In conversation with GRiZ
GRiZ’s sound is a mixture of electronic elements, funk, hip-hop and bass. Last year saw him release his acclaimed ‘Ride Waves’ album, which featured collaborations with the likes of Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg. He completed two tours of the US around the album, taking in over 30 shows in the process.
To give a bit of background, Last year his collaboration with Subtronics, ‘Griztronics’, hit huge success, becoming the #1 trending song on Tik Tok and was placed in a number of end-of-year lists, including Billboard’s Top 50 dance songs of the year. GRiZ’s message is all about showing love and spreading love, and every year he launches a GRiZmas initiative , consisting of a number of events to raise money for local causes (including group meditation etc…), amassing over $100,000 this year, and he is an advocate for LGBTQ+ community, after coming out in an open letter via the Huffington Post. GRiZ has also just been announced high on the bill at this year’s Coachella, which was moved to a later date this year, and performed also at last years’s Electronic Family festival in the Netherlands.
I had the opportunity to speak with Grant about his work and his life. See below the full interview:
What were your beginning with electronic music like?
I think that the best things in life come to you out of places that are unexpected and out of leaving yourself open to putting energy into things & letting that energy flow you into the next space instead of trying to push against the currents. I'm putting energy out there and if it's not resonating back to me, then i'm gonna switch it up.
When I was 14, my friend's older brother introduced me to music production software and electronic music, so we got it all in once and I was already musical at the time playing an instrument and I loved working on music. It was always just easy to do it, I did not have to sit myself down and push myself to do it so it kind of came naturally. And here we are now, still feel the same and that hasn't changed.
Could you firstly tell me more about your twelve day festival called GRiZmas?
I think that the most important thing is an invention to bring fans into Detroit from even the times when Detroit was less populated city as compared to a lot of other cities, Detroit is many things and for sure a very musical city as well. Due to the amount of fans we really wanted to engage with the fans and have fun besides the primary objective which is to raise money for charity.
When I was in elementary school I was offered to play a musical instrument like many other kids. Back in 2009 many music school programs were cut in public schools in Detroit. We can contribute by creating an solution which is GRiZmas. With the primary objective to raise money for charity. What the charity then does is that they offer after-school music programs and arts programs as well as computer technology programs to kids. We hope this can be as inspiration also for other people to get involved as well. While it won't fully solve the problem, as the education issue is way larger than anytime before.
How did you become an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and what are the positive outcomes since you have started?
I saw my position in the music scene as a place of visibility, people see me on stage. When i was growing up, I did not have many role models to look at that i could particularly relate to. I represent myself, therefore I needed to be first comfortable with myself and what was going on with me. So I wanted to find myself in the good space with it and now I use this platform as an extension to show kids that it is cool to be gay, and it's lame to be gay & and it's normal to be gay. I think that by exposing different lifestyles it becomes more "normal".
Describe Amsterdam with your own words.
Hazy but on point. Dream-like in a way for sure. It surely changes in different seasons and it's always a cool experience.
What are your expectations of Coachella as this year sees you make your debut?
I'm excited. I've been playing at festivals for almost a decade and this is one I have never played at, as we were waiting for it to be the right time besides being in the right mental space with what the festival has to offer. Playing this year it's really fantastic to come at it from a place of ownership of my brand and who I am, which also comes to a great realisation that GRiZ is counter culture and at a place like Coachella that is really cool. I think that people from Coachella try to think outside of the box and keep it new and fresh. I’m also excited about releasing some new tracks there and show people that dance music has so many different faces and put our flag on the moon, check it out.
What is your message with creating music?
I just want it to be emotional and reflecting of my feelings and honest. Positively, inclusivety and pride of course. Deep down the surface for it to be emotional. I want you to come to my show and cry, get chills, give somebody a hug… music is all these different things to me.
How was it like collaborationg with the likes of Wiz Kalifa, Snopp Dogg to name a few on your new album?
They're cultural icons and I have been listening to their music forever. I never though I would have an opportunity to even have a conversation with them let alone have their vibe mingling with my music. Still the experience hasn't sunk in yet. It's such an honor.
What else do you have planned this year?
Among many festivals internationally both completely new shows or some I have played before, also releasing a lot of new music this year. Continue to keep things fresh and come out with new music and enjoy the experience.