Sigma, like The Chainsmokers, Calvin Harris, and Disclosure, stand at that meeting point between dance music and pop, pioneers of a radio (and stadium) friendly sound that’s seen the duo shift over 4 million singles, clock over 308 million YouTube views, and play stages from London’s Brixton Academy, Roundhouse, and Fabric, to the UK’s Glastonbury (in front of 100,000 people), Reading Festival (where thousands danced outside of a packed Radio 1/NME arena), and further beyond with sold out shows across Australia and New Zealand, Amnesia in Ibiza, and EDC in America.
As Sigma’s profile has skyrocketed, Cameron Edwards and Joe Lenzie have found themselves collaborating with a dizzying array of artists, including Take That, Rita Ora, Paloma Faith, Labrinth, and most recently, Birdy. Their songs and videos have become events in themselves – the promo for ‘Find Me’ featured Millie Bobby Brown and quickly became the biggest global entertainment story on the day it was released – and they’ve achieved consistent chart, streaming, and radio hits alike (no other act has enjoyed as many UK national radio playlists).
Their debut album, ‘Life’ (Dec 2015) included 8 hit records (2x Platinum, 1x Gold, and 3x Silver), and as things stand, has now sold over 300,000 copies. The past 18 months have seen them play numerous live TV performances (BAFTAs, X Factor, TOTP, BBC Music Awards) and featured on the front (and homepages) of the UK press (The Times, The Guardian, Buzzfeed April 2016).
Increasingly, Sigma are the first taste of electronic music for some of the hundreds and thousands of young fans who pack out their sellout shows and festival performances each year, becoming part of an ardent fanbase that’s watched them grow from rising stars into one of the biggest acts in the UK and beyond. Everyone should experience the duo’s incendiary live show at least once. On stage, Cam and Joe are at the centre (keys, drumpads, synths), joined by a full band featuring vocalists, lead and bass guitarists, and surrounded by cutting edge production and a spectacular lightshow. Part gig, part rave, it’s a winning formula that’s seen them grab rave reviews for their own tours, and at the likes of festivals such as We Are FSTVL, Isle of Wight Festival, Parklife, Ibiza Rocks, Exit Festival, EDC UK Wireless, Boardmasters, V Festival, Sziget, Rock Werchter, and many more.
Both originate from suburban Greater London, Cam from Woking in Surrey while Joe grew up in Harpenden, Herts. As teens and beyond, this proximity to the capital allowed them to make frequent nocturnal forays into London’s burgeoning drum & bass scene, cutting their teeth at clubs like Fabric, Cable, and The End; many of the venues that have either faced closure or disappeared entirely, a subject Joe has been vocal about on BBC Radio 1 and in the UK media.
Joe began learning the violin from the age of three and continued for the next 18 years (you can hear him on ‘Life’, playing violin along with the rest of the orchestra, on ‘Lost Away’). He became fascinated with computers and electronics at a young age too, influenced by his father, who encouraged him to experiment. It was another familial influence that brought turntables (record decks) into his life when his older brother bought a set and let a 12 year old Lenzie loose on them. He instantly caught the DJ bug. Before long he was playing at venues across the county in his early teens, and then aged only 16 he won an award at the world-renowned DMC DJ finals at Brixton Academy. This passion then took him across the world in between his studies.
Joe’s youth was more fruitful than misspent; apart from the time he received a caution for graffiti. The same goes for Cam, who grew up with an eclectic diet of Guns N Roses, and rap (A Tribe Called Quest, Dr Dre) and transitioned quickly, as a burgeoning musician in his bedroom, from guitar and piano to decks.
Cam never quite fitted in at Charterhouse, where he studied until he was 16, but he felt more at home at Leeds Metropolitan University, where in 2002 he went to study (around the same time that Rudimental and Kaiser Chiefs were also there). It was here that he and Joe met, quickly becoming firm friends. Cam started working in local record store Tribe Records and co-running local drum & bass night Event Horizon. Joe, who was studying Music Technology, began DJing at Event Horizon, warming up for the likes of Rahzel and Grandmaster Flash.
It was evident after finishing University that Cam and Joe would record together once they relocated back to outer London. To begin with, they were a trio, initially including Edwards’ old school friend Ben Mauerhoff until they realised they worked better as a duo.
The pair – calling themselves Sigma, meaning “the sum of all parts” – would make music mostly at night because they both had day jobs: Joe was running DJ workshops for kids with disabilities in Herts, and Cam was working for a company in Harrow sorting out flights and travel for the likes of Grooverider, Pendulum and Chase & Status. They’d spend all night in the studio, finishing tracks at dawn, before sending them off to be cut as vinyl promos and then mailing them to DJs and labels.
Sigma’s first tracks, ‘Masai’/ Livewire’, and ‘All Blue’ – saw them hailed as potential breakthrough stars and caught the attention of the drum & bass scene. Their early years saw them record for DJ Fresh’s Breakbeat Kaos label (‘Stand Tall Parts 1 & 2’), for Hospital, for their own imprint Life (created as an outlet for their music), and they remixed artists including Skepta.
Their first commercial breakthrough came with the DJ Fresh collaboration, ‘Lassitude’ (feat Koko). It caught the ear of Annie Mac, who played it relentlessly, and has been one of their biggest supporters ever since. Following the release of their 2011 ‘Night & Day’ EPs on Life, Sigma began touring in earnest, making their first forays into Europe, Australasia and the US.
In summer 2013, following further high-profile remixes for Ellie Goulding, Eric Prydz and Stylo G, Sigma signed to 3 Beat Records. Their first single for the label, ‘Rudeboy’ (featuring Doctor), brought them their first commercial success. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Fast running out of money and still juggling day jobs, Cam and Joe had been on the verge of quitting. What happened next changed their lives immeasurably.
Their next single with 3Beat was ‘Nobody to Love’ – a rework of Kanye West’s ‘Bound 2’. Again, Annie Mac was instrumental. She got behind the record immediately, championing it to the Breakfast and daytime shows at BBC Radio 1. The success of ‘Nobody To Love’ changed everything. Within weeks it went to No.1 in 15 countries, and has since become one of the biggest selling-singles of this decade so far, earning them two Brit Awards nominations, and over 215 million YouTube views alone.
Sigma’s next single, ‘Changing’ (featuring Paloma Faith), was another No. 1 in September 2014 (it was also Faith’s first No 1). It was followed by ‘Higher’ (featuring Labrinth) in March 2015 when it reached No 12, ‘Glitterball (featuring Ella Henderson in July (No 4)) and ‘Redemption’ (a collaboration with Diztortion and featuring Jacob Banks on vocals). Singles with Rita Ora (‘Coming Home’), and Take That (‘Cry’) have ensured that Sigma have kept up their reputation for matching hits with some of the biggest names in the business.
‘Life’, their debut album, saw them continue to show their dynamic musicality across a whopping 20 tracks and featured further guest spots from the likes of Ella Eyre, and Maverick Sabre. Building on the album’s success, their ‘Life’ UK album tour sold out, before they embarked on their most ambitious festival season to date in Britain and beyond. With the global success of ‘Find Me’ (featuring Birdy) taking them into 2017, the boys are currently locked in the studio working on their eagerly-awaited second album, and preparing to make this their biggest year to date.