Jack Garratt bounds into his dressing room with impish, near-insatiable energy.
Debut album 'Phase' landed in February, and since then the momentum just seems to have increased on a near daily basis.
Set to play Lovebox - he's headlining the joint Clash x SoundCrash stage, opening up room for our conversation - this is a rare chance to sit down in London.
In fact, it's a rare chance to sit down anywhere: he's so strapped for time that Jack literally had a haircut in his dressing room, an assortment of auburn locks drifting towards the far corner.
Yet it's clearly an experience he relishes. Seated on a couch next to Clash, he mercilessly drums the table in front of him, a tumbling torrent of cross-rhythms that reveal both a burning energy and a continual desire to create.
When the drumming finally stops, we begin...
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So: you're headlining the Clash stage at Lovebox. How are you feeling?
I think it's going to be alright. I'm looking forward to it. We'll see! (laughs) That's kind of my attitude with everything at the moment. I prepare as much as I can, in the sense that I'm here and...
Well, you got here – and that's the main thing!
Haha! I've already been out and seen some other people, which I never normally get the chance to do. So already I feel way more relaxed than I usually do. A lot of this is just turning up at festivals, walking onstage and walking off somewhere else. You rarely get a chance to spend a day watching music.
Who did you catch?
I went to see Seramic, actually. A group who are supporting me in November, on my UK tour. They are the best. And it's really fucking fun to watch a show that is just coming together. Not in the sense that it's falling apart, but in the sense that they're a new act with one collection of songs out and they're putting a show together that's just incredible. And it's amazing to watch a group go through similar shit to what I went through to when I was building my set up. Just trying your best to put something together that will give people an experience, and they're doing it.
Do you have any routines that you go through before you go onstage?
I do a lot of jumping. It's such an intense show from the minute I walk onstage, like the opening track is BIG and it demands a lot from me. And it's my own fucking fault – I'm the only one up there, I can't blame anyone else. But because of that I have to get myself into a place where I'm at the same energy level that the crowd is at, but – if anything – a higher energy level, so I can raise their energy level up a notch. It's that kind of thing. So I have to walk out onstage calm and collected, but make sure that the opening track is a monster. And then we spend the rest of the set trying to tame the monster...
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It's such an intense show from the minute I walk onstage...
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You're off the Australia in a couple of days...
Yeah, tomorrow! Literally leaving mid-day tomorrow. Which is exciting. I've never been.
Is this your first full tour, then?
Yeah. And even then it's more a festival run. Like, I'm doing a couple of shows out in Australia, which have both sold out and that's going to be amazing. That plus the festival I'm doing while I'm out there, and then off to Japan to do another festival, then off to Canada for a couple of festivals. Then stopping off in Chicago and San Francisco for a few festivals out there. So I'm doing a festival world tour... which is fucking great!
Do you ever get a chance to sit back and actually observe that progression?
I don't. But I also don't think that's what I'm supposed to do. It's interesting because ask me, do I enjoy it? That kind of thing. Ultimately, yeah obviously – of course I enjoy it. But I try not to focus on enjoying it, I try to focus on doing it. It would be great to be able to sit back and appreciate everything, and I do appreciate everything – I appreciate the hard work. So every now and then I take a minute and check myself, and make sure I'm still firmly feeted on the ground, and my head is in the right place. That's really important to me. I'm not here to fly off and waste this time or this opportunity, I'm very aware of what I'm doing. But because of that it makes me want to work harder, it makes me want to keep this moment alive for as long as I can.
That's one of the hallmarks of being artist – you're the person who does all this. That's why we use words like 'energy', because so much of what you do is unquantifiable.
I hear the word 'vibe' a lot, I hear the word 'journey' as well. But that's because what we do is undefinable, in some kind of way. That sense that we, as artists and musicians, are supposed to walk out onto a stage and give a crowd of people an experience of some kind. And the best word that we have for that is 'performance'. But the word 'performance' brings with it this idea or stigma that there is a thing to show off, a thing to prove, from the person onstage. Actually, the way I think about it is the exact opposite – I am the least important person when I'm in that environment. Even though I'm the only one there. The most important people are the people who are watching me. The crowd.
And I think a lot of young artists know that, a lot of people from the Class Of 2015, 2016 – that I've been a part of – I think we get that, and that's why our shows are impressive, and big, and powerful. Because we want to make sure that the crowd leave feeling as exhausted as we do, when we've done the show. That's the only thing I think about when I'm onstage.
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What we do is undefinable, in some kind of way...
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You mention going on a journey – that is exactly what you're doing tomorrow...
Literally going on a journey! A 25 hour journey. I am really looking forward to seeing what's going to happen on this particular leg of the tour, simply because... I have been really lucky, in that I've travelled a lot before. In the sense that I've been to America and done shows, and been to Europe and done shows, and that's always been unbelievable. But a lot of what you see is the same thing that you see when you tour in the UK: you see roads, and then you see Green Rooms, and venues. And no matter where you go in the Western World those things are pretty similar. The roads are boring and long, and the Green Rooms are safe but un-inventive. And the venues are work, because it's show-time.
But Australia and Japan are very different. Japan especially is such a different culture to anything I've ever known or experienced. I think that's really going to be the first time I've been able to gauge just how different entertainment is around the world. And I'm looking forward to that.
It must be an incredible experience. And that's one of the hallmarks of British, is this ability to look outwards, to have this two-way international conversation. You mentioned the Class of 2015, do you think that's especially prevalent in younger artists?
Yeah. There is a significant shift that's happening in the music industry at the moment, and for artists it's an incredibly positive one. It's a shift that is bringing with it ownership of the art that artists make. It is becoming the norm to take control over your own art, and to promote and produce it, and to engage with a crowd – kind of – yourself. Without needing a team of 20 people to be able to do it for you.
I can sit there and say all that shit because I have a team like that in place, I do have a lot of people who I work with but I've chosen every single one of them specifically, and I've worked with them since before I was since to a major record label. Because the kind of music that is coming out of the UK especially, understands the importance of having a family, rather than having a team of hired guns. And my family I trust more than anything in the world, and they trust me, and we work together because of that. And that frame of mind you can find in a lot of young artists, a lot of new musicians. Especially from the UK.
And perhaps because of that we all have something to connect on. That's why so many of them collaborate so much, and there's so much more sharing going on with music, and it doesn't feel as forced or as manipulated as it may have done five years ago. Nowadays, it's literally like... I could tweet someone, send them a track and that's it. No need to go through my management, I can just do it directly. I'll then bring it to my team and say: I've done this, and we're putting it out.
Slide into their DMs!
Exactly. That's happened, and we're doing it. And the industry just needs to catch up with us.
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There is a significant shift that's happening in the music industry at the moment...
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It all seems incredible hectic. Do you get time to sit down during all this and actually write, and focus on music?
It's all I do. I make music in rooms that look like this, and in the buses, and vans, and airports, and trains. I'm not a prolific writer – I don't write a lot, but I make a lot of stuff. So I have a plethora of unfinished ideas that I've made in the last two years, as I've been touring pretty much non-stop. And every now and again I get to spend a day in the studio that I love, and I have a good connection with. I mixed 'Phase' there, and finished a lot of that album there, out in West London.
I get to go back there and finesse the idea, but it's creation comes from me being on the road. Its' necessary for me to feel like I'm a part of the culture I want to be a part of to then be able to make art that I can then give to that culture, and that society. Otherwise I'm just creating fake bullshit to go into something I don't understand. It's important for anyone to just make sure you keep being a part of the thing that you think makes you feel powerful from, and feel love for. And because of that I have to make the music I make on the road. I've had a lot of fun doing it.
It's astonishing how self-contained all this is. You've just had your hair cut, and you're probably just about to work on some music...
Exactly. The hair cut thing, more than anything, is because I have no time to do it anywhere else. I leave to go to Australia tomorrow, and I had a couple of hours spare. That's the life that this is. It seems glamorous, and it seems really impressive, but actually a lot of it... is lonely, if you make it that. But collaborative, if you make it that. It's kind of up to you how you treat it all. It's fucking great. I'm having a great time. (laughs) Long may it continue!
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Find other Festival Highlights in the Zalando Festival Guide