Interview: Jack Garratt
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terrifying, because it’s unknown.” Jack Garratt’s voice floats down the phone as he speaks from Australia, hyped from a festival set but hiding from a spider that suddenly did a disappearing act.
“I don’t think it’s a bad thing” he declares, fizzing with optimism and excited for the future.
The past few years have brought many changes to the music industries. Riding a rollercoaster of consumption where CD and vinyl sales have dipped and peaked, streaming services have taken us on loops and downloads shot off as quickly as they settled, the multi-award winning artist thinks it’s a change in the right direction. Though only if we understand that “it will get worse before it starts to get better.”
Writing and performing as a one-man-band, Garratt works miracles on his laptop. Accompanied by his trusty Mac and a loop pedal, the Buckinghamshire lad's tantalising blend of dance electronica, soulful vocals and crooning tales, made people stand up and listen.
“Change is important and necessary”, he says, having nabbed the Brits Critics’ Choice Award, and topping the polls for the BBC’s Sound of 2016.
Back in February, his debut album Phase charted at what he considered as “well” in the UK.
Placing at number three just behind the late, great David Bowie and sensational songstress Adele was “incredible” - something that he “wasn’t expecting at all.” Despite his impressive feat, Garratt sighs “people have said it’s a failure”, all in comparison to the record sales that previous winners of the awards have achieved.
Clearly clued up on the subject, he defends his crafts quicker than his bass drops. Phase is the “second highest selling debut record of a UK artist in the UK” only “a few thousand sales behind the number one spot of that", he explains.
With the top spot in the hands of Zayn Malik, the former Directioner also received the same criticisms, especially considering his history.
The reason? Well that all lies in “labels, both major and independent, not realising and understanding the full potential of the internet and how necessary it is to share music.”
listeners ,“a lot of mums, I get a lot of dads, but I also get a lot of fourteen year olds and a lot of twenty year olds. I get a lot of hipsters and a lot of accountants and a lot of suits.” The genre-bender understands that their listening habits are in streaming services; quick, accessible and portable.
With over two million monthly listeners on Spotify alone, this whizz-kid is in awe of the numbers; “astronomical!” he breathes, “they’re huge!”
“Respecting the audience” is “all that needs to happen” Jack declares. Down under it may be the evening, but we’re speaking from a UK early morning, and the conversation is more thought-provoking than anticipated at the time.
Having dropped out of studying to become a teacher, in order to pursue “something else I had to go and do, which was music” and “prove that I had worth behind the creative ideas that I was having” the negative reactions surrounding mere numbers hit hard, and are the reason he’s unafraid to speak up.
Where folksy yearning falls into slick RnB, and pop beats lift delicate whispers, Phase defied the odds.
“For an artist like me to have won those awards and still make an album that sounds like the one that I've made, to have not pandered my music at any point for the sake of mass appeal, they [the critics] would kind of come to understand that instead it's a good thing that has happened for new music.”
His trademark “dance music about dying” is part of a scene which Jack cares deeply about, and it lives online.
Comparing the internet to an “ocean that is so deep and so unexplored”, he appreciates his listeners for starting to dive in. Believing that “people have always loved good music, but they’ve just been given shit music for so long”, the diversity in new music is both “really exciting and terrifying for an industry that has set itself up to work in a certain way because the audience that they’ve sold their music to is changing.”
He’s right, of course. IFPI’s 2016 Global Music Report states that digital sales contribute 45% of industry revenues, overtaking physical’s 39% share. Music is being consumed at record levels, though this “explosion” isn’t returning fair money to both artists and labels. For this, Jack counts himself “very lucky” to be signed with Island Records, who share his mentality and is “part of an active, progressive change to adapt.”
Pioneering this movement, everybody’s favourite ginger bearded singer says, “if I can hold a flag on behalf and with those people, and if we are stranding on the front line of whatever is about to come then fucking great!” and the hints of rebellion buzzes across seas with vengeance.
Almost hearing the fire in his eyes and the passion burning from his heart, there’s a strong urge to join the movement. You’re invited. Though, you’re probably already there.
Read the full cover interview with Jack Garratt in The National Student magazine, HERE
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