Interview: Jack Garratt

Jack Garratt, British artist-producer and quite literally a musical Jack of all trades could not have wished for a better start to 2016 – winning both the Brits Critics’ Choice Award, the BBC Sound of 2016 poll and releasing his acclaimed debut album Phase. The year has continued in much of the same vein: incessant tours, festival appearances and generally trying to keep up with the demand of being the country’s most exciting one-man band. Ahead of his Sheffield show this month, Kerre Chen caught up with the don of multi-instrumentation.

Hi Jack! How’s it going? Got anything exciting planned for the day?
I’m great thanks! I’m supporting Two Door Cinema Club for a few dates out in the US, so that should be good fun.

And a big congrats on winning the Critics’ Choice Award at the Brits. How does it feel to have followed in the footsteps of Adele, James Bay and Emeli Sande?
It’s always an incredible feeling to be welcomed into any kind of family, especially when they are held in such high esteem. I mean it wasn’t really an award I asked for personally, but I’m definitely not taking it for granted. I write music for a completely different reason than award-winning, and although it is lovely to receive something like that, I try not to let it get to my head too much  you know?

Your album Phase jumped straight to number 3 in the UK Album Charts, which then led to a sold-out spring tour in Europe and the UK. How has the tour life been treating you so far?
Tour life is really interesting; I’ve been living in Chicago for about 13 months and in all that time I’ve only been able to sleep in my own bed for about 30 days. Tour life is amazing but it’s an incredibly demanding thing and it is definitely unforgiving. I try as hard as I can to not complain, as I never want to be ungrateful for the position. I’ve dreamt of doing this since I was a kid yet all I dream of now is being at home! It’s all part of what you sign up for and this is what I want to do for the rest of my life: travel around the world and share the music that I’ve made.

So you’re feeling a bit homesick?
I do miss home and my family! But I get to fall in love with all these different places too. I went to Australia for the first time this year, which was incredible to see. That said, coming back to America isn’t bad either!

Are there any interesting differences from touring in the US and UK?
Touring around the UK is great because it’s so much smaller, and you can just travel a couple hours before you’re in the next city. But the drives are just so long in America! We did an 800-mile drive once overnight which was absolutely brutal. In terms of the crowd, no two cities are the same to be honest, let alone countries!

What can we expect from your upcoming tour?
I’m bringing with me everything I have done this year, everything that has been with me from the very beginning. It’s going to be a big one!

What was it like supporting Mumford & Sons? Are you a fan?
I’m really lucky and proud to say that those guys have actually become some of my closest friends in the last year or so. The smart thing to do on tour when supporting someone else is to learn everything you can from them. Every support show that I’ve done, I always make sure to watch the show and try and hang out with the guys afterwards. Hopefully, one day, that could well be me and I want to make sure that I’ve soaked up all the information I can on how best to treat an audience and crew. Being with those guys is basically ‘How to tour in the most fun and best way possible 101’, and every night they give the best performance they have ever given. It makes touring so much fun when you are dealing with people who understand how difficult it can be, so make it their goal to make it as enjoyable as possible.

Let’s talk about your beard. Just how do you keep it looking so fine? Any facial fuzz advice?
The advice I always give is the unadulterated truth: you have to find seven Tibetan monks to produce 15 of the finest orphans for you, then you need to give them candy and take it from them to collect the tears and massage into your beard everyday. And that’s all that I can legally say about the matter, otherwise I’d have to kill you and everyone who reads this article.

Shit, okay. Erm, do you have any interesting fan stories for us?
I was doing smaller gigs up and down the UK and at the end of each show, I would go to the merch desk to try meet some people and thank them for coming. I met someone who was in a car accident and in this crash he fell unconscious which caused him to lose his memory of the past two to four years, which is obviously awful. Doctors and therapeutics asked him to look at his bank history to see what he had previously purchased in case that would help jog his brain; he saw that he’d bought tickets for a show of mine so he started listening to my music. He told me that when he started to listening to the music, he was able to start pin-pointing certain memories from the time he had lost. Through the music that he enjoyed, which just happened to be mine, he miraculously was able to put stuff back together and it was honestly a conversation I will never ever forget. You can take my involvement out of that story and it will still be the most heart-warming thing I’ve ever heard, but the fact that he was able to gain some of that history back because of music I’ve made is just incredible. That was a very emotional moment for me.

Finally, if you could collaborate with any artist (alive or dead) who would it be and why?
I mean if I could do the dream it would be to write a song with Stevie Wonder and have Chance the Rapper feature on it. But overall, it would probably be Stevie Wonder – that guy is everything.

Watch Jack Garratt perform at Sheffield’s O2 Academy on November 13th. Tickets available at www.academy musicgroup.com.

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