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Getting to Know Disclosure, the UK Duo Who Just Released One of Year’s Best Albums

Featured

Getting to Know Disclosure, the UK Duo Who Just Released One of Year’s Best Albums

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The first thing people notice about UK brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence, 22 and 19 respectively, is their age. Of course, that wouldn’t be such an issue if they weren’t so prodigiously talented. As Disclosure, they’ve been churning out pumped-up garage beats since 2010, but it wasn’t until last summer, when they released their EP The Face, that the brothers broke through. “White Noise,” their collaboration with AlunaGeorge singer Aluna Francis, rose to number two on the UK singles chart, and helped build ear-splitting buzz for their full-length debut, Settle, out today. The 14-song album features guest vocalists like Friendly Fires and Jessie Ware, and has already been netting album-of-the-year type accolades from a number of publications (they’ll be touring it this fall). Last week we caught up with baby bro Howard in order to get to know the duo a bit better, and to find out if success has changed them.

First of all, congrats on Settle. Out of curiosity, what inspired the title?
“Settle” is a private joke between us and our management. Everyone was getting a bit excited by the success of “Latch,” our first single off the album. All these blokes would be getting hyped and overexcited. We’d have to tell them to settle down. Then, it turned into us being rude to each other and, whenever anyone said anything, we’d just tell them to settle.

Funny way to arrive at a title. The name “Disclosure” has to have its own random reason—
It’s a really boring answer, actually. Basically, we made two songs just for fun and decided to put them on MySpace—when MySpace was “the thing”—and we needed a name to make a page. At the time we were making a page, Guy was filling out his car insurance form. It said “disclosure” on it, so we decided to use that.

Speaking of your success, how have you adapted to getting bigger and bigger?
We haven’t really had time to. We’ve been touring nonstop. Not much has changed, except the size of the crowds. It’s only really when we go home and do nothing that we’ll have time to catch up a bit.

What’s your day-to-day life like?
We don’t really have “day-to-day” anymore. When we’re home, we hang out with friends, go to parties. I’m definitely more of a music nerd and Guy’s more of a party animal.

What’s it like working alongside your brother?
I don’t think it has too much of an impact. We’re not that brotherly. Like, we don’t have arguments or anything—that much. But, in terms of the creative side, it’s good. It means we can be totally honest with each other and not have to worry about offending the other person, because we’re brothers.

You come from a musical family. Did you always know you’d make music for a living?
We did music and pretty much nothing else since the age of about five, so it was kind of obvious that was what we were going to do. Like you said, our family’s just into it. It’s the only thing we’ve ever really been good at. Just playing music, if not making it.

Where do you see yourselves in five or ten years?
I don’t know. It’s hard to see that far ahead. I’d like to think we’ll both be doing music in some form, whether as Disclosure or individually.

Is there anything you’d go back and change on Settle, or are you satisfied?
We’re satisfied. We’ve done all we can. It’s the best album we can make at this stage in our lives. So, we hope everyone likes it.

Speaking of “this stage in [your] lives,” do you think your young age is an advantage or a setback in terms of what you’re doing?
In terms of making the music, I don’t think it has any effect. If anything, it’s an advantage, because people like to talk about the fact that we’re so young. Some people are really impressed we’re making music they listened to when they were younger, like in the ’90s. But other people don’t like it. They’re like, Oh, you shouldn’t be making that because you weren’t around when the old school house and garage was being played in the clubs. And it’s like, Well, I can hear it on the internet.

In another interview, the writer aptly described you and your music as “separate to—even liberated from—any particular movement.” So, you perceive not being wedded to any specific genre a positive?
Yeah, sort of. People often lump us in with Rudimental and Duke Dumont or Chris Malinchak—all these dance music producers. But they’re drum and bass-led or dubstep-led. And that’s not really what we’re doing. The stuff we write is more songs, just in the style of dance music. We have verses and choruses, as opposed to just buildups and drops. So, I don’t think we’re similar to those people all that much. We’ve never really been incorporated into a theme. We’ve never toured with a group of people or written with a certain group of people on a regular basis. We’ve got friends, but I don’t feel like we’re that closely affiliated with any of them.

What’s the song writing process like?
It changes for every song, to be honest. Sometimes it’ll start with me writing some chords and then Guy will mix. Guy does the drums and most of the production and mixing side of things. I’ll do the chords, melodies and lyrics. But it’s not as black-and-white as that. We both get involved in everything, but in terms of the order of things, it changes for every song. People like Sam Smith, we sent him the fully written song, with no vocals on it. We just wrote some melodies and lyrics with him. Whereas, some other people, we’ll write the entire song and tell them to sing it. It differs for every person.

Is there anyone on your dream wish list with whom you’d like to collaborate?
Hundreds of people. We wanted to get a rapper for a long time. It’d be great to get someone like Kendrick Lamar or A$AP Rocky or even someone older, like Q-Tip. Singer-wise, someone like D’Angelo would be amazing.

What music are you currently into?
We listen to a lot of American hip-hop. Older stuff, like A Tribe Called Quest and pretty much anything produced by J. Dilla. We love him. We think he’s the best producer of all time.

What would you say inspired this record?
The only benchmark we set for ourselves was to strike a balance between the clubbier side of what we do—sampled music made for the dance floor—and chorus-based dance songs, like “Latch” and “White Noise.” So, I guess the inspiration would be the difference between those things. We were brought up on ’70s and ’80s pop and soul, like Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. Nowadays we’re listening to hip-hop and Detroit and Chicago house. So, I guess all of those things combined.

Given your unique aesthetic, is there a performance setting you prefer?
We love deejaying in clubs. That’s where that’s meant for. But, for our live show, we tend to play more gig venues, as a rock band would. We love playing festivals, too. Festivals are probably our favorite, because you get more of an honest crowd. People have the option to just walk off. Whereas, if you’re playing in a gig venue, show-goers paid to come and see you. They’re already fans. At festivals, you have to earn your audience. It makes you feel like you’re doing a good job.

Any pre-stage rituals?
Guy likes to jump around and get a bit out of breath, and I like drinking pineapple juice.

Photo by Stephanie Sian Smith.