Jack Garratt: Interview
photo courtesy of Wall of Sound
Belgrave Music Hall - 20/2/20
Tyler Smith: Hello you alright?
Jack Garratt: I'm good yeah, I’m alright, I’m feeling better, like I was just saying, a couple of days of trying to figure some stuff out we had a couple of technical issues but everything seems to be together now but I’m gonna touch on wood (knocks) and gonna hold my breath until the show is over.
TS: Looking forward to the gig then?
JG: Yeah man I am, I’m looking forward to it. Err I’ve not played in Leeds in a little while probably not since the academy show in 2016. So feels good to be back, got some friends coming down tonight which is going to be nice got my wife coming down so first show of the tour with some familiar faces in the crowd but like I’ll try not to play to them, just to keep the show as it has been keep playing for myself and get the songs out.
TS: Would you say that is the most important part of a gig for you, playing for yourself rather than for the crowd?
JG: No not so much just playing for myself and ignoring the crowd I don’t think but more I’ve gotta be able to enjoy what I’m doing yeah so that the audience can enjoy me enjoying it ya know like it’s I’ve always had a big issue anyway with performers who don’t give what I would consider to be enough to the crowd. Erm I just that there’s like, that audiences want to give back what they are given so that if I give everything that you have an audience will give you back everything that they have. That's not always the case as sometimes audiences can be cold erm and they are always really tough audiences but what's been amazing so far on this tour is that we haven't got support with us it’s just me and every time I’ve gone on stage the crowds just been absolutely like really up for it. Which I think just says alot about how long it’s been since I’ve played in some of the places and also I think the new music is connecting with people, I think people are enjoying the fact that I’m putting some music out and feeding off the energy that I’m giving which is that I’m enjoying putting music out.
TS: The new album comes out in may...
JG: yeah may 29th...
TS: How you feeling about it? Are you confident it’s going to go well?
JG: I mean, as well as… I don’t know how it’s gonna go. All I know is I’m confident with what we’ve done. So like I’ve put everything I could muster into making the record, and I’ve like really cared about the songs. Like REALLY cared about them, and producing them, putting them together making them sound as good as I could make them sound, putting the show together… Like, everything. The artwork, all of it. Every single detail we’ve thought about I think. So, if it doesn’t go well, it was never going to I think because everything I have I’ve given to this and all I can hope is that it gets a response that is deserving of that effort. Whether that be everyone hates it or everyone loves it, I don’t know. I just hope it gets what it deserves.
photo courtesy of Wall of Sound
TS: So would you say you prefer playing venues like this [Belgrave], doing live stuff or are you more of a recording person?
JG: I think I’m both when I’m doing the other one, when I’m here I miss being in the studio and when I’m in the studio I miss being here, so wherever I’m not is where I wanna be. [laughter]
TS: So for the new album would you say you have a different sound, or are you keeping to… [your old sound]
JG: I kind of don’t know. I wouldn’t say there was too much of a consistent sound to stick to. I think the first album there was a lot of maneuvering around genres. On that record I was kind of touching on lots of different themes and tones and sounds, and I’ve kind of continued to do the same thing here. There’s definitely, yano, a tangible correlation between the music I made on that first record and the music I’ve made on this one. So it still definitely has a connecting sound but I think that connecting sound is me. I think there’s nothing on it, for example, that sounds like ‘Worry’. That song doesn’t exist on this album because it shouldn’t, it exists on that album. This album is a whole new opportunity to be able to make brand new songs that sound completely different and feel completely different. There’s a couple of songs about the first album and about my mindset and my relationships around that first album, just for storytelling purposes I’ve put an effort into making them feel like they could’ve been on that first album. But over than that no, I wouldn’t say it’s a brand new sound and I wouldn’t say it’s a completely different sound. I wouldn’t say it’s the same, it’s totally of its own merit. It should be measured against nothing but itself, if that makes sense?
TS: For like the album as a whole would you say that you’ve tried to focus on the experimentation? Or is it something that just comes naturally to you as you’re working through it?
JG: I think it kind of comes naturally when working through it. I don’t know, I have a very specific idea in my head when I’m writing something. I write and produce as I go, I think a lot of people do that now, it’s not as it might have been 40 years ago, or 30 years ago even, where you would write a collection of songs and then you would maybe demo them and then you’d go into a studio and produce them. So much of what the music industry needs it’s artists to do now is churn out the music as they’re writing it, and have that be professional grade as they’re making their demos. So a lot of my demos for this album, I make all the demos at home. I sort of did them myself, did them on my laptop in my shed and put a bunch of ideas together, and I know what my ears wanna here. My ears go “let’s put this on it!” and I don’t question it, I just put the thing on it. I then see if it does sound good in a room or not. I put all the demos together, and then we used a lot of the demos in the final recordings. Just bounced a lot of the audio down and sent it to - when I was in the room with Jacknife, who I produced a lot of the record with, and another really good friend of mine, the guy who’s coming tonight James Flannagan. I would sit down with my demos in the room, bounce all the sounds down, send them to the other computer and then we’d load them back up and work on them from there. So it’s all from the demos that I did, and then we’d built the track they would then do the same thing. Bounce everything down individually, send it back to me. I went home back to London and worked on it from there. We took the demos, took all these ideas that I had and just allowed them to grow a little more. Just gave them a little bit of water and they started to blossom, then I took the home to prune them and kind of make them presentable.
photo courtesy of Wall of Sound
TS: So the last full studio album was in 2016, so that’s a four year gap. Were you working on the album?
JG: I was working on myself, I was working on a lot of things. I was working on some music, and that music didn’t make the cut. A lot of it wasn’t very good. More than anything I was working on getting my confidence back up to scratch. I didn’t love a lot about myself at the end of the last run. So at the end of 2016, going into 2017 I’d just parted ways with my management and got new management. I was telling them I was raring to go, ready to get back into the studio, get me back writing kind of thing. Every-time I told them that they’d always say “no, chill out, maybe not yet.”.
I was like “No, fuck you, you don’t know what you’re talking about” and then the next day I called them up and would be like “No you’re absolutely right, I’m like sad” [laughs]
“-and don’t wanna be in a studio right now.” So they were really, it was good to move to different management and feel a whole new level of support. Through that I was given the space to be able to just focus on what I needed from myself. It was only when I came to that understanding that we started the conversation about performing for myself, writing for myself. It was only when I started to entertain that idea that I ended up making music that I felt confident about. Like, a lot of the first albums I wrote for other people, because I was caught in this little whirlwind of being given these awards and accolades. I found myself then having to promote myself and present myself and sell myself to other people, I was writing songs for the reaction. I wasn’t writing them because I necessarily loved them. Though I do love them, I love those songs. I was writing them more because I knew people were gonna hear them, not because I wanted people to hear them, I dunno. It’s a weird backwards way of making pop music. This time round, like I said, I came to the decision that if I’m going to release a record that I love I have to love it. Then I started writing songs and started being really strict with myself. Like, “do you love this? If you dont, get the fuck rid of it and try something else!” I wrote 13 - no I didn’t, I wrote 12 songs on the album and there are 12 songs on the album. There are a couple of songs that are half finished that I started and I think I love but I wasn’t sure so I left them. It wasn’t like I wrote 100 songs and picked the best ones. I wrote 12 songs, and that’s what’s on the album.
TS: Would you say the new management was the biggest inspiration?
JG; It was just a different kind of support that I don't think I had experienced properly. More than anything, Like I said, I was given the space to be able to figure myself out. I think a lot of what was happening to me at the time when I was making Phase, and that's not just specific to management. There were a lot of people around that time who I’m no longer working with. I found it hard to find real pillars of support, there were some of them. Like some of them were fucking brilliant, some of them are now people I’m still working with - through one way or another. I never lost touch with [some] who I stopped working with 4 years ago who I’ve now found myself working with again in completely different ways, with completely different companies and involvements with different things. It’s really amazing how that kind of stuff works. The people who were trying to give me that space to figure myself out back then, I still have around me today. That’s probably more than anything helped me understand that’s what I need. I need people who are willing to let me run. And even though I’m not confident in my running, knowing that other people want me to do that is what makes me go and do it. I like to perform for other people’s confidence in me and that creates in myself, I guess, in a kind of roundabout way.
TS: On a different note, how much do you prepare for a gig like this before you get in there?
JG: What’s the time now… Like quarter past seven? So I’ll go in about 45 minutes maybe if the room’s full. Yeah doors we’re like ten minutes ago or something. I mean, I don’t prepare much. I find if I prepare, or if I have a routine or a ritual, I will go deep into a headspace that isn’t necessarily good for a gig. I don’t want to be awake when I’m playing. I don’t wanna be self conscious or aware of what I’m doing when I’m playing. Because, I think part of the performance that I give, part of what people like about the performance that I give is that I am not necessarily conscious of what I’m doing. I’m just singing the songs and I'm there to perform, yano? I had a moment at the show last night for example, where I became aware of myself, and it’s when I become aware of myself where I make mistakes. I start being aware of what I’m doing and I start second guessing what I’m doing. so i think having any kind of routine or preparing for the show beyond doing the rehearsals, getting here on time, loading up sound check and all that kind of stuff.. Anything beyond that I think, for me, is overkill. I think I much prefer just to like; I’ll sit, I try not to drum the show up to more than it is because I’m a very panicky kind of person anyway. So if I have been in the slightest thought in my head of uncertainty, that’s something that will feed into myself and it’ll knock my confidence and then I walk up on stage nervous. I’ll be nervous no matter what, but I’d much rather sit down. I’ll pour myself a drink, I’ll get ready, I’ll get changed and... Five minutes before, that’s when something will kick in, and my adrenaline will start kicking off and even my body knows I’m about to go do the thing. That’s when I start going through the “right, here we fucking go.” kind of thing. But up until then I try not to think about it.
TS: So what’s coming up in the future for you?
JG: Other than the album, there’s nothing really confirmed yet. We just announced I’m going back over to Australia to play a festival out there which I absolutely love, I played it a few years ago. So i’m looking forward to going to Australia, they’re a fucking lovely bunch out there. So I’m looking forward to doing that and then I think there’s some unconfirmed things around then, some possible dates in America, some possible dates back here in the UK. But ultimately at the moment? May 29th, that’s when the album comes out, that’s the only thing I'm Thinking about. Gonna be releasing more music before then I think, and some release some more videos as well. But ultimately, May 29th and then everything after that is just going to be a special little surprise.
photo courtesy of Wall of Sound