We spoke to the Brits Critics Choice Award winner ahead of the release of his eagerly awaited debut album 'Phase'.
Firstly, congratulations on winning the Brits Critics Choice Award and being listed for the BBC Sound Of 2016 - how do you feel about following in the footsteps of artists like Adele, Sam Smith & James Bay?
“It’s great, It’s lovely to know that that is the family I’m now a part of, it’s an extremely successful and very talented family to be a part of. I’m trying to not let it be a thing, there are people who have won the award who haven’t reached the same level of success as they have, but have still gone on to have great careers. It could be any kind of outcome for me, we’re all different people with different styles, sounds and ideas. And that’s the important thing to think about for me so the pressure doesn’t get too much.”
Your debut album 'Phase' is out in February, what can we expect from that?
“I think the best thing is to try not to expect anything, I’ve worked really hard on it and I’m very proud of the outcome. I think it’s the best I can be right now as a musician, and I hope it’s good enough for everyone else. I’ve always encouraged people to not expect anything from my music as all my songs seem to sound different from each other, nothing sounds too drastically the same. So with that in mind I’ve tried to keep the album as surprising as possible - but it’s still definitely me, I connect everything together.”
Your music incorporates lots of different elements and genres, what genre would you describe yourself as, if any, or how would you describe your sound?
“I actually tend not to describe my sound for the exact reasons we’ve just kind of touched upon, in that it is quite difficult to. I think it would be unfair of me to give anyone who hasn’t heard my music before a genre to expect because my songs can be quite unexpected. One of things I feel I’m here to try and do as a musician is to is try and get people to entertain the idea that genre is not necessarily that important a thing anymore. So people can make music for the sake of music, and make the best music that they can.”
Your song 'Weathered' was covered by Ellie Goulding on Live Lounge a few months back, what did you think of her take on it?
“I was honoured to receive that, it was really lovely, I wasn’t expecting it, I even did the live lounge a couple of days before she did and Alice Levine, who was hosting the show on Radio 1 asked me what i would think if anybody covered one of my songs because I don’t think either of us knew that Ellie was going to do it a couple of days later. I just said that it’d be such a lovely compliment to receive from someone, that someone would take a song that already exists and extend it as part of their own creation, especially by someone of her stature and ability and to have her audience be exposed to my music in that way.”
Leading on from that, if you could have any other artist or band, dead or alive cover you, who would it be?
“I’d probably go for a really interesting producer, I’d rather hear a really interesting remix from somebody like Flying Lotus or Thundercat, someone who has an interesting mind and creative outlet, I think it’d be interesting to put my songs in their hands to see what they would think, or someone like hiatus kaiyote, that’d be really interesting, they’re one of my favourites and I’d love to see what they’d do with one of my songs.”
You’ve often cited Flying Lotus and Hiatus Kaiyote as inspirations. Could you tell us a little more about what it is you love about them, and what other artists have had a big impluence on you and your music?
“Those 2 artists in particular, I can’t quite place my finger on what it is, the music they create individually speaks to me directly, I remember listening to Flying Lotus for the first time and really feeling the impact of his music and the sounds he created and the music he makes and the compositions he puts together. And the same with Haitus Kaiyote, i remember hearing them for the first time and being utterly blown away by how powerful and meaningful their sound seemed to be, to me. it was a very personal connection, I don’t have that a lot when I listen to music.”
There is definite elements of Jazz and Soul in your music, are there any specific subcultures past or present that you identify with?
“There are a couple of strange ones, I used to be really into ska as a kid, and different branches of ska, like ska-punk, I was in a ska-core band when I was a kid, I played trombone in it. I never really dove into Jazz, I’m just a really big fan of what Jazz I have heard, specifically instrumental Jazz.”
Could you tell us a little about your music process and production, do you create and do it all yourself?
“I create all of my demos and produce all of my songs, There is a guy called Brett Cox who’s a friend of mine and comes on the road with me, he’s an engineer and a producer as well, he came in on the last few weeks of me making this album to help me just turn up a few notches. And then we ended up mixing pretty much the whole album together, there a couple of songs that have been co-produced and mixed by other people as well, but all of the ideas, all of the sounds and all of the initial concepts have come from me. I do it out of habit, I haven’t had a good collaborative process yet, unless it’s been with a good friend of mine, like Carassius Gold, who I co-produced and co-wrote Worry with. Me and him have had a great collaborative partnership, he’s been great to work with the same as Brett, and another guy called Mike Spencer who co-produced ‘Weathered’. But other than that I haven't had any good writing partnerships yet, or ones i’ve really been able to fall back on, so I’m still waiting for that, but because of that I tend to just work a lot on my own.”
So if you could collaborate with anyone, contemporarily speaking, who would it be?
“There are a lot of people, just anyone who has creative integrity and care about what they are saying, and respect themselves, and respect the music they make and respect their audience. Like Little Simz - I’m a huge fan of her and what she’s doing at the moment, I’d love to work with her. Same with Chance The Rapper, I’d love to work with him.”
You’ve played the festival circuit and done some big dates with Mumford & Sons, what would you say is your favourite show you’ve played recently?
“Leeds on the Mumford Tour was amazing, absolutely amazing, I had a really really good time, and the first Glasgow show, absolutely mind blowing. The crowd reaction was great, I’d just played the BBC music awards in Birmingham and automatically the exposure from the tv performance meant that instead of maybe 50 people turning up and knowing who I was, suddenly there was 200 who knew I was. But they’re just 2 examples, really the whole year (2015) has brought some incredible shows that I never thought I'd play. Playing the O2 was a dream come true, it was the first arena I ever went to as a kid and I played it supporting my mates! But the year is full, littered with those memories and beautiful moments.”
Last question, what is it you’re most looking forward to in 2016?
“I’m really looking forward to putting the album out, it’s been a long time that I’ve been working on it, and I’ve been waiting for it a lot longer than anybody else has! And it’s now ready to come out, it’s just in pre-order land, i just really hope people enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed making it.”
Jack Garratt's debut album 'Phase' is released 19th February on Island Records. Catch him on tour this Spring, dates below:
2016 Spring Tour:
30th March – The Academy, Dublin
1st April – O2 ABC, Glasgow
2nd April – Liquid Room, Edinburgh
4th April – University, Newcastle
5th April – University, Leeds
7th April – O2 Academy, Bristol
8th April – O2 Institute, Birmingham
9th April – Albert Hall, Manchester
11th April – O2 Academy, Oxford
12th April – UEA, Norwich
15th April – O2 Academy Brixton, London