Joseph Lawrence & The Garden come together to create music greater than the sum of their parts. The London-based collective – comprised of vocalist Joseph Lawrence and instrumentalist Gibbi, combine the free-jazz ambition of Kendrick Lamar with the soul-inflected ambience of D’Angelo for a sound that’s both musically complex and bursting with soul.
The pair met three years ago with no real plan behind what they were doing. Gibbi is the instrumentalist (The Garden) and Joseph leads on powerhouse vocals. Lead single Eclipse, which combines the sharply contemporary production of Kendrick Lamar with the haunting nocturnalism of James Blake, came out of an idea the pair had for a light and dark EP. Although the boys produced the track themselves, its since been mixed by Russell Elevado, the record producer who won a Grammy for his work recording and mixing D’Angelo’s critically acclaimed 2000 album Voodoo. We caught up with them following a sold-out London show last week.
For anyone that isn’t already aware of you guys, how would you describe the Joseph Lawrence & The Garden sound in 3 words?
Soulful, Haunting, uncompromising.
Were there any projects before you became Joseph Lawrence & the Garden? How did you guys meet and start collaborating on this project?
We both worked on projects previously, we knew of each other and had a mutual respect for one another and eventually decided to get in the studio and write together.
You’ve just unleashed your debut single Eclipse – what’s the story behind the song and why did you feel like it would be the perfect introduction?
We chose Eclipse as our debut because it contains a lot of key elements which we think make up our sound, without giving away too much of what listeners should expect of us.
Where did you find the initial inspiration behind the song?
At the time of writing the track we were both going through difficult things in our lives and although this was never actually discussed between us at the time of writing it, we feel like the song reflects how we were both feeling at that time. The song was fully written, produced and recorded from scratch that day.
What’s your creative process? How do you construct and create a song until it’s at a place where you’re happy with it?
We’ve written hundreds of songs together now so we’ve got good at locking ourselves in the studio for a day and coming out with more or less a complete song by the time we leave that night (or next morning…). Songs will generally start with The Garden playing some chords on Piano or Guitar. Then while Joe starts writing The Garden will build and the song will just grow from there.
Joseph, you have a very distinctive voice. When did you learn that you could sing like that?
I think that over time my voice has just grown. When I was younger it was a lot softer. Then through listening to a broader spectrum of vocalists over time, I found different places I could go with my own voice. Artists like James Brown and Donny Hathaway have been huge influence.
What else can we expect from future releases?
We want to keep pushing ourselves and be more and more daring in the music we write. We don’t want people to know what to expect of us. We love artists like Prince, D’angelo and Kendrick Lamar because they constantly built/build on their sound and every album has its own character and feeling whilst still maintaining authenticity.
What were the last 5 tracks that you listened too?
Kendrick Lamar – Hood Politics.
D’angelo – She’s Always in My Hair
Irene Higginbotham – Good Morning Heartache
Donny Hathaway – I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know
Prince – Musicology
If you could have written any other track from another artist, which one would you claim?
Joseph: James Brown’s Mans World
Gibbi: Seal – Kiss From a Rose.
What can we expect from the live shows? We hear they’re pretty epic?
We aim to make our shows a real experience for the audience, going beyond just playing our songs like the records. We want people to come away feeling like they’ve never seen or heard anything like it.
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