It might seem like things are happening at lightning speed for 24-year-old British folk-rocker Jack Garratt. He released his debut album “Phase,” won a Critics Choice BRIT Award and BBC “Introducing Artist” and “Sound of 2016” awards. Yet he’s no overnight sensation. The Buckinghamshire native released five EPs on Island and recorded, then scrapped, a bluesy (but unsatisfactory) full-lengther called “Nickel and Dime” before maturing into his current Frank-Ocean and Jack-White-inspired sound. Before that, he was headed down a different career path.
So you were studying to be a gradeschool teacher?
Yes, I absolutely was. Music has always been a huge part of my life, and it was something I’d been doing since I was a child. And both my parents had music as a hobby, and my mom was a music teacher, so I had teaching in my blood. So I thought I’d become a primary school music teacher, just to follow suit. But as it turns out, I really did enjoy it. For a while.
What did your schooling entail?
Learning the theories behind music, and the best ways to teach children, including the handicapped. So I actually spent a year working at a primary school, one on one with the kids. And it was like therapy. But the moment that expanded into a whole group of children? That’s when I found it hard to deal. To me, it’s easier to stand before a group of strangers and play songs than it is to stand in front of a group of judgmental children. It was pretty intimidating.
But teaching and your songwriting began to overlap?
In my shows, I was always energetic, very outgoing and I moved around a lot. So my strengths were already there for teaching young children, and I found music to be really, really important. Kids absolutely love it. So I tried to teach them about the world, and how diverse its music is. But ultimately, it’s a terrifying thing, because children are so impressionable, and you have to be so careful about the impressions that they’re surrounded with.
Was it tough to finally quit teaching?
I had to do it. I’m not a big risk taker. I like to live life very safely. But I just didn’t want to be practical and stay in the same safe place, and feel unfulfilled and sad, and unable to express myself. So I had to give up everything, give up my education and just throw myself in the deep end in the hopes that music would pay off. And now things seem to be going really well.
IF YOU GO
Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., S.F.
When: 8:30 p.m. March 10
Tickets: $20 (sold out)
Contact: (415) 885-0750, www.slimspresents.com