Photo by Katrin Ingwersen
Disclosure are in the middle of a war. In one corner are the legions of Hard Wax geeks who blog about them like they’re the Nikita Khrushchevs of underground house, while in the other there’s a horde of screaming superfans downloading “Latch” as their ringtone. Then, in the middle, there are the two earnest young brothers with confused looks on their faces asking, “Can we all just relax and listen to some music please?”
Sure they’ve played Coachella, but they’ve also DJ'd at Berghain, making them the youngest artists to ever play a Leisure System night and the only ones who were ever in the UK Top 20. They may not represent the drugs-in-a-warehouse vibe of house music’s early vibes, but they’re not exactly David Guetta either. To be fair, what are the criticisms we have to lay at the Lawrence brothers? That they play musical instruments and don’t take MDMA? Maybe if they had a bigger vinyl bag and looked less healthy then they wouldn’t have to deal with all the condescension. Either way, in the interest of not being douchebags, we met up with them at Melt! Festival and gave them a chance to respond to some of the criticisms.
Noisey: Thanks for doing this, guys. I’m sure by now you must have figured out your standard posing face for press shots.
Guy: Yeah, I go for a moody face.
Guy: No, we didn’t get into this for the photos or the fame, we just like making music.
Right. You guys have played a lot in Germany now, haven’t you?
Guy: We played Melt! Last year. We’ve played in Berlin, Mannheim, Hamburg—
Guy: Antwerp’s not even in Germany, idiot.
Howard: We played Cologne recently. Is that in Germany?
Yep. So who do you think parties harder: London or Berlin?
Guy: Berlin. They party much later.
Howard: Berghain goes on until like 10 in the evening the next day.
Guy: We DJ'd there. It was fun.
Do you guys prefer London’s music scene to Berlin?
Guy: Yeah I’d say so. We love both, but London’s more our thing. We were brought up on garage; Berlin’s obviously more techno.
Everyone keeps saying that “dance music is topping the charts.” Are you worried that a few years from now you’ll be touring with Swedish House Mafia and collabing with Nicki Minaj?
Guy: If we don’t want to work with Nicki Minaj, no one’s going to force us to do that. I think its good that good dance music is taking over some of the shite—although, saying that, Avicii is number one this week in the UK with the biggest selling single of the year, so maybe there is no hope.
A lot of people have criticised your decision to play live instruments. What was behind your decision to use them – presumably it’s not just to show off that you can play guitar?
Howard: Yeah, we decided that. We grew up listening to bands and playing instruments and we found out about dance music quite late. We didn’t know about DJing and we couldn’t DJ, so when people booked us for a show we thought they wanted us to play instruments. What we didn’t realise was that they wanted a DJ, so we had to kind of had to learn to do that as well.
I guess a lot of dance music purists say that live instruments are just a gimmick that takes away from the talent on the turntables.
Guy: Nah, I think that’s bollocks. That’s total shit. How can you say a man playing the drums is taking away from a guy DJing with vinyl? It’s totally separate. I love watching DJs, especially all-vinyl sets. I used to go out and watch people like Motor City Drum Ensemble and Kerri Chandler and all those house legends, and it’s wicked, but I also go to see James Blake, Mount Kimbie and SBTRKT. Just, personally, as musicians, we play instruments because that’s something we want to do. I’ve played drums since I was 3.
Howard: I think you’re right, though, there can be an element of gimmick when DJs DJ and play an instrument over the top of it because it’s just like “you’re playing stuff that’s not even in that track.”
Guy: I’ve not seen that, really.
Howard: I’ve seen it a couple of times and it’s like they just want to bill themselves as a live act because maybe it gets them more money or something.
Guy: I think the main problem with the live situation isn’t the instruments. If I see someone playing an instrument on stage I think "great, you’re doing something." I think the main problem is people who turn up saying they’re live and they just have a laptop and Ableton.
Howard: We put a lot of time and effort into our live sets with all of our instruments, and I think a lot of people see a live set as just bringing production – you know, just lights and visuals. But to us that doesn’t make it live musically, it just makes it live visually, but with us we have both.
Do the constant, pretentious debates about genre annoy you guys?
Guy: That doesn’t bother us so much.
Howard: We just don’t really care.
Guy: Yeah, people can call it whatever they like. A lot of music in the charts these days, including us, gets classified as “deep house.” I’ve yet to hear a single deep house track in the charts. There’s a compilation CD that we’ve got three songs on that’s called like Deep House 2013. It’s got “Latch” on it. If “Latch” is a deep house track then I don’t know what’s going on.
Howard: It just doesn’t matter. Our album consists of part what I would consider to be garage-inspired songs and part pop songs. To classify all of those under deep house, it’s just like, “what are you talking about?”
Guy: We’re not trying to make just house or garage or “bring it all back.” To us it never went away. In loads of places it never went away – especially in Berlin. House was always cool. I don’t know why everyone’s on about “the house revival.”
Howard: We only discovered it four years ago.
Guy: Yeah, so we’re obviously not trying to “bring anything back,” we’re still learning it. This is the first time around for us.
Howard: It’s weird because there are a lot of people talking about a “deep house revival” and I think, in their minds, we’re the ones thinking “I’m going to bring back the old days, like they used to be… when I was one year old.”
Guy: Yeah. Bring back the good old days when we were in nappies.
Does the “deep house revival” directly correlate with the MDMA revival? Would you guys be as famous if ecstasy didn’t exist?
Guy: Yeah, it’s interesting. We’ve met a lot of producers who aren’t ashamed to admit that they got into DJing through drugs. They would go out to take drugs and the music would just sort of be there as well, but it was mainly to get fucked. With us, we don’t really take drugs ever. We got into this just for the music. Howard wasn’t even old enough to go into clubs then.
Howard: I’m still not old enough in the US!
Guy: I think for some people they go hand in hand, I guess people use it as a release: an escape to get away from everyday life. For us it’s just about the music.
Do you ever play to a crowd and think "Wow, I fucking hate this crowd?"
Howard: Occasionally you get like "I hate that one guy in the crowd."
Guy: Yesterday when we played there was a girl at the front who was going mad, which was great, but instead of yelling “Disclosure” she was just saying, “Guy. Guy. Guy. Guy. Guy. Guy.” Over and over again. And I just yelled “Shut up! God you’re so annoying.” So you get the occasional nutter.
Howard: I don’t think we’ve ever gotten annoyed at a whole crowd.
Guy: I’ll tell you what, though, recently at one or two shows there’s been mosh pits during “Latch.” And it’s just like “What are you doing?” It’s like the happiest, bubbliest, summery love song you’ll ever hear. It’s not a Korn gig.
So who are you guys going to see at Melt!?
Guy: We’re going to see Rudimental. We’re good friends so it’s fun to watch them. And they have Sinead Harnett, who sings on one of our tracks too.
What’s the best festival you’ve ever played at?
Howard: Glastonbury was seriously good. I was so honoured just to play there at all, especially being from the UK. Coachella before that was great too. But I love Melt! The setting, scenery and organisation are so well done.
Guy: Yeah we were just down on the beach and the German girls…not bad.
So you guys disagreed with Wiley about Glasto, then?
Guy: He was basically begging to not play wasn’t he?
He didn’t want to play at a rainy British festival when he could be at “Kandi beach.”
Howard: But he’s from Croydon?!
Lulz. Thanks guys!
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