Interviewed by: Amelia Waters and Nicholas Lawrie
23 year old, Grant Kwiecinski a.k.a GRiZ, has been on top of his game since the release of his debut album, Mad Liberation, in 2012. He took time out of his busy schedule at Electric Forest festival to talk with us about the inception of GRiZ, the future of Grizmatik and Big Grizmatik and his opinions on the state of the music industry. Make sure to catch him play the Perry’s stage on Saturday, August 3rd at Lollapalooza Music Festival in Chicago. Get all your information on the festival here.
The Dankles: What has changed in the way you record and create music since the days under the name “GK”?
GRiZ: The whole “GK” project was kind of like the coming into understanding what Bass music was, right? So, I’ve been doing this since I was 14 and when I was doing the whole “GK” thing it was really in the box. Always in the box. I would use a lot of pre-made sounds, sound packs and all that kind of stuff. Then I kind of flipped the script and started recording myself playing guitar a lot, recording on my saxophone, recording my guitarist Dan and Muzzy playing guitar, recording pianos and all that kind of stuff. And then on top of that, doing sound design. Making sure every single sound you hear is homemade, so really putting the hard work in into making the sound, sound like me.
TD: Do you have a particular process when determining what samples to use in your tracks
G: Nah it’s kind of just whatever feels good. Ya know? You’ll hear it and it will kind of spark things, like melodies or the way you hear the song and you think it would be cool to chop this up, put that there, reverse that, extend that one part, speed it up, transfer that, use ba da das to make it sound like “Ba da da ba da da da” [sings], like transposing everything ya know?
TD: You were listed on Electric Forest’s lineup as Grizmatik. What brought you guys together to create Grizmatik and what is the concept behind it?
G: Well the whole Grizmatik thing came together really organically. Denis and I really wanted to make this song together and that was about it. And then our fans kind of did the rest. We’re like “Yo, we are working on a song together!” and then our fans were like “Alright Grizmatik, ah this is so cool!” and it just kind of happened out of that.
TD: What’s the atmosphere like when you’re in the studio with Gramatik to record music?
G: Lots of weed. [Laughs] It’s just a very back and forth thing, ya know? I’ll be working on something, Denis will be vibin’ and kind of direct the sound. We’ll work on it more, drink some more coffee, stay up to crazy hours of the night, not get much sleep and just hit it as hard as possible. It’s fun to vibe with someone else on a song, someone who really gets you and is on the same wave length.
TD: How are playing shows with Gramatik different that playing your solo shows?
G: Playing shows with Denis is a lot of fun, Denis and Eric, because we jam the guitar and sax back and forth a little more. Just playing with Denis, playing a show with one of my best friends is absolutely amazing, it’s fun as shit. It’s cool, it’s like you and one of your friends get to hang out with a bunch of people that just want to hang out. It’s cool.
TD: What is the song writing and recording process like on the road for your solo music and your side projects?
G: With the side projects it typical goes, if we get an idea we can shop it back and forth online. That’s really convenient. It’s better to do it in person. Last time I flew over to New York for a week to work on music with him [Denis]. Being on the road makes it really difficult to finish songs, but it’s a really conducive environment to start new ideas cause everything is so hectic and sometimes you get down time in the hotel room to work on some ideas and have some fun with that.
TD: After we saw your first Big Grizmatik show at Summer Camp Music Festival, we were blown away. What’s it like working with such high caliber musicians?
G: That’s interesting because everybody’s music has a different vibe to it. And it’s all about creating a set where all the vibes come together and work in this big picture, it’s kind of like collaging all these pieces together. That’s what’s so fun, we get to collage with the coolest pieces of music that I could think of collaging with. That’s what’s so awesome. I love these guy’s music so much, that it’s an honor to be able to be a part of it.
TD: Can we expect any original Big Grizmatik recorded music in the future?
G: Ya know, I’m not quite sure. That’s something that I think we’d really like to do. The three of us are all currently in the middle of working on our next records, they’re all probably going to be released within a short amount of time, which is really cool. So we all have our solo projects that take priority over everything else. When it comes down to it, I’d love to see us put together a couple songs with these guys, it would be really awesome.
TD: Anymore shows coming up for Big Grizmatik?
G: Big Grizmatik is something we are going to do maybe once a year. We just want to keep that the most special. Whenever it seems like the right moment, like this, this was the right moment. As for Grizmatik, yes, we have a few more plans, the details will be coming soon, but we have a few shows lined up for the fall. So I’m very excited about that.
TD: What is your current opinion on the state of the music industry? Is there anything in particular that has caught your ear as of late or anything you feel that needs to be done away with?
G: Well, I have a lot of opinions, but I don’t want to piss anyone off. But then again, whatever. The music industry right now feels like everybody is trying to be really new, and do the new thing, and it’s on this curve where so much music comes out that it’s hard for somebody to offer a piece of music to someone and expect it to stick around. The idea of longevity or being prolific is kind of yesterday’s news. It’s all about the new. How can you make the song new, fresh and grab people’s attention. I think that mentality is kind of weird. It’s always great to be pushing boundaries, I love seeing that. Everybody loves ingenuity, but youth doesn’t guarantee ingenuity. Myself personally, I really like everybody’s focus, even the the EDM guys, it seems like everyone is focusing on this kind of collaborative, more live aspect of music and kind of getting away from the “I just want to be up there on CDJs, by myself, doing my thing, playing other people’s music.”. I want to see more rock music personally. More rock and soul and funk music. That’s what people should look up. Rock music is really cool and I’m not talking about Lynyrd Skynyrd or whatever, more like the psychedelic rock stuff, I’d love to see more groups like Gary Clarke Jr. and The Black Keys. Also, the folk scene is insane. The Lumineers, Edward Sharpe and Mumford and Sons, those are three of my favorite groups.
TD: What would you say is your ultimate goal when sharing new music with the world?
G: To share the best part of me through music that I possibly can and be as honest as possible. Stay true to the things that I want to portray and not censor myself because of personal inhibitions.
:: Fun Questions ::
TD: Last time you attended a show that you didn’t play at?
G: I don’t know, we play so many shows it’s hard to think of. Oh, I went to hang out at Sonic Bloom and I got to catch Opiuo.
TD: Dream artist to work with dead or alive?
G: I think actually, right now there is this guy Shakey Graves who not many people know about at all, but he’s definitely up there. Led Zeppelin, though, would be the dream.
TD: When all the partying is over, how do you like to chill out?
G: Drinking lemonades, relaxing in the sun.
TD: What was the first and last album you purchased?
G: The first album I ever purchased was Red Hot Chili Peppers- Cali fornication and the last record I purchased was the Lumineers- Self Titled on iTunes.
TD: Last place you visited and never wanted to leave?
G: I really liked, I don’t know, there are so many really cool places. I really like the North West coast, it’s really great. Like Seattle. I think that was one of the most surprising places I’ve ever been to that I was very pleasantly surprised on how much I liked it. It was a lot like Lancing Michigan, where I spend a lot of my time. It’s always overcast and has a very familiar feeling to it.