r&b

MARIAN HILL IS ONE BEAUTIFUL ACT
July 27, 2016 7:15 pm

Have you ever watched The Music Man? A brilliant film from the era of great musicals. The soundtrack is inspirational and it is quite the timeless movie. The main characters, Harold Hill and Marian Paroo, are a wonderful duo and bring a lot of life to the movie. Production artist Jeremy Lloyd and vocalist Samantha Gongol are huge fans of The Music Man and took the main characters’ names for their electronic and R&B duo band calling it Marian Hill.

The sound that comes from songs like Lips and One Time may sound very generic at first, almost bland, but if given time to really soak in, the are many surprises. There is a lot of talent here between the two and the also often get the help from their jazz friend Steve Davit.  There is something really special here.

It is not special because of the powerful lyrics or good beats alone, it comes from the beautiful mix of them together. Gongol has a sweet voice that give the appearance of innocence, while piercing the ears with deep emotion that surpasses the normal filters and can mean so much more if carefully listened too. Lloyd compliments her perfectly. His production capabilities rivals OK Go and Flume in my opinion, simple and creative on level that only those who carry music in their blood can wield.  

I can’t stress enough how bland I thought their music was at first, I listened to it in the background of my other work and playing games and was totally unimpressed. BUT after listening to it more, the true beauty and power manifested itself. Their debut album ACT ONE is a demonstration to the world what true creativity can and should be, like the master duos The White Stripes and Matt and Kim, creativity is their most powerful tool.

I highly recommend “I Want You,” “Lips” and “I Know Why” to really see these two at work. I hope you’ll enjoy their music because I know I’ll be listening to it for the rest of the year. Here is “Down,” another great example of their stunningly amazing talent.

DVSN’s KNACK FOR THE DRAMATIC
July 8, 2016 11:31 am

These fucking Canadians and all their emotions. They’re taking over. First, it was Drake’s penchant for melancholia that got fogey rap heads in a tizzy, then The Weeknd started paralyzing people’s faces with no remorse. Now we’ve got DVSN, a producer/singer duo of Nineteen85 and Daniel Daley recently signed by OVO, Drake’s mothership label.

All the trails have been blazed for DVSN, and extensively so, at this point. The swirling atmospheres in With Me paired with trappy snares can be traced back to the Frank Ocean Family Tree, while Another One shows a type of pop gloss in production that follows Abel and Aubrey’s footsteps as new explorers of the emotional. So in the modern landscape of R&B, DVSN fits quite seamlessly. Sept. 5th, their debut album (seriously, what is it with sad Canadians and their love for Autumnal months), is indeed a product of this new era; pairing the genre’s obligatory ‘baby making music’ ambiance with a newly intensified sense of mystery and anguish.   

For Daley, his talent in bridging these two unique ideas together is what makes listening to Sept. 5th worthwhile. His tender voice wraps around each of Ninteen85’s intricately arranged pieces on the album. As indicated on “Angela,” he can falsetto his ass over horns, strings and keys, whatever. He’s in his comfort zone regardless. It’s his strongest vocal performance on the album, showing off every high note he’s capable of belting out, as well as heartier moments that show him digging deeper into his belly for the words. He even finds the time to pay homage to the late Elliott Smith by using his refrain from “Angeles.”

In each of these songs, DVSN and Smith are looking for a solution and whether it’s a new city or a new woman is unimportant. The novelty of newness is what they believe will save them. It won’t, but for artists who are as deeply tapped into their feelings as they are, they see a new love as the rescue rope from it all. For “Angeles,” Smith is cynical enough to know that this false hope will never truly actualize anything. DVSN, however, carries the optimism that love- or at least a decent enough fuck- can actually heal everything.

“I could make it better, if I could have sex with you.” That’s literally part of the chorus to the album’s titular track, and the confidence with which he delivers such a line makes the listener believe that Daniel Daley is very confident in what he’s able to do with his penis. Whether it’s genuine delusion or an awareness on Daley’s behalf to document his own ego’s misgivings is up for debate. His ability to convey the desperation is what’s compelling.

So try having sex with Daniel Daley if you can. Maybe things will improve in your life. They probably won’t, though. Because unlike what these Canadian Pioneers of Feel want you to think, sex and love heal nothing.

I’m joking, I’m a virgin. I know nothing about this stuff.

NEARLY OROTORIO: SIMON LAM’S STRIPPED DOWN  TIN EP
April 15, 2016 11:43 am

Melbourne’s Simon Lam is known by many names. Earlier this month, Lam, who releases solo material through the Nearly Orotorio moniker, dropped his second EP, Tin, via Solitaire Recordings.

Whether contributing vocal tracks or lending his keen sound engineering chops, Simon Lam has done a lot in a short span of time–and it seems like any project he decides to take on tends to make its way to an increasingly wide audience. His career launched in 2010 with the formation of Kins, a group that initially manifested in Australia, but later transplanted to Brighton, England. Kins fused wistful guitar with downtempo electronic breaks. They followed up the release of their self-titled full-length by touring in support of last year’s indie rock blockbuster, Courtney Barnett, before officially calling it quits in February. Meanwhile Lam, who didn’t stay around for Kins to fully come to fruition, was busy parsing together tapestries of his soulful vocals and minimal electronics with I’lls. Next he was building warm synth backdrops to back fellow-Melbourn songstress Chloe Kaul for their project Kllo.  They released a debut EP Cusp in 2015 via Dot Dash / Remote Control.

Lam’s first Nearly Oratorio release Showers was released in 2011, perhaps opening the door to some of his other collaborations. His fluid transition from one project to the next is disorienting indeed, but it’s the sign of an ambitious recording artist dedicated to his art and finding just the right collaborative environment to find inspiration for his next work.

Tin is a collection of oddball ditties dedicated to the wandering thinkers and creatives that occasionally get stuck inside their heads. To soak in this album properly one simply needs to lay back in a comfortable position, adorn a pair of headphones and take it in. Tin captures the essence of Sam Lam’s tinkering, the thought-process of a tireless scientist going through the motions of artistic process. It’s packed with a modest range of percussion adding texture and rhythmic dimension to his tracks which are otherwise bare-bones: Sam’s soothing R&B falsetto accompanied by a trickle of acoustic guitar and under synths.  It’s a great introduction to Simon Lin’s signature blissfully minimal sound. 

SXSW SPOTLIGHT ON: LENA FAYRE
March 18, 2016 11:38 am

When listening to Oko, Lena Fayre’s debut album, for the first time, I did a lot of giggling. She’s 19 and is already brimming with all this talent, so I really don’t know what to do other than laugh because of how good she is. I refer to this as the Steph Curry Giggle for obvious reasons.

Fayre gets those SCGs out of me because, similar to the Davidson product, her range seems to be limitless. In her earlier work, she was able to show off her pop star impression on “Love Burning Alive”, which has everything a great pop song needs: strong vocals, a catchy hook and a heavy handed innuendo pertaining to sex. All of it came easy to her.

On Oko, Fayre wisely slows things down and focuses on opening up her entire tool chest to get it to work in her favor. ‘The Tiger’s Bride” shifts from delicate to powerful seamlessly in a stripped down effort. For the most part, the instrumentals are buoyed by a single patch of drums, and with that, she’s still able to make a booming chorus that’s catchy.

By opting to go minimal, the structure of the song, or its sonic accompaniment isn’t what’s being focused on. It’s a wise move that puts Fayre’s dynamic voice as the engine of the song instead of just an alternator (I needed to call my cousin who works with cars in order to complete this clunky metaphor). On “Ophelia”, her voice conducts the song’s pace. The piano compliments her timid moments perfectly, and when she builds up to a moment, the strings soar with her. 

The moments of overt liveliness isn’t as prominent compared to her EPs, but they’re each more well deserved while fitting to the flow of the album. “Games” has a droney dance floor vibe that makes everything appear to be going in slow motion. And the all over the place glitchy paradise that is “Intimacy Is Me” is a true gem. Neither have the directness of her earlier work, but it works more effectively because of the intimacy that surrounds this entire record.

Lena Fayre is only going to get bigger and better, seeing how she’s only 19 and has already gotten the modern day sultry R&B style down to a tee already. I’m expecting to do plenty more Steph Curry giggles at her music in the future. It’s why we’re excited for her to be performing at our SXSW this year…….TODAY! If you’re in town for the festivities, be sure to check us out at Darwin’s Pub. We’re kicking ass there all day from 11:30AM-6:00PM.

And if you’re not in Texas and still unsure about who Steph Curry is at this point, please watch a Golden State Warriors game for christ’s sake.

TALK IS CHEAP: CHET FAKER’S DOWNTEMPO SEDUCTION
March 2, 2016 10:40 pm

Some artists are easier to “get into” than others.

Nicholas James Murphy, aka, Chet Faker, is an electronica artist that has you covered in the “chill” department. He effortlessly fuses sleek downtempo grooves with his seductive R&B-leaning croon.  Whether you’re lounging around after a long day, or on an extended evening spin, Chet Faker provides a perfect dose of ambiance and substance to keep your ears entranced.

Chet Baker hails from Victoria, Australia, and since breaking onto the scene in 2011, he’s had no trouble finding an audience for his tunes both at home and abroad. His 2014 full-length debut Built on Glass, made waves internationally, and debuted at the number 1 position on Australia’s ARIA charts.  I’m sure by now you’ve heard Talk is Cheap.

Most recently Chet Faker released Work EP, a collaboration with London-based DJ Marcus Marr. He also put up an immaculate performance for Boiler Room’s #Campaign4Change last October,  I encourage you to give it a spin.

While he might be keeping things on the down-low this year, Chet Faker will certainly be making a splash this festival season – catch him stateside at Ultra, Sasquatch, or Governor’s Ball.

WET IS THE BEST
February 2, 2016 11:30 pm

Kelly Zutrau, Joe Valle and Marty Sulkow make up the electronic, synth-pop R&B trio Wet. Coming off a stellar self-titled EP released in 2013, Wet has just released full length album Don’t You.

Pitchfork roasted the album calling it boring and surmising this to the fact that Wet is taking the worst elements of its varied influences (folk, R&B, 80s synth stuff), however after taking a listen to the album myself I have to completely disagree. It is merely chilled out.

The R&B element is understated. Just because tracks like “Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl” don’t remind me of TLC doesn’t mean there isn’t a softer, Destiny’s Child-esque sincerity. “Deadwater” is catchy, classically structured and an all-round jam; the album even picks up and shows some diversity with “All The Ways.”

I’m still attached to their EP’s “You’re The Best.” I caught one the band’s CMJ showcases and she is dynamic live. I especially enjoyed Marty Sulkow’s adorable stage presence.

An album doesn’t have to be exciting or attention grabbing to be good. Don’t You is more a soundscape and less a hit-factory kind of album. You can flow seamlessly from one song to the next, perfect for those moments, looking out the train car imagining yourself on the set of Girls or some other quintessential indie set featuring Adam Driver. Upon my first listen I thought it was unique, hypnotic and relaxing, I played it for days on repeat. Pitchfork should give their content a second listen before jumping to conclusions.

DEAD TIMES: THE FUTURE
December 21, 2015 11:41 am

Los Angeles-via-Tempe, Arizona transplants Dead Times fit cozily in today’s beat-forward R&B meta.  Boldly  describing their sound “the future” on their Facebook page, the duo’s sonic palate consists of Calvin Marcus’s ethereal croon underpinned by Travis Bunn’s snappy percussion and atmospheric samples–check “Inner Gold” for one of their more exquisite brews.

Dead Times grooves are harmoniously constructed, intimate love songs with a kick. To boot, Calvin is an adept lyricist–take the poetic chorus from the up-beat “Feel” for example:

“come outside my hands are freezing cold / let’s just start running until we’re completely alone / forget our past forget our valuables / I’ve got this feeling you’re all I need for warmth”

Last year, Times performed aside fellow bedroom beat-artisan How To Dress Well exposing themselves to a wider audience. Although still unsigned, these two guys aren’t going away any time soon–they’re very prolific and have even hinted at the idea of a self-released debut album. They’ve already garnered a considerable listernership on Spotify, and as such, their songs are–I’m going to make a bold prediction here–pre-destined to be included in a clothing store playlist.  It just has that vibe.

JARRYD JAMES- AUSSIE R&B PHENOM
October 15, 2015 9:28 am

“It’s pretty crazy… but it’s very exciting.”

That’s how Australian Singer-Songwriter Jarryd James describes his current situation. Sitting in a hotel lobby the afternoon before his October 13th show at Mercy Lounge in Nashville, Tennessee, James’ excitement is very understandable. Since the release of his single “Do You Remember” in January, his career has taken off in a pretty big way. The single peaked at number two on the Australian charts, only to be followed by the release of the album 31, which debuted at number two. His first headlining Australian tour in April sold out so fast that they added another run in bigger venues in July.  He is currently opening for Meg Myers on her US tour, which gave me the chance to pick the Brisbanite’s brain.

jarryd james

Photo: Chad Elder, High Voltage

So this is your fist big US Tour?

Yeah, before this I played LA and New York earlier this year, and that’s the only shows I’ve ever played in America.

And how is the tour going?

It’s cool, but it’s pretty weird seeing the country like this—being in each place for one day, then you’re in another place. It does your head in a little bit. And we just came from doing three weeks in Europe, so we were in about 11 or 12 countries in three weeks. It’s a cool way to figure out where you want to visit though—it’s a pretty unique way to experience the world.

So what got you started playing music?

I guess I just had a lot of time on my hands when I was a kid. I was pretty sheltered, and I was shy, so I spent a lot of time either reading books or learning how to play instruments. I learned the trumpet first, classically. And then I kind of got over that and just started teaching myself how to play other things, guitar and drums and piano and stuff. From there I was always just really shy. I never sang in front of anybody until I was about 20. I think the main thing was getting over my shyness, because I was so scared to sing in front of anyone. Which is most people I think, but for me it took a while. It’s so personal.

I kind of always knew that I’d end up playing music for a living. I didn’t feverishly go after a career in it, but I just tried to apply myself to being good at it. That’s how I saw anyone else in whatever field they’re in be good. They weren’t out there self-promoting, telling everybody how good they are, or trying to get in on the right circles or whatever. They just got good at what they do. So I guess I just spent a lot of my time trying to get really good at stuff.

This is not your first musical endeavor. Is there a driving motivation or goal with the music you’re making now? Is there something in particular you want it to be?

Not really. I try to let everything I do be a really honest art form. Just something that is what it is—it just comes out. I try to make sure it’s always really emotional, if you know what I mean. Some music isn’t emotional, so to speak. It’s got its own energy and stuff, but the music I try to make I really want to tug at peoples heartstrings. Either make them cry out of happiness or sadness. I don’t know if it always happens, but that’s always in my head when I’m writing music. Because to me, when I hear a song that gives me the shivers or makes me well up a bit—that’s amazing to me. And I want to be able to do that. So that’s really my only goal with music.

What’s an example of a song that does that for you?

Have you hear that Weezer song “Heart Songs?” Oh, man. I’m not even sure which album it’s off, one of his later ones. But it’s SO good. It’s Rivers [Cuomo] singing about the music that made him want to make music. It actually gives me shivers every time I listen to it.

james3

So there’s this trend of awesome bands coming out of Australia, like Courtney Barnett, The Preatures, Tame Impala and other great groups. I also saw that you’re good friends with Matt Corby. How much do you consider yourself a part of that?

Well I didn’t really see myself as part of it, but I think now in hindsight, I am. It’s a pretty small world in Australia, there’s just not as many people. I’m not a social butterfly by any stretch of the imagination, but I do know a lot of people in the music industry around my country. I think even as far as crew, you end up connected to everyone pretty quickly. You end up saying “Oh my God, you did this tour, I was on that tour, I did that festival and you were at that festival.” Yeah, I think it’s a good time right now for Australian music. There’s really stuff with a lot of substance. It’s not like pop music necessarily.

But it’s still accessible! It still can have pop play.

Right! Artists like Alpine and Meg Mac. It’s becoming more so that I feel like I’m involved with the industry, because I’m doing it all the time now. And I meet new people every day. It’s a cool feeling.

Do you ever find a tension between your more anti-social or shy side and your career, where you’re constantly meeting new people and playing shows to crowded rooms?

A little bit yeah. It’s weird, I love meeting people. And I love this kind of thing, one on one, being in a good conversation. I think it’s just big rooms of people. If I’m not playing music, I get a little bit anxious. But I’ve gotten to a point with my singing and my music where I actually get really excited to do it, because that’s the way I escape being awkward in a room full of people. I do what I am confident in doing. It’s my party trick.

So tell me a bit about your songwriting process. How do you get inspired to write songs?

Like I said before, I like to let it be led by my emotions. If I can find a chord progression or a melody or something musically that will spark something in my head… I don’t even really know how to explain it. It’s not about hearing it and saying “that sounds cool,” it’s more about “that feels cool.” That’s how I write. It’s kind of hard to switch off the inclination to go with what you’re hearing. I try to bypass that a little bit. It’s not the easiest thing to do, and I can’t always do it. Because I’ve got to be in the right mood, but when I am it’s really fun.

That’s really the only way I can describe how I write. I always do music first. I don’t write lyrics and then try to fit them to something. That feels weird to me. I like to let music and the feel of what’s going on and the vibe incite what’s going on with the lyrics. That way it all comes from the same place.

So you recently had the Australian release of your new album “31,” with the US release scheduled for the beginning of next year. Are you excited for that? How has the Australian release gone?

Really well! It debuted at number two, which is amazing for me. I had no expectation like that. I didn’t even think it would chart. So, it’s been received pretty well. As for the US release, we’re planning more dates in the US and Europe as well. It’s pretty crazy, and there are all these different timelines, but it’s very exciting.

So it seems there’s a lot coming up for you in the next few months.

Well I’m going to spend about week in L.A. doing some writing. And then I’m going to the UK to play some shows. Then touring a bit with Jack Garratt, who’s just the nicest guy. We have some shows in Germany and Belgium I think. Then after that, I think I’m going home for the ARIA’s, which is like the Australian Grammys, because I got a bunch nominations for that. Which is another unexpected thing. So I got all that, then I’m doing some co-headline shows with Meg Mac.

So you’ve spent some time in L.A., and are clearly traveling around quite a bit. Do you plan on keeping your home-base in Australia?

I don’t really know, I’m pretty open at the moment. I’m still in this weird spot where things are taking off in America and the UK and other parts of Europe, so I don’t know yet. But, I just moved into a sick new place in Brisbane, and I’m never there. So, we’ll see. If things kick off in America I could definitely move here.

For someone in the midst of a meteoric rise, James was pretty cool-headed about the whole thing. Thoughtful and soft-spoken, his shyness bleeds into his music. Emotional R&B, James’ music sits in the same room as artists like The Weeknd and Frank Ocean. His music leans a *tad* more pop than the hip-hop influence now typical of R&B, which is a bit of a refreshing change.

On stage, James has found a way to play his quiet nature to his advantage. Typically just singing, with the band behind him, James lays himself quite bare before the audience. Where many artists clearly affect a developed on-stage persona, James delivers the impression that he just walked up on stage to sing you his songs. A tall figure in mute colors, often singing in a soft falsetto, James invites people to lean in and listen, rather than watch. While this is not necessarily for everyone, it rewards those willing to participate. Combine this with his eerily beautiful voice—the tone he is able to achieve live is almost shocking—and the result is a mysterious and enigmatic front-man.

In a market hungry for electro-styled R&B, it is not surprising that Jarryd James’ fresh and well executed take is seeing this much success. Remember that “bunch” of ARIA nominations he mentioned? Those would be Best Independent Release, Breakthrough Artist, Best Male Artist, Best Pop Release, and Song of the Year with “Do You Remember.”

Quite the party trick indeed.

Jetlagged With Milosh
October 6, 2015 1:31 am

Milosh is an elegant marriage between original electronic music and an intense personal experience. I am very familiar with making music with your significant other and both the joys and hardships that can come of it. I appreciate the fact that this artist was able to contain and create such a personal experience and add their everyday life to recording. This was present especially in their song “Do you want what I need” where in the band biography on facebook he stated he mic’d himself  “drumming on my wife’s tummy, brushing her skin; edit, cut up and reversed her laughs as we joked over the pure hilarity of it all.”

Often times I cannot relate to electronic music, but then you listen to the sheer personality of the track, and that mentality dwindles quickly. There’s a hint of Animal Collective‘s creativity and obscure recording techniques present.  Just as Avey Tare and his wife used to work together, Jet Lag seems like a long lost psychedelic brother of Avey Tare’s album with Kria Brekkan Pullhair Rubeye but in reverse.

It is very apparent that this artist feels every aspect of the music he is playing and it has been noticed by others as stated by Helene Achanzar in an interview with Rhye that Milosh is a conductor of sorts in his live element.  He is also well known for his band Rhye, who are undeniably emotional as well as felt in the video for their song called “The Fall.”  Every song he puts out cries loving tears and is very thoughtful and diverse. Not a single song sounds like another, which is rare for many bands these days.  Do not get me started on his amazing voice; it is extremely distinctive and surprisingly, he is able to hit notes that would make Mariah herself blink.

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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