Gramatik is very busy man- he has put out ten releases between 2008-2012, signed to Pretty Lights Music, collaborated with other major artists, and has toured the world. He took time out of his busy schedule to talk with us about leaving Pretty Lights Music to start his own label, what it’s like to play again at Snowball Music Festival, and what him and GRiZ are up to as Grizmatik. Make sure to catch both of them play the main stage on Sunday March 10th at Snowball Music Festival, get all your info on the festival here.
The Dankles: Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with us. We’ll start out with the basics, what is your name, age, and hometown?
Gramatik: My name is Denis Jasarevic, I come from Portoroz, Slovenia, and I’m 28 years old.
TD: How does it feel going from playing one of the tents at Snowball Music Festival last year to playing on the main stage this year alongside GRiZ?
G: It’s pretty funny actually because Grant and I met last year at Snowball and now we’re one of the headliners playing on the main stage together as Grizmatik. Lots has happend in the past year- we’ve been working in the studio and going on tour together so we’re both really excited to play together there.
TD: What is it like collaborating with another artist like GRiZ and sharing the stage with another producer?
G: It’s really awesome because we feed off each other’s energy and both do crazy stuff that we would never do in our individual sets. We get super excited about it and I think the crowd can feel that energy that we give off while we’re having fun on stage. It’s like combining both the energies of our shows into one single set so it’s way more intense.
TD: You guys have been in the studio together these past few days working on new tracks, what are your plans for future releases under the Grizmatik name?
G: We just finished this new single which we’re both very stoked about- we don’t have any release plans yet though because we literally just finished it a few hours ago. We don’t even have a title for it yet but we’ll be playing it at our live shows, starting with our Riviera show in Chicago.
TD: You recently left Pretty Lights Music to start your own label, how did this come about and what can you tell us about Lowtemp?
G: Having my own label and being completely independent has been my lifelong goal. For me, that’s what I think every artist wants is complete creative and executive control of their own artistry. So this was just the next logical step in my career and Derek has helped me get to that goal. The name Lowtemp means low temperature, which implies that the label is putting out “cool” music. In terms of a label, for right now it’s going to be a home for my own music and for my closest friends, we’re not looking into signing new artists right now. In the past few months we recorded two albums worth of material and we’re dropping the first album sometime in May, which will be the second Lowtemp project. The first Lowtemp project will be my own album, which is entitled The Age of Reason.
TD: Your first single off The Age of Reason, “Bluestep,” incorporates lots of different genres and takes the sounds of #digitalfreedom to a different level. Is this the direction of what the new album will be like or what can we expect from the rest of the tracks?
G: The Age of Reason is definitely going to be the most diverse album I’ve put out, with all ten tracks sounding different. Some of them will be Street Bangers style tracks, while others will sound more like the releases off #digitalfreedom, so there will definitely be something for everybody. I’ve discovered I have fans that belong to a certain period of time in my career, and they’ll ask things like “why don’t you release more music like Street Bangers, Vol. 1?” But I’m not that kind of person, I always want to grow and evolve and my appetite for music is way bigger than just one genre. I never abandon any style though, I just go through different periods where I incorporate certain genres more than others. As an evolving producer, I’m able to include all those past genres that I’ve used into one cohesive picture so I think I’d call this the most “Gramatik” album I’ve ever made.
TD: We’re very excited about that, is there a release date set for it yet?
G: Sometime in Spring, hopefully in the beginning of April.
TD: How is your relationship with Derek and the rest of the Pretty Lights Music label after leaving?
G: I had been talking to Derek about the idea of starting my own label from the beginning so he’s been super supportive throughout the whole process. We’ll still be a family forever- I’ll still do remixes any time Derek wants me to or anything like that and we’re definitely going to do more shows together, like at Basslights a few months ago.
TD: When you’re not working on album after album to give away for free and tour the world, what do you find yourself doing in your free time?
G: When I’m not on tour, I’m pretty much always making music, but on top of that I’m a huge cinematography buff. One of my good friends writes scripts and we’ve been talking about making movies since we were kids growing up in Slovenia, so in the future I’d like to get involved in filmmaking with him.
TD: You’re a very strong advocate for free and open music, how do you think the music industry is adapting to our technological generation and would could it be doing better?
G: It’s definitely adapting- people are becoming more and more understanding of how we use the internet for music. We’re finally getting to the point where people are realizing that it’s so vital in society that it can’t just be disregarded or neglected anymore. Even though all the corporations are constantly lobbying to gain complete control over the internet, people are starting to fight back now. I worry that they’re going to eventually figure out a way to take the internet away from us though so we all need to work together and make sure we’re aware of this.
TD: At what age did you start making music? What style did you make and when did you make the switch to electronic music?
G: I started in the eighth grade making hip-hop beats on the computer because I loved to rap at the time and I wanted to have my own beats to freestyle over. After growing up I realized rapping wasn’t really going to do anything for me, so I started to produce more and more and realized I was pretty good at it. From there I started to incorporate all the different genres I was listening to at the time and trying out different sounds, and eventually that became my life.
TD: Growing up, what styles of music influenced the music you make now?
G: I listened to a lot of different music growing up. I was really influenced by people that were making a mark in the music world, regardless of genre. In my music I incorporate all the different genres that I grew up listening to and try and give my own interpretation of them.
TD: When you go on tour, what’s the one thing you can’t leave behind?
G: The one thing would probably have to be my rolling papers, I can’t go anywhere without them [laughs].
TD: What do you have playing on your iPod right now?
G: Recently I’ve been into old singles, songs from the 50’s and 60’s like Muddy Waters and stuff like that. Listening to that kind of music really inspires me when I’m writing and it especially shows in The Age of Reason.
TD: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today, any last words you want to shout out to your fans?
G: Brush your teeth and eat your vegetables. I can’t wait to see you all at Snowball Music Festival even though we’ll all be freezing our balls off!