GRiZ Talks About 4th Album, Detroit, and Collabing with Kids
Grant Kwiecinski is on the come up. Known more commonly by his stage name GRiZ, the 24 year old makes what his Twitter bio describes as “funk music with an electronic edge," but that only scratches the surface. We caught up with GRiZ, who was hanging out in Charlottesville, VA waiting for his sold out show at the Jefferson Theater, and chatted about his latest album, “Say It Loud” – his fourth one to date.
Discussing the way “Say It Loud” was created, GRiZ immediately mentioned how the fear of getting sued for sampling certainly influenced the creative direction of the production. This justified fear was countered by travelling around the nation “jamming, getting cool recordings,” and has translated into a purely authentic product. Everything heard on the album is original content, and the gathering process was “difficult,” but has paid off judging by the overwhelmingly positive reactions from listeners.
Although GRiZ embraces his growth as an artist, he notes that he is still the “same old me,” concluding his remark with a chuckle. “The same goal is trying to make kick ass music that’s fun to play live.” The fun doesn’t stop at GRiZ when he performs; because people “gravitate to the connection in the music” when instruments and DJing live is intermixed. He notes that the presence of live performances allows “more room for improvisation” which inherently creates a unique edge to every show. GRiZ also believes that in using live instruments, people see that it’s “not a gimmick versus pushing buttons.”
A humble guy, he doesn’t consider himself outstandingly different from what’s already out there. Shying away from the thought of being avant-garde, he notes many other electronic acts that incorporate live sax and reiterates that he’s “just trying to make good music and be happy.” Although understanding that “exploring sound is important,” he has “no conscious will to change things.”
It’s hard for GRiZ to pin down one specific favorite song of the album. “At one point every single song was my favorite song. The Anthem is fun to play live,” but considering the diversity in people featured and sounds projected, it’s no surprise that this was a difficult question to answer.
Reflecting on the process of collaborating with others, GRiZ flat out states that he’s a control freak. However, “let someone go and do their thing, they might surprise you and blow you out of the water. There definitely needs to be an element of trust.”
It is fascinating to speak with an artist who is so modest in his demeanor while topping the charts with a new album. I mentioned how far up “Say It Loud” is on the iTunes electronic charts, despite being free for download on his official website. The idea that people are willing to spend their money on something that could optionally be taken for free clearly resonates with GRiZ, as much as it should everyone else. “It’s really humbling that people believe in me and this music. It comes with a great responsibility and I’m slowly realizing it’s becoming a real thing. I appreciate the support from fans; it’s an honor that they are sharing their time to listen to this.”
Having featured a range of performers from Talib Kweli to Antibalas, GRiZ’s most curious collaboration was with the L.A.’s Children’s Chorus. He decided on this partnership because of “how it sounds,” having heard tasteful incorporation of choirs in songs before. The idea of bringing in “a choir of people in general” made sense to him, but also posed as a challenge. “It’s really hard to get a bunch of people to sing on one thing. It’s really nerve racking too…the most nerve racking thing I’ve ever done. Kids that are 7-11 years old aren’t going to show up by themselves. So the kids are singing their lyrics in the studio with parents in the back, watching them with their phones out. It’s a lot of pressure.”
GRiZ was quick to mention a number of Detroit-based influences that helped to shape who he is now as an artist. He first mentions the presence of Motown music, the kind of music he grew up with. This style of funk is arguably the foundation for GRiZ‘s overall sound. What is more significant is how he points to the work ethic of Detroit natives as a primary influence. “People there work really hard to get shit done.” The abrasive environment that spawns such a work ethic is part of what makes him so “humbled by the hometown support.”
Looking ahead, GRiZ is beyond excited for his Red Rocks show in September. “I’m going to put everything I have into that show. Very excited…infinitely stoked. One step at a time though, we got to rock this tour!”
Listen to the full album stream below.