Jack Garratt on his musical inspirations and how it feels to be back on stage
English singer, songwriter, and composer Jack Garratt has never been shy of talking about his mental health struggles and anxiety. The artiste made his debut with studio album Phase in 2016 and then followed it up with Love, Death and Dancing last year. The multi-instrumentalist is known for his dynamic performance style.
After a year of lockdown, the artiste returned to the live stage with an exclusive performance for Jim Beam Welcome Sessions. The Jim Beam Welcome Sessions are a series of concerts that invite global artistes back to the iconic independent venues that gave them their first stage. Jack performed at Village Underground in London. The concert venue is an old Victorian warehouse turned creative collective and a place where Jack was inspired both as a fan, and as an artiste. Excerpts from our interview with Jack Garatt about the experience:
You have a unique one-person performing style. Which artistes would you say are your inspirations?
Tom Waits has been a huge inspiration of mine because of the way he so brilliantly creates stories through not only his music, but also his lyrics. It's also the same reason why I like artistes like Paul Simon and Jackson Browne.
In a contemporary world, the first person that I saw doing that kind of a solo performance was Imogen Heap. It grabbed me and made sense to me. It was challenging for her as a performer and was also really fun and challenging for the audience. Essentially for me, things that inspire me are the ones that make me feel challenged. I enjoy that challenge.
How does the experience of performing a live gig compare with that of an online one?
Being in venues is actually quite calming for me. Because everyone is there for the same reason, you know. I’m not a religious person, but I am a spiritual person and a live concert feels to me the closest thing to a congregation. We’re all there to share and enjoy music. That calms my anxiety down a bit.
Doing shows from home has been really tough because it's just me in a room. There’s no audience, there’s no energy to feed off of. It’s just me I'm performing to a camera. So it's quite anxiety-inducing.
We heard about your recent divorce. How do you find peace in tough times and does work help with that?
I’m lucky in that I don't consider what I do as work. Because it's fun. But that also means that rather than use it as a “distraction” I have to face a lot of my mental struggles through my music. The greatest tip for any writer is to write what you know. I, at the moment, know stress and fear and sadness, so I have to go and face it.
But something like these Jim Beam sessions were fun to do. I got a chance to throw myself into something I wholeheartedly love - performing with other people and performing songs that I love. I was part of the creative construction of the piece. And I'm grateful for these opportunities when they come. I shine in these projects and I can love myself a little bit more when I can see myself shining.
How do you find the balance between taking the time out for yourself and your mental health VS working and making music?
It's tough. My job bleeds into my life. I'm always playing and thinking about music. It's an important part of my life but at the same time I have to think of it like a business and make money from it but so it's hard to create that balance.
Have you been working on any new music?
I've been working on a lot of new music. I've never been a prolific writer. I actually take a really long time to come up with songs that I love and finish songs that I love. But this time I've just been forcing myself to record songs soon after finishing them. And send it to my management that day so i don't have to think about it more.
There was a four year gap between your two albums…
Yeah (laughs) I can't do that this time, I wish but I can't!
Tell us about your experience with the Jim Beam Welcome Sessions.
Doing this performance was great. It was great to be in a room with multiple people. It was great to feed off each other’s energy. It was really inspiring, and something I haven't done for a year.
Jack Garratt's unique performance of Time recorded at Village Underground is released exclusively on Jim Beam's official YouTube channel, marking the official launch of the Jim Beam Welcome Sessions: a multi-year partnership that invites global artists back to the iconic independent venues that gave them their first stage.
Watch Jack Garratt's performance of Time recorded at Village Underground here: