Pedestrian catches up with Guy Lawrence of burgeoning UK dance producer siblings Disclosure for a chat about dance music’s obsession with genre, who makes him want to quit music, working with Azealia Banks and his fondest memories of Australia.  
Where in the world are you at the moment and what have you been up to today? Well we started the day in London at home and we’re driving to Denmark on our tour bus which we’re driving through Europe, basically. We’re basically in the middle of nowhere now.
So what do you do on the tour bus to pass time? We have a TV and an Xbox. A shower. A kitchen area. You can fit twelve people in there with bunk beds. We travel with all the crew and our tour manager and all that. I do a lot of music making on my laptop. Listening to music as well. Watching a lot of Game Of Thrones at the moment. A lot of looking out the window to be honest, just watching the world go by.
I remember listening to “Offline Dexterity” and “I Love…That You Know” a few years ago when you guys were 15 and 18 and it’s crazy to think about how far you’ve come since then. What’s been the biggest change for you guys since then? I think the obvious change is that we’ve started working with vocalists and singers. We’ve started singing on our tunes. We’ve always wanted to do that because we grew up listening to pop music and singers and a lot of vocalists. We’ve always wanted to do it we just didn’t really know how when we started out. We were just making beats and instrumentals. That’s the biggest change, musically.

You guys were inspired by your peers in those early days, people like James Blake and Mount Kimbie, and you’ve kind of moved away from that sound. What was the reasoning behind that?
We’re still very much into that stuff. I think, really, we got more and more into older music. We started buying a lot of old house records. A lot of old garage records from the 90s. Just through listening to that a lot it just kind of changed the sounds we wanted to use and the way that we wanted to mix and produce our songs. We really like that old-sounding retro vintage analogue sounds, and that’s speaking in terms of production. In terms of songwriting we’ve always wanted to write the songs we’re writing now we just didn’t have enough equipment or experience. But now we can write a song with a proper verse and a proper chorus. It’s just a different way of writing.        
 
What’s changed in terms of the instruments and software you guys use? We use Logic which is just because we grew up using Logic, that’s what we learned on. So we just stuck with it. In terms of outboard stuff we don’t have a massive selection of stuff. We’ve got a few synthesizers. We’ve got a Moog for doing bass lines. We’ve got a Roland Juno-106 which is like a vintage polyphonic synthesizer. We’ve got another Korg with a vocoder typer thing. Besides that we do most things on the computer. We keep it pretty simple. We don’t have that many plug-ins. We like to make our own patches and our own samples and chords and the way they sound using samplers. Really though, I think we’ve just gotten better. When we started producing when we were 15 and 18, “Offline Dexterity” and “I Love…That You Know”, those songs were literally the first songs we ever made. It was literally us learning how to produce and I like to think we’ve just gotten better. We practice a lot and I like to think we’ve become better producers.
What’s the workflow like with your brother? Obviously, you have the ability to make tracks and work on ideas separately but how does it all come together and are there aspects of songwriting that you each lean towards? We do usually start songs individually and we come together at the end. But there’s no set formula at all. We’ve shared roles. On the whole I do all of the production and all of the mix downs and mixing. I do all of the drums and drum sounds as well, usually. Howard does more of the chords and the harmony and melody and he also writes all of the lyrics with whoever we’re working with because I just hate writing lyrics. But there’s plenty of times where that hasn’t been true. Songs like “Grab Her” off the album, I wrote that. There’s a song called “Confess To Me” with Jessie Ware that Howard wrote completely. So there’s plenty of times where that’s not true.

Speaking of “Grab Her”, what does it mean personally to you to have a piece of J Dilla on your debut record?
Oh yeah man! We had to do it somehow. That was an important thing, definitely. If we could have gotten him in real life that would have been great but obviously that’s not going to happen. It was great to get permission to use that sample and it’s good to have him on there.
I still think now that he’s an alien. Best producer ever.
You’ve said before that it’s hard to listen to other music because his ideas and creativity and talent was so superior to other producers that it’s not even worth listening to them because you’d rather be listening to him. I can definitely relate to that. Man, I even feel that way about my own music. It honestly makes you want to give up.
How has knowing Howard your whole life helped Disclosure and how has it created challenges? As with most siblings you can almost have a passive-aggressive relationship and be quite short with them because you know they’ll always be a part of your life and I imagine that must be magnified in a musical partnership. It’s exactly that. You can be totally honest with the other person. But most of the time you just know what the other person is thinking before they even say it. We’ll be in the studio and I’ll be like “Howard, we need to change this” and he’ll literally be doing it as I speak. It’s weird. It’s spooky. We have the same thought process almost. We’re not that brotherly towards each other. We’re more like friends who hang out a lot. I kind of only remember he’s my brother because people tell me all the time. It’s a good relationship and I think we work well together.
What’s the process like when you guys choose collaborators? Obviously, the vocal and the way you treat the vocal colours so much of how the songs feels so it’s a big decision. It changes all the time. A lot of the vocalists on the album we got through mutual friendships or knowing someone who knew someone. That kind of thing. With people like AlunaGeorge and Jamie Woon that was through meeting people at shows and chatting to them backstage and things. Other people like Ed Macfarlane from Friendly Fires we’re just massive fans of and our manager just got the email off someone and turns out he was a big fan of us. We met up and got talking and it went from there. It changes every time but in terms of choosing people Howard and I have very similar tastes in music so there’s rarely ever an argument. 
   

You guys recently did some work with Azealia Banks. What was that like?
It was cool man. We only did a day with her and played her a few beats and stuff. We haven’t gotten anything finished yet but she was cool.
What’s been the most surreal moment for you this year? Definitely getting the number one album. That was surreal. Completely unexpected. We were hoping for a top five, that would have been amazing but number one was just insane. That was very surreal. We’ve done some amazing shows this year as well. The Glastonbury we did last November was surreal because growing up in the UK you watch that festival every year since you’re a small kid. To be playing on one of those stages in a front of that crowd was mind blowing. Ibiza as well. We do a lot of shows in Ibiza. Every time we’re out there we just feel so lucky to be able to do that. There’s a lot of surreal moments going on right now. 
You’ve previously been in Australia around New Year’s. What do you remember of that tour and what were you doing at New Year’s? That’s a good question. We were in Adelaide, I think, for New Year’s Eve and for New Year’s Day we played Field Day which was absolutely incredible. My fondest memory of Australia apart from the lovely weather and sunshine was the food. It was so fresh and tasty I can’t wait to eat your food again.
Does it annoy that dance music as opposed to guitar music, say, has to be so concretely categorised? Yeah it does just because it doesn’t really matter to Howard and I as much as it seems to to other people. There’s so many people trying to put things into genres and categories but we don’t really give a fuck what you call it. There’s a few terms being used that are kind of accurate for some people but things like bass music and future garage I don’t think are very accurate. The way I always describe it is the nexus between club music and pop music and we just produce it in the style of house music and garage music and that’s where we think we’re influenced from. I don’t think bass music is right because it makes it seem like the bass is the most important thing but for us it’s the chords and the melodies and the structure and the vocals. If someone calls our music EDM or bass music I’m not going to be like “you’re wrong”, that’s how they perceive it and that’s fine.
With this album I’m thinking a lot of pop artists are going to start reaching out to you guys if that’s not the case already. We’ve had a lot of nice requests recently. I can’t really tell you who they are at this point but it’s been really positive. It’s nice to think that people we respect and really like are reaching out based on the music we make. I can’t give you any details yet but we’ll see soon enough.
Thanks for your time Guy. Cool man, see you soon. 
Disclosure play nationally as part of the inaugural Listen Out festival. Their debut album, Settle, is out now.