San Diego was recently graced with the presence of 21 year old DJ and producer Grant Kwiecinski, better known around the world as GRiZ. Hailing from Detroit this innovative artist has been turning a lot of heads with his unique and soulful tracks which feature glitchy bass, big synths, and tight grooves. GRiZ began producing his own music at the young age of fourteen and often incorporates live instrumentation into his shows. The House of Blues went crazy when he started jamming on the saxophone which made his set a truly memorable one. GRiZ took the time to answer some of our questions and share his view on the progression of dance music.
Red Hot Chili Peppers “Californication”. Still one of my favorite records to date. Gotta love those dudes. The baselines from Flea, those drum grooves and anthony keidis with his half rap rhyme vocalism. Hits me in the right places.
How did you get into listening to and producing electronic music?
Electronic music was first introduced to me by a good friend back in middle school. circa age 13 / 14 for me. It was Squarepusher (Tom Jenkinson) first, followed by Aphex Twin (RIchard D. James). Then it became an obsession to scour internet file sharing hubs and “allmusic.com” to find anything we might be missing. To me it was all about the Drum and Bass / glitch music crossover that sparked my interest so passionately. I loved what those dudes were doing with sound. Totally mind-fuck material, I love it.
What gear do you have in your studio?
My studio set up is very modest and simple (as I am sure it is with a majority of electronic music producers these days). Consistent of: MacBook Pro, persons digital interface, two krk 6″ monitors, headphones, a record player for sampling (and general listening), a midi keyboard, and an MPD 32. Often accompanied by my alto saxophone, a microphone, and other instrumentalists that might drop by (notably my buddy Dan Hacker aka “MuzzY” who plays a good amount of electric guitar for me).
Create a space where i would be free to produce music at any hour as loud as i wanted without interruption and situated with an amazing view of the Rocky Mountains. Also invest in teleportation technology. It would be great to not have to get on multiple planes every weekend! haha.
Where do you draw inspiration from to create music?
From a lot of different places. New experiences that made me feel totally out of place (travel mostly). Going to the record store and thumbing through vinyl all day. Other producers. Changes in weather. Coffee. Tons of other random stuff. Its just life when it hits you; at your worst or best. Those “oh shit” moments.
No one specifically (if the question was “Who has been a major influence to your music?” I would have a very different answer). The people who influence my career are those who challenge the ideas that I have but who are also the most supportive. You can’t just say “dude, that sound sucks” and expect some positive response. It’s no good to get down on people. We all want to feel like what we do or put forth in this world holds some value! A point of social validation or whatever. Genuine love is sometimes tricky to notice, and fake love is often hard to recognize. You gotta peel back those layers.
What’s it like touring with Gramatik?
One of the better things I have been able to do with my years. That dude is crazy talented and in tune with himself. I’m not gonna preach too much though. If you know his music, then you get it. On a side note, and possibly not too appropriate, but he smokes hella weed! Haha
On the Gramatik tour? House of Blues San Diego. One of the better sets that Denis (Gramatik) orchestrated. Crowd was nothin but smiles and bounce.
Overall for my career? There is a small cooperative living house ( think Fraternity for hippies ) in east lansing – my alma mater. We packed like 150 kids into a tiny basement light with one dinky black-light over my head with speakers and subs that were far too loud for that size of a room and rocked out for almost 4 hours straight. Im pretty sure everyone got alcohol poisoning that night. I have never seen kids go that crazy for that long and get so sweaty. I myself was fighting for space behind my computer. And it was raining sweat from the ceiling. It was one of those things you will never recreate no matter how hard you try. You just had to be there.
Haha. Oh man. Something to do with 2 of my friends, high school, a case of natty ice, a “borrowed” american flag… Have you ever seen the movie “Kids”?
What’s your take on the integration of dance music into pop culture?
The long answer is really long. So I guess I could condense some of what I feel here. You have terrible things: Madonna at Ultra Music Festival mocking EDM with a statement about drugs and an album oh so cleverly named MDNA, retail stores / commercial advertisers / tired celebrities exploiting the music, and censorship (this last one gets me a lot. I hear music or sounds and wanna mess around with it. turns out you can’t just do whatever you want. but, i probably won’t ever stop being a pirate). Then you also have the beautiful: conscious understanding of new music, the spread and popularization of the EDM sound style, artists with a means to create careers and follow dreams, unity and social harmony through electronic dance music (mostly all the simple shit that people tend to not put too much value on because those are the things that cost you nothing).
To continue this rant a bit, I believe that pop culture is and will always be a little fucked. There are those who dislike popularized things and those who only have time to find things that are popular for the reason that they are maybe not all too interested in it all. The haters and the movers and the shakers will keep pushing pop culture to change. Some of it will spastically catch on, people will hate on it for becoming popularized and the cycle will repeat. Nothing new here. Just a different time and thing.
What’s in the future for you?
Future stuff. Gimmie a crystal ball and I’ll tell ya.
Haha fair enough. Thanks for your time, see you next time you’re in SD!
Thanks guys. Show love spread love.
Check out Griz’s new groovy sample based electro hip-hop release “You Got to Change” packed with lots of soul and funk just in time for summer. The track achieves an amazing vibe built on old roots, live drumming, guitar and subtle vocals. Turn it up!
***Since this interview “You Got to Change” has hit #1 on the Hype Machine, congrats Grant!