The Guardian’s Chris Salmon on Andy Cato….
“Never in the history of dance music has someone with so much talent so successfully avoided the media’s attentions. Not only has Andy Cato written ten years’ worth of Groove Armada anthems – he also stands centre stage at their breathtaking live shows, showcasing the dozens of hits that have led the band to international success. Add the fact that he’s a much sought after producer and mixer – working with the Kylies, Amys and Roisins of this world – and given his enormous size (he’s well over 2m in height), you’ve got to applaud the gifted giant for keeping it real, keeping a low profile and keeping focused on entertaining his global army of fans...
From the moment he could stand up without falling down, Andy’s jazz musician father introduced him to the piano and trombone. His talent was obvious, his parents supportive. Andy was soon attending as many gigs as possible, practicing with all his heart and soul. His first gig was with the brass band of the local coal mine. He remembers, “I was just the little kid in the corner opposite the pit, but I got to play with the band because I had trombone lessons with one of the old guys who said I was up to the job. They were the most talented set of musicians I’ve ever known.”
Then, in 1987, he won Yorkshire’s Young Jazz Musician Of The Year award.
At home meanwhile, Andy was playing on skateboards until it was too dark to see and listening to ‘spirituals’, blues, the Quo, the Stones and Tangerine Dream. He credits his cousin Digs (a member of the cult, excellent house collective DIY ) for his induction into the acid house explosion “We crossed the country in my 1960s Hillman, stopping at service stations and waiting for the pay phone to ring with the final party location. The DIY parties; Basics [Leeds], Hacienda [Manchester], Kaos…1989-95 were like nothing I’ve seen anywhere in the world”.
This spirit has stayed with him. His music brings back those amazing, unifying party years.
In 1991, Andy moved to London. “I was in Brixton on the dole, with a bedroom studio bought with a bank loan, teaching myself all sides of the business, playing cocktail piano in a ‘No Jacket Required’ Phil Collins theme bar to pay back the debt. During this time I went through every music business cliché of management sharks, record company politics and missed opportunities. Success? In the end, it’s just like your Gran always said. Stick at it.”
Andy set up his first label Skinnymalinky. Anyone who had their arms in the air between 1991 and 1995 will have heard a Skinnymalinky tune on a dance floor. Soon after, he hooked up with Tom Findlay. Together they launched a club night, which led to a series of parties, a band, Groove Armada, and eventually a festival, Lovebox.
In 2011, he also established a new band, Days of May, with musicians he met where he now resides in France. Cato sings lead vocals and the band focuses partly on protest music relating to economic depression.