We chatted with Grant Kwiecinski aka GRiZ the other day about everything from his new album to halloween parties and even Yeezus. Grant is a real mellow dude who has a burning desire to represent his home city and express his love for music. But just because he’s mellow doesn’t mean he can’t get down. After talking with him I’m quite excited to see what his new album has to offer. It’s really cool to note that when he talked about performing he say “we perform” as to always include his hard working team. I think that says a lot about him. Now on with the interview!
Maxx: Hey Grant. Thanks for taking time to chat. You just played Tomorrowworld. How was that? Was it what you expected?
Griz: So I feel that I kind of expected the international presentation to be there and I definitely saw that. A lot of national pride which is a great thing to see, even though I feel like flags can sometimes create barriers, but more than that it creates a sense of awareness of a presence of other cultures which is awesome. I was a little dismayed to see the bigger house kind of stuff and progressive house, trance. It’s definitely international and may even be considered the international sound, ya know…house music. Going into the concert with that kind of presumption was, I guess, negative because my music was so well received and I never should have doubted it. It went over super well and the energy was amazing. Stage production was unique and something different. As far as a festival goes, that pre-party was rockin!
M: You’re hosting a Halloween costume party in Detroit. Tell me about that?
G: So that will be my biggest solo headline show to date. That’s coming up October 26th at the Masonic Temple and the venue is breathtaking. It’s one of the most beautiful venues I’ve ever seen. And it’s so fantastic that it’s in the hometown, right in the heart of the city. This is one of those things that I’m so excited for, and I feel so blessed to play a place like that. It’s gonna be this amazing confluence of the energy of a live show and the ruse that is Halloween. The fact that the show is called Freaky Deaky is kinda culminating this perfect storm. The cast for the show is amazing too. Danny Brown who is a Detroit native, Freddy Todd as well, and Kill Paris. It’s a killer lineup. It’s gonna be a sick night to throw all this stuff and energy into a melting pot and have it explode. [TICKETS HERE]
M: You’re gonna wear a costume for performance?
G: Absolutely! Hell yea!
M: Do you know what you’re going to be?
G: Yea we know exactly what we are gonna be, me and my guitarist, but I dont wanna blow the lid on that. Coming from the Funk, Blues, Soul background the costume attire will make a ton of sense.
M: When is the official release date for Rebel Era?
G: I wish that I could give you the date we have in mind for it but we were looking at mid ]-September. The honest truth is, because I feel that it is deserving, it got pushed back initially because I was working on perfecting everything and I had this perfect date in mind and things got the best of me. I get caught up in the sound and I come out with the final product for what I think the album is. Then I put it on my phone and listen to it habitually to make sure everything is fixed.
And then there’s all these little things: the flow’s not right, the track listing’s not right, I need one more this kind of song, I need one song to be shorter, I need less of this kind of sound, this song isn’t mastered correctly. So, going through a lot of tweaks and changes pushed it into September. Then we need time to promote it and put it in the proper places and right now what’s really holding it up is basically sample clearance issues in “Getting Live” which is the lead track off the album ’cause I just think its a real good idea opener for the record, phonetically and [because of] the journey it takes you through. The opening sample is from the movie Django and we can’t clear that sample so I have to send those parts out to horn players that we put together and hip-hop artists and remake the song then clear the sample with the writers instead of the publisher.
M: Damn that’s some dedication. You posted on your Facebook, “And even in hard times, I know that the sun gonna shine… #RebelEra.” Is that a sample from the album?
G: Those are lyrics that I wrote to replace a sample from my song “Hard Times” that we have a video coming out with which is a video of Movement Festival footage and b-roll we shot roaming around Detroit showing the general aesthetic of the city. [We’re] giving people another side of that, showing what everyone is talking about. A lot of people are talking about it and have a point of reference but don’t have a visual to go along with it. This is what we are talking about: abandoned buildings, lots of art/graffiti, a low population density…I think it happened perfectly. It rained so hard during my set time at Movement Fest but these kids came out and showed so much love for the set and for everyone’s music. That intense rain and prevailing attitude of everyone is like the perfect dichotomy for whats going on in Detroit right now.
M: Any collabs on the new album you can tell us about?
G: I have a feature with this group I’m releasing on a record label that I’m coming out with and it will be the second release after Rebel Era. I have a feature with one of my best friends Dominic Lolli, the saxophone player for Big Gigantic. He plays the last note of the whole record playing saxophone. Its this beautiful, super soulful, jazzy, solo session.
As far as other collaborations, I’m not a huge fan of an album that has more features than originals. I wanna hear “what are this guys thoughts?” So I kept that to a minimum and just have features of people that I have love for their style and craft. In the case of the track that I have Dominic featured on: he is such an insanely good saxophone player and I don’t feel like people get to hear that side of him playing like that very often in the Big Gigantic scene. He plays sick melodies and not so much solo work so featuring that and putting it in the spotlight I think is really cool.
M: Where do you do most of your producing? Road, Home, or Wherever you can?
G: It’s more of like a wherever I can thing right now. Whenever the inspiration hits is the best time to get musical work done. Whether that’s in the middle of a nap on a plane and I have to whip my laptop out and knock something out, or in the studio in Detroit, or back at my place in Boulder, in a moving car on the way to the venue, or in a green room before the show that evening. It’s so many different places and phases right now cause I feel like my life is so fuckin scattered. I’m in so many different places at the same time mentally and physically. It’s like this ultimate journey picking stuff up and grabbing inspiration from so many different places that creates a worldly, inspiring platform to make music.
M: What have you been jamming to lately beside your own music?
G: I love the electro soul, that’s what speaks to my heart, the funk. I’ve really been digging a lot of the Jersey club stuff. Like Cashmire Cat is killin it. Just beautiful beat music. Ta-ku’s stuff. And then the go-to’s: The Lumineers, Mumford and Sons, Edward Sharpe, and The Shakey Graves. That story-telling, awesome, folk music is so soulful in its own way. I’ve been loving that stuff
M: That folk style music has been booming in popularity lately.
G: Yea man! Folk music right? Out of anything. What the Fuck!? But I love it.
M: Haha. I’m backing it too. There’s a buzz right now about the Electric Zoo incident being brought into public light. Give me your two cents on the situation and this whole scene in general. Does something need to change? What’s going on?
G: People aren’t taking care of each other as much as they could be, and that’s kinda the sad bit. They are more willing to point their camera at someone to save that silly moment rather than take action for something. It’s important to take care of people. Talking about this stuff is important too, talking about drugs, being careful, drinking water [etc.]
Understanding compassion and empathy are two amazing qualities that can save lives, I think. We need to take care of this scene that has accepted everyone from all creeds and cultures. That’s very important if we wanna keep this kind of stuff up and we wanna keep going with the positive EDM scene and not turn into this burnout culture, like past rave scenes.
If we want more cops at venues shaking people down and creating not-as-positive show environments then I think we are heading down the right path. I don’t think thats what people want. I think people want an awesome, beautiful, and exciting place to go to shows. If we want that I think we need to take care of each other better.
M: I agree. On a different note, you were scheduled to play a show with Thievery Corporation recently and it got canceled. What happened and are you gonna try to do it again?
G: It would be really cool! I think this is the answer that sometimes people don’t wanna hear, but it’s promoters man. People like to lie and blow things up. They canceled the show because of low ticket sales and that’s not a good sign for anyone. That falls on all parties involved, ya know? The promoter not promoting the show well enough, cause they know we can sell tickets, and Thievery sells tickets, and Emancipator. We all sell tickets.
We’ve sold enough tickets to sell that place out hundreds and hundreds of times over and over again, but the promoters need to do their job and get the word out so they can sell enough tickets. But they had lied to us and said they had X amount of pre-sales sold and RSVPs for the event. Then they reported when they canceled the show they only had 50% of the amount of pre-sales they originally said. It’s just bad business thats why that kind of stuff happens. It’s bad to see but it happens.
M: Thats a bummer to hear I would love to see that lineup arise again sometime…OK, quick game: What are your top 3 hip-hop artists at the moment.
G: 1.Tribe called quest is always a #1 for me 2.Chance the rapper I’ve been picking up a lot lately 3.Someone killing it super hard and a go to right now I think is Kendrick
M: You saw he’s going on tour with Kanye right?
G: Yea! That gonna be a massive tour.
M: What do you think about Yeezus? Did you listen to it?
G: Yea I did listen to it. I think there is some positives, butas far as trying to do something new? It doesn’t seem new to me, but I’m not everybody else. The good thing is that, coming from a hip hop background, for Kanye to do that allows people to look at hip hop in a new way. He’s doing something fantastic there, [but] I feel like using modulated synth sounds and making weird noises is nothing new at all. It was a cool experiment and he paved the way for new things in hip hop I think for sure.
M: Anything else you wanna plug or anything I didn’t touch on?
G: Just that I’m really excited about this album. It’s everything I’m thinking about as far as electronic music goes now. Things that I’m really vibin’ to and lovin’. It will be released on my record label which I’ll be giving more details on soon. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do. Ever since the idea was introduced to me I was like, “that’s so cool you can choose what music and help promote it.” Oh and the tour of course! Rebel Era tour coming to a city near you with brand new production and awesome treats along the way! Amazing musical support. Just the next chapter in things that I see as far as live production for myself at the moment.
M: Well thanks for chatting and good luck with wrapping up the album and everything else! Peace.
G: Peace out!
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