Griz on His New Label, the Denver Scene and His Favorite N64 Games

Grant Kwiecinski, also known as Griz, has made a name for himself in the electronic music world by creating self-described "future-funk," or combining pre-produced electronic music with live jazz saxophone playing. The Detroit born, Denver-based 24-year-old DJ and producer has put out three full length albums with another one debuting at the end of the month. Say It Loud combines the work of over thirty musicians, as Kwiecinski recorded in dozens of states with different groups of musicians in order to create a library of content to sample out in the production of the album. The album will be put out under his new label, All Good Records, created in January. We caught up with him at a pre-release party, after he played the new album front-to-back for the first time. Say It Loud can be downloaded for free on March 31st at his website.

Mary Willson: First of all, the record was so fun and funky! It's really versatile in the sense that it has some really dub-heavy parts, a lot of jazz, but also some really funky parts. How did you curate it?

Grant Kwiecinski:  It came to a point that sampling little bits of others people work wasn't going to work anymore because you can't do that when you get a certain point of notoriety. I didn't want to deal with the fear of being sued, so there's a pressure there but it created a new freedom. The pressure created freedom to do something different, so it caused me to be ultimately creative.

I went and made these small little bands across the country with me as a saxophone player and I would direct a jam and record those. We'd jam and record a bunch of stuff and I'd scrap it out in production. It's like we made the car, we scarped it for parts, and then we made a whole new car. 

So how many musicians went into making this album?

Over thirty, so lots of different voices. 

Woah! So how long has the album been in process if you were traveling so much to create it? 

About a year and a half, and we even had to push back the release back a week because I had to work out one last thing. I had to make a last minute trip to New Orleans to grab some more vocals. That was just the best though. Andrew Block, a good friend of mine, introduced me into the New Orleans scene. He's just an amazing guitar player. 

Wow. So what went in to the decision to create your own label, All Good Records? I've noticed a good handful of producers in the Denver scene have created their own labels. 

Yeah, because no one wants to fuck with a major label, but everyone needs a label to release something thorough. We did this thing called Liberated Music for a bit but we couldn't get the copyright on it, which sucks. So, I sat down with my label manager and we came up with All Good Records which turned out to be the coolest thing, so it's even better!

It just became a small confluence of people; just our friends, our musical friends. We [the label] curate the vibe, but we aren't gatekeepers in any sense, whatever they send us is what comes out. I'm not All Good Records, me and my friends are All Good Records. Of course, we're spending a ton of time and money pushing music out of the label, but I'm not trying to be Rockefeller. 

I'm not saying that you're like any other producer, but why do so many producers create their own labels? 

It's a smart thing, it's a new generation of the music industry. It's like high school: EDM, the live electro scene here in Denver. It's like high school because everyone creates these little cliques, there are some crossover, you know, the people who are in every clique: the cool kids, and nerdy kids. The nerdy labels, the popular labels, the band geek labels. It's high school, but everyone loves each other. 

So, what are you most excited for on your upcoming tour?

N64 on the tour bus, fuck the shows! That shit isn't hipster! But it made me feel so old. I called game stop and asked them if they had any N64 and they said, "We don't carry the retro gaming systems." So I had to go to game force. Zelda is the best solo game, Mario Cart is the best group game. 

It seems a little hipster. But that's okay. So what else do you want Denver to know about the album?

Well, we came up with a strain of weed with Native Roots called the Griz strain, so go see them and you can get it. We'll be at red rocks September 4, playing with The Floozies, Manic Focus, Sun Squabi and Muzzy Bearr. We're obviously so excited about that. But, we just love Denver. The love and support from people here is amazing. Not everyone gets so blessed with so much love and support in a musical career, so just thank you. 

One last question. Did you play the saxaphone in your Jr. High band? I did and that show made me wish I stayed in band. 

Yes! Stay in band kids! Stay in school and band kids! It had it's nerdy moments, and I always felt like i wanted to something more with it. I wanted to do more funky shit, and we were always playing like Pirates of the Caribbean.