Miami-based DJ Nitti Gritti is a jack of all trades, and a master of them all.
Since his first releases in 2016, he has flawlessly produced genres across the board from hip-hop and trap to house, bass, and even rock. With one Latin Grammy Award win and one Grammy nod under his belt, Nitti Gritti launched his duo SIDEPIECE in 2019 with Party Favor, which quickly exploded in popularity. If there's one thing that's true about the producer, it's that he's always remained at the forefront of the scene.
At HARD Summer 2021, his back-to-back set with Wuki delivered his signature high-octane punch. Dressed in corresponding animal print, the pair threw down an immaculate set at the Harder Stage. In addition to pyrotechnics shooting from the stage, clever transitions, and the perfect amount of vocal hype, the tandem’s friendship radiated throughout the arena.
Later that night at the more intimate Corona Electric Beach tent, Nitti Gritti delivered a wild, bass-fueled solo set. His animated facial expressions and contagious energy are unmatched.
Nitti Gritti sat down with EDM.com ahead of his HARD Summer performances to talk about growing up in Haiti, his musical influences, and how he stays motivated.
EDM.com: You and Wuki are performing together at HARD. How did you guys end up collaborating?
We’ve just been homies for years now. Actually, the way this happened was we did a tour in 2020 that was cut off by the quarantine. We had this in the pipeline, so this was almost a re-booking in a sense. Basically it was part of the tour, so it ended up being a nice back-to-back kind of thing. But we’re homies, touring together all the time, just good friends.
EDM.com: I read that you lived in Haiti for eight years. It’s no secret that Haiti is going through a tumultuous time right now—what was your experience living there? Are you connected with anyone there at the moment?
Yeah, my best friend lives there. I was the best man at his wedding. It’s pretty tough. I was always back and forth because of governmental unrest. I moved back and forth quite a few times.
It sucks because there’s such a big shadow over it, but the country is beautiful. All my best friends are from there. The beaches are incredible. The music, the culture, everything’s incredible. But yeah, it’s just one of those third world countries that’s not really out of the shitty part of their history right now.
EDM.com: You’re a very diverse producer. What are your influences?
Same thing, just diverse. When I was growing up I was into Christian music—like church music—because I led worship. My parents were missionaries. Then I started getting into the opposite, super heavy stuff, like Slipknot and Suicide Silence. Super heavy metal.
Then I remember discovering Childish Gambino, Chiddy Bang, all these cool indie rappers. And then deadmau5, Skrillex, Diplo—all the OG electronic music. Well, OG for me at least. I know it goes way further back. Even pop music—I love Coldplay. I’ve only been to a couple of concerts in my lifetime, and I’ve been to two Coldplay concerts, so that’s saying something.
EDM.com: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your career in music that you would pass along to others?
It’s two things that go hand in hand: patience and persistence. A push and pull between those two. Waiting for your moments, but also pushing for them. Because you can’t be waiting, but not doing anything. So you have to have both going at the same time.
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It sounds super simple but it’s really hard to control it. To be like, “Okay I’m going to wait for this stuff to happen, and work hard enough to be persistent for it.” It’s crazy, those two words have always stuck with me. They have to be balanced for your shit to work.
EDM.com: House music is having a big moment right now in the scene. What was your inspiration to start working on SIDEPIECE?
Ironically when I lived in Haiti, the first electronic music I was exposed to was electro house back in like 2008. All the French Tecktonik stuff like that. And Haiti also had Kompa, which is like Caribbean music. Even Club Space Miami has that very Caribbean-infused type of house. So that was where it all started for me.
So basically [SIDEPIECE] was like a big return for me. I always loved house, but it was like I finally got good enough at producing to realize, “Oh wow, I know how to make this now and I understand the culture from when I was a kid. So let me re-up and discover what the current state of it is." I’ve been working on certain house music with Diplo a lot, and me and [Party Favor] talk and it just kind of all worked out, very organic.
I almost forget I’ve done house this whole time. I’ve released Confession EPs, but there’s just such a specific style with “On My Mind” and “Temptation” and these records that we make that are way super deep into the genre. It really is just pure house.
EDM.com: You used to produce under your own name, Ricky Mears. Why did you switch to Nitti Gritti?
There was kind of a moment where we were just excited to start fresh. It was just a whole branding thing. I made “Put a Little Grit In It,” “Dirty Dancing,” all these OG Nitti Gritti songs when I didn’t have the name yet. I had them and we were like, “It just doesn’t sound like Ricky Mears.” So we just decided to create a new alias, and then it just took off.
EDM.com: When you’re not making music or performing for a crowd, what do you do to stay motivated, productive, and inspired?
In my opinion, you don’t do anything. You can’t force that. So you have to do just like, nothing. I’ve had my best ideas when I’m not doing anything.
I love LEGOs, I love cars. I’ll just be driving my car, just hanging out, playing video games, anything relaxing. And that’s when it hits. Like all of sudden you’re like, “Oh shit I have an idea, now I’ll go work.”
I read this whole article on it, like why you get good ideas when you’re not doing anything because you’re so relaxed. It’s almost like having a closed fist, you can't put something in there when you’re busy. And then when you’re in the shower and you’re open, it just drops in.
EDM.com: Your newest collaboration with Chase Paves and shndō came out Friday. How did you link up with them?
I’ve known shndō forever, that’s my fucking boy. He produced “Peaches” for Bieber this past year actually. I have two managers and we share my original manager. Just a great guy.
And then I met Chase through TikTok. Just a dope rapper, and we just always collaborate when I’m in LA. With “I’m Feelin Good” and “Guest List,” that was just trying to mix like UK drill with UK bassline and trap with the house shit. Kind of have the Pop Smoke vibe with the UK mixed in—I thought it was a fun thing to try.