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

Jack Garratt – British artist blows up Barboza

Last year when we talked about Jack Garratt with his newly
released EP, we were in love. There was something about the vibe of music that grabbed us, maybe in the way Garratt labels himself as “neo-modern.” Nonetheless, we liked the hints of R&B in his electropop
indie rhythms and his multi-instrumentalism, linking in electric guitar
with piano to add a sense of funk and blue to the synth he overlays in his
tracks.

And with songs like “The Love You’ve Given,” we see other influences in Garratt’s
work —Disclosure, Mumford and Sons, and James Blake, especially in
terms of the falsetto Garratt executes under the atmosphere of drawn out piano
melodies.

With the release of Garratt’s debut album Phase, this artist has been swept up in
a sea of praise, winning awards including the British Awards Critics Choice
prize and the BBC Sound of 2016 (an award prominent artists Ellie Goulding and
Sam Smith both won early in their careers).

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And seeing the one-man-band in the flesh work his magic on
stage Monday night at Barboza is a cerebral experience, flitting around between the three instruments
he plays and the microphone into which he croons and sometimes screams into.
His vocals live are a more gritty, throaty, and almost harsher version of the smooth
soft vocals on his record, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing—everything is
merely heightened and made more raw. As he sings fan favorites on the record,
like “Breathe Life,” “Weathered,” and “Chemical,” the crowd is invested. As Garratt
dances around on stage, with a vibe similar to Michael Jackson or Prince, the audience grooves around on the floor, equally as emotional as him.

Garratt takes a moment during his show to chit chat with the
small 200-member audience of Barboza, and point out that he was at the smallest
venue on his tour, highlighting how big he is already. As the British-born
artist swaps between up-beat and slow tempo tracks, the mood of the room
oscillates, as well, between happy-drunk and somber thoughtfulness.

A moment occurs in which the artist sets down everything, to
inform his audience his intent to play a new song never recorded before. The
new track that Garratt continues to unfold for his fans is not memorable in
terms of lyrics or melodies, but is in the emotions Garratt exudes in the song’s
execution. As he closes his eyes and powerfully plays chord after chord on his
keyboard, we see how much this yet unnamed song means to him. The audience
stands silent, no whispers in earshot, swaying in awe to the range of the
artist’s vocals and the way he performs his composition.

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Not a fan of encores, Garratt plays his most popular track
as his last, the 2014 “Worry” that he played after winning the Critics Choice
Prize, and happily exits the stage. He’s an upbeat guy, giving into the
audience banter, teasing them about the British jokes they make, and telling
anecdotes about each track he plays.

The new album Phase? It’s well written, well-produced and
exactly what we would expect of Garratt with heavy drops and synthy electronic
in track likes ”Coalesce (Synesthesia Part III)” and “Lonesome Valley,”  and powerful vocal switches in “Fire,” and “Surprise
Yourself.”  A bit generic, the album almost
makes us wish Garratt experimented a little more in terms of composition, but
it makes sense why he wouldn’t want to with a debut.  Yet, there is no doubt Garratt knows how to
perform and with good reason, playing festivals and shows in the UK and acting
as a BBC favorite in the in-studio videos.

We can only wait and hope now with anticipation to see what
Garratt throws at us next in the coming years, because it’s only a matter of
time before he starts following in fellow UK artists Sam Smith and Adele’s
footsteps and accepts a Grammy for his talent as an artist and producer. We
also hope to see a second album soon with a little more to show in terms of
experimentation with his skills.

Check out the album Phase
and be sure to follow his tour, both in the US and UK.

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Ariana Rivera