It’s an odd novelty, seeing Jack Garratt relaxing and being given his own space. Come twelve months, everything he does will be a shot down a camera lens, as paparazzi squabble to snap photos of the world’s favourite new artist. He’ll be mobbed by fans who could eat him out of sheer enthusiasm. But here he is, spending the day in the O2 Arena, a bit like Tom Hanks in ‘The Terminal’. In a few hours he’ll step out on stage in support of Mumford and Sons.
In case you didn’t hear - Jack Garratt is the winner of both BRITs Critics’ Choice and BBC Sound Of 2016, and your mum will like him too. And that’s no accident. It’s almost like he’s calculated a perfect formula. “I do think there’s a certain way you can make a hit. I wouldn’t say that’s the same thing as writing a song. We live in a world where there’s two different types of music that exist. There’s tunes, and songs.” Sounds a bit simplistic, but he continues: “There’s a reason why, when someone’s out at a house party, and a song comes on, loads of people go ‘oh my dayz, thasa chooon!’. They don’t sit there and go, ‘oh my goodness, what a fantastically written song.’”
“It was a long album to make, and it was difficult - but difficult for the right reasons."
But there’s no question about it - the songwriting of Jack Garratt falls into Exhibit B. It’s almost like he’s broken into the mainstream in a trojan horse. You can picture him, in the middle of that house party, stroking his beard at a pop banger. This man is the professor of the club night. But unlike many of his predecessors of the Critics’ Choice award, Jack didn’t have the luxury of etching out his talent at Brit School. He had to discover that for himself. Trial-and-erroring through different bands, from ska through to rock, by eighteen he started producing music for himself. “I’ve always known what I want my songs to sound like. When I was really young and writing music, I always knew what I wanted to put on them.” ‘Phase’ is an apt title for his debut album.
With ‘Phase’ seeing its release imminently, this is the time to feel nerves, but Jack exorcised all those uncertainties ages ago, way back in the studio. “It was a long album to make, and it was difficult - but difficult for the right reasons. I was tired and creatively exhausted at the end of the day. But I’d rather I was tired and exhausted for a job I love, rather than a job I didn’t love."
"If one person continues to like my music, then I’m making music for the right reasons.”
But there’s already the lingering fear that, now he’s happy, he’ll find writing album two even harder. “I was joking with the Mumford boys about this actually. I said ‘If the first album’s this hard, I’ve no idea what the next album’s gonna be like,’ and - I think it was Marcus - he said, ‘Mate, every album’s hard’. And he’s got a good point, because if you’re doing it for the right reasons, and giving it everything that you have, it shouldn’t be different. Even if album one does terribly, album two still has to happen. I’m still going to continue to be a musician. If one person continues to like my music, and I have enough connection with one person, then I’m making music for the right reasons.” Whether you’re playing back his album, or he’s playing the O2, you feel like you’re invited to an intimate performance in his bedroom. Just with 23,000 of his closest friends. If everything went very badly wrong, you know that this is a man who would still be making music, but something tells us Jack Garratt is more than just a phase.
Jack Garratt's debut album 'Phase' is released 19th February via Island Records.
Taken from the February 2016 issue of DIY - grab a copy below.