This UK electronica duo comprises Tom Findlay (b. Cambridge, England; bass, trumpet, keyboards, sampler) and Andy Cato (b. Yorkshire, England; trombone, keyboards, bass guitar). Cato, a 6 feet 8 inches tall Yorkshireman, grew up playing in a colliery brass band and listening to disco music, such as that by Earth, Wind And Fire, and he also won the UK's Young Jazz Musician Of The Year award. He was introduced to house music by his cousin, Digs, a member of the cult house collective DIY. He took up a DJing residency at the "Spectrum" night in Cambridge before relocating to London to establish the label, Skinnymalinky. Findlay grew up in Cambridge, listening to rare funk records before moving to Manchester, promoting club nights, DJing and playing in some of the city's best funk bands. He then moved to London, where he continued to DJ and promoted a night with Cato, "Captain Sensual At The Helm Of The Groove Armada" before they decided to record their own music under a shortened version of the name.
Groove Armada's music is an unusual blend of influences, spanning house, big beat, Balearic, disco and funk. It combines traditional instrumentation and influences with house rhythms and technology, and features samples of jazz as well as those from diverse artists such as the Chi-Lites, Platters and A Tribe Called Quest.
Cato and Findlay record all their material at a countryside retreat in Cumbria, northern England. Their first album, 1998's Northern Star, was released on the London-based independent label, Tummy Touch in January 1998. The well-received single "At The River", built around a Patti Page vocal sample from the 50s hit "Old Cape Cod", was also released on the label. Northern Star was named Best New Artist Album by the UK's Muzik magazine. The duo was signed to Pepper Records for their second album, Vertigo. Like its predecessor the album was highly praised across the music press. A single from the album, "If Everybody Looked The Same" was released in April 1999 and received much national UK radio airplay. A re-released "At The River" entered the Top 20 three months later.
Although by now a staple of fashionable and lazily assembled chillout compilations, Findlay and Cato forged ahead with their third studio album, Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub), which featured guest appearances by disco and funk legend Nile Rodgers, rapper Jeru The Damaja, and folk singer Richie Havens. The latter also appeared on the funky Lovebox, alongside rap crew Nappy Roots, dancehall DJ Red Rat, and R&B vocalist Sunshine Anderson. In 2005 Tom Findlay set up Tunetribe, a music download store that offers a fairer deal to artists by giving them up to 80% royalties, rather than the usual 20% at other online music stores and helps independent labels by promoting and supporting new and unsigned bands. Unsigned bands can join for free, and have their music sold on the site.