Ace beatmakers and electronic experimentalists CLOUT! have a genre-blitzing passion for adventurous sounds. They describe themselves - and their ideal fans - as ‘crate-diggers’, exploring all kinds of obscure music from the past and finding ways to reinvent it for the present - as dance-friendly, hook-laden tracks. Their friends and allies include Micachu and The Shapes, The Horrors, and These New Puritans and they’ve been remixed by Kwes. Their musical influences and loves include dub, jazz, acid house and prog rock. They played us a new track and showed us round their vast collection of vintage synths and DIY gadgetry, including the legendary Beanverb effects tin. CLOUT! are Grant Armour, Jordan Cunningham, Chris le Monde, Bradley Steptoe and William Cunningham.



CLOUT! are friends with a shared passion for seriously eclectic music. Their home town of Southend gave rise to a famously vibrant and diverse experimental scene, and CLOUT! too are always trying new sounds. They have a vast collection of old and new kit, including synths, percussion, a theremin and a ‘train’ synth, and make plenty of their own instruments too.

In their rehearsal studio they played a us a brand new track that they were working up. We loved this demo version of What They Say.

CLOUT! gig regularly, and have played Offset Festival, The Cave Club, and started their own Hip-Hop, Soul, and Dancehall clubnight, SPEAK YA CLOUT! The band have also collaborated with leading composer and experimental music-maker Micachu, emailing her one of their tracks and getting her contribution back within an hour! She joined them on stage for a performance at The Shacklewell Arms.

CLOUT! love playing live, but admit they have to be selective about how much of their huge array of kit they can travel with. It’s the most exciting set-up we’ve seen!

There’s been a trend in terms of how we’ve developed in that, despite the fact that we’ve ended up acquiring a lot more equipment, we have to be quite disciplined in what we tend to use live. Because otherwise it just becomes a complete nightmare, chaos setting up, so we try to get a balance between what we use for the sampler and what we use live, so it’s not too weighted either way.

On stage, they mix live drums with samples, and modern equipment with vintage, which reflects their yen for mixing up contemporary music with blasts from the past.

We’re interested in a lot of older equipment that usually has an association with many other different genres of music, be it the Star Synare 3 I’ve got which is more associated with dub, or the (Yamaha) CS-15 or the (Roland) SH-09 which are early 80s synths which are probably more associated with synth pop.

But I think, especially with contemporary dance music, people are now starting to use a lot of hardware that articulates certain areas of dance music to make sort of… dance music that’s cross-genre and I feel as if what I’m trying to say is that now there’s the internet and now we can listen to things very easily and anything, if it’s easy to hear, becomes a contemporary resource… then we can be influenced by quite a broad selection of music through equipment, through contemporary listening means.

CLOUT! admit that not all their classic kit is suitable for live shows even if they could transport it to the venue.

We used to use an MPC as well, an XL just because the sound of it’s really nice, kind of like an instrument really, but we used to have to wait for it to load while we were playing live so we’d have to make loads of noise and we were looking over at Chris who used to be in the band – a different Chris – and, like, Oh, has it loaded yet? Can we play this song?

So now we’ve got Ableton and two MPD24s which are a lot easier and a lot quicker to use. And better for songwriting as well and in the rehearsal room.

When it comes to songwriting, the band all agree that the instruments themselves are a major influence.

We never tend to think we’re going to write this kind of song or we’re this kind of band. We usually come from, I’ve just got this new bit of gear and I want to muck about with it. We don’t intend to sound a certain way, but the equipment sounds a certain way, all these different influences, and you sort of realise gradually that it’s made the equipment, the performing of these songs… It’s the sounds that make the music

Clout like the physicality of analogue equipment and have plenty of vintage synths including a Moog Prodigy, and Korg Mono Poly, and a Yamaha CS-15.

With analogue equipment we like to be tactile when we’re changing settings so it’s good to have a physical knob or switch or slider to actively play with, rather than doing it with a mouse and a keyboard and a computer. But also there’s the sound of analogue as well which is a lot deeper and richer sounding.

You tend to find analogue equipment has its own sort of space as well when you try to put it into a mix. So, for example, if you were to do a pitch sweep from a high frequency down to a low one on analogue equipment, it goes right the way down, like properly, sort of faces into the floor at about zero hertz but if you do it on a digital piece of equipment it just doesn’t tend to work so well, you lose power, you lose emphasis and oomph on it as well.

Analogue sounds are also more distinctive, they believe.

The individual analogue synths have their own sounds. Like, my Korg Micro preset sounds very much like library music from the 70s. You can’t recreate that on a computer. The same goes for the Moog Prodigy, it’s like the bass that that can produce!

The have a love of what they describe as primitive or simple equipment, but they appreciate modern technology just as much.

The Synare could be considered primitive because you actually have to hit it to produce a sound, it’s a very simplistic sound in terms of the world of analogue synths and so on and so forth. But I think what we meant in the manifesto when it mentions that we like to use primitive sounds is that you could consider acid house to be a very primitive form of dance music in that the parameters of it, with the 303 drum machine, means that the sounds you use to create acid house can’t go beyond the infrastructure of the hardware, when it was initially made, because of recording techniques as well as anything else. So it’s good to now take those primitive sounds that had these initial limitations and expand on them and give them broader limitations and use them in new ways.

Explore CLOUT!’s kit by clicking on the boxes on the left. We’ll be adding new videos regularly.