Interview: GRiZ

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Over the last decade, electronic dance music (or EDM for short) has become extremely popular. No longer is the genre limited to college parties and night clubs; it has gone completely mainstream, with artists such as Avicii, Deadmau5, and Skrillex becoming huge radio success stories. I recently had the opportunity to interview an up and coming EDM artist that goes by the name GRiZ.

Grant Kwiecinski (a.k.a. GRiZ) separates himself from other EDM artist by infusing his funky dance music with his sax-infused beats. He credits his remix of Aerosmith’s “Dream On” as his big break, but it was the release of his first album, Mad Liberation, that truly skyrocketed his career. At only 23 years old, the Detroit native went from DJ’ing college parties, to opening up for Bassnectar, and eventually headlining his own tour over the course of less then one year.

I spoke to GRiZ a few hours before he was set to play a show at the Theatre of the Living Arts in Philadelphia, PA. We talked about his incredible success story, his plans for next year, and working on his new record label.

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Pop-Break: I find the start of your career fascinating, What has it been like to go from DJ’ing college parties to headlining your own tour in such a short time?

GRiZ: Very surreal, and it is kind of unreal. I never really thought that this would take off the way it did. Now were just going for it.

PB: EDM is a very broad term for such a unique genre of music, how would you describe your specific style?

GRiZ: I would say it is EDM with less of the “E” and more of the “M.” It is more dance music with an electronic side to it. It is like future funk or electric soul; that’s the best way for me to describe it.

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PB: You’ve played your music at some of the most famous festivals and venues such as Coachella and Red Rocks. Is there somewhere you haven’t been to yet that you wish to play?

GRiZ: Absolutely, I would really like to play overseas. I would also like to play the Bonnaroo Music Festival; their music is super sick.

PB: Halloween just passed, how was it playing in Colorado as GrizMatik?

GRiZ: Colorado is one of two markets that I get to call home, the other one being Michigan. We just get so much love out there. The kids are so involved and active; they participate in listening so much. That’s such a great thing. Almost every second of music is brand new to these kids and they receive so very well.

PB: How do you find the time to juggle between your solo work, your project with Gramatik, and building your own record label.

GRiZ: You take everything one step at a time. You never want anything to get too stressful. Take it as it comes and always stay busy and working. As long as I keep my head into music or into the business side of the music 100% of the time, I am always focused on it. I couldn’t see my self-doing anything else. The only other thing I do besides work is lounge around and watch movies. Even then it’s still text messages and emails. You stay vigilante and stay with it and nothing will ever pass behind your eyes.

PB: What was it like coming back to Detroit, your hometown, after your “big break”?

GRiZ: I just moved into a new spot in downtown Detroit. Most of the time was spent setting up the spot, and having some friends over to chat, have drinks, smoke some weed, and catch up. That was really nice to see the hometown again and vibe out with the Detroit people. They are such great resilient people, which is something I don’t want to miss out on.

PB: You’ve been on tour with Basenectar and have been given support from other great artists like Pretty Lights, who else has been influential on your career so far?

GRiZ: This group called Air that was a very big influence for me as far as music production and beat scale. I guess people that we know like Big Gigantic. They put me on their tour and kind of brought me up with them in the Colorado scene. I can’t thank them enough for that. My buddy Gramatik: he brought me on tour and I showed him some music, and now we do this GrizMatik project. He is one of musical idols and always will be. He is always on some new cutting edge sound, and he enjoys life. I think those vibes are just amazing.

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PB: What are your plans for the upcoming year?

GRiZ: We do know a lot of our plans. We will be coming out with a short record of late night beat music; some brand new stuff that will showcase the production side of myself. That should be very interesting to see how people receive it. I will also be working with a couple of very prolific funk groups for the creation of the new EP that’s going to be more on the lines of pop funk/electro soul for hopefully a release by the end of the summer.

PB: That sounds like a very busy year.

GRiZ: Yeah! On top of that, we will be building this record label and finding more kids to be apart of it. Catching those vibes, working towards the future of Liberated Music, and seeing where that stands, all while working with other people and see how they run their businesses. We are signing some new talent and we have a couple releases coming up that are super fantastic. There is such young and amazing talent. I’m excited to spread more of my ideas with the world.

GRiZ is currently on tour and will hit NYC’s Terminal 5 on Friday November 15, click here for tickets. His music is available for free through mynameisgriz and Soundcloud

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