I’ve been at House of Blues since 7 PM. I forgot my I.D. I swear I’m 23. Damn it. Home and back. Ok, so now I’ve been at House of Blues since 7:45. I love seeing the empty space before the madness of a show –a little natural light seeping in from under closed doors, staff setting up gear, promoters wandering and texting incessantly.
[pullquote3 align="right"]After forming a Beatles cover band in elementary school that would quickly rise to town superstardom, Gramatik was hooked[/pullquote3]
Gramatik arrives and his crew sets up shop. Sound check. The show is going to be sick. The bass reverberates unapologetically, feeling heavier without a room full of bodies to capture its energy. Exhausted from a four-hour drive from LA (Umm, why did no one warn them that you can’t travel LA, San Diego on a Friday at 3, the tour manager decries later.), they head to the hotel. Fine, no interview yet. I eat pizza.
Several hours later I’m in a cramped green room at the House of Blues, sharing casual and friendly chit-chat about music production, travel, and #digitalfreedom with Gramatik and posse. The Slovenian artist has been on the road for the last two months with a friend, a guitar player and a tour manager named Joe. At one point on the tour they had nine guys in a bus (“Wayyyyy too many dudes”), and are ecstatic to not be spending their nights in Wal-Mart parking lots. (“Everyone in there is weird and all the stuff is weird” Ales, the guitar player, adds). Known for his chill out hip-hop beats and, more recently, a wave of dub and experimental sounds, Gramatik explains that his range is a result of a diverse musical background.
After forming a Beatles cover band in elementary school that would quickly rise to town superstardom, Gramatik was hooked on music for life. Then came hip-hop, and then came No Shortcuts. Ok, maybe it didn’t happen that quickly, but the evolution into his dub album No Shortcuts was natural. “As I grew up and my appetite for music only got bigger, I just couldn’t settle down in hip hop. Good music is so much more larger than one genre to me,” he says. And that mantra shows through in his sampling, which includes hip-hop, funk, and soul and is present even in his dubstep productions. When I ask how he’s found such great clips, he doesn’t hesitate. “Shazam,” says Gramatik, “that application was like a gift from God for everyone that’s been crate diggin’.”
It was the early 90s and “I was totally overtaken, obsessed completely,”
Coming from a small town on the Mediterranean coast, hip-hop came a little late to Gramatik’s ears, although influences from the larger musical hotspots in Europe were easily accessible. It was the early 90s and “I was totally overtaken, obsessed completely,” says Gramatik, whose first hip-hop CDs were 36 Chambers by Wu Tang Clan and Snoop Dogg’s Doggy Style. Before that, Gramatik was unhappily forced by his parents to take piano lessons, a chore that paid off in his music production later in life. “When you’re 7 your brain is not evolved enough to appreciate that kind of music,” but having that background became imperative to visualizing and understanding composition when he started producing.
Gramatik is not only unique in his dynamic music taste, but probably most surprisingly, in his philosophy on music sharing. In a world where most artists are fighting to keep their music from being acquired for free, Gramatik has made file-sharing part of his artistic being. Regarding his latest release #digitalfreedom he says, “My new EP bares the title #digitalfreedom. As an artist that based his entire career on the platform of free file sharing, I’m dedicating it to the fight against severe Internet censorship bills we’ve been hearing about so much in the past months. Bastards have been trying to cripple the Internet on a global scale with bills like ACTA/SOPA/PIPA and I’m sure there’s more of them coming, so this one goes out for spreading awareness! Reject them all, they will never stop the sharing, the Internet is our realm.”