Jack talks self loathing, challenging emotions, and advice from pal Hozier.
Following a Brit award win in 2016, Jack Garratt was left feeling isolated.
Feelings of self-doubt and fear came to a head sending Garratt into a confrontation with suicidal thoughts.
“I was so taken with this moment, within the joy that I was feeling; that still, despite this success, no love for myself existed in that moment. It was just all self-loathing.”
His mental ill health led him back to songwriting, and a new appreciation for life.
You have spoken about ‘unreal, hollow pillars of affection’ relating to the adoration public figures receive. Have you managed to find authentic connection in your life? And if so, how?
If you add a stage and a microphone it makes it much harder to know when the connections you’ve made are trustworthy and mutually respected.
I’ve found that the people I admire and love are also the people who hold me accountable.
They don’t ask more of me than they think I am willing to give, and I hold my hands up and admit that I am not very good at giving.
My imposter syndrome flares up when I’m with my friends, as I think they’d all rather be somewhere else, with someone else.
And not once do I actually give myself the opportunity to air those feelings, like a dusty rug I allow myself to tread all over me.
You’ve also bravely opened up about experiencing suicidal thoughts. What do you think caused these? And how have you dealt with them?
I’ve been lucky to have only had one instance of suicidal thinking, and it came when I was at my lowest.
I was in New York with my (now wife, but then) fiancée, in early December of 2017.
We’d had this busy and exciting few days, and it was nearly Christmas but I felt nothing.
I had no love for my life or myself, I felt numb.
Any advice that encourages people to brush off their emotions bothers me.
I’m expected to encourage my happiness and urge myself to engage in positivity when I feel it.
I don’t understand why I’m supposed to treat my sadness like it’s the antithesis of my happiness. It isn’t.
Your latest album is titled ‘Love, Death & Dancing’ – what do each of these words mean to you?
They’re all things I’m scared to do selfishly.
I’m scared to love myself, I’m afraid of death, and I’m terrified of dancing.
What affects your mental health positively?
Healthy vices are important, like little treats we give ourselves.
I have a meditative coffee making routine that I use to start every day.
I’ll go for a run with my dog, come home, and spend 20 minutes making a coffee. It’s a daily act of self-love.
I also love my own company. It helps me feel peaceful and quiet.
It’s hard to pinpoint, as it can change daily.
I’ll go a single day of not talking about something that’s been on my mind, and by the next day that thing has become almost impossible to get out into the air.
What role does creativity play in your wellbeing?
Sometimes the thought of making music will cause me to feel a knot in my stomach, other days making music is the only thing I can think of doing, and I will be inconsolable until I’ve created something.
When I’m able to create something I truly love, it can give me such an immense joy, but with that also comes a sense of doubt.
For that reason, I very rarely finish an idea I’ve had. If I feel resistance, I stop, and move on to something else.
I’ve also encouraged myself recently to engage with other types of creativity.
It took me so long to refer to myself as an ‘artist’, but I love to write poems and short stories and essays.
What are you reading, watching and listening to at the moment?
I’ve just finished ‘LANNY’ by Max Porter (whose book ‘Grief is the Thing with Feathers’ was my favourite book last year), and I’ve just started ‘Lincoln in the Bardot’ by George Saunders.
Currently I’m making my way through seasons 1-10 of The Simpsons and I’m listening to a lot of Ethan Gruska.
He had a new album that came out this year called ‘En Guarde’ and it is beautiful.
What is your go to music if you need a boost?
Stevie Wonder or anything that Quincy Jones produced. Both are mood enhancers.
What are your favourite foods?
My wife and I love to eat! Recently, having been forced inside for obvious reasons, we’ve been cooking a lot more.
We both share a large appetite for Mexican food – tacos in particular – we’ve started making our own Tacos at home.
Do you like to exercise or meditate?
I like to exercise. I run with my dog every other day and I do minimal weight training at home.
It’s very important to my sanity that I get outside every day.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received in regards to your mental wellbeing?
I had a really lovely message from Hozier recently.
He and I have had some insightful and honest discussions about the criticisms we’ve both encountered in our careers.
I recently opened up about some doubts I was having, and I had an overwhelmingly affectionate reaction from people.
Hozier texted me a really loving and lengthy message in solidarity and support, and it included this:
“There’s a reason people remember work for decades, and no one remembers the nay saying of critics and those not brave enough to do what you’re doing now.”
It gave me a surge of well needed aggressive confidence in myself.
How have you changed since 15, and what advice would you give to that person?
I’ve changed into a completely different person. I’m glad that I’m able to see myself at that age as a separate part of my identity. He feels more like a book I read than an age of my life.
But if I could give him some advice, I’d try and convince him that she’s not all there is…
Please nominate a friend you think should answer these questions . . .
My best friend and collaborator Tom Clarkson. He’s a director and writer, and has directed all of my official music videos but one. He also has a sketch comedy talk show called ‘Mr. Thing.’ It’s one of the most hilarious things I’ve seen, and been lucky to be a part of. It’s silly and wonderful and utterly joyous, reminiscent of the 90’s irreverent comedy stylings of Vic and Bob. I think it’s what the world needs more of right now.
However, he struggles with his own genius, and because of how high he wants to soar often finds himself surrounded by people who feel the need to ‘bring him down a peg or two’.
I think he’d benefit greatly from these questions. I have found that self-assessment and self-criticism are dense and immovable forests that need navigating through in order to reach self-acceptance.
Jack Garratt’s new album, ‘Love, Death & Dancing,’ is available on 12th June via all major platforms.
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