JOSEPH LAWRENCE & THE GARDEN; SLOW-BURNING EXPLOSIONS images courtesy of WMA
Joseph Lawrence & The Garden are a duo force to be reckoned with! They first caught F Word’s attention when we heard their slow-burning debut ‘Eclipse’ and we were lucky enough to catch them live last month as they kicked off The Great Escape Festival. The pair were announced as one of the first 50 acts to perform at the event in Brighton next May, as well as just releasing a brand new single ‘Fade’.
The London-based musical duo has been creating this rather unique sound which sees a smooth and effective combination of free-jazz and soulful lyrics making each and every one of their creations a heartwarming powerful sound. When they met, around four years ago, they weren't quite sure of their plans and yet, one thing was a common feeling shared by these two young creatives; they were both trying to discover the music they really wanted to create.
Lawrence's vocals were as fundamental as Gibbi's instrumental abilities in order to create this soul-captivating sounds and successfully combining the free-jazz ambition of Kendrick Lamar with the soul-inflected ambiance of D’Angelo. Their sound has been time and time again described as something that is musically complex and exploding with emotions and a sense of vulnerability, qualities we are constantly looking for in the artists we listen to.
Lawrence and Gibbi have since worked together in every single on of their tracks and seem to have found the perfect recipe for success. The due shares the same passion for the music they create as well as the unique elements each of them bring to the table to create a strong and yet distinctive number of tracks. As we start looking at what went right this year and gaze hopefully for the year to come, we caught up with the guys to discuss what 2020 may have in store for them.
F Word: Your music is like nothing we’ve ever heard before – how would you describe it to anyone that hasn’t yet heard of you? JL&TG: We’d describe it as honest, in the sense that there are no tricks or gimmicks. We want the music to be as real and free as possible.
F Word: Your songs seem so intricately produced, with many diverse layers – what is the process like from the initial thought of a song to getting the final edit through. JL&TG: Most songs start with Gibbi (the garden) playing some chords which Joe will then start writing lyrics and we’ll kind of bounce off each other adding different instruments, textures, etc until the song is done. We normally have everything written within a day though recently we’ve been working with a producer (Chris Webb) who’s brought in some amazing musicians for certain songs which have been a really interesting change for us.
F Word: What were the last albums you guys listened too without skipping any tracks? JL&TG: The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour. Radiohead - OK Computer. Jay Z - 444. Kanye - Jesus is King.
F Word: Joe, your voice is insane! You must have been singing for years but when did you really find your voice and realize that this is what you wanted to pursue as a career? JL&TG: I would say I realized I had a voice from a quite young age actually, I remember my mum forcing me to sing in front of crowds of family and friends and receiving a half good reception from doing so, which was good enough for me...
F Word: Your last two releases have accompanying live music videos. Was it a conscious decision to put the videos out as live visuals rather than a narrative video to track? JL&TG: Definitely. Playing the songs live gives a whole energy to the song which we really enjoy so we try to work with the video directors to still create a narrative whilst maintaining the rawness of playing live. We will undoubtedly do music videos as they obviously equally give another side to a song creatively but for the last two, we’ve just felt like live was more appropriate to the songs.
F Word: If you were to add another member to the current line-up and it was to be another artist, who would be your ideal addition? JL&TG: That’s a hard one... maybe someone from a completely different world like a classical composer or something? Someone who could bring a sound which neither of us could ever think of on our own.
F Word: You have an incredible aesthetic, visually – who are your biggest inspirations when it comes to image, styling and overall identity of JL&TG? JL&TG: Just like with music we keep things honest and real. We really don’t like anything too glossy or perfect. There’s probably not any one specific we could call a direct inspiration for this. Though Kendrick does a really good job of this. His videos are such good quality, but they still look raw. Kanye’s video for ‘Closed on Sunday’ or Moses Sumney’s video for ‘Virile’ are good examples too.
F Word: You seem to be playing lots of live shows and constantly perfecting your live craft. What are the best and worst shows you’ve done over the years? JL&TG: It’s hard to say what our best show has been because we feel like it gets better every time and it’s also always so different from show to show. We’re really forward to traveling to different parts of the world and experiencing different audiences. We actually had a show where the sound engineer literally sabotaged our set because we were late to the soundcheck (for legitimate reasons!) So that was definitely an experience.
F Word: Do you think social media is a help or hindrance to the music industry and an artist's journey? JL&TG: It can go either way to such extremes. Ultimately, we think it makes people focus on the wrong things. People care so much about how things look and don’t really take in what’s going on around them because they’re watching this airbrushed version of the world through a screen. Life is imperfect and that’s a beautiful thing. Equally, it’s obviously a very easy way of finding new music and pushing your own. ...Imperfect!
F Word: What’s on the bucket list for JL&TG. If we interview you guys in 5years time, what would you like to have achieved by then? JL&TG: In 5 years we want to be 5 years more creative, smarter and braver. We look up to artists who continuously push their sound and reinvent themselves so we’d love to be following in those footsteps.
F Word: We’re in love with ‘Fade’ and have been listening to it lots this last few weeks. What can we expect from you in 2020? JL&TG: A lot more music. Bigger videos, smaller videos. More.