Those who were there may remember several distinguishing characteristics of Disclosure’s 2013 debut Coachella performance. One was that it was a dance music set that wasn’t happening in the festival’s dance-focused Sahara tent, then a cavernous, thundering EDM juggernaut forged from metal and lasers. Nor were they in the festival’s newly launched underground club-focused Yuma tent.
Instead, the Lawrence brothers played the Gobi stage, a sort of catchall space for a diverse range of acts that draw large crowds but don’t yet (or any longer) have the mega-cache for the festival’s bigger stages. In the Gobi, Disclosure drew a respectably packed crowd that, unlike the Sahara’s early twenty-something horde, ranged from teens to middle-aged ravers.
But what those in attendance most likely remember is simply the music, with Disclosure’s Guy and Howard Lawrence hosting a sweaty, raucous full-on house music party packed with material from the debut album, Settle, which had been released nearly a year prior in May of 2013. The brothers closed the show with their massive singalong “Latch,” which a then relatively unknown vocalist named Sam Smith came onstage to deliver.
But while the crowd went wild for the song, it would be more than a year until the single transcended the more insular dance scene to become a full-fledged hit and electronic genre bellwether.
“We decided to go with ‘Latch’ as a single after seeing crowds react to it live,” Cherrytree Records chairman Martin Kierszenbaum told Billboard in 2014. “We wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. But it took almost two years to work it to where it is now.”
Having the brothers hustle from sets to interviews to radio station meet-and-greets indeed paid off in time, with the song spending three weeks on top of Billboard’s Hot Dance/Electronic songs chart, from August 2-23, 2014. During this same period it was also in the midst of a 33-week run on the Hot 100, where it peaked at No. 7 on the chart dated August 8, 2014.
It was a major moment for the trajectory of modern dance music, and one created by an act whose members were at the time just 18 and 21 years old. While the EDM boom of the early 2010s had been fueled by the often paint-by-numbers sound of mainstage EDM and its corresponding hit-you-over-the-head-with-a-hammer drops, Disclosure’s sound was more connected to the origins of dance music itself.
Taking inspiration from Chicago house and UK 2-step, Settle was thus an education as much as it was a party, with the music demonstrating to audiences too young to catch dance music’s first round of mainstream popularity what the roots of the genre sounded like. The album;’s biggest, brassiest and most pop-oriented cut, “Latch” was a exceptionally welcoming door to entry for this course in dance music history — and one which bridged the dance music generation gap like no modern act had done before.
“We’re trying to bring class and soul into the songwriting … using jazz chords that have emotion instead of boring, stabby EDM triads,” Howard Lawrence told Billboard in that same 2014 cover story. “You can play ‘Latch’ in a massive nightclub or cover it in a jazz ensemble.”
Seven year after its release and six after it became a worldwide phenomenon, “Latch” is still a staple of Disclosure sets, with the duo graduating to the two biggest stages at Coachella in the years following their sweaty, seminal Gobi tent debut. The duo’s third LP, Energy, is out August 28.