Everyone has heard of the figure of speech “Jack of all trades, master of none”.
It’s time to give the Jack who masters them all a surname, Jack Garratt. The 23-year-old London-based producer has acquired enviable amount of publicity due to his recent tracks that managed to achieve airplay from top radio producers à la Zane Lowe, great hype and a record deal with the major label Island records. The songwriter behind the newly released ‘Synesthesiac’ EP, however, has mastered not to divert his attention away from his craft, thanks to an unmistaken ability to challenge the status quo of his artistry, carefully creating an undeniable buzz around his name.
THE WEEKID met up with the “Jack of all trades and master of all” Garratt to learn more about his background, his musical ethos and his sophomore EP.
Who is Jack Garratt?
I grew up in a very musical household. My mum is a music teacher for young children and my dad taught guitar when I was a teenager. So, I’ve only ever had music in my house when growing up. I grew up with all different kinds of instruments. I was very lucky to be able to have that opportunity and teach myself how to play these instruments that were available in my house. My ethos behind this is, that instruments are to be played by people, so I therefore try and play as many as I can. I taught myself guitar when I was younger and I play the piano. I used to play trombone when I was a kid and to have lessons in other things like violin.
There was a great musical environment according to what you said. When did you think about joining the junior Eurovision song contest and how does that make you feel now?
8 years ago I entered the junior Eurovision. I was around 14 turning 15-years-old and now I’m 23. All musicians in the world have had to have a starting point and that was actually mine. The first song that I’ve ever written, was the song that got me into that TV show and gave me that experience. I personally had a very negative experience with it, just because I didn’t do very well in the competition. (laughs)
Did that make you stronger in any sort of way?
It did, after a while. I had to take a long time about it, to try and sort of convince myself that it was ok. Overall, it completely changed my attitude about songwriting and sharing songs with people. People’s perception on music is different and everyone has their own opinion. For the best, it made me stronger, but it was kind of an embarrassing thing.
So, when did you start writing your music as the Jack we all know now?
About a year and half ago I started writing music that I really wanted to write. The challenge was to try something new and challenge myself. Utilize my confidence, try and improve my production skills and just put everything together. I came up with a couple of ideas of songs that ended up being the songs that we put online last year and started to get some attention. I’m immensely proud of the efforts that went into them.
I tried to create the music I heard in my head and tried to get it out through my fingers.
Which led to a lot of success coming from various media such as The Hype Machine and BBC.
I wouldn’t say there has been a lot of success, yet. I think there has been a lot of good attention. People who’ve heard the songs either enjoy it or they don’t. But the people who do enjoy it are very vocal about it and that’s incredible. The reaction has been amazing and Zane Lowe (ex BBC 1) has been one of those people. He heard the music and he’s really enjoyed it, so he told people about it and played it on his show. It was a real honour to be on that show and to have this involvement. It’s been really enjoyable.
Do you have any tips on how to become a viral sensation on digital media?
I’m not a viral sensation. I never sought to do it or tried to become that. I just wrote what made sense to me. I tried to create the music I heard in my head and tried to get it out through my fingers. I was happy and proud of it and I took so much care about it. I think people have responded to the hard work that went into it and appreciate it for that. I think that’s where the reaction has come from. I mean it’s great to have all the plays and the people twitting about it, but at the end of the day, I put songs up online for people to listen to them and to show their appreciation in any way they want to.
When did the deal with Island Records – Universal Music Group happen?
It’s only been a few months that I’ve been working with them. It was through a “development deal”, which is kind of an old-school way of doing it, where musicians and artists would be given a salary to live, and in return they would develop their craft. That’s what I did for nearly two years and through that I was then upstream to Island records and UMG.
Island records is pretty much of a big deal! Did you have any second thoughts about signing a contract with a major record label?
No, because it’s all about the people who you work with, not the names. I wasn’t signing with them as a record label. I was signing with the people that wanted to sign me; the A&R who would work specifically on my project, the product managers, etc. I think I was very fortunate to be approached by the ones I get on really well. It’s more about the people I think, than it’s about the company.
If people don’t wanna listen to my music because I’m signed on a major record label then f*ck them. That’s up to them.
Does it make you “worry” that certain people could potentially avoid listening to your music because of the fancy label?
I think that’s a real shame people do that. It’s really sad to be so close minded as to not listen to something just because it has come out on a particular record label. I don’t worry about it. If people don’t wanna listen to my music because I’m signed on a major record label then f*ck them. That’s up to them.
If it’s good music, it’s good music. If someone doesn’t want to listen to something because there is a higher likelihood that it has a higher finance behind it, that’s complete bullshit. I totally disagree.
Let’s talk about your sophomore EP “Synesthesiac”. Do you have any favorite track on the EP and is there a theme behind it?
I would very hesitantly not answer your question, fully, just because I wouldn’t want someone to listen to that record on my recommendation of the song. I do have a favourite track on it, but I’ll keep that to myself.
The whole Synesthesiac EP is a very specific type of love letter to a very particular person. It’s just a collection of songs that came out at a very particular time and made sense to put them together and give them to people in that way.
Your latest song is Chemical, is there a story about this song?
The only story I have about Chemical is about where the sound came from. The whole song came from the opening, the claps, the choir and that whole riff. My whole attitude about Chemical was that I wanted to make a song that Steve Wonder would have written and that Kanye West would have produced, but that would have come out on garage label in the late 90s – early 00s.
We believe that you are one of the producers to watch out for in 2015. Do you keep your eyes on any other producers?
I’m really bad at keeping up with new music. I haven’t had the time to sit down and see what’s happening. There is a guy called Taylor McFerrin (Bobby McFerrin’s son) an artist that I’m a huge fan of. He is super inspirational and he works with great people like Thundercat. He creates a sound like nothing I’ve ever heard before. Son Lux is another one I’m a huge fan of. Ryan Lott is a fantastic producer – songwriter. But again both of those people are already a couple of albums in. There are a few people out at the moment, like myself, coming up from the bottom and trying to make their way into this terrible, horrible world of the music industry. Best of luck to everyone!