio met Amir when he was asked to work on one of their songs. The quartet have been known as Rudimental since late 2007, and decided to make hand-crafted music with singers and producers all in the studio together.
And that’s where their album Home stems from, which includes local artists they’ve grown up with and headline acts such as Emeli Sande.
‘A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into that album. We finished it at the tightest deadline we could do because we were being such perfectionists about it,’ laughs Pier. ‘All those 5am studio sessions and paying the engineers overtime has worked out in the end. It’s nice and completely surreal that it’s out there and people like it.’
He adds: ‘It’s nice having the album out because people know our songs and people know who we are. They will know them when we perform live now.’
And now the boys are performing all the time, Piers feels it’s a good way of showing people they are actually a traditional band.
‘I think a lot of people think it’s two producers and DJs, but we’re a band with an electronic background. Now we’re on the road so much but our lives have changed for the better. We’ve got a number one album, two number one singles and we’re touring as a live act. We’ve come such a long way.’
‘When we formed Rudimental as a quartet we all decided that one day we’d love to headline Glastonbury. We’re playing this year, even though it’s not a headline slot. We’re not there yet but we’re taking it step by step.’
They’re not in a hurry to forget their roots either. Their main recording studio is based in East London’s Shoreditch and a lot of the people they work with are artists they’ve known for years.
Piers says: ‘We wouldn’t do an obvious collaboration just for the sake of it. It’s all about the music for us really. Emeli Sande is obviously a pop star but we love her music, so we jumped at the chance to work with her. But a lot of the people we’ve made songs with are like our extended family.’
‘I’d love to work with Jessie Ware or Wretch 32.There’s so many great artists out there and the world is out there for us.’
The rest of the summer entails a lot of festival performances, and building on their already growing reputation. And Piers can’t wait.
He says: ‘I’m most looking forward to playing Glastonbury. I’ve never actually been before and I think the general festival season will be amazing. At the same time we’ll be writing our second album so we’ll get back into the studio to work on more music. We’re living our dream.’
Rudimental play at Goodwood tonight in a sold-out show that’s the first of the racecourse’s Three Friday Nights. Also featured are Andy Cato of Groove Armada on June 14 and Trevor Nelson on June 21.
For tickets call 01243 755055 or go to goodwood.com