Jack Garratt on how he makes music

Jack Garratt on how he makes music

The Brits 2016 Critics Choice winner on recording music on the cheap, meeting fans online and conquering his fear of flying

Jack Garratt on how he makes music

Are you a gadget fiend?

Occasionally I come across something that I get excited about. I was given an Apple Watch. I wouldn’t have bought that for myself, but I quite like it.

What technology do you use in your music?

Anything that helps me get ideas out of my head could be called technology, whether it’s digital or analogue. I work with a keyboard and my laptop. I have a bass in my hands, but I also have a bass on the computer keyboard. Because I’m just starting out and I have, like, no money, I’ve had to find ways to make do without a producer and a studio. I’ve got emulators that allow me to make digital synths sound like analogue ones.

What’s your most important piece of technology?

My laptop. I know the way I make music would be sacrilegious to some people. I run a Macbook with a very old version of Logic that I’ve had since I was 18, because I am terrified of change. My album was recorded mainly in London, but also in Chicago and LA, and that wouldn’t have been possible in a time when I couldn’t transport my “studio” everywhere.

Who in music is doing interesting things with tech?

A company called Sunhouse has developed this thing called “sensory percussion”, which is revolutionising what it means to be a drummer. They have triggers on the drums, which take the signal of what you’re doing and turn it into a new sound. It’s one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever seen. The drummer from the band Son Lux is one of the first guys to use it: it’s unbelievable to see.

Spotify or Apple Music?

I don’t listen to much music on the go, because I tend either to be writing my own music, or wanting a break from the music around me. I think both services could be incredible but they aren’t quite there yet – they need to make sure that everyone involved in putting music on them is treated fairly.

Which headphones do you use?

A lot of people would give me shit for this, but I use Beats [by Dre] headphones. Not because they’re the best – they have a clean enough sound, if a bit bass and treble heavy – but because they’re what a lot of people listen to music on. I want my music to sound good on whatever people are listening – laptop speakers, those crappy little white ones you get with your PC. That said, I recorded the whole album [Phase] on Focal twin speakers, and they’ve released some headphones that are designed to exactly mimic that sound, which is awesome.

How often do you Google yourself?

Not as often as I used to! Before, I’d search to find out what was being said about me. Now that I’ve got a little bit more profile, people tend to tell me.

Is tech making us more stupid?

No, but it is making it easier for us to be stupid. You see kids shouting stupid things into webcams, but that’s because they’re on a laptop with a built-in webcam. When I was 13 you had to buy a webcam and plug it in. Tech gives people more opportunities to be themselves in front of other people. Sometimes that’s great, sometimes it’s bad.

Which social media do you use?

All of it! It’s good to be in touch with people who are supporting what I do, coming to shows or pre-ordering the album or buying my merch. I get a lot of messages from fans on Facebook, saying: “This probably isn’t you…” and I reply, saying: “It is!” I read all of them. It’s the same with Twitter – I look at everything, of course I do. It’s on my phone and I can’t avoid it.

What’s your most expensive piece of tech?

Oh, it’ll be something from the live set – the Roland SPD-SX [sampling pad] probably.

What’s your favourite video game?

FIFA: Road to World Cup 98 on the PC. Or Sonic on the Megadrive. Or more recently, South Park: The Stick of Truth is one of the best games of all time.

Do you Google people before you meet them?

If it’s for a job, or a session, then yeah I do. I like to know as much as I can. It lets you have two first impressions of people, which is great. You either get very sure about that person or it shows you the bits you have to be wary of. But I don’t go on Facebook hunting for their most intimate details.

What’s your favourite app?

I am terrified of flying and there is one called App in the Air that breaks down every part of the flying process. It gives you countdowns, reminds you to get up and stretch. It’s really helped calm me.

Would you like a driverless car?

No. The reason I’m scared of flying is because I’m not in charge. Being so far out of control terrifies me.

Do you have to force yourself offline?

I do, yeah, because I spend too much time looking at what people say to me. But when I’m stressed the first thing that comes is insomnia. Staring at a bright screen is a good way to feel like you’re not having insomnia, but then you stay awake even longer. It’s a downward spiral.

Would you have sex with a robot?

Like, a toaster? Define robot.

Something that offered a reasonable level of interaction.
Sexual Robot is one of my favourite bands! But no, no I wouldn’t.

What would you print with a 3D printer?

The narcissist in me is saying my own face, because I’d like to see how it would tackle a beard.

Slightly bigger than life-size?

Oh no, I was thinking a tiny one. Like, sugar-cube size.

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