MUMFORD AND SONS

JACK GARRATT- REDEFINING THE ONE MAN BAND
August 25, 2015 9:00 am

I stepped into the High Watt on Cannery Row and joined a substantial Nashville crowd gathered to see a band building up the room’s energy with blasting synths, a little saxophone, and even a flugle horn. The four piece band was a good fit with Garratt. strong melodies and powerful crescendos…but they also served a different purpose.

They showed what it normally takes to generate an exciting live show—four people all playing different instruments.

Then, they tore down their drums, synths and guitars and cleared the stage. What replaced them was a simple set up made for one musician. One keyboard, one looping station, one sampling pad. One foot trigger for bass drum kicks, some effects pedals and one guitar.

Then one man came out and did the job of four. All at the same time. And he did each of those jobs arguably better than most.

Jack Garratt’s songs tend to start off simple. One looped track run off his laptop either triggered by his sampling pad or created live on his keyboard. He’d then start playing the drum beat, typically with only his right hand and foot. Next comes voice. Delicate falsettos or deep rumbles and growls then grow into a crashing chorus, and in comes the left hand playing huge dubby bass lines on the keyboard. At one point during “The Love You’re Given” he managed to send a deafening rattle around the air vents that snaked across The High Watt’s ceiling.

If a status quo could be pinned to Garratt’s performance, it would be this. Soulful and energetic singing with a super dynamic range, live and powerful drum beats and massive bass lines played over a simple loop providing a skeleton for the other parts. But Garratt don’t stop there.

Garratt is anything but static. His songs are active, with powerful moments of change and development. His voice is clean and timid at times, roaring and triumphant at others. On stage, he is vibrant, rarely standing still, even when all limbs are occupied. He’s a funny guy too, cracking jokes with the crowd (after performing a sensual rendition of “Let Me Love You” by Mario, he sang the soaring chorus again, but as a duet by Michael Jackson and Michael McDonald). He also expressed exuberance and humility at the mere opportunity to play. Currently on his first US tour, and this being only his second show, he was wowed by the size and excitement of the crowd. After all, he hasn’t even released a full album yet.

Recently, I was able to catch Jack on the phone and ask him a few questions.

jackgarratt

So you’re here on your first North American Tour, playing solo shows and also opening for Mumford and Sons. How are you liking it so far?

Having a really good time! It’s about ten past nine [AM], I’m not hungover yet, we’ll see how the day goes. We did the first arena show with Mumford last night, so I’m in Edmonton right now. We just did this show at Rexall Place, so that was a lot of fun, kind of a big moment.  I’m having a great time, I’m working hard. I’m trying to enjoy every minute of it when I get the chance to enjoy it.

Was that your first arena show?

Yes. First of quite a few, actually. Then I’m doing some of Gentlemen of the Road Stopovers, which is the festival that [Mumford and Sons] curates.  So yeah, last night was the first show I’ve ever done in an arena, which was really good. It was incredible, it was such a real privilege to be able to play to a room of that size.

jackgarratt

What made you choose to go the route of one-man band?

I never really did. There was never really a point where I chose to not have a band, or just do it on my own. The way it came about was I was writing these songs and producing this music that was just so different from anything I had written or produced before, and I needed a way to play it live. The setup I have now came from necessity. So it wasn’t me going “I want to be a modern one man band,” or trying to define myself by the live show, which has been getting a lot of attention lately (and I kind of didn’t mean for it to do that). I just, out of necessity, had to build a set up quite quickly so that I could go and play some shows that I already had booked. So a friend of mine and I put together this setup that I’m still using today. He gave me lots of advice on the equipment to use. So to answer your question, I never decided to not have a band. I just need to play music, and I might as well do it all on my own because it saves having to organize rehearsals with other people.

Have you considered putting a band together in the future?

I’ve thought about it… I’ve definitely, definitely thought about it. I don’t know though, really. As I said, it was never really a planned thing. I think if I ever used a band it would be for the same reason. Watching the Mumford boys play last night in front of something like thirteen or fourteen thousand people, I had a real moment where I was like “Fuck, it would be incredible to go up and do that with a band.” That would be amazing to get up there in six years’ time and play to a crowd of that size. But then the other part of me was like “Yeah, but you might not need one. Also if you do then great, if not, then also great.”  I love to perform with other musicians, but I’m having a lot of fun at the moment being able to explore the stage, explore the sounds on my own.

Seeing your live set, it became very clear there is a lot of programming involved to keep everything running. Do you do that all yourself?

Yes, I do. I produce a lot of my own music anyway, so I have all the stems that I need to bounce all the samples from. There are a couple of tracks I’ve had mixed by other people, that I need to get the stems from, mix them down and create my own samples. Another reason I do the live set on my own is because it has become quite significantly and uniquely complicated. I have my stage guy, the friend I mentioned earlier who helped me with my live setup. He’s there with me and knows my setup inside and out, and can put it all together and take it apart and fix things for me, he’s my guy [@HotRoadie on twitter]. But as soon as it would get to programming samples and then putting them onto the pad so that I know where they would be… no one else knows how to do that other than me because I change it for every new song. So it’s really complicated, but it’s only complicated for me. I’d rather have it be complicated for me, than for me and six other people.

I was really impressed by your humor and energy on stage. I think typically in your genre of music, the electro-R&B type stuff, that’s quite rare. Most guys like James Blake or Frank Ocean are fairly serious. I was wondering if that was a conscious choice to bring humor and energy to what is typically a more stoic music.

Well, I’ve always been a talker. I’ve always talked to (or probably most of the time, at) people, ever since I was a kid. I always just naturally found myself in a place where I wanted to be able to talk to the crowd. It took a bit of work, it wasn’t always successful. I wasn’t necessarily trying to be funny, just trying to make sure that the audience was having a good time, and making sure that the audience and I were on the same team, that everyone is in the moment together and everyone is enjoying themselves. That’s the only thing that I cared about.  And so, after a year of pretty relentless gigging, I’ve been able to narrow it down and… I don’t know, say the right kind of things I guess. It was definitely a conscious effort, making sure that the show was one people would walk away from going “Holy shit, I have no idea what just happened.” Because you’re right, there’s not a lot of people doing the music that I do, who also have the opportunity to treat the audience as another person in the room.

I’m also in the fortunate position where my stature isn’t big enough yet to make walking on stage irrelevant. As soon as you get to a certain crowd size, no matter what you say on stage, it kind of doesn’t matter because the person at the back isn’t going to understand a thing you say.

So that was going to be my next question – How did that play out with this arena show with Mumford and Sons?

Well yeah, so I just didn’t do it. I had half an hour, went up on stage, I had five songs, I played my five songs and I walked off stage again. I had a couple of moments, where I was able to give the Mumford boys a shout out and say thank you to them, but I have a different job there. Not only to warm up a crowd, but also impress them. That’s my job, make sure the crowd is ready for the next support act, but also that they are impressed with my performance and don’t feel like they’ve wasted money on the ticket they bought.

I’ve done a couple shows now with the Mumford boys, and they have a really, really good band relationship on stage in front of their crowd. The room is just so big, I don’t get how anyone can understand what they’re saying. It shows I still have a lot to learn, because I’m looking at them and they can do it fine.

I want to talk to you about your new single “Weathered.” It has a different sound than your previous stuff. It has this positive, triumphant feel as opposed to the more traditional sad, bluesy fare typical of R&B. Is that indicative of a direction you’re going in? 

That was just necessary for the song. I’ve always made sure that my songs are as right as they can be, for the song. The sound of it, the tone of it, the texture of it. There would be no point in putting the production of “Weathered” on a song like “Chemical” for example. Even if you strip away all of the production and everything from both those songs and lay them bare, they are two completely different entities, and they need to be treated and respected as such. It just so happens that “Weathered” has taken this much more positive attitude, even though the song itself is about such an abysmal subject; it’s about such a depressing thing. But then again the song itself is hopeful, it is uplifting. It’s a positive song, so therefore the production had to swell with it, it had to move with it. The song was breathing. But it’s not a direction I’m going in, it’s just that one song needed that kind of sound.

As I go on creating all the other songs to put together this record, every song will be treated individually, and will have its own place and sound and style and moment. And if some of them sound the same, then some of them sound the same But so far, almost all of them have sounded different. It’s all about the song. All about what it asks for.

So you mentioned a record. Is this the first full length Jack Garratt album? What’s going on with that?

 Yes… where am I with that? [laughs] It is going to be part of a bigger thing. I am absolutely moving forward and working toward a larger project. At the moment, I’m still in a place where everything has happened quite quickly, in terms of the sudden increase of attention I’ve been getting.  Because of that I’ve made sure I’m not going to rush anything. The worst thing that I could do is have things happen quicker than I expected, and then rush a product to meet the demand. Because that’s not fair to the people who want the thing I’m going to give them. So instead, everyone’s going to have to be a bit patient, including myself. I’m just enjoying fleshing out these ideas that I’m having at the moment. You see, “Weathered” itself is quite an old song, with the production and the idea behind it being very, very new. It was only really finished about a week before it was released to other people.

But it’s coming! I promise! I’m just having a lot of fun fleshing everything out myself.


Jack Garratt sings like Sam Smith but with more grit and energy. He produces with the pop ear of Calvin Harris and the creativity of Dan Deacon. He plays piano tastefully, shreds on guitar, and composes interesting beats. And he does it ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Not to mention he’s a pretty cool guy.

Pay attention to this one. Or don’t. Either way you’re going to hear more from him.

WooHa.

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The Beast Recap of Bonnaroo 2015
June 23, 2015 4:56 pm

Every year, tens of thousands of festival lovers (to the heights of 80,000 to be exact) travel to Manchester, TN for one of America’s most well know festivals, Bonnaroo. This music and arts festival has a whirlwind of opportunities for its festival-goers, going way beyond the music itself. From the hammock haven found in the shadows of the only trees of the campgrounds, to the comedy tent hidden inside Centeroo, there is constant activity to please all likings. But with 125+ artists across 8 stages (including the silent disco) how can one decide their destiny in this 4-day chose-your-own-adventure festival? Here’s the run-down of what we saw, what we learned, and why we will ALWAYS be the first ones buying our tickets to Bonnaroo.

THURSDAY: DAY 1

BONNAROO ALABAMA SHAKES

First day on the farm is of course overwhelming. The campground is slowing filling, the Bonnarovians (the official name given to the inhabitants of the farm) are out and about and exploring what greatness this festival is about to provide for the next 4 days. Not to mention the spectacular line up in which Bonnaroo did not feel shy.

BONNAROO TEMPLES

Starting out our line up for the festival, we saw Temples. Their lights and 70’s inspired melodies (and hair) revved the crowd in preparation for the balance of the evening on the highly anticipated first day. Playing each of our favorites, Temples rocked their golden hour, and left us wishing they would play Shelter over and over again as the sound reverberated throughout the packed tent.

BONNAROO CENTEROO

Through the rest of the evening, we moved from space to space and were able to catch hints of The Growlers and Glass Animals, both pulling impressive crowds for a not yet fully populated festival. Courtney Barnett however, stole our attention as her femme fatal rock played into the crowd. Of course she played our favorite hits, History Eraser and Pedestrian at Best, and the crowd agreed with our taste as they screamed out the lyrics and swatted at the copious amounts of balloons soaring through the air. At this point, we couldn’t get enough of her kick ass energy and were left feeling ferocious and ready to be the next female ruler.

As the night continued, you would have to say that Mac Demarco and his trio of equally weird bandmates took the cake when they trekked all the way to Tennessee to camp in the excessive heat. Demarco proceeded to introduce each song with his famously creepy voice, like the one your parents told you to always run away from, while alternatively swooning the crowd with his latest hits; Salad Days, Blue Boy, and Freaking Out the Neighborhood being the stand out songs of the set. And just to top their night off, Demarco and band claimed to be on a mission to set the world record for the most crowd members on top of other crowd member’s shoulders. Like any beast would, I hopped onto of my neighbor’s shoulders to join in on the mission for Demarco’s claim to fame.

FRIDAY: DAY 2

BONNAROO BELLE AND SEBASTIAN

Day 2 on the farm welcomed us with a wave of heat, promptly at 7:30AM, and the only cure was to explore the vast campground and accompanying art scene. As mentioned before, the farm offers their Bonnarovians a hammock haven hidden in the only natural shade found on the festival grounds – but you better claim your hammock early, because they were a hot commodity (pun intended). Through the hammocks, we found tables for crafts. Yes crafts. All materials needed for bedazzling the official shoe of Bonnaroo, the Teva sandal. But if arts and crafts weren’t your jam, Centeroo offered a variety of art venders spanning from unique, one-of-a-kind prints, to specialized body art drawing.

BONNAROO CROWD

As the heat (sort of) let up, our impatience got the best of us and we headed off to the tents to start the day. Opening our lineup for the afternoon was Rustie, the Scottish electronic artist from Glasgow. His instrumental mix between electronic and hip-hop electrified the crowd as they jumped to each beat in unintentional synchronized fashion. A crowd pleaser to the max, he gave a performance that goes to show the variety of electronic we’ve come to recognize within the past couple of years. To keep the electro buzz strong, Unknown Mortal Orchestra hit our next chord as they overflowed the tent pleasing us with old hits and ending strong with one of their latest (and excellent) releases, Can’t Keep Checking My Phone.

BONNAROO PHOX 2

The show stopper of the day was of course, Alabama Shakes. Lead singer Brittney Howard owned the stage immediately as she stepped foot into the crowd’s sight. Playing hits from their latest album, Sound and Color, Alabama Shakes could not disappoint, and their appreciation of the massive crowd presence did not fall unseen. Mid performance, Howard pauses, “I don’t even know what to say,” as she scans the crowd in amazement. After a long silence and a soulful sigh, she proceeds with “thank you. Now we can move on” and continues the set to play everything, but their original hit Hold On.

The rest of Day 2 was spent idolizing our past, listening to Tears for Fears and replaying Donnie Darko over and over in our heads. Standing behind the crowd you couldn’t tell what was clearer, the band’s voices or the crowd belting out Everyone Wants to Rule the World.

SATURDAY: DAY 3

BONNAROO PHOX 1

The third day of Bonnaroo was by far the most loaded of the weekend. (So many artists, with so few hours in the day.) Being the mid west gal that I am, seeing PHOX was first on our list. Having the chance to see a familiar face on stage was a breath of fresh air, just like the band itself. The eclectic group, made up of lead singer Monica Martin along with 5 other Baraboo, Wisconsin friends, I like to label as a mix between Beirut, Alabama Shakes and Amy Winehouse. Their soulful sound and quirky character gives a whole new take on indie pop. After their performance, with a special cover of Blink 182’s I Miss You, I was able to sit down with Ms. Martin and uncover her thoughts on Bonnaroo and festival life itself.

BONNAROO MONICA INTERVIEW

You guys have played at so many festivals this year, so far what has been your favorite?

Sasquatch is perfect, Newport Folk Festival is perfect, Coachella is a whole different animal and it’s a scary one to me but I also acknowledge that people really get into it.

And how do you feel about Bonnaroo?

Oh right, I should talk about this one. It’s great, it’s really really great. I like it.

Since you’re not able to hang out long, what artists are you most disappointed to miss?

Not just because he’s sitting right here, but Shakey Graves. I would love to see them play. I’m also sad that we’re missing Bahamas, they’re great. But we are playing a one off show with them soon, so I’m excited for that. Umm, D’Angelo. I really wish I could see D’Angelo. I mean who I really wanted to see I got to see and that was Kendrick Lamar last night.

Oh so you guys stayed last night, did you camp?

I did, I stayed, I camped! That was weird. That was a new experience.

Camping can be sort of terrible.

It’s a thing. It was weird. Part of me would rather just go camping.

OK, and one last question- If you could describe PHOX in three words what would it be?

Oh man. Three words. Confused eighth grader. I would elaborate more, but I’ve only got three words.

BONNAROO TRAMPLED BY TURTLES

As Monica and I parted ways, Atypical Sounds kept up on the folk inspired trend and watched Woods, the folk rock band from Brooklyn take over the tent and wow the crowd with Shepherd and Moving to the Left from their latest album ‘With Light and Love’. From there we saw Trampled by Turtles (another mid west favorite) lure in the crowd at the main stage, and we danced away the afternoon to the feet tapping, head bobbing blue grass perfection.

Changing gears for the balance of the afternoon to some synth-pop, we had the chance to catch Phoebe Ryan at her first ever performance at Bonnaroo. Playing at the smallest of the spaces Ms. Ryan surely did not disappoint as she owned the stage and kept the crowd singing along with her biggest hit Ignition/Do You.. (Mashup). Later in the weekend we had the opportunity to sit down with Ryan and talk about her latest EP released Tuesday, June 9th , and her thoughts on her very first performance at the farm.

BONNAROO PHOEBE RYAN 2

You released your first EP last week. How does it feel to have all that hard work finally out there?

It feels amazing! It’s literally been a year in the making. A year ago I flew down to Nashville for the summer and started writing the EP, and now here I am back in Tennesee. It’s mind-blowing.

BONNAROO PHOEBE RYAN INTERVIEW

This is your first year at Bonnaroo! How did you feel?

I love it. The vibes are so great, people are getting weird here, I love it

There is definitely a little bit of everything here!

Yea it’s wild, I’m a supporter! A supporter of the weirdness.

Have you been able to see any other performances while you’re here?

I haven’t been able to see as many as I wanted to, but I did get to catch Tove Lo’s set and I saw my friend Kevin Garrett. It’s been pretty great.

Anyone you regret not being able to see?

Haha everyone! Everyone is so cool, I wish I had more time to observe.

We definitely will keep an eye out for Ryan as she’s working on a new album this summer and just released a new single, We Won’t, with Jaymes Young. We are pretty sure that although her set at Bonnaroo was killer, the best is definitely yet to come.

Another indie-pop band that grabbed our attention was Belle and Sebastian. Their happy-go-lucky sound gave the crowd an extra jump of energy on the day, and when we least expected, lead Stuart Murdoch hopped onto the corner amp to shout out his jealousy that in the comedy tent, someone was fed fake gummy bears by a celebrity. His dreams came true (and so did ours) when Jon Hamm waltzed onto the stage to fulfill Murdoch’s fantasy.

The balance of the evening was overtaken by Childish Gambino, playing a variety of hip-hop and soulful power ballads. From was the EDM take over, where Bassnectar lit up the sky with glow stick showers and Flume defined the perfect ending for Bonnaroo Day 3 by playing our favorites Sleepless and Insane and ensuring we dance until the sun comes up on the final and last day of our festival adventure.

BONNAROO CHILDISH GAMBINOBONNAROO CHILDISH GAMBINO

SUNDAY: Day 4

The 4th and final day of Bonnaroo. We never thought it would come, nor did we ever want it to. It had been a long hot week and the perfect remedy was to lay low; our blanket game was on point.

Starting out our day we basked in the sun for Spoon. Lead singer and guitarist Britt Daniel captivated the crowd starting the set with old time classics, like The Way We Get By. The band continued to play from their newest album ‘They Want My Soul’ as they threw in old time favorites and ended the set with I Turn My Camera On.

To continue the lounging experience of the day, we sat through parts of Punch Brothers, and Florence and the Machine (knowing she would have an amazing performance after watching her glide across the stage this past Governor’s Ball). We caught Florence just in time to bring a guest from the crowd to the stage (as she had done for past sets), and to get chased by her own security as she continuously ran through the open areas of the venue. Surprisingly quick for having just recently broken her ankle at Coachella this past spring.

A highlight of our evening was Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters. As a music community we’ve grown to love Robert Plant from his role as lead singer of Led Zeppelin, and although he’s at the age of 66, Plant still fully understands how to rock and roll with his crowd. We sang along and watched from afar as Plant played some of Zeppelin’s best hits, which unfortunately did not include Stairway to Heaven.

As all good things must end, it came to be this sad time for Bonnaroo. One last artist and our 4-day adventure was over. We had highly anticipated this performance as not only was Billy Joel the only set of the night, but was also was slotted for a magical 2 and half hours. At the age 66, this New York native vocally amazed us. The field was filled with Bonnaroovians of all sorts and all ages, but somehow Billy Joel pulled everyone together to appreciate these last few moments. Joel played his classic hits, Piano Man, Uptown Girl, and We Didn’t Start the Fire, although we had secretly hoped Vienna would grace the set list. The disappointment set in early, when Joel walked off the stage at 10:15pm, only to be followed by a 20 minute encore and confusing delay before fireworks (his set time was slated for 9pm-11:30pm). Do we wish he played longer, of course. But was this early ending a blessing in disguise, absolutely.

Bonnarovians slowly left Centeroo, forming a mass of walking zombies as they all made their way back to their camps to either pack or pass out before the long (or short) journey home the next day. Despite the heat, and the massive crowds, Bonnaroo holds a dear place in our hearts. It’s not until after you leave, that you realize life on the farm is (debatably) better than life in reality itself.

BONNAROO RADIATE POSITIVITY

BONNAROO THAT TENT

BONNAROO THE GROWLERS