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Beatnik introduces the two exciting brothers that make up Disclosure
words Ali Raymond / images Sam John WeeksDisclosure: Blue You
In the age of information, bands seem to go viral quickly, becoming the next big thing before even completing a song. In the case of London duo Disclosure, though, two tracks seemed enough to know that something special was coming along.
Coming of age in London at the turn of the millennium, one’s musical choice was immense. Our American cousins were dropping arguably some of the best hip-hop ever heard—from Common’s Like Water for Chocolate and Nas Stillmatic to Slum Village and Dilla’s Fantastic Vol 2—while home-grown innovators where creating new flavours from the old.
Jungle had in the early nineties given rise to drum n bass, and acid house was getting ready to take the stabilisers of its now commercially successful child UK garage. By early 2000, the popularity of UK garage had caused its ascendance from the underground and instigated the creation of dubstep and grime.
Now looking at the two brothers in front of me, Guy and Howard Laurence, it’s hard to believe they where only 6 and 9 when dance music was seeing its most prosperous period since its inception in the mid 1980’s.
Both enviably gifted, Guy and Howard look like your average pair. Careful about their appearance, sure, but nothing to suggest they share a gift for making bubbling tracks. But put needle to wax on any one of their releases and it’s clear that the pseudonym they have formed, Disclosure, stands for something that little bit special.
In a grimy little café with more years to it than the three of us put together, I start our chat by asking about the interesting story of their discovery.
“When we were discovered we only had two tracks,” the elder, Guy, begins. “I can’t stress how fast it all happened.”
‘Offline Dexterity’ and ‘Street Life’ were the tracks that in 2010 changed their life forever. Having made their first proper jab at dance music, Guy and Howard posted their achievements online. The response, to their surprise, was immediate and overwhelming. No more so than from Stephen Bass, part founder of Moshi Moshi records, who asked the brothers to release the tracks as seven inches.Disclosure: Street Life
“Stephen is quite frank,” Guy points out. “His email was; ‘Hi I’m Stephen, I like your songs, can I release them? Stephen;’ haha that was it.”
“We almost didn’t believe it. We got five emails from four mangers and one from Stephen. I even phoned up one of the managers’ agency and asked does such and such work for you?”
Howard interjects, shifting position on his green plastic seat, “I even googled Stephen Moshi Moshi and was like, er, yes, of course you can release our tracks, ha!”
In recent years the two brothers had listened and watched as their sonic peers Joy Orbison, James Blake and Four Tet where reshaping things in a post-dubstep chapter of British music. But now they find themselves in amongst a new wave of youngsters ready to turn heads.
Funny and self-deprecating, it’s obvious the pair share a tight bond, groomed further no doubt by many nights spent crafting their talents.
It was all going well until they had to DJ.
“The first gig we played was a DJ set in the Lock Tavern in Camden. But we couldn’t DJ, at all!” confesses Guy. “We had my laptop. We made a logic file with all the songs joined up and we just pressed play,” he laughs.
“We had no idea. Literally all we had done our whole life was play instruments. Now of course I love DJ-ing and collecting vinyl but I remember thinking if there were any DJ’s in that crowd they must have been laughing at us. It was such a blag!”
A minor detail they overcame with lightening speed. We talk further about the joys of gigging, and the difficulties—“Howard is still underage so the only way he can get into clubs is if he plays at them,” Guy humours—and things turn to festivals.
At this point I turn the conversation to the most embarrassing and illegal things done at a festival, without expecting a monologue from Guy, a willing storyteller.
“I think I’ll combine the two and say the most illegal and embarrassing thing that I’ve done was last year.” A sudden spell of uncertainty hits: “Am I really going to put this out?” He turns to his brother. “I don’t think you know this,” he says, and continues with a big smile.
“Last year I went to Benicassim festival and I was watching Four Tet—which was amazing–I love a bit of Four Tet. Then, really out of the blue, I needed to go to the toilet. Of course there was a massive queue. And after ten days of eating nothing but frankfurters it wasn’t looking good.”
I begin to sense what’s coming.
“I walked into the desert…
“OK, I didn’t. I went to the side of the arena in front of everyone and just pooed! I think there was a guy and girl having sex just over there—so I really ruined their night! Haha… There are other bits but I’ll leave that for another day—I don’t think you need much more,” Guy concludes, leaving me and Howard and stitches.
“Can I just say we were brought up well, we love our mum… but I can’t beat that!” Howard finally utters.
Today, the brothers are especially happy for another reason. They are preparing to release their debut Carnival EP, a four-track piece of genius with shuffling hi-hats, feel-good 4/4 percussion and 2step impressions. The release hints at just how much the two brothers from South London have to offer.
With the release in mind, I ask about how influences and inspiration have shaped that release. Certainly Guy’s initial music favourites are a little bit of a surprise.
“I got into hip hop—good hip hop—when I was 14/15. J Dilla—Dilla’s chords are definitely one of the most influential. Then there’s Souls of Mischief, Gang Starr. Howard wasn’t into that stuff but I played it non-stop. I never wanted to make it though. I’m totally not living in the right place. But I think once we got past that it was clear we wanted to make dance music”
The pair’s biggest common influence to make music, though, is less surprising.
“It was Burial. Once we both heard that, it was like: wow, amazing. This is much more what we’d be interested in doing.”
Guy continues: “Burial in his hyperdub harks back to prior sounds from garage and trip hop hints with even soulful touches. I remembering thinking if that’s how I would make electronic music, I’d make it like that.”
“Definitely. I think it hit both our tastes,” Howard concurs. “He created a genre with his album. It was more than just an album.”
That album, of course, was 2007′s Untrue, containing the dark but wonderful ‘Shell of Light’ and ‘Archangel’.Burial: Archangel
“He is one of the only people that can do atmospheric music without boring me,” Howard says. “After listening to that sort of stuff enough you start making music that sounds like it. When we started we sounded a lot like burial, ha!”
In the search for their own sound, Disclosure have crafted a unique musical identity, one that points to intelligent production and a keen interest in past and contemporary sounds. And although they were part of the boom babies enjoying the inception of dubstep and grime, as they tell me, the two base heavy genres just weren’t of interest.
“We skipped grime”, Guy says. “It just didn’t interest us. We didn’t like the sound of it. It went straight from hip-hop to Burial and Joy O. That was a perfect transition for us.
Howard continues, “Grime died so fast, anyway, in the same way pop-step (pop and dubstep) is dying today. I think it’s quite tedious and people need something to grab onto, which you can’t find in grime.”
“With dustep as it’s original format like Scream and Benga, there is only so much you can do. It hasn’t really moved on much and Magnetic Man I think is the peak off it.”
With this in mind the guys have leaned towards more of a 2step sound. Or as some call it: post-dubstep.
“It finds its way to you”, Guy says. “So it’s a nice place to be”
We can all look forward to a new and exciting future for Disclosure. In short; fun, upbeat, electronic music never tasted so good.Disclosure: Carnival