Band members Jack Patterson, Grace Chatto and Milan Neil Amin-Smith met while studying as undergraduates at Jesus College, University of Cambridge.
At the time, Chatto was leading a string quartet together with Amin-Smith. Chatto was Patterson's girlfriend at the time and Patterson would record Chatto's performances. He started re-mixing these recordings with drum beats and other electronic music he created and let Chatto listen to these recordings which she liked.
One of their friends, Ssegawa-Ssekintu Kiwanuka, then wrote lyrics for the piece and the song "Mozart's House" materialized. Eventually, the idea of forming a band came.
The band's name, Clean Bandit, comes from a translation of a Russian phrase (Chatto and Patterson lived in Russia for a period); the meaning is similar to the English phrase "utter" or "complete bastard".
In December 2012 the group released their debut single "A+E", which peaked at number 100 on the UK Singles Chart.
In January 2014 they scored their first UK Singles Chart-topping single with "Rather Be", featuring elements of classical music, along with a dance music beat. "Rather Be" remained at the top of the chart for four weeks.