Me, a bar and the rising star: Garrett Laurie is one to watch

I met Garrett Laurie during the second semester of our master's degree. By chance, we had been put in the same group for a project. The powers at be seemed to steer us together because we found ourselves sitting next to each other in the lecture hall. He was quiet and reserved with a picture of Neve Campbell in Scream (I have since learned this is his favourite film) as his phone background. As he whispered little remarks to me under his breath when he really should have been listening, I thought I need to know this person.

Garrett Laurie
Photographer: Danny Mills

In this day and age the first thing one does to endeavour to get to know someone better is look them up on Instagram where I discovered that Laurie was something of a star. This quiet boy who sipped his coffee around campus bundled up in scarves actually had one hell of an instrument when he opened his mouth.

Earlier in the year, Laurie released the single 'Take Me Out Dancing', a solemn dream-pop track that let me know that this wasn't just a student side gig, this boy meant business.

After the release of his third single, 'Mississippi Jesus', I met up with Laurie in the local speakeasy between assignments to learn more about what it all really meant to him and where it all might lead.

You recently released your latest single 'Mississippi Jesus'. What's the story behind that track, and what made you want to give it its own release?

Garrett: 'Mississippi Jesus' is about the temptation to romanticise new relationships into something with more depth than they really have. From a queer perspective, it is about the flawed idea of a man as a saviour figure coming along and undoing all of the sad traumas of past relationships. Jesus in the American South is the ultimate Jesus, so the song is about waiting for a figure like this to save the day. At the time I was recording it, it was my favourite thing I’d written because I think it perfectly exemplifies the world of my upcoming music - that's also why I decided it should be a single.

Your previous single 'Take Me Out Dancing' had an entirely different feel. Is it important for you not to tie yourself into one certain genre?

G: Very much - my style of writing is influenced by film, dance, fashion, things like that. I pull from so many different worlds when producing each track that I inevitably tap into a few different genres within most of my songs. I have no interest in slotting into any kind of mould; I have too much fun tapping into all of my sources of inspiration at once to try to limit myself to one genre.

You have a degree in film. Do your teachings come into play when coming up with a concept for a video or is it more what the song invokes for you?

G: I think subconsciously, they do. I find myself remembering certain debates and conversations within classes from that time, hearing how different other students’ interpretations of films were.

Some really dark, graphic films we covered became obsessions for me, while some people refused to watch them, or give them a chance because of their infamous place in pop culture.

Doing project research and coming across film theorists like Laura Mulvey, really tuned me into how nuanced art is, so I feel like I try to channel what I learned from that time, into my videos and visuals and so on.

Garrett Laurie
Photographer: Zoe Faulkner

What's it like being a musician in Northern Ireland?

G: I think it is difficult…we are in a transitional period at the moment where we are beginning to accept more than just 'straight boy with a guitar' music into the culture. I hope that some of my favourite artists from here soon become the artists Northern Ireland is known for. They are innovative and so passionate about what they are doing, so that would be nice to see.

Are 'Mississippi Jesus' and 'Take Me Out Dancing; part of a larger project on the horizon and if so, how do you envision it?

G: I have an EP on the way which I have been working on for just over a year now. Although it is heavily inspired by horror and drama films, it is kind of kitsch too. From the beginning, I have wanted the project to touch on darker, introspective themes but through different styles and approaches to production. I’m proud of where it is at currently so I think I will release it in the summer along with some music videos to accompany the release.

Later that evening Laurie told me he was planning to go to the studio soon. It seems these days he is never out of it. I admire his drive and determination and desire to shake up what sounds are coming out of the north of Ireland. A new voice is much needed. Let's hear it for the boy.