Cheerleaders of the dance music world for more than two decades, Groove Armada are no strangers to a party. But even by their own wild standards, this weekend’s trip to Oxfordshire promises to be a mad one.

“We are DJing to thousands of people in a secret valley,” says Tom Findlay, who makes up half the duo with bandmate Andy Cato.

“It’s going to be amazing.”

Groove Armada are one of the world’s most successful dance production outfits, responsible for a string of club classics such as chill-out favourite At the River and dance anthems See You Baby and Superstylin’.

While they are most at home in the sweaty confines of a club, Tom and Andy this weekend set up their decks in a wooded ravine on the Cornbury estate, near Charlbury, for Wilderness Festival.

“It should go down well,” says Tom, who says he is also bringing his children along for the occasion.

With a career spanning everything from chilled-grooves and trip-house to electro, big beat and big bouncy house music, Tom says punters can expect an eclectic set with, following a night of disco with Nile Rodgers and Chic, a sparkly disco flavour.

“It won’t be too prescriptive,” he laughs.

“And because of technology we can keep things fresh. ‘Back in the day’ you had a record box from which you chose a limited number of tunes, but now it’s USB keys with thousands of songs so you can go with the mood of the crowd and mix it up.

“But we’ll definitely plan to respond to the disco king Nile Rodgers. I’m an enormous fan; he’s so impressive as a human being and what he’s done with other artists is incredible.”

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The duo’s DJ set promises to be a highlight of the festival, which swings into life today in the rolling grounds of Cornbury Park.

As well as Chic star Nile Rodgers, revellers will be treated to sets by French dance act Justice (of We Are Your Friends and D.A.N.C.E. fame), pop act Bastille (best known for top 10 hits Pompeii and Of the Night) and electronic artist Jon Hopkins.

Also playing in The Valley is South Korean DJ Peggy Gou – along with the usual sideshow of acrobats and circus performers among the treetops – the perfect setting for a set of arms in the air club classics by Tom and Andy.

While we can expect some Groove Armada treasures, one tune they will not be playing is their dreamy top 20 hit At the River, a staple of chill out collections based on a sample of Old Cape Cod by Patti Page – and, famously, the soundtrack to that Marks & Spencer food advert.

“We were lucky in playing the right music at the right time,” he says. “We have been through different periods and there’s the whole live band thing we do and DJing. The early period of chill out is a big part of my life and one I go home and listen to rather than what I’d play in a club in Ibiza at 3am.

“But playing At the River at 2.30am in the middle of a house set wouldn’t really work. We don’t just want people swaying around.

“It’s still a really formative part of who we are though... and we might play it in a secret set the night before.”

And does he tire of it? “I never listen to it at home,” he laughs. “When it was used on the adverts I didn’t recognise it as a piece of music I wrote. I tried to cut myself off from it and didn’t watch telly for months. Fortunately it’s not being used any more! I love it live though. We can cut loose with it.”

It is 21 years since their breakthrough track 4 Tune Cookie. Did Tom ever imagine the act would get as big as it has and that he’d be playing to a crowd of adoring fans in a wooded valley all these years on?

“We are blessed that we can still do this,” he says.

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“I thought 10 years ago that it was all over as it felt like pushing a boulder up a hill, but now things are as good as they’ve been in a long time.

“It’s helped by the amount of good music coming through and the vibe between us. We’re having a real creative spike. You get to the point where you come full circle. And when we hear bits of our songs in other people’s tunes we take it as a compliment. It certainly doesn’t bother me.”

And with the duo busy packing for Wilderness, have they requested any essentials? “Yes!” he says. “Fake moustaches... and they need to look as much like Freddy Mercury’s as possible!”

  • Wilderness Festival is at Cornbury Park, Charlbury, from today to Sunday.

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