Born Grant Kwiecinski, he was raised in Detroit and found his musical footing in Colorado’s bass-heavy, multi-instrumentalist-friendly scene. He’s developed a funk-fueled style that plays both hard and soft with heaps of groove. He mixes dubstep with jazz, hip-hop with house and is never afraid to break out his sax. Meanwhile, he’s big on giving back, hosting several charitable events a year in his native Detroit and other cities.
He’s got a rabid fan base that follows him down each artistic twist and turn, an enviable position for any experimental producer, but it’s easy to understand. The guy is just nice.
Billboard Dance caught up with Griz to hear more about his musical roots, latest releases and eye-popping stage production.
1. Where are you in the world now, and what’s is the setting like?
I’m in my hotel room in Austin, surrounded by a jillion self-care things.
2. Such as?
My computer playing Netflix, some amazing nitro cold brew coffee, my bed — which is turned into my couch for the day, and some amazing-smelling things for the shower.
3. What is the first album or piece of music you bought for yourself?
4. What did your parents do for a living when you were a kid and what do they think of what you do for a living now?
My mom was an English-as-a-second-language teacher, and my dad was an engineer at General Motors in Detroit. My mom is currently in Italy and bummed that she’s missing one of my shows in Cincinnati where she lives. She would rather be at a Griz show than be in Italy, so that’s a little startling.
5. If you had to recommend one album for someone looking to get into dance music, what album would you give them?
I’d probably go with Homework by Daft Punk.
6. What is the first thing you bought for yourself when you started making money as a musician?
I think I bought like a pair of expensive Louis Vuitton sunglasses, and then that very day, I sat on them and broke them. So, no more nice things.
7. What is the last song you listened to on repeat?
“Peach” by Kevin Abstract.
8. What’s one song you wish you had produced?
9. You released your Bangers EP trilogy over the summer. How do you know when something is a banger?
I give it the Tom Haverford test. [Laughs] It’s more like a feel, because sometimes a banger is like, a chill banger, but lately these bangers have not been chill bangers. They’ve just been like, like no-chill bangers.
10. What is distinctive about the place where you grew up, and how did it shape you?
I grew up in the suburbs, and the suburbs offered this sort adventure aspect to my life where I kind of made my own way. I was able to adventure around. I really crave that. I crave adventure, and I crave being in, like, lush areas with trees and tree forts. I’m a dreamer, and I think [growing up like I did] turned me into somebody who likes to dream.
11. What’s the first dance music show you went to that really blew your mind?
I took a bunch of drugs and I saw Bassnectar at Lollapalooza like, forever ago, but the first real dance music show that I went to was downtown Detroit. I was in high school, and this guy Dan Deacon played and the only light in the entire room was this like strobing green alien head on a stick that he had. He was like, going f–cking nuts. It was crazy energy. I think that is like the epitome of dance music and dance culture to me; finding that tribal, sweaty dark room moment. It doesn’t get any better than that for me.
12. Obviously you’re a very skilled saxophone player. What is your favorite sax solo of all time?
I like saxophone, but I don’t really have my favorite saxophone solo or saxophone players. The saxophone is obviously really fantastic, but it’s not my favorite instrument of all time. My favorite instrument is probably trumpet or guitar.
My favorite guitar solo of all time, and it’s so simple, is [former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist] John Frusciante playing the “Scar Tissue” solo. That outro is not overplayed. It’s not too much. It’s just exactly what that thing needs. I think my favorite part about having solos within music, not necessarily playing the most notes or playing the most intensely, but playing the vibe of the song. That solo to me is everything. It’s all style. So sick.
13. What is the first thing you do when you get back to your hotel room after a show?
Stretch. Breathe and stretch, and just take a moment to feel stoked. I let myself feel stoked for a moment. You’ve gotta give yourself that moment to like, reflect with gratitude.
14. What is the craziest thing you’ve ever seen happening in the crowds during one of your sets?
I mean, just last week these kids were like, f–cking in the crowd and they got escorted out. Like, real dead a–, having sex. Very visible. I mean, I’m flattered. They were so moved by the moment that they just had to get it on, because of the Griz vibes.
15. You’ve hosted the Camp Kulabunga adult summer camp for the last two years. What camp activity do you really excel at?
I’m really good at nature walks. That and friendship bracelet-making.
16. You’ve established yourself as one of the more charitably-minded producers in the scene. What’s the most rewarding part for you of giving back like that?
There’s like a lot of things that are really positive about it, but really, just someone’s smile. Seeing people smile. There’s a lot deeper things that are like really fantastic about charity work, but just seeing people smile, that’s it for me.
17. What’s one of the most meaningful interactions you’ve had with a fan?
There’s a lot. I mean these kids are really moved, and I feel like that’s how I always want to reframe it. People very often say like, “Yo, you saved my life.” I appreciate that sentiment, but I always want and hope that they have the opportunity to look inward and see how much they’ve done for themselves. The interactions have been potent — I appreciate, and I’m very honored to be a catalyst for their self-help moment, but it comes from you. You’re the person that is making that choice. So just to take a moment to take some self appreciation, goes a long way.
18. What’s a piece of advice you’d give to your younger self?
Trust your vibe. Always. Don’t second guess yourself. You’re doing great.
19. Your stage production on this tour is really insane and high level. What are you thinking when you’re in the middle of that thing?
I’m thinking like, “I hope this is really cool,” because from my perspective, it feels like I’m in an LED jungle. It feels really wicked awesome to be a part of it. So I’m just like, “Alright, this is going to be sick. I hope you think this looks really cool.”
20. Your more recent album was called Ride Waves. What does that phrase mean to you?
Ride Waves came out of this dharmic idea that anything that has a sense of coming has a sense of leaving. So this idea of impermanence. Everything in this world is impermanent, like waves. It’ll come and it’ll happen, and then it’ll stop happening. You’ll come into the situation and come out of it. You’ll go through happiness; you’ll go through sadness everything. You’ve got to ride it. Just ride that s–t.