“It was a fun process full of excitement and joy. We worked hard when we needed to, and went to the pub a couple of times when we didn’t,” the duo, who wrote the tune with both Smith and Napes in the studio, writes to Billboard. “We couldn’t believe Smithy wasn’t already famous. Sam had the personality, the look, the hair. You could definitely tell big things would be on the horizon.”
“Latch” was the complete opposite of what was occurring in the dance world at the time. As dubstep heroes like Benga, Bassnectar and Skrillex were pounding out intense bass drops and grimy synths, Disclosure opted for a verse-chorus-verse structure and poppier melodies. The more classic approach is what got radio DJs like Apple Music’s Beats 1 host Zane Lowe hooked on Disclosure’s sound.
“I remember when [BBC Radio 1 DJ] Annie Mac played an early demo from Disclosure and I was just blown away,” Lowe explains. “I was instantly like, ‘Who is this?’ I was super impressed by the fact that they were pulling lots of different influences: U.K. garage, a little deep house, R&B and pop.”
Like Lowe, many weren’t prepared for the “Latch” moment -- due to “Sam’s really big, diva-esque vocal with this beautiful vulnerability that was put over this thoughtful, modern hybrid dance music.” Yet the song didn’t make for an instant hit. It took two years after its release to peak at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. So why the long wait? “America's big, for starters,” explains Lowe. “It's a much longer hill to roll down.”
He credits “Latch” for changing dance music’s previous fan experience into becoming more personalized. “You didn't think, ‘I can't wait to go to the club tonight and lose my mind to this!’ You wanted to listen to it just as a song. [That sound] was something people didn't know they had an appetite for until Disclosure came along and reminded them.”
Once the success of “Latch” traveled across the pond and into other audiences, the song found homes in unexpected places beyond EDM. It peaked at No. 5 on R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay, No. 3 on Rhythmic Songs chart and No. 10 on Adult R&B Songs -- a rare occurrence for predominantly white British DJs at that time.