Sitting on a couch in the spacious Manhattan offices of Universal Music, Disclosure brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence seemed unruffled — by either three days of sleepless flights or their swift rise to critical, and, likely, popular acclaim. The duo’s thrilling debut, Settle, released June 4, stitches pop vocal hooks to a neon mélange of UK garage and 2-step. It’s an irresistable combination, and one born from some unusual influences.
A few days before the album’s release, the Surrey, England, bred Guy, 22, and Howard, 19, spoke about the sounds behind Settle.
Howard Lawrence: “We’ve have listened to [Burial’s albums] nonstop since they came out. The production is just flawless.”
Guy Lawrence: “The album construction, the way it flows. It’s just the innovation. At the time that [Burial] did those albums, no one ever would have seen that sound coming. The sound of Burial should be its own genre. It should be ‘Burial.’ Burial is the king of ambient soundscapes. He created a genre. It’s insane.”
Howard: “Especially on things like Soundcloud there became this huge wave of producers making stuff that was like Burial. We did it as well, everyone did it.”
Guy: “No one was even slightly as good, that’s the thing. I don’t think anyone can dispute how forward thinking those albums were. It was that big, for us anyway.”
Howard: “We’ve been really interested in Detroit. Studying the music that came out of it — the techno, the hip-hop, J Dilla. It’s fascinated us. We went there a few months back. In terms of culture, that might have influenced [Settle].
Guy: “With J, any track that he did you can tell straight away that it’s him, just from the crackling vinyl and the snare drum. He’s probably our biggest influence of all time. The way he does his drums, I’d like to think that I’m trying to do the equivalent of what he did — in house music.”
Howard: “We love an album he did with Slum Village called Fantastic Volume 2. One of the rappers does a certain little twist, he’ll change the beat to fit that little phrase. Every single bar, he never just leaves the loop on.”
Guy: “In ‘Jealousy’ the beat could just be like: ‘People / Say shit / About you.’ [Dilla] cuts up those beats because he’s the most rhythmical man ever. I always try to change it up as much as he did, to keep it fresh.”
Guy: “It was more just inspiring to tour with [SBTRKT]. It gave us so many ideas for our live show. We respect him so much. He went through all that effort, taking all of his instruments everywhere, not just turning up with a memory stick and DJing, cashing in. He puts money and time into that show and it pays off. You could see the crowd loving it.”
Howard: “It was a good tour for us because his crowd completely understands us, ‘cuz we’re making not too dissimilar music. They understood everything we’re doing, and a lot of his crowd already knew us. So it was like playing to our own headline show, even though it was a support tour. It was quite a unique situation to be in.”
Guy: “Growing up I was into totally different stuff than music. I used to do gymnastics and free running. Doing gymnastics is what got me into hip-hop, because in the gym we were always listening to that stuff. Whereas Howard never did gymnastics, he never got into that sort of thing. Howard did wind surfing and stuff.”
Howard: “I did a few things but I’d go home and play the piano, or go home and play the bass. It was always music.”
Mr. and Mrs. Howard
Guy: “Our dad was [listening to] Led Zeppelin, the Who, classic dad stuff. Our mom was into musicals; she used to do a lot of stage stuff. She used to do radio jingles. Music was the biggest thing in their lives and their parents’ lives. We’re just not really that good at anything else. I’m really dyslexic, so I’m not that good at writing. I used to like doing sports, like gymnastics, but that’s just kind of faded away ‘cuz I like drinking, instead. Howard is the same.”
Howard: “I don’t drink.”
Guy: “No, as in music. I think it’s the case as well of, just stick to what you’re good at.”
Howard: “The first show I ever went to was with my mom, and I went and saw Seal, and it blew my mind. His band was unreal, so good. They must have spent a year rehearsing to get that good at playing those songs. I thought I’d love to practice with those guys and just get fucking good at playing one thing and that’s kinda what got me into playing bass.”