The Disclosure brothers have turned dance music on its head. Here’s Guy and Howard on their five favourite songwriters (in no particular order):
Guy: He wrote what is, for us, the best album of all time, which is ‘Voodoo’. So he’s definitely got to be on this list. Howard and I both agree that it’s the best album ever made, and absolutely everything about it is perfect: the production, the songwriting, the lot. If he was a girl, it would be a 10/10! His lyrics and harmonies are amazing, his vocal performances, the general musicianship… it’s just so, so sick.
Howard: Yeah, every possible part of that album is great, even down to the sleeve of the vinyl. It’s fucking awesome. I’m looking forward to hearing [long-delayed follow-up] ‘James River’, if it ever comes out. I’ve sort of lost hope by this point, though: if it arrives, great. If it doesn’t…
Guy: Yeah, after the last twelve years or whatever it’s been, I’ve kind of stopped waiting. Although I saw him live in Paris last year, which was amazing. I never thought I’d see D’Angelo live, but I somehow managed it. Wicked.
Howard: Everything that he’s done has been so innovative. He’s such a clever songwriter, and very, very musical – not just in his solo career, but the stuff he did with Genesis, too. I’m a massive fan of those albums through my dad, which is how we got into him in the first place. When we were growing up, before we started this project, all we were interested in was getting better at our instruments, and he writes with such interesting chords that I’d hear it and try to learn how to play it.
Guy: Like Howard said, our dad is really into Genesis, which is how we got into Peter Gabriel in the first place. He was always being played in our house when we were growing up – I guess he’s just got one of those voices that sound like a childhood memory. We’ve even got a tapestry our mum made of the cover of [Genesis’ 1976 album] ‘A Trick of the Tail’ hanging up on the wall in our studio.
Howard: She’s in a similar vein to Peter Gabriel, I think. Her albums are so innovative in terms of songwriting and production. Some of the production on ‘Hounds of Love’ – all that weird, gated reverb on the drums, that sort of thing – is just so cool. She’s one of those artists who you can tell it’s her within 10 seconds of the record starting; I think it was Quincy Jones who said that was the best trait you could have as a songwriter. ‘Hounds of Love’ is probably my favourite album of hers, but it’s a difficult choice to make!
Howard: He’s probably one of my favourite songwriters in the world today, although people probably know him better as Aqualung. He writes for a lot of different people, but the most recent thing of his I really liked was the Lianne La Havas album, which he wrote and produced some of. What do I like about him? I just think he’s incredible: I learned the piano by learning all of his songs, and it’s so up my street, musically. Everything he does is everything I want to hear in a song.
Guy: There are a million Motown writers we could name, but Stevie’s definitely on the peak of the mountain. Everything that’s going on in his songs is perfect: really interesting chords, really interesting memories…
Howard: The playing on those Stevie Wonder records deserves a mention, too. He’s got James Jameson on bass for a lot of his songs, and he’s incredible: songs like ‘Sir Duke’ were what I used to teach myself the bass. Stevie Wonder and Jamiroquai – we love him, too – were basically the two artists who taught me how to play bass.