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Q&A with Lollapalooza 2013 artist GRiZ

By Andrew Morrell
On August 7, 2013

On Saturday at Lollapalooza, I managed to catch up with Grant Kwiecinski, better known as the electronic musician GRiZ, fresh off his set on Perry's stage.  Hailing from Detroit, his music blends EDM and dubstep tendencies with hard-hitting hip-hop beats, amidst an undercurrent of jazz stylings; he even plays saxophone onstage. He's also collaborated with producer Gramatik in a side project called Grizmatik. His latest release, entitled "Mad Liberation," is available for free download on his website, mynameisgriz.com.

Andrew Morrell: I think it's awesome that you are an electronic artist, a DJ, who also plays saxophone and incorporates jazz into your music.  When did you learn to play sax?

GRiZ: I learned to play saxophone in fifth grade.

AM: So you're an original band nerd like myself?

G: For life, man.

AM: What do you think are some of your main influences, jazz-wise?

G: Scofield is absolutely insane - the Miles (Davis) of the world, you know what I'm saying? Medesky Martin and Wood. Medesky is probably my favorite as far as jazz goes, but I think that their melody structure building is right on.

AM: Is there any way you fit you jazz influences into your music?

G: I hope so man, I think they're just kind of sitting there, subconsciously, and then in the writing process they kind of come out.  Sometimes it's a little bit confusing at first, but that's why it's so interesting to listen to records, because it's kind of like a way of trying to understand something, exploring it.

AM: You must be a huge hip-hop fan as well.

G: Yeah man, absolutely.

AM: What are some of your favorite hip-hop artists or rappers?

G: Right now, it's like Joey Bada$$, Schoolboy Q - f---in' really really awesome dudes.  It's just those beats man - they're really really cool.

AM: Do you like the East Coast stuff more, you think?

G: I wouldn't say more.  That's what's hitting me right now.  I grew up on Tribe Called Quest and Jurassic 5.  The instrumental work of Cut Chemist and DJ Premier was amazing, and then you have like Atmosphere too.  That stuff was amazing

AM: I know you did some collaboration with Gramatik, calling yourselves Grizmatik. Can you tell me about how you got hooked up with him?

G: That was born out of his spring tour about two years ago.  I wrote this little blurb on Facebook about what "Mad Liberation" had meant to me, and he was like 'Yo, we gotta pick this guy for our tour.  He picked me up for tour and I was showing him some music and he was like 'Yo this is amazing man, it's great work.'  I was shocked; he's one of my idols.  I was just working on these songs and was like, 'Yo check this out, what do you think?' He loved them, and said 'Let's make a collaboration out of it.'  We kind of just made it out of fun, just to have a good time working on music, and it turned into this big collaboration that I think the fans wanted almost more than we did, and it kind of took a mind of its own.

AM: I think your music would be very suitable for a rapper or lyricist to freestyle over.  Have you guys collaborated with any rappers for any songs?

G: We got some really really cool collaborations coming up.  That stuff is actually starting to materialize, which is a dream come true, some really phenomenal things.

AM: Do you have any names that you can give me right now?

G: No, it's a very big secret.  It will be worth it.

AM: Besides that, what are some future plans?

G: We got the new record coming out soon, which is called 'Rebel Era,' that will be out soon, in early September.  That's kind of all about how I feel the world is impacting humanity, or the converse, how humanity is impacting the world.  It's kind of reached this tipping point where rational beings are starting to take over the irrational nonsense, because of the spread of Internet and the freedom of information.

AM: What made you come to these conclusions?

G: Just how I felt, with all the news going on, reading through stuff, it's like a digital information battle where people are collecting massive amounts of information, withholding it and doing it illegally. People are finally starting to understand that their personal liberties are being taken away from them, willingly. Third world countries and their conflicts are getting this strong opinions tossed towards them, and they're trying to reject or accept this influence. There's a lot of stuff going on right now, and I can attribute a lot of the protests going on to a rebellious attitude, and that's just how I feel. And I think that kind of describes the influence and the tonality of the music.

AM: That's really cool insight, man.  That's all the questions I have, unless you have anything else to add.

G: I'm an electro-soul future funk producer and I play saxophone and my name is GRiZ, that's what I do.


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