We chat with the junior half of fraternal U.K. duo Disclosure ahead of its Central Park blowout.
Time Out New York: We hear you guys are playing 39 festivals this season—how far into it are you?
Howard Lawrence: We’re probably about 20 into it. Last weekend we did three festivals in three different countries in 24 hours. We felt like we were gonna die.
Time Out New York: What makes a good show for you?
Howard Lawrence: The crowd’s response, and also how well we play. Because it’s a live show, it’s quite a big variety in the shows—in terms of how many mistakes we make.
Time Out New York: Your brother, Guy, can barely drink in the U.S., and you aren’t technically allowed in clubs.
Howard Lawrence: No, and I do have some trouble with that sometimes! Once in San Francisco, I wasn’t allowed into the club, and I had to get loads of people out arguing until they eventually let me in and put me onstage. I played my set, and then they said to get out. Pretty horrible.
Time Out New York: Only in America. What’s your musical history?
Howard Lawrence: At young ages, we both listened to a lot of what our parents listened to: Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Hall and Oates—proper mom and dad music. When we were teenagers, our tastes grew apart. Guy got into American hip-hop, A Tribe Called Quest and J Dilla, whereas I went the other way and got into singer-songwriters, like Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel. We really didn’t have much to talk about. Then we heard weird dance music and thought, Let’s listen to that.
Time Out New York: How did you get introduced to “weird dance music,” as you said?
Howard Lawrence: It was through dubstep. We never wanted to make dubstep, but we looked at the roots of it. It takes you back to house music and garage music. That interested us a lot, because you can use jazzy chords and interesting rhythms, especially with U.K. garage and two-step from the ’90s.
Time Out New York: Where do your technical skills come from?
Howard Lawrence: We grew up playing instruments, so that’s always been natural for us. In terms of using computers and stuff, we did a very, very basic course at school about music technology. Other than that we just taught ourselves by practicing, trying different things. In terms of deejaying, we didn’t know how until about a year after we started Disclosure. We started out just playing live shows because we didn’t have the ability to deejay, because we didn’t really know what it was, or we weren’t aware of it, really. Then someone tried to book us for a DJ set and we said, Ah, okay—we should both learn!
Time Out New York: What’s the difference for you between writing pop songs versus dance music?
Howard Lawrence: I think the pop song is structured with verses and choruses. And I think the main idea is everything needs to be wrapped around a chorus, and that chorus is supposed to be catchy. But dance music is meant to make people dance in a club. It’s designed that way. Certain parts make people react in a way, like, “Oh wow, that beat’s good!” Sometimes there’s a drop or a buildup, but that’s not really the case with pop music.
Time Out New York: Do you think there’s been a big shift in the club world, to allow your type of dance music to the top of the charts?
Howard Lawrence: Before this house music thing that’s happening at the moment, it was dubstep, wasn’t it? Moody, aggressive-sounding dubstep, like Skrillex. In America, I’m sure it still is. In England, I think the reason it’s shifted is because girls like house music and they don’t really like dubstep—it’s too loud and aggressive. And the stuff that we’re making has got melody, and it’s a bit nicer, and you can smile with it.
Disclosure + TNGHT + Julio Bashmore play SummerStage Mainstage Tuesday, August 6.