post-modern alternative adventurousness. The Pittsburgh-born GRAMMY® Award-nominated
artist, multi-instrumentalist, and producer echoes the kind of grit meant to be smoothed out
only on vinyl and quietly emanates the vast ambition of a 21 st century festival draw on his 2019
full-length debut, HOAX [AWAL].
Growing up in Pittsburgh, he fixated on music at a young age. By four-years-old, he started
violin lessons. On the way to these lessons, his dad often blasted selections from both the
classical and classic rock canons. At ten, he used his lawnmowing money to purchase a Ray
Charles CD. He opened himself up to soul icons such as Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, and Solomon
Burke in addition to folk heroes like Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan. During junior high, he
commenced writing songs and taught himself piano, guitar, and drums. In order to learn the ins
and outs of production, he attended New York University with a major in Audio Engineering and
relocated to Brooklyn.
As he recorded solo music, Irish sensation James Vincent McMorrow invited Kevin on a U.S.
tour in 2015. Simultaneously, his independent debut EP, Mellow Drama, attracted acclaim from
The Fader, Complex, Vibe, Pancakes & Whiskey, and more and yielded a hit in the form of
“Coloring.” Organically featured on key Spotify playlists, it racked up 30 million-plus streams.
Beyond gigs alongside everyone from Alessia Cara to Mumford & Sons and electrifying festival
performances at Bonnaroo, Latitude & Longitude, and Sasquatch, he contributed “Pray You
Catch Me” as the opener to Beyoncé’s blockbuster Lemonade, sharing co-writing and co-
production with the superstar and James Blake.
2017 saw him sell out his first headline tour. It marked “a luxurious moment as we upgraded
from my Toyota Highlander to a Sprinter Van,” he laughs.
During 2018, he retreated to Durham, NC in order to record with producer Brad Cook [War On
Drugs, Bon Iver]. Together, they refined his signature “odd soul” style with an emphasis on
organic and acoustic instruments, tones, and textures.
“I had three words on my mind: ‘restraint,’ ‘refinement’, and ‘purpose’. I wanted to show
restraint. I also tried to refine my approach. Purpose was important, because everything is
intentional with me. The record is a commentary on what we don’t spend enough time on. It’s
an inward reflection on love or lack of emotions in this realm. The initial part is trying to unpack
the feelings in my head. It’s like I’m alone in front of a mirror asking, ‘How did we get here?’”
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He introduced HOAX with the stark and simmering “In Case I Don’t Feel.” Backed by delicately
plucked acoustic guitar and plaintive piano, he relays an unfiltered message.
He says, “I’m telling this person, ‘If you’re going to leave me, I want you to break me as much as
you can, so I know not to do whatever I did again’.”
The opener “Warn” materializes from a smoky orchestral hum into jazz-y nocturnal keys and
breathy delivery punctuated by pained proclamations such as, “But you don’t love me at all.”
Elsewhere, “Telescopes” projects raw sentimentality over airy guitar and a minimalist
soundscape. The second single “Faith You Might” hinges on acoustic strumming and warm
strings as his voice stretches to head-spinning heights.
“‘Faith You Might’ is about longing for something to last, but being aware you’re getting older
and might not be on the same page with the object of your affection, no matter how much you
want to be,” he goes on. “Conceptually, it’s how we react to a breakup or losing something.
Every track has pieces of me which can be assembled to give you a clear perspective on who I
Those scars and experiences ultimately inform Kevin’s brand of bold and blunt soul, which
always ensures a lasting connection.
“Listeners will relate to Hoax in their own way,” he leaves off. “The overarching message is the
necessity of growth and self-analysis of both your personality and temperament. In dealing with
my journey on the road and through the music business, the one thing I’ve learned about
myself is that everything is reactionary. We benefit from a certain awareness of our reactions
though. Sure, it’s totally fine to be impulsive. The point of this album is to show you need to be
thoughtful of yourself and how you actually communicate though. If you can be mindful of your
own sadness, you can get out of it.”
|May 9, 2019 11:00 pm||Adelaide Radio Hall, Thursday May 9 – Kevin Garrett with Clavvs|