Q&A: Disclosure On Their Wild Life Shows, Playing Instruments, And Future Recording Plans
Disclosure were a tiny-font band on last year’s Coachella lineup, but this year they essentially co-headlined Sunday night alongside Arcade Fire, drawing a densely packed crowd of revelers to the Outdoor Theater for an exciting run through a setlist that already resembles a greatest hits. They’ll be back in Indio for another Coachella go-round this Sunday, but that’s not all they have coming up. A deluxe reissue of 2013’s tremendous Settle, our #4 album of last year, is coming soon, as are a series of Disclosure-curated concerts known as Wild Life and a number of other festival appearances. I caught up with Guy and Howard before Sunday’s triumphant set to discuss their unconventional approach to electronic music, their ridiculously busy schedule, and their progress on recording the follow-up to Settle.
STEREOGUM: You guys did Coachella last year. How has your show changed since then?
GUY LAWRENCE: Well, hopefully we’re going to get our video screens up. It might not happen because of the wind, which sucks, but we’ll see. But yeah, the difference from last year is we have a whole new production. It’s gotten a lot bigger.
HOWARD LAWRENCE: Regardless of that, the show’s expanded generally in terms of the setup, in terms of the instruments we play, in terms of the songs we play in the set. And we’ve got some different surprises than last time.
[Ed: They brought out Aluna Francis, Mary J. Blige, and Sam Smith, and they did get their video screens up. It was dope.]
STEREOGUM: The live instrumentation isn’t typical for house music, but I really like what it adds to your set. What inspired you to incorporate that?
HOWARD: We grew up playing live instruments. We only got into dance music quite recently — well, about five years ago. Dance music was definitely was not a big part of our lives at all growing up. We learned to play instruments to stuff that our parents showed us, like ’70s and ’80s pop and rock, funk, soul. So to us, when we finally did discover this music and start trying to make it about four years ago, we put out a single on MySpace, and then people would ask us to come play a show at their club, and we just assumed that they meant to come and play a live show because we didn’t know how to DJ. We were like, “OK, well we’ll just have to learn our songs on conventional instruments and play those.” I mean, we do DJ as well sometimes. But for one, I think we really enjoy doing the live thing a lot. It’s just really good fun for us. We love playing our instruments. And also I think it’s just a bit more interesting, especially on a stage, like perhaps at a concert venue, than seeing a DJ.
STEREOGUM: Yeah, you guys are over on one of the stages that are mostly associated with live bands this year, as opposed to in the Sahara Tent which mostly hosts DJs.
HOWARD: That’s where we feel most comfortable. We’ve spent a lot of time playing in night clubs where it wasn’t really meant for shows, it was meant for DJs — lugging our equipment through the crowd to get to the stage and all that. So it’s nice that we can finally play on e stages that the show was originally designed for.
STEREOGUM: You guys did your first Wild Life show Thursday in LA, and you have more coming up in Berkeley this Friday and in Chicago this July. What’s the idea behind those?
HOWARD: Wild Life is essentially like a “Disclosure Presents,” so we do shows all around the world curating the lineup of each show, and we headline that show, whether it be us DJing or playing live. So we tend to cater it to wherever we’re playing, so the one that we did recently we had A$AP Ferg playing. That worked because it’s America and Americans love hip-hop, whereas I think maybe if you put that lineup into the UK it might be a bit more questionable because the UK doesn’t know as much hip-hop as the US. So I think it’s nice because it means that we can kind of dictate who plays at our night. We can make it more hip-hop based or more DJ-based.
GUY: It’s more just that we want to get good, fresh, forward-thinking acts. It doesn’t really matter the genre, but it does matter where. So yeah, if we did that lineup in, say, Wild Life in Berlin, it probably wouldn’t work. We’d probably do a more house-y, techno-y lineup for them. So yeah, it’s good to kind of adjust it for wherever we go.
STEREOGUM: How many of these have you done? Are these US shows the first ones?
GUY: Yeah, they’re the first ones, but we’ve got loads lined up for the whole summer.
STEREOGUM: You’re also doing a deluxe reissue of Settle. Was there a thought process behind which material you added?
GUY: It’s just a few bonus tracks. I mean, they’re around. It’s just, I don’t know, the label wants to repackage.
STEREOGUM: What’s the timeline for starting a new project. Is that underway?
HOWARD: Yeah, it’s underway in a sense. We’re always writing music on the road. I mean, we haven’t had any time in the studio to really crack down on anything, really, but we’re always writing ideas on the road. We’re touring pretty much constantly now up until September when the festival season sort of starts to fade away again. So I think we’re going to take a few months off at that point to really concentrate on writing the next record. But yeah, we’re definitely having fun experimenting for now.
STEREOGUM: Obviously like any dance artist you guys have released some one-off singles, but the album format seems like it lends itself to the way you think about your music as discussed earlier.
HOWARD: The reason we wanted to do the album was because — I mean, most artists don’t do albums in dance music because the vast majority of it is — well, one, it’s instrumental, and two, the song structure of it is generally buildups and drops. As opposed to our music where the structure is more like pop music with verses and choruses. And that just lends itself more to an album format in our opinion.
GUY: I think we just thought we could do it, so we should.
STEREOGUM: With the new ideas you guys have been working on, do you sense the sound is morphing in some way?
GUY: Not tremendously. I feel like especially in the UK house is massive now — again. And I think a lot of people credit our album for being at least partially responsible for that, which is really nice. But I think it would be a bit stupid to start making something completely different now that we’ve got everyone on our side and everyone’s enjoying the music. So I don’t think we’re going to waver too far from what we’re doing.
HOWARD: It’s definitely going to develop in some way, but we’re not going to completely change direction.
STEREOGUM: A lot of the singers you worked with on the previous album seem to be blowing up now too, whether that be London Grammar or Sam Smith. Do you feel a kinship with them, like you’re all coming up together?
GUY: To some extent with some of them. I don’t feel like we’re part of the same scene, like musically, and similar ages maybe. But it’s nice to be a part of their journey, you know? Especially with Sam, to have “Latch” as his first song that he stepped out off of, we’re really proud of that. But I think they’re all credible enough to have made it on their own. We don’t take credit for breaking the artists, we’re just glad to have worked with them.
STEREOGUM: You must be getting a lot of offers from people wanting to sing on your tracks.
HOWARD: Yeah, we’re getting approached by a lot of people. It’s amazing.
STEREOGUM: How do you decide which ones to accept?
HOWARD: We just work with people we think are good. (laughter)
GUY: Yeah, if they’re any good. Credible — credibility’s quite important.
HOWARD: To be honest, the main thing that dictates whether or not we work with someone at the moment is if we have time.
STEREOGUM: If you could get one person you haven’t worked with yet as a dream collaboration for the next record, who would it be?
HOWARD: A lot of the people that would be dream collaborations for the next record, we are working with, so we can’t tell you. (laughter)
[Photos by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images.]