Our interview with the producer ahead of his only Florida date.

Photo by Jason Siegel

“I think there’s a tipping point where you let the madness drive you crazier or you give yourself the chance to put everything in perspective. That was the thing, I was like, ‘I don’t want this to ruin me.’”

Grant Kwieciński isn’t your average 28-year-old. Since creating his electro-funk, saxophone-laden GRiZ project in 2011, the Denver-based producer has gone from an infectious, talented newcomer pushing barriers in the electro-instrumental genre to becoming one of the more lovable, clamored-for figures in all of electronic music.

But as a musician growing up in the digital age, Kwiecinski began to experience the pitfalls of such stardom and accessibility, even on stage.

“There was this point on tour in 2017 where this dude got on stage while I was playing music and having fun,” said Kwieciński, who hopped on a call with CL last week. “The dude somehow managed to get on stage and he just wouldn’t budge. Our stage manager tries to usher him off and he does a MMA-move, grabs him and front flips him and dislocates [the manager’s] shoulder. I had to stop the show. I was like, ‘I don’t want the shows to be inciting violent feelings.’ There’s no reason for that.”

During this time, the star also began to combat unwarranted, negative social media harassment over various shows and music releases, which ultimately caused GRiZ to back out of social media altogether. At the end of 2017, the Detroit-born producer retracted his normally accessible-to-fans persona in order to take some time to simply be a human being.

“It just kind of broke me. With everything else that was going on, I was like, ‘I just can’t do this. This isn’t healthy anymore. I want to take a step back and reevaluate the way I feel about music, what I’m doing and my message.’ I thought I was doing the right thing. I just needed a moment for me to think about it and not think about it through the process of other people’s opinions.”

To the delight of GRiZ’ rabid following, this introspective, personal break was spent not only reconnecting with his own headspace, but crafting his fifth studio album, Ride Waves.

“Everything happens once, it’s a moment that’s now. Then it passes and it’s the next thing. That whole process and that whole mindset inspired Ride Waves, like dynamism is life,” he said. “Things happen in the moment, then it’s gone.”

Kwieciński said that the two-year (ish) process of writing the album made his heart feel softer. He existed in a more in a relaxed space. Life slowed down, and he was able to give himself a chance to catch up with his own feelings and to catch up with what he found to be most important.

“That churned out a bunch of really great ideas,” he said. “I was able to listen to my head better.”

In addition to tackling his own personal issues and relationships, the album hits on a number of intense subjects like gun violence, depression and equality. Perhaps most important to lovers of his music, this new collection of tracks embodies GRiZ’s unrelenting focus on love, positivity, and fun.

“I was approaching this album like, ‘I can be really honest and put some bad-ass music behind the honesty.’ I don’t owe anybody anything other than just being genuine and honest with myself,” Kwieciński said. “That was the driving factor behind all of this stuff.”

The moment resulted in not only his most moving and important music release to date, but marked an important crossover for Kwieciński himself. He’s still the same life-loving and energetic kid giving his beloved sax and dubstep to the joy of the masses. But his words and music mean something more now. This step toward maturity has delivered an artist who is more conscious of the world around him and his involvement in it, and the transformation only adds intrigue to his career moving forward.

In support of Ride Waves, GRiZ heads out on tour this summer hitting amphitheaters across the country to help spread his message and reconnect with fans everywhere. This special run kicks off with a lone Florida show at The Amp in St. Augustine on May 3.

Find more info on the show below and see a full Q&A with GRiZ via franz.mp3.

GRiZ Ride Waves Tour. Fri. May 3. The Amp, St. Augustine. 6:30 p.m. $40 & up. staugamphitheatre.com

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