“I just hope the crowd is going to be nice,” Jack Garratt tells me over the phone. He’s preparing for his first show at Baby’s All Right, a Brooklyn venue that puts on shows featuring the who’s who of new, noteworthy artists. He’s passionate with charisma, guising any possible uneasiness with genuine shock and eagerness to play at such a spot in a city like New York. The British native has come a long way from his humble beginnings, during which he predominantly focused on acoustic guitar before infusing his sound with a fresh electronic vigor.
Yesterday marked the release of his second EP, Synesthesiac, via Interscope Records. Check out the four new tracks here, as well as our chat with Garratt below.
You play a ton of instruments. How do you put everything together on stage?
What I try and do on stage is, I try and show the songs that I’ve written in the best possible way that I can. And so to do that, because I produce all of my own music and I spent a lot of time working on the sound and orchestration of things, I try and introduce to people how I sort of make my songs when I’m in the studio by condensing it down to the time that it takes to play the song. So I’ll build my songs up in front of people so that [they] can see for themselves the layers of my songs. I try and introduce that idea of beat-making and riffs and different interesting chord structures and certain melodies to just fairly and accurately represent those things that are in the songs to an audience, in a way that is entertaining and in a way that people grip to.
How did you approach learning to make electronic music?
I used to write acoustically. I’ve always been able to play different instruments—it’s sort of something I’ve naturally been able to do. I have a theory—I mention this a lot—that I firmly believe that everyone has something that they can naturally adapt to. Everyone has one thing that is just easy for them. I think a lot of people don’t know what that is because it is just so easy for them to do.
For example, I have a friend of mine who is an incredible mathematician and numbers are just really easy for him. But for me numbers are fucking impossible, like I don’t know shit. But what I can do is I’ve always been able to, since I was young, because of the household I’ve grown up in, I’ve always been able to pick up an instrument and play it, and to a certain extent pick up two instruments at the same time and then play them separately. It’s just been a natural thing that my hands have been able to do. So because of that, I try to incorporate that into my set. So it was never really a case of having to learn a new technology. It was just that I had it available so I just tried it and with that came practice and with that came, in a way, my own trying to perfect that every day. I continue to try to get better and better at it.
You’ve had a dedicated fan base emerge out of nowhere, and you’re headlining a sold out show in New York. How surreal is this for you?
Oh, it’s fucking mental. It doesn’t make any sense. Like, I did a Facebook post earlier today. I’m sort of trying to keep track of the tour and wrapping everything up at the end of the day. Like my mom and dad have flown out to New York for the show. Like, it’s my first show properly out here in the States.
Is this your first time in New York?
The last time I cam to New York I brought my guitar with me, my dad was like, “Hey, you should bring your guitar with you. There might be an acoustic open mic night. Just bring it, you never know what can happen.” In my head, I couldn’t imagine playing in New York. I’d only just started writing songs and I hadn’t really taken into consideration that it could be a career and that kind of idea of flying to a different part of the world to play a show in front of people is so beyond my expectations that being here now is unbelievably humbling and super overwhelming and unbelievable. I cannot quite believe it. I think my head is reacting to it as it’s just another show. The idea that I’m in New York and I’m playing a show that’s sold out and there are people here who have come specifically to see it, it’s unbelievable. It is genuinely, genuinely unbelievable.
What is the main difference between your first EP and the new work?
[With this EP], my intention was to not prove myself as a producer but just to challenge myself as a producer. So the first EP I produced because I didn’t know enough as a producer…[I wanted] to create the sounds I had in my head. I always have sounds in my head, always. If I’ve written a song with production, I’ve already written the arrangement. That’s how I write my music. So it just made sense to me to produce that first EP as well and see if I could. The labels were happy with me doing it, I was happy with me doing it…it kind of worked.
This time around, this is me going, “Okay, hopefully that first EP wasn’t just a fluke and hopefully I can actually produce my record, and here you go!”
Jack Garratt’s upcoming tour dates:
May 28, New York, NY
Le Poisson Rouge
May 29, Washington, DC
May 30,San Francisco, CA
May 31, Los Angeles, CA
June 1, Los Angeles, CA
August 4, Philadelphia, PA
August 6, Nashville, TN
The High Watt
August 7, Chicago, IL
August 8, Minneapolis, MN
7th St. Entry
August 11, Edmonton, AB
August 12, Calgary, AB
August 15, Vancouver, BC