If you could feature one vocalist on a track alive or dead, who would it be? “Michael Jackson… without a doubt.”
It’s 11pm on the Disclosure tour bus and Howard Lawrence and I are communicating via sketchy phone coverage. Three days ago he played Glastonbury with older brother Guy, and the last month has seen their debut album Settle debut at number one on the UK album charts.
“It was awesome man… really fun. The crowd were incredible, and I’d never been before so it was the total experience.”
At 19 years of age, I can only imagine the week the younger Lawrence has had. Expecting a tired musician on a festival come down, I am relieved by his sunny temperament and willingness to talk tunes.
“Disclosure started as a bit of a hobby. I was at school, I was 15, and Guy was 18. We had a laptop and started making beats. Something similar to James Blake’s really old stuff – that’s what we were listening to at the time.
“We literally just had a laptop and headphones, that’s all we had. That’s how we made our first single. We wrote the song on some headphones, and then we went and mixed it on the stereo that was in Guy’s car.”
Howard reveals the car in question was a VW Polo and we laugh at the thought of them racing around their hometown in Surrey, England. Similar acoustics to a nightclub or a festival amphitheatre it is not.
We talk about the myriad of different influences on Settle, from old soul and disco records to the aforementioned James Blunt. The album is executed with quantized precision, and Howard aptly describes it as pop music in the style of house.
As the purveyors of a new generation of electronica, I ask Howard what it’s like to be in the crosshairs of certain punters, generally an older subsection, who take aim at Disclosure for reappropriating an era of dance music that they weren’t around to enjoy.
“With us it’s like, ‘You weren’t alive when it was happening the first time around in the 90s so why are you making it?’ I reckon there’s a reason people in the 90s were printing their stuff to vinyl – it’s because it lasts and people on the streets can listen to it and be inspired by it… and that’s what it’s done. We love all that music.”
Howard rattles off some old dance artists, including Todd Edwards and Zed Bias. However, it’s when we dip into the hip hop canon that his reverence is lifted a notch. “My brother Guy grew up listening to hip hop in his teen years. He started listening to stuff like Gang Starr, DJ Premier, then that led him onto stuff like Busta Rhymes and A Tribe Called Quest.
“To be honest, we listen to anything produced by J-Dilla – we love him, we think he’s the best producer of all time. We listen to a lot of hip hop because of him, and his production.”
Disclosure have already logged studio time with the likes of Azealia Banks and her Twitter feed and just recently the pair publicly declared that they would love to work with A$AP Rocky and Kendrick Lamar. “We have been in contact with a lot of people that we have wanted to do songs with for ages. It’s finding time to work with them, the touring is so heavy at the moment and you’re never in the same place at the end of the day.
“We want to work with some American rappers, and that’s what we are doing with Azealia. We haven’t written a song with her yet, we’ve started one, but it’s still in the very early stages. We’ll see what happens.”
Hanging out with Kendrick, and destroying the dusty dance floor at Coachella in April to close out the festival has probably put them on the right track for more American features. However, with the pair engaged in a hectic touring schedule, Howard admits that studio time is hard to come by and doing things online just won’t cut it.
“We’re touring so heavily at the moment and we are never in the same place for more than a day… we never do the online collaboration thing. We’ve tried it a couple of times and it just hasn’t worked for us. We are too picky, we are perfectionists, and we always want to sit down and write it ourselves. We are just never happy with it.”
Recently announced as headliners for local pseudo-festival Listen Out, Disclosure once again have their visas booked for travel Down Under. Touted as an IDM “party”, Howard chuckles at the assertion, and it’s apparent he doesn’t want to be categorized too early in his career
“What’s IDM? What does that stand for?” I explain and feel old simultaneously. Intelligent dance music. “I think that’s really lame,” he laughs. “I guess it’s a compliment? I think there are a lot of labels going around but, by and large, I don’t really care about them…”
Having travelled to Australia at the beginning of the year for Summadayze, he says Disclosure is looking forward to returning later in the year. “We are coming to play some shows. We had a great time last time, the album’s doing well out there, and we want to play for some fans.”
At this point, festivals probably all look very similar from their vantage point, the duo perched above the chaos of the dancefloor. A perpetual two-step of shows, there must be something that sets Australia apart from playing everywhere else.
“I don’t know about the actual gigs themselves but the people are very appreciative of music. Whenever I’ve talked to fans or people in the crowd, they’re always really appreciative and say thank you, which doesn’t necessarily happen everywhere else.”
Disclosure play Listen Out this September and October.