Interviewed by John McEvoy
Ahead of the release of his second album 'Love Death & Dancing', Wall of Sound caught up with Jack Garratt for a chat about the new album, what he's been up to and plans for the future.
WoS: Hey Jack, hope you are well, what have been up to in lockdown?
JG: Hi, thanks for taking the time to talk to me, I've been mainly walking the dog, drinking lots of coffee and getting ready for the album release on the 12th June.
WoS: Is it good to be back?
JG: It feels brilliant and I would have done it much earlier if I’d known it felt this good.
I’m glad I took my time to put this album out, and didn’t feel compelled to release anything earlier as I think that would have been a huge mistake, I was glad that no one put that pressure on me, and I'm really excited about the new music.
WoS: It's well documented that you had time off to deal with personal issues, and in this new album you’re very open and honest about them. Was making the new album an enjoyable and positive experience for you?
JG: Yeah, it's been a very cathartic experience for me, and the making of this album was at times therapeutic, and on other occasions overwhelming. It’s been exactly what it needed to be, and ultimately at the end of it, it feels like how I wanted to feel when I release an album.
I don’t know what the next album is going to be after this, I’m writing at the moment and it’s very different to what’s on ‘Love Death & Dancing’ because I don’t want to release 12 versions of the same song.
I don’t disrespect artists that do that, because to find a sonic identity is half the challenge of actually being a musician. I don’t know what the next release is gonna be, but if it’s an album, I want to feel as satisfied with it as I do about ‘Love Death & Dancing’.
When I released ‘Phase’ I was satisfied with the work that I’d done, but it was so interlaced with so many other aspects of that part of my career, it was impossible see ‘Phase’ as an album. It was more of a shadow standing over me, rather than a body of work, and brought me such anxiety and stress that it was difficult to think about it being a positive cathartic experience.
WoS: On the new album I see that you have two producers, James Flanagan and Jacknife Lee, Jacknife in particular seems to have played a key role in getting you back into the studio. What was it about him that gave you the impetus to start work on the new album?
JG: Well actually it was presented to me as an option from my management who knew Jacknife previously, he's well known and a respected producer who’s worked on a variety of projects such as REM and Taylor Swift.
At the time I didn’t know him personally, I went into the initial meeting with him mainly at the request of my management, so at that time it actually wasn’t my choice, if anything, I was feeling a little apprehensive.
On the first album I'd worked with other people and at that time it was because I felt I didn’t have the talent to do it myself. I took a couple of tracks to an incredibly talented producer called Mike Spencer, with the aim of getting him to produce them and make them sound more like singles, as he is so good at making radio friendly sounds.
Going to Jacknife this time was actually a really hard thing for me to do, it made me look at my failures, in terms of not being able to produce a record myself, but when I met him any concerns I had immediately disappeared, because I was meeting someone who was simply there to get the best music that he could get out of other people.
That’s what he does for a living, and he creates an incredible environment to work in.
I went to James Flanagan for the same reason, the difference between the two of them is that I’d known James for 10 years and Jacknife for 2 days.
I got the same feedback from both of them in that they wanted to help me to be even better as a musician, My job was to be their student, to learn from them, and be a better musician when I’m around people giving me good guidance. I literally turned into a sponge, soaking up everything they were saying to me, both Jacknife and James were really beneficial in helping me with the new album.
WoS: The mini tour you did just before we went into lockdown, what was it like to be back on stage again after being away for a while, had you missed it, or were you thinking that maybe this wasn’t for me?
JG: Is it possible to answer all of the above!
Touring for me is such a double edged sword, I love it as it gives me so much purpose and makes me feel wanted, and it also makes me think ‘I’m doing something in making music that people love and that I love too.
But of course, the only experience of touring that I’d had before I went out on the road earlier this year was promoting touring the first record (Phase), That tour almost killed me due to the stress I was feeling, and I hadn't actually prepared for the physical endurance that I needed. After 3 years of touring the effect it had on my body in terms of aches and pains still affect me now,
So as a result, I have a love/hate relationship with touring. But what the tour earlier this year (before lockdown) did, was to give me a real sense of purpose and security. A lot of this was down to me taking the time to establish precisely why I wanted to be a musician, and continue to be an artist, because at one point this was under threat as I wanted to give everything up as I didn’t see the point of it.
This latest tour has really proved to me that there was a purpose to being out on the road, there was purpose in being able to write songs and that people out there actually wanted to hear me. I was also encouraged by the fact that the tour sold out, and I felt that the songs wanted and needed to be played.
I was playing about 80% new music and people loved it. I couldn't have asked for a better reaction from the audiences, and it proved to me that ultimately the music is worth it and that it was worth my time.
WoS: It’s always a risk playing new material at gigs as audiences generally want to hear established and well known material, but certainly based on the reaction of the audience in Leeds, it was a risk that really paid off.
WoS: Something I would like to commend you on was asking people to turn their phones off during your performance, is this a policy that you intend to continue with when you go back on the road.
JG: Yeah it might be, and for no other reason than it seems to create an atmosphere that is frankly more enjoyable for the audience. I don’t think it’s disrespectful to ask people to put their phones away for a while. As long as it’s done in a way that encourages people to be part of the show.
Although I don’t think I have the right to stand up on stage and ask people who have paid to come and see me to behave in a way that adheres to my rules. That would be ridiculous.
What I said to people is that they need to keep their phones in bags because THEY are an integral part of the show and they are as important as I am as the artist. The good things is that people really responded to this request in a positive manner.
WoS: Given the current state of play with no gigs in the traditional sense for the immediate future, are you considering doing online gigs?
JG: Oh yeah, absolutely. At the moment it seems to the only way in which we can do any performances. Obviously the job of an artist at the moment is twofold, a lot of people signed up as a musician, but the second element now involves being an entertainer, and there have been a lot of online gigs from bands/artists who have vast back catalogues who have live streamed shows for people.
For me, the biggest mistake was that early in the lockdown people were doing if for free, and as such removed any potential for independent artists being able to ask people to pay for performances. However, from what I’ve seen recently, there are a few people now doing that in terms of putting together official shows and putting them behind pay walls.
I know that Laura Marling has done this recently, and I think that’s a brilliant thing to do. I think that’s going to be the model for the foreseeable future as it’s going to be the only way that we can keep that part of the music industry alive.
Live music has been so badly affected by this (Lockdown). My tour manager lives with me and my wife and they have absolutely no work at the moment, and I feel that my job as the musician and business owner is to create a job for them. My manager is my best friend and is an integral part of the economy, and there’s a duty at the moment for artists to do more to help support people within the industry.
I saw that Jacob Collier did a show to raise money for his road crew who currently have no income. My first priority at the moment is to try and make sure that my team have some sort of income coming to them, as we’ve asked them to come and work with us. My duty is to try and look after them as much as I can.
WoS: Last question Jack I promise!
If you were going to a desert island, and you could only take one album with you. What would it be and why?
JG: It would probably be either Steve Wonders ‘Songs in the Key of Life’, ‘Innervisions’ or ‘Hotter Than July’. I know I’ve cheated by giving you three answers there, but the point is I that I find so much of Stevie Wonders music is what I attempt to do in the music that I make. All of his material is different, it creates emotions and different experiences, and it's written by a musical genius.
He thinks of music from all perspectives, not just as a performer, but also as a writer, a musician and a producer. He simply write the music that he wants to play.
There's a reason why a politically motivated double album like ‘Songs in the key of Life’ is his most adored record. It’s his most left field release, but it’s popular and loved the world over because it’s truthful and honest. It’s got so many hits on it, and he just knows how to write a great tune.
WoS: Jack, thank you for taking time to talk to us at Wall of Sound, it’s great to have you back. You don't need this but we would like to wish you the very best of luck with the new album, and look forward to seeing you on tour in the future.
Interviewed by John McEvoy
WoS: Hey Nick, good to talk to you, are you well?
NC: Yeah, all good here.
WoS: Congratulations on the release of your debut solo album. We’re pleased to tell you that we have two albums of the week, and the good news is they are Jack Garratt’s new album and your very own ‘Sweet Escape’ album.
NC: Ah that’s brilliant, thanks very much.
WoS: What have you been up to for the last several weeks in lockdown?
NC: Well I’ve been grateful to have the new album to keep me busy. I can’t believe I’ve worked so long and hard on it, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done, it feels like a strange time to be releasing the album. I think, if I hadn’t had all the promotion work to keep me busy, I might have gone a bit mad really.
I’ve been doing my Instagram shows twice a week, and that’s been great, being able to introduce the songs to people and get them excited about the album. Doing all of this has really helped me get through these times.
WoS: As this is your first solo venture since the break up of ‘New Street Adventure’ has it been an enjoyable experience?
NC: Yeah, I’v loved it. I worked with a completely new producer this time, and created all the demos at home, using the garage band music machine software. Then we went into the studio with my band. The ideas my producer (Gavin Monaghan) had, took the album to a completely new place, it was such an enjoyable process. It was a completely different experience for me, in that I got to do exactly what I wanted to do this time.
All the ideas coming in from everywhere else were really positive, and people just wanted to be involved with the record.
WoS: On your new album the sound is crisp and clear, giving it (in my opinion) a unique sound. Was this a result of the work done by Gavin Monaghan?
NC: One of the things I hadn’t been used to, was that I recorded the drums first. We took 4 to 5 takes of the drum tracks and then edited them, we did the same with the bass. The drummer and the bass player are amazingly tight anyway, and they got the rhythm section sounding really punchy and clear, that laid the foundation for everything else really.
In terms of recording techniques, there really is a bit of everything, they have some great gear in the studio, it’s like a factory, in that they are constantly making albums and singles, they just know what they’re doing with the gear that they’ve got.
WoS: You have one track on the album ‘Can We Do It Again’ which was out as a single this features gospel vocal, that for us was a real stand out track and something rather special.
NC: The backing vocals on that track are incredible. They were done by my friend Hugh, he sings in a covers band in Birmingham called ‘The Atlantic players’ they sing rare soul songs, so if you were watching them you wouldn’t know they were a covers band.
WoS: New Street Adventure’s split in early 2018, one of main reasons seemed to be the result of constant changes in personnel that the band went through. Have you got yourself a stable set up in terms of band members?
NC: Yeah, New Street finished in January 2018, and in February I got offered a few festival slots by someone who didn’t know that New Street had split, I thought I would quite like to do them, so I set myself a challenge to write some songs. I found a Facebook group called London Musicians Network, and through them, I met this guy called Florian Belle. He’s a French bass player and an amazing musician. He created this network of musicians, most of them are students or ex-students, so as a result, we now have a set line up for the band, they know each other and play together all the time.
WoS: A lot of the lyrics on this album seem to be written from a very personal perspective, about events in your life. Was this a conscious decision on your part?
NC: Yeah, I’ve always tried to do that. It was such a big decision ending New Street, at the time I wasn’t even sure I was going to do a solo project. The result is there’s an element of ‘fresh start’ and ‘self-doubt’ running through this album. I also got married last year, there are a couple of really joyful songs on there about my wife. There are songs about a bad falling out I had with a really close friend several years ago, it still seems to rear its ugly head from time to time, and I found myself writing about it. The first and last songs on the album are about this.
WoS: Onstage do you prefer playing with a band, or doing your solo set?
NC: I love both formats, I’ve got very comfortable playing solo, but the ones that I really look forward to now are with the band it’s such good fun. Overall I probably prefer playing with the band more these days.
WoS: How would you categorise your style. A lot of articles seem to think that you sound a lot like the Style Council, who I believe you hadn’t heard of at the time.
NC: Yeah, I’d heard that and at the time, I couldn’t understand why people were saying it, so I got myself a ‘Best Of’ compilation of the Style Council and listened to a few tracks, but it didn’t really do it for me.
The kind of music I’m doing is hard to label, but I see it as heavily soul influenced. I don’t think I have a soul type of voice, I think its soul with an indie vibe.
WoS: 12th June is a big day for you with the release of this album. Have you got anything planned in terms of a celebration?
NC: Yeah, it’s quite funny 12th June is also my first wedding anniversary, so we’ll be celebrating that. At some point during the day it’ll will be nice to see what people are saying about the album. Hopefully we’ll have a few reviews come in. It will be a nice sense of achievement to finally have the album released.
WoS: Just one final question Nick, If you were going to a desert island and you could only take one album with you. What would it be, and why?
NC: My choice for this kind of questions always changes, but at the moment it would be The 4 Tops ‘Main Street People’ from 1974. We listened to it last night, I hadn’t listened to it for a while. It’s one of those albums that didn’t do very well at the time of release, but it’s just got some incredible song writing and production on it. ‘Are You Man Enough’ is on there, and ‘Sweet Understanding Love’ and ‘I Just Can’t Get You Out Of My Mind’.
It’s one of those albums that you don’t hear being mentioned very often, but it’s fantastic, so that would be my choice for the desert Island.
Interviewed by John McEvoy - June 20
WoS – Hi Denai, we’re living in a strange world at the moment, what have you been up to in lockdown?
DM – I’ve been creating a lot of content for my new release after I announce the album at the start of March. This whole period of time has been a strange time to release music and it all feels a little crazy at the moment.
But the with new album being called ‘Modern Dread’ it seems appropriate with everything that’s happening at the moment, in terms of coming from a place of isolation and generally feeling overwhelmed by the world.
WoS – Congratulations on the forthcoming album. Was it an enjoyable process working on this new album?
DM – Yeah it was great fun, Alex (Alex Robertson – Everything Everything) and I loved the process of creating new sounds, and every day we would come into the studio and make music that we thought was interesting and that we really making.
WoS – One thing I particularly enjoyed about your new album was that it was very hard to categorise, as it’s a of clever mix of various musical styles. Was this a conscious thing when you were working on the new album?
DM – Yeah, it’s just something that evolves, and I feel that I make music that has never existed in any space before. As a modern-day artist, it’s very difficult to make music that’s very linear. Even when you look at pop music in its most commercial sense, that’s very layered and specific genres don’t really apply.
When we made this record, we weren’t particularly looking for any specific kind of genre. We’d been listening to a lot of electronic music and it was fun to bring our worlds together on this record.
WoS – I think it’s to your credit that this new album is musically quite hard to define. Various critics have made comparisons with yourself and fka Twigs, do you see any similarities?
DM – I think Twigs is someone who’s genre (less), and I know she finds it frustrating to be tied to types of musical styles, and I think that many releases over the last couple of years are similar in that they are not one specific genre.
WoS – What are you listening to at the moment?
DM – I’m listening a lot to Steve Hauschildt, it’s instrumental electronic music and there are a lot of textures and layers. I like the new Caribou and Yves Tumor albums and I particularly love the new ones from Moses Sumney and Fiona Apple.
WoS – As there are no gigs at all in the traditional sense at the moment, do you have any plans to maybe do some virtual gigs?
DM – Yeah, we’re actually having conversations right now about doing something. There are some really cool venues where I live in Margate, and we’re thinking about doing a live (online) show to support the release of the new album.
Ironically doing an online show seems appropriate for ‘Modern Dread’, and I feel that even though it’s hard to present the music in the traditional manner, it actually feels quite fitting for this release.
WoS – Would any planned gigs be with a full band?
DM – Yeah with this record we have a band that’s been playing with me since I was around 19, but I’ve also been playing with some new musicians that bring something fresh and different to our approach.
WoS – When we finally get out of lockdown, do you have any plans for a tour?
DM – Yeah definitely, hopefully later this year, but these plans are for obvious reasons out of our control at the moment. I know a lot of small venues are being badly affected right now, and I just hope is doesn’t have too bad an impact on live music and also that these venues are able to remain open.
WoS – In common with everyone we interview, we have our desert island question. If you could only take one album to your island, what would it be and why?
DM – Oooh, that’s a tricky one! Quite often I like to listen to music based on moods… I think Elliot Smith and ‘Figure of Eight’, mainly because his song writing is timeless, and his record is something I’ve come back to quite a lot, especially with making my current album.
WoS – Thank you for talking to us at Wall of Sound Denai, and fingers crossed the new album does well. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we see you out on the road!
Interviewed by John McEvoy - July 20
WoS – Hi James, what have you been up to during lockdown?
JH – Well I’ve moved out of Bristol and am living in Guildford at the moment. I’ve done some new music and recording, and now I’m getting ready for the release of my new EP ‘Memory Palace’ which is out on the 10th July.
WoS – We’ve listened to the new EP 'Memory Palace' and have to say congratulations on a great set of tracks, and they’re a clever mix of dance with an indie vibe running throughout.
JH – Thanks very much, we recorded this EP just after Christmas 19, and the lyrics were written whilst we were away at sea on a cruise ship.
WoS – So what were were you up to whilst away at sea, were you in a band?
JH – Yeah, when my girlfriend and I graduated from Bristol Institute of Music (BIMM), we joined a cruise and she played a piano and sang, and I played acoustic guitar and sang as well. We did 5 sets a day, basically doing acoustic covers. We did that for 3 cruises most of 2019, and I wrote the EP and did loads of recording whilst working at sea.
WoS – Would the cruise work be something that you may go back to?
JH – Hopefully note, although it was a great opportunity to travel and see the world, but it’s not part of the grand plan as I want to really concentrate on my music career.
WoS – I read in your bio that you’re a multi-instrumentalist, what do you play?
JH – Guitar is my main instrument, but I also consider myself as a bit of a drummer and I also play a bit of bass. Although on the EP I don’t play the horns.
WoS – What are your musical influences?
JH – Well when I was younger, I loved Bombay Bicycle Club, loads of funk and I tried to blend these genres together in my music.
WoS – What are the bands that you’re listening to at the moment?
JH – Well with Spotify in particular and how it’s changed peoples listening habits, I’m listening to new stuff every week. Currently I’m listening to Max Pope, based in London, he’s just released an EP called ‘In Limbo’ it’s soulful and jazzy with a kind of Tom Misch feel.
WoS – What are your plans for the future in terms of gigs, as the current Covid issues is preventing them happening in the conventional sense?
JH – I’ve got a five-piece band and they’re still in Bristol at the moment, and it’s hard to replicate my music on my own, so I’ve always been a little hesitant to do any solo online gigs as I want to do this properly with my band. I’ve been rehearsing with my old muso mates here in Surrey, and we’re planning to do a live set for Bristol Studio radio shortly. In terms of gigs, it’s a little frustrating at the moment as we can’t do gigs in the traditional sense.
WoS – have you thought about maybe using Facebook for a live performance?
JH – Yeah, I definitely have. I’ve recently recorded an acoustic version of old song called ‘For Another’, with my friend on double bass which we’re hoping to get out on that platform. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll be able to get out there and do some gigs eventually.
WoS – So once we get back to normal, you plan on touring with a full band?
JH – Yep, that’s certainly the plan.
WoS – Now that you’re about to release your second EP. Is the plan then to release a full album?
JH – Yep that would be great. When I was on the ship and writing my EP, I initially wanted to put out an album, but releasing another EP feels like the right thing to do at the moment.
WoS – Final question James, and it’s the one that we ask everyone. You’re going to a desert Island and you can only take one album. What would it be and why?
JH – Ooh that’s a tough one. I think it would be Mac De Marco, and ‘Salad Days’. I went camping recently with some mates and we played this album a lot!
WoS – James, thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us at Wall of Sound. We want to wish you the very best of luck for the future, and we hope the EP out on the 10th July does really well.
Interview by John McEvoy - July 20
WoS – Hi Andrew, congratulations on your latest release, we think it’s a great track, and in we were also impressed with the striking videos that you created both for the current and previous singles.
Shot in and around Newcastle in black and white, the sections in the Working Mens clubs were especially good.
AC – Yeah, well I play darts and darts and I’ve spent the last 4/5 years in these clubs, so I wanted the videos to be shot in that sort of environment, and it’s where started playing guitar in these clubs. I wanted them to be made in Newcastle and include friends and families as well.
WoS – What have you been up to in lockdown?
AC – Initially it was quite daunting when the lockdown started as I lost all the planned festivals and gigs that I was due to play. However, I’ve been quite fortunate in that I managed to do a few (socially distanced) gigs and also done a lot of writing as well. I’ve written several new songs that I’ve played to people, who have said that they are some of my best work so far.
WoS – On the back of the two singles, is the aim to ultimately get your debut album out in the future?
AC – Definitely, this is something that I really want to do. But I don’t want to put an album out until I think I have a big enough audience who would want to listen to my music. I think that sometimes new artists put out albums too early, and it becomes a bit of a missed opportunity as they may have released it a little too early due to the lack of a decent following.
But I would certainly like to get an album out within the next 18 months.
WoS – Do you have any plans to do some virtual gigs at the moment during lockdown?
AC – Well I was lucky enough to be able to get a small tour completed just before lockdown supporting The kays, and that was great. But other than that, as mentioned I’ve done a few small gigs for blogs.
WoS – Apparently, you’ve now got a famous fan in Noel Gallagher. What’s that all about?
AC – Yeah, Noel has been really supportive, and I owe a lot to him. He’s helped me a lot over the last year to 18 months when dealing with the record label, and he knows my manager from years ago. Meeting him a few weeks ago was phenomenal, the advice he gave me was absolutely priceless.
WoS – What are your musical influences?
AC – Well when I was growing up I was a huge Oasis, Stone Roses fan. My family used to play all that kind of music in the house. I’m also into The Beatles, The Who and Paul Weller. I like to listen to Jake Bugg, James Bay and Tom Grennan as well.
I love all the old stuff like Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Donovan as well!
WoS – Once we fully get out of lockdown, what are your plans?
AC – Well I’m due to play at Live at Leeds later this year, and I’m also playing at the ‘Hit The North’ festival which is scheduled for Oct. All the other festivals I’m due to play at, have been moved back in the calendar.
Other than that, we’re just going to have see how this Covid issue plays out over the coming months.
WoS – When you finally get out on tour will it be with a full band or do you plan on it being an acoustic set?
AC – Well I’ve actually just started rehearsing with a 3 piece band. Ironically one of the pros of this lockdown is that it’s actually given me the chance to get a band together. We’re a long way off live performances at the moment, but I’ve got a drummer and bass player on board and we’re looking for rehearsal space at the moment.
WoS – One final question, and it’s one we ask all our interviewees. If you went to a desert Island and you could only take one album, what would it be and why?
AC – The only album I can currently listen to without wanting to skip a song is the White album from The Beatles. This is an album that I love to listen to when I head out for walk in the sunshine with my headphones on.
There are loads of other albums I like such as These Streets by Paulo Nutini and all the Oasis albums plus The La’s.
WoS – Andrew, It’s been a pleasure to talk you and thank you very much for talking to us at Wall of Sound, and we want to wish you the very best for the future.