Published Sep 25, 2015It might be hard to imagine, but Disclosure didn't start the songs on their new album Caracal with samples or synth beats; they sat down at a piano. And so, Guy and Howard Lawrence tell Exclaim!, did all of the album's star collaborators, the Weeknd, Lorde, Sam Smith and Kwabs among them.
"We'll sit down with them at the start, at the piano," Howard tells Exclaim! of recording the duo's second album. "We never really have anything prepared. Occasionally, we'll have some drums ready, or maybe some chords, but generally, we start from scratch and write a song in a very old-fashioned, traditional way. I'll come up with some chords, then we'll sit and talk about a subject, then come up with some lyrics and melodies. We didn't just want a singer singing on a Disclosure record; we wanted them in there from the start, affecting the music. That's an important thing for us."
Guy concurs, "We normally spend two or three days with the singer. After that, Howard and I will spend up to a month producing it and changing it."
The production stage, according to Guy, is when the songs become club-ready.
"The songwriting just is the songwriting," he says, but when it comes to production, "we let the music flow out that we want to hear. If we're listening to house music, it's going to sound like house music. If we're listening to, you know, slow jams and R&B, it's going to sound like slow jams and R&B. We're quite influenced by that in terms of the production."
That adaptability when it comes to production style makes Caracal their most diverse recording to date, but when their 2013 breakout Settle seemingly came out of nowhere with its discernibly house-indebted sound, some electronic music purists were quick to get their backs up, claiming that the brothers had hijacked a sound they knew nothing about.
Though Guy says they encounter that now only "very, very rarely," he points to the relative lack of house in the mainstream when Disclosure broke and their love of that music, as reasons not to pay any mind.
"When we made our first record, house music wasn't being played on the radio; it wasn't in that kind of world. It was in the underground and starting to be played in clubs. I don't feel like we started making house because everyone else was, I feel like we were part of a first [recent] wave of people who did that. If you get a few purists out there now and again who are like, 'Oh, you weren't even old enough to go to the clubs when this was all happening. You didn't experience going to Paradise Garage, you didn't go to the Warehouse. You don't know about Frankie Knuckles, you don't know about Ron Hardy, blah blah blah,' it's almost like: 'Yeah, we do.'
"That's why records were pressed: so that in years to come, people can hear it! You can pass it down through friends and family, or now you can go online and research it and go to record shops and learn about it. That's what we did!
"So for any haters out there who think we've done the wrong thing and should have just done the underground thing, all I can say is that we've played shows with people like Kevin Saunderson, Eric May and Todd Edwards, and they all love us! To be honest, it's those guys that matter to me. Those are the people that I respect the most, and it's incredible to have their feedback."
Caracal is out today (September 25) via PMR/Island. You can stream the entire record below.