Old folks love to talk about how music in their day had a message, but there are plenty of modern artists who recognize the platform they’ve been given and use it to the fullest.
Michigan producer GRiZ has always been a bright spot on the scene. Whether it’s blending organic horns and sax with electric beats to create a rowdy rainbow of sound, or working with insightful vocalists to tell a tale of hope and togetherness, GRiZ is always one step toward a brighter day.
For his fifth studio album, Ride Waves, GRiZ got in the studio with some serious greats. Wiz Khalifa, Snoop Dogg, Bootsy Collins, Matisyahu and DRAM are just a handful of the stars that light the way, tackling subjects as intense and diverse as gun violence, depression, suicide, equality, struggle and triumph – and of course, it’s also a party, because GRiZ brings us together to celebrate what’s good.
Much of the album was written and recorded in New Orleans, and GRiZ says that imbued the LP with a “voodoo magical vibe.” He also traveled to New York City and Chicago for some final soulful touches. We got the full story on each of the album’s 14 tracks. Read all about Ride Waves below.
“Can’t Get Enough”
I wrote this song in NOLA. The guitar was done in a session with Boogie T, who is a mad dope instrumentalist. I had this beat that I didn’t really know what to do with, so I scatted him an idea for it that he turned into this funky-bayou-soul-blues vibe. I also recorded the original vocals straight into my computer microphone and liked the performance so much, I ended up keeping it.
Just some good ol’ future funk saxophone blaps to dance to and say “f*ck off” to the bad ish. Working out of New Orleans was a big staple for me during the creation of this album. Something in the air holds this voodoo magical vibe that finds its way into the music. This song was born out of that.
“My Friends and I Pt. 2” (feat. Snoop Dogg & ProbCause)
Wanted to go retro dubstep with this tune — that dubstep you first heard that made you think, “Wow, what is this?” and “I can’t tell if I’m crazy for loving how this sound makes me feel.” Before the Snoop Dogg feature happened, ProbCause and I had two verses written. They were both so good that I couldn’t just cut one and replace with the Snoop feature. So I wanted to add a weird beat flip at the end of the song, and have some fun with the production.
“Cruise Control” (feat. BXRBER)
This session happened right after the “A New Day” session. We were already on a roll, and this one was so much fun to write. The instrumental happened mostly in NOLA and Denver, but we ended up writing and recording the vocals in a single afternoon. I really love the drippy swagger, retro-space future feels on it. The ending was something I’d never done with a vocal part before. Turned out kind of trippy.
“A New Day” (feat. Matisyahu)
Going into the session with Matis in New York felt really daunting at first, but once we got to work, the song was written with the strongest of vibes. It was a mega collaboration of ideas. Matisyahu’s voice speaks volumes to so many people. He has this unique “way” of speaking, and I am infinitely humbled that we were able to link up on an idea that I think is very necessary today. I’m proud to say that I even got to introduce him to my favorite deli in Brooklyn called Frankel’s. It’s not to be missed.
The coolest part of this tune was that the middle end piano thing was recorded in my friends dining room in NOLA, with a piano and three of the singers all crowded around a mic, each taking turns soloing. It kinda turned into a trance of them all chanting that hook. We all got lost in the moment for a long time. It was difficult to choose when to stop recording, because we were all just feeling the tune so much.
“It Gets Better” (feat. DRAM)
This tune started off as spoken word poetry I wrote last summer while pacing the roof of my house in Denver. It was a beautiful day, vibes were high, and I started singing the thing out loud to the whole damn neighborhood. It only felt right to have a group of kids perform that hook. The horns were recorded in NOLA in an awesome session where we just didn’t miss. It was all hits.
“Bustin’ Out” (feat. Bootsy Collins)
If you’re going to do a song with one of the funkiest people in the universe, you’ve got to come correct. I had this tune in my pocket for a while and wasn’t sure where to turn to with it. Bootsy was the perfect person to get the assist from. You can’t say, “You can’t fake the funk.” Only someone like Bootsy Collins can say that.
“Caught Up” (feat. Muzzy Bearr)
I have little to no tracks that sit in the 128-130 BPM range, so I started off heavy into that direction with this tune. It includes my attempt at a Bibio-sounding guitar vibe with the talk box. I tried a bunch of new grooves with this one, and it felt like it wrote itself — and very quickly. Love playing this one live.
“Maybe” (feat. Yoshi Flower)
Originally, the drop that I played live with this tune was ridiculously heavy. I wanted to create something that was more melodic and somewhat rowdy to match the massive mood in the hook — partying in the streets vibes. I was fortunate enough to get a great, big, moody string intro to polish this epic tune off. Working with Yoshi was a dream, too. I’ve known him since high school. He is going to be huge.
I love electro-soul grooves, and this one was just so much fun to make. It has huge, dramatic horn lines in the beginning and walking bass line throughout the song that I love. All groove on this one. Something to throw on, dance to and get lost in.
“Mercy” (feat. Valentina)
The original idea was very different as an instrumental — I just couldn’t seem to place it with any vocals that I really loved. So I completely changed up the vibe and collaborated with Valentina on it, which took it to a whole new level. Her vocal style is incredible. I met her at a writing camp with Mike Posner. It was a truly amazing experience and I feel super thankful to have connected with her!
“Barrel of a Gun” (feat. Leo Napier)
This is sort of a difficult tune to discuss, as it deals with feelings of suicide. I think it’s important to address stuff like that though. This song is all about creating a safe space to experience an emotional catharsis. I need to get it out sometimes, and music is healing in that way for me.
“Find My Own Way” (feat. Wiz Khalifa)
Definitely the most meaningful song to me on Ride Waves. I wrote this at the end of my Good Will Continue tour right before I dropped off of social media for a year. I really wanted to write something from the soul that would give me a vibe boost when I played it. I remember going into the Harlem Gospel Choir session in NYC – there was this girl in the elevator on the way up to the studio bumping SZA in her headphones. I asked if she was on the GRiZ session. When she said yes, I knew the session was blessed. I think I cried at least once while we were recording the final choir vocal moment. It was so beautiful and such a great way to send people off at the end of the album.
Ride Waves is out now. GRiZ will tour the album across North America from Friday, April 5, through August. Tickets are on sale now. Check the full list of tour dates and listen to Ride Waves below.
Griz 2019 Live Dates
April 5th – Sun Peaks, BC @ Snowbombing Canada
April 5th-6th – Phoenix, AZ @ Phoenix Lights
April 20th – Dallas, TX @ Nice Dreams
May 3rd – St. Augustine, FL @ St. Augustine Amphitheatre*
May 4th – Raleigh, NC @ Red Hat Amphitheater*
May 6th – Worcester, MA @ The Palladium*
May 8th – Albany, NY @ Palace Theatre*
May 9th – Buffalo, NY @ Buffalo Riverworks*
May 10th – Brooklyn, NY @ Kings Theatre* (SOLD OUT)
May 11th – Philadelphia, PA @ The Met*
May 14th – Louisville, KY @ Iroquois Amphitheater*
May 15th – Columbus, OH @ Express Live!*
May 16th – St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant*
May 17th – Minneapolis, MN @ The Armory*
May 17th-19th – Gulf Shores, AL @ Hangout Fest
May 18th – Kansas City, MO @ CrossroadsKC*
May 27th – Detroit, MI @ Movement
June 9th – Chicago, IL @ Spring Awakening
June 14th – Manchester, TN @ Bonnaroo?
June 21st – Heber City, UT @ Bonanza Campout?
June 23rd – Dover, DE @ Firefly Music Festival
July 5th – Liempde, NL @ We Are Electric
July 10th-14th – Dour, BE @ Dour Festival
July 12th – Bristol, UK @ Nass Festival
August 2nd-4th – Montreal, QC @ Osheaga Festival
August 9th-11th – Salmo, BC @ Shambhala Music Festival
* = support from Yung Bae & Dwilly