Disclosure (©Edwige Hamben)
No sibling rivalry here, just synergy
By Danielle Chessman
Special to MSN Music
The DJs of Disclosure don't bicker the way you'd expect two young brothers to. At least not during interviews. The siblings, Guy and Howard Lawrence, come by way of Surrey, England, and, having already nabbed spots at nearly every major U.S. festival this year -- Miami's electronic music fest Ultra; Austin, Texas' annual SXSW celebration; and a scheduled slot at California's ever-revered Coachella -- it's clear that their plan to infiltrate the ears of the U.S. is well under way but hasn't yet fatigued them enough to become irritable.
In fact, hours before a sold-out show at New York's Bowery Ballroom, Guy, 21, and Howard, 18, are up and down the stairs and in and out of the venue's rooms balancing a strict schedule of interviews and photo shoots. Guy doesn't talk much, but the men still make time to speak on the sound that now has them equipped with a growing fan base and on the fast track to fame.
In 2010, the brothers released "Offline Dexterity," the first of what would become a string of free singles. Applauded for their post-dubstep production, the duo were immediately deemed the future -- even the protégés -- of garage music. But their sound developed over the years to become much more than those two-step rhythms. Now, combined with house basslines, '90s hip-hop, and soulful or jazzy vocals provided by friends AlunaGeorge (on "White Noise"), Sam Smith (on "Latch") and others, Disclosure's tunes are harder to define, but always distinct. (And they've already made loyal fans out of fellow U.K. artists Emeli Sandé and Jessie Ware, too, after remixing their respective hits "Daddy" and "Running.")
Coming from a musical family -- their mother, a professional singer, did radio jingles and cruise-ship shows, while their dad, a guitarist, was once signed to CBS' now-defunct record label -- it's no surprise the men can effortlessly create music at the speed and volume that they do. With four EPs already released, the duo's official debut album is set to drop this summer, but don't expect the usual EDM: It's warm melodies, sultry grooves, feel-good bounces, but always a club banger.
MSN Music: First, why the name Disclosure, and, second, why do you scrawl over your faces on your album covers?
Howard: It's a rubbish story. We needed a name for MySpace and Guy was reading his car insurance. And the artwork, we used it for our first single and then when we got to the second single, we couldn't afford new artwork, so we just used it again. It just eventually became a logo and a brand that people sort of associated with us without even having written "Disclosure."
Do people come to your shows with white lines drawn on their face?
Howard: Yeah, that's only happened over here!
Guy: On Halloween.
What has been the biggest difference between U.S. and U.K, audiences?
Howard: People say that Americans don't dance, but we've seen completely the opposite. They go mental. They're just dancing the whole time, sometimes when we're not even playing.
Craziest thing you've seen at a show so far?
Howard: Yesterday, someone -- I don't know how -- during the performance, without me noticing, put a note on my keyboard. It was like their name, their phone number and like, "I think you're so sexy. Call me." And I was like, how could they have placed it there?
Anything you can do here that you can't back home?
Howard: I'm not allowed into clubs here.
Guy: Cheez-Its. You can't get those in England.
Your music has been described as house, garage, dubstep, but what do you call it?
Howard: We don't really mind it. We make quite a few types of songs. I don't think we'd put it all into one genre like that. Some of it's like garage from the '90s, some of it's house, some of it's much slower, like ballads. It's a lot of different ones.
How do you ensure each song sounds distinctly different from the other?
Guy: Do we try to make them different? We try to have a cohesive sound. We don't want to sound like a million miles away.
Howard: We actually find it harder not to. We have to make a conscious effort to make them sound at all similar to the last one.
How have the differences in your personalities helped or hurt when making music?
Howard: It's probably just helped. I'm a bit more quiet and ... what's the word we had yesterday?
Howard: Introvert. And Guy's more extrovert.
Guy: Though it doesn't appear it now. That's because I'm insanely hungover.
Howard: I can drink legally in the U.K., but I don't.
What artists or music would fans be surprised to know you listen to?
Guy: Kate Bush.
Howard: Peter Gabriel. Seal; he hasn't really done much. He had an album last year, but it was all covers.
If you had to listen to one artist for the rest of your life, who would it be?
Howard: Yeah, I would choose D'Angelo, but he hasn't got enough tunes to listen to the whole of your life; he's got two albums.
Guy: Doesn't matter. That's all I listen to anyways. It wouldn't make a difference.
Who would you most like to receive a collaboration or remix request from?
Howard: We talked about if we would even want D'Angelo, because we'd be like, "I don't wanna mess with it." We think we'd just ruin it. We'd make it worse. We get like five [requests] a day.
Guy: We don't really hear about them. Our managers don't tell us.
Howard: Because if they told us, we'd be like, "Oh yeah, we gotta do that!" And then we'd have no time.
Guy: We haven't really done a remix since the Jessie Ware one because we've been doing the album, so maybe after.
If you weren't musicians, what would you be doing as a career?
Howard: I studied music but got kicked out of college because I was doing this. My attendance was like 1 percent. I always said I quite wanted to be a chef, but I can't cook.
Guy: A chef that can't cook?
Howard: I used to windsurf; I was good at that.
Guy: It's hard to say because we got into this so young, we've never really had a chance to try anything else. I've been playing drums since I was 3. I used to teach drums, so I guess I'd still be teaching.
What was your first musical memory?
Guy: I remember playing drums at my school.
Howard: Hearing Go West being played really loud in my house.
Why are you OK with giving music away for free?
Howard: We think it's a good tool to do early on when you haven't got any fans because what's the point in trying to make them pay for your music when no one knows who you are? You might as well. We thought it was a good idea to give away music as a start to get our name out so then people would know who we were and then maybe they'd wanna buy [it]. It makes perfect sense. And it depends what it is. Don't give away a whole album or something, but if it's an unofficial remix or something, why not?