Lollapalooza celebrated its 25th anniversary by expanding to a phenomenal four-day festival, headlined this time around by the likes of Red Hot Chili Peppers, J.Cole, and Lana Del Rey. Curious to learn more about 25 of our favorite performers, LADYGUNN was on hand at Chicago’s historic Grant Park providing a predominately blank canvas for each individual to paint a captivating picture of their unique story. Here’s our chat with Jack Garratt, who opens up about learning the importance of self-respect and constantly striving for improvement.
Would you like to introduce yourself to the readers?
Yes. My name is Jack Garratt, and I am a producer and songwriter from the UK. And I’m currently enjoying a lot of popcorn… and feeling pretty good about it.
What do you love about music?
[Pauses to think] You know? I’ve never genuinely, really thought about it. ‘Cause it’s always been—it’s never been a question. [Pauses to think] I love the fact that I can’t answer that question… that there’s no obvious answer for it – like, there never has been. Ever since I was a kid, it’s just always been the most obvious thing for me to be… for me to be like a part of in some way. Music’s always been the way that I’ve most honestly and, kind of I guess, self-respectively been able to communicate with other people. [Pauses to think] Yeah… I don’t know what I love about it, that’s a fucking—that’s a really good question! No one’s ever like genuinely, seriously asked me that before.
You’re the first person who’s had that perspective on it as well, so that’s rather interesting…
Right. Yeah, no ‘cause that’s the thing is that like… I don’t—it’s not that it would be easy to, but yeah for sure, absolutely I love the way that it makes me feel. I love the way that it makes other people feel. Music’s always been – at least in my eyes – this incredibly primitive form of conversation that we have. And that’s fucking sick! But to involve communication with creativity in the way that music is able to, is genuinely baffling. And that there’s no science to it, there’s no right or wrong answer, it just… it is – and has been for a long time.
Can you recall your earliest memory of music?
[Pauses to think] I remember being a kid, and having music everywhere. My mom and dad were… not professional musicians, but musicians – music appreciators. My mom was a music teacher, and my dad taught himself to play the guitar when he was a teenager. So because of that, we’d have guitars everywhere, and pianos, and records, and… just music. It was as obvious in every room of my house that you would walk in as a chair would be – as commonplace and as necessary. And I remember the first time I realized that that wasn’t the same for everyone else. You know? Like, realizing that music – as incredible as it is – is not something that everyone has the opportunity to have an open-minded introduction to in a sense. I was lucky as a kid growing up that my parents were never the kind of people to say, ‘Hey, don’t listen to that,’ or, ‘You’re not allowed to play that instrument.’ It was always, ‘You’ve shown interest in it? Well then go ahead.’ Like they never pushed me into it, but they also never denied it from me. They allowed me to kind of grow up with music.
Did you ever wanna be anything other than a musician?
I was gonna be a teacher… and it just didn’t really work out [laughs]. I ultimately realized that I didn’t like being taught how to be a teacher. I do a lot of my own stuff when it comes to music: like I produce a lot, and I write a lot, and I mix a lot of it myself, and stuff like that. So with teaching, the minute someone sat me down, and was like, ‘Hey, here’s how you should teach,’ I’d sit there and go, ‘That’s not how I would do it’ [laughs]. And I had spent a year at school already working with a kid who had Cerebral Palsy – and he was incredible – and that year of my life was unbelievable. Like, completely giving myself over to a group of kids, and one kid in particular, and being so aware as to how important teaching is ‘cause you’re in… ahhh, it’s weird, ‘cause you’re not in control – bad teachers are in control, good teachers are enablers…
Yeah, exactly. They are able to give to your children opportunities to expand their minds and kind of realize their potentials. Bad teachers take control of situations, I feel. And those kids taught me that. But then when I went to [university], I was very much like, ‘Nope, this isn’t how I wanna do it,’ and I dropped out. I mean, the music was always there and it was bleeding out of me… I had to listen to it at some point, and I had to take it seriously. And I did, and that was about four-five years ago.
What’s something you wish you knew when you were younger? Speaking of education…
I wish… I knew… I wish I knew how to take myself seriously… when I was a kid. When I was a kid, I was a lot more into the attention of what performing would bring, and the attention of what writing music would bring, and all that kind of stuff. I wish when I was a kid I had the self-respect, and also the kind of discipline to say, ‘You don’t need to do all those things to get the attention, because what you’re looking for, young Jack, is not the attention, but it’s just… respect – for yourself, and from the people that you love and admire.’ And I came to realize that only like five years ago… kind of when I left [university]. I wish I had learned to respect myself at a younger age. But I think kind of the point of being a kid and being a teenager is that you don’t respect yourself. You think that you do, when you kind of don’t. Yeah, fucking being a teenager is fucking hard, no matter who, or what, or where you come from. But yeah, I was lucky enough kind of a few years ago to have that realization, and realize I didn’t respect myself, and didn’t respect the music that I was making. So I made necessary changes to… to change that.
How would you describe your approach to life?
[Pauses to think] I believe that practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes routine. I don’t think perfection exists. I think it’s… it’s a weird concept, and totally non-human. Practicing something – though important – doesn’t make perfect, it makes routine. It just means that you’ll do the same thing every time. And in music, I think it’s important to constantly be different, to constantly strive to better and improve yourself, and your mind, and your creativity, your performances, your interaction, your ability to be an artist… to constantly question yourself. And you can question yourself without doubting yourself, and that’s a difficult fucking margin to see the difference between.
Walking a tight line there…
Yeah, exactly. But like, I don’t know, whenever I hear people who say that they’re the greatest, that they’re the best that they could ever be, and that that’s it, I always sit there and I go, ‘I feel so sorry for you… because I have no idea what you’re gonna think when you wake up tomorrow.’ And I say that a lot, ‘cause I do believe in it. I am never… I’m never gonna fulfill my fullest potential… and I kind of don’t think I ever want to.
‘Cause otherwise you’re just striving to maintain, rather than striving to grow…
Exactly. Yeah, exactly. That’s exactly it. That’s exactly it.
What’s been your biggest pinch-me moment?
[Pauses to think] I was… kind of very recently, I did a festival out in Australia. And when I do a show, I find it quite hard to really realize the moment I’m in – to look around and open my eyes, and kind of go, ‘Aww, shit, this is where I am.’
Especially for all the multi-tasking that you’re doing. [Note: For all intents and purposes, Jack is essentially a one-man band – originally out of necessity.]
Exactly, there’s a lot going on. Not a lot of space to think. And I had that moment in Australia: I looked up, I looked around, and I saw… like, I was in a country the other side of the world from where I grew up, in front of a bunch of people I’ve never met before, let alone know if they’d even heard of me or heard my music, and there were thousands of people there, and I was genuinely shocked and surprised by it. And I’m always shocked and surprised… like thankfully, because of my job, every day something comes along that surprises me, and it’s amazing. But that was a real moment where I kind of sat there and went, ‘Holy fuck.’ Like I did not know anything about this situation, and it’s here. Fortunately, I have a lot of moments like that, which is amazing. And it’s important to pinch yourself. If it becomes normal, then that’s weird. Nothing should ever be normal. We’re not normal, we’re weird. It’s fine.
If you had one wish, what would it be?
[Pauses to think] I… would… oh man, there’s way too much pressure behind this.
Take your time…
That’s it, pal!
That’s it! [Keeps thinking]
All of humanity is waiting on it…
[Laughs] Yeah, right? Yeah, Jesus… shit. That’s how many people [are reading this!?] Oh god. No, I umm… kind of referring back to what I said before, if I had one wish, it would be that everyone would have at least just one moment—not forever, not to change forever – but at least one moment where they could see themselves for who they truly are, and rightfully and honestly judge themselves for that. Because no one else can judge you for who you are.
Totally! Although we sometimes allow them to…
People will! Yeah, people will. But… they can’t. Only you can truly look at yourself and be able to make a decision as to whether you are happy or not, and I just wish everyone had the opportunity to see themselves in that way. I think that would change a lot about the world that we live in, in a lot of different ways. Could you imagine for example if like… [gathers his thoughts] could you imagine if Donald Trump actually looked at himself in the mirror and was like, serious about it… and was like, ‘Oh shit, I’m 70… look at my hair.’ And just that alone might be enough for him to kind of go, ‘You know what? Maybe there are other things I need to look at then.’ I don’t know, that’s one situation. But if everyone had that opportunity, I don’t know… maybe the world would be different, maybe it wouldn’t… who gives a shit, just as long as you’re able to start a change by making a small one.
Any final thoughts for the readers?
story / Damon Campbell