Interview with artist Jack Garratt

We’ve been huge fans of electro-soul artist Jack Garratt
since 2014, with the dawn of his EP Remnants.
Now a couple years in, with a full studio album, Phasereleased and his biggest world
tour ongoing, Garatt is coming into his own as an artist. Getting a chance to
chat with him was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.

Growing up in Buckinghamshire, England, Garratt is from no
big city. Yet, it wasn’t the town that influenced that his music, he says, but
his family.

“I’ve never had to be coerced into making music. I was
really lucky and had parents that never pushed any sort of music preference on
me. They would see I would be interested in learning something or in music and
they let me be free in that.  Teaching
and music were always permanently intertwined in my life. My grandfather was an
organist, my uncle was a classically trained pianist, and my mum was a music
teacher. And so when I was started writing, in my living room or whatever, I
was free to do that.”

And Garratt was free to write as much or as little as he
wanted, paying off in his early adolescence. In 2005, he entered the UK
national selection for the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, finishing 8/8 for
his first song “The Girl.”

“I remember that song” he says. “It was 10 years ago, but I
do remember it was not a complex or challenging song to write. It was one of my
first songs, you know, but writing it, to me, was something that sort of just
came to me.”

And that discovery period is how Garratt spent the next 10
years writing his own material.

“For a lot of artists,” Garratt says, “They write one song a
day and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that at all. But I don’t work
that way at all. What happens for me is that I’ll be working on a project and I
have to figure out what the music is trying to be—what the songs are. The songs
and the melodies—they already exist, and they’re all already floating around in
my head and some come easier than others. For example, I had ‘The Love You’re
Given,’ which went from just being recorded and written to album ready in 4
days. While with ‘Weathered’ that was a song that took four years of me
figuring out where it was going. Those three parts of Synesthesia—you know, I
had that one song at first, and I just let it set, let it simmer, to years
later have all these melodies still floating around in my head. That’s when I
knew I had to go back to it and create that 3 part series. So with my music,
it’s can be a process of years just to figure out what the music is trying to
tell me it wants from itself.”

And however organic the process may be, it works for Garatt,
winning two BBC awards and a BRIT Critics Choice Award in 2015 and 2016. And
with this debut album studio album separated into two discs, we can easily see
the type of fluidity Garratt has honed within his material. These are not
tracks one can easily write in a day.  Tracks
like “Water” and “Lonesome Valley” incorporate old school blues with modern
technology of synth and electropop—a lot like fellow contemporaries James Blake and James Vincent McMorrow.

And yet, though Garratt is aware of his up and coming fame,
he stays humble.

“I don’t think I’ve blown up that much, but it’s a good
perspective to have for sure. Every day still, I wonder how this is happening
and if it’s real.  It’s good though
because I try to still learn and improve, you know, because at any moment this
could all be wiped away from me. If I don’t learn something very day, and I’ve
not trying to improve in any way, then I’ve wasted my time. I’m not doing my
job. Whether that’s writing music, or exercising, or traveling or eating right,
I try to learn or improve every day.

When asked about latest collaboration with fellow artist,
Gallant, the artist mentions it was an interesting experience.

“I’ve not done a lot of collaborations before. I definitely
have always stuck to myself because you know, I’m the only one that’s going to
know what my music want to say to come across.
I’ve always done it for me, just for myself.  But I definitely would love to collaborate
more in my future.”

 And what’s he doing now? Touring and patiently letting his
music that he’s written already sit in the stores of his memory and mind, so he
knows in the future when to come back to it and fine tune its sound and message
to him.

“That’s how I have to think about it, you know? You have to
treat your music with respect—and with patience, because at the end of the day,
that’s your only job as an artist.”

Hope you check out Garratt’s album Phase and follow his tour, including his September 25th show at the Showbox Seattle.

Ariana Rivera

Jarryd James

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Jarryd James couldn’t possess a cocky ego if it slapped him right in the face.

 Holding a strong, humble, presence in the room, the tall Australian
artist sits will a still calmness about his body. He holds our hands tightly,
asking with an earnestness, “What’s your name, I missed that?”

Eagerly setting in, James is honest and random, as any other
person, laughing and talking about swimming lessons as kids, the summer heat,
and working with troubled kids. This is what pulls him in.

“I was making music for a long time and working with these
kids,” he says. “But then it all went to shit and I just worked for a while. I
had a temper tantrum and just said everything sucks and I don’t want this but
really, it affected me. I was so sad I couldn’t make music anymore, because it was
so impossible to keep making it. And for 2 years, I didn’t make music at all. I
didn’t even listen to the radio.”

James pauses and takes a breath.

“And coming back, I’ve realized how incredibly lucky I am. I
have a lot of friends who are so talented, to be honest, and better than I am.
I’m so fortunate I decided to do this again and that I get to be here and get
to do this.”

Reminiscent of fellow contemporaries, Jack Garratt and James
Vincent McMorrow
, James’ new album, High, swims with melodic vocals and textured
instrumentals.

“There’s an actual bit of me rustling pages of book on one
of tracks and me using an actual nutcracker on another!” James pipes in with a
smile.  With all the texture however,
tracks like “Claim My Love” and “How Do We Make It” echo with emotion, longing,
and nostalgia. The album shines as it varies in tempo and feel, ranging from
more upbeat R&B in tracks like “Sure Love,” to more pop love ballad sounding
tracks like “1000x,” featuring Georgia Nott of BROODS.

As James explains his music career to us, we soon understand
that it’s his underlying emotions that create the works of art he sings. Was
the work with kids influential to his album, we wondered?

“I dealt with a lot of kids who were high school age, and
were very hurt and had dealt with a lot of trauma. So I would say, yeah, it
affected my emotions and my mood. Because, when I’m writing, I go for a mood
rather than a theme. It just what feels like to me. Some people sit down and
say “I want this,” and try to write, and I can’t do this, it would feel forced.
I think in real vague terms, general things. I like to let my subconscious
through. I’m not trying to be innovative. I want my music to be as honest and
pure as possible.”

And we saw Jarryd James own the stage at Neptune Theater in
Seattle, singing soulfully with his eyes closed, we saw his was connected and
disconnected in his own way. He was with the audience yes, but also he was
somewhere else, wherever those underlying feelings lay.

“I needed that two year break not doing music,” he says
softly. “It was a reset, for me to come back to be where I am now.”

Be sure to follow Jarryd James’ tour with BROODS, and
check out his new album, High.

Ariana Rivera

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