GRiZ and Wreckno Bring Pure Gay Sunshine to a Bleak Pride Month

Indianapolis DJ Wreckno.
Indianapolis DJ Wreckno. Wreckno
As what may be the strangest Pride Month in history — marked by social distancing, mask wearing and protesting against police brutality — winds to an end, Denver-based future-funk producer Grant Richard Kwiecinski, better known as GRiZ, and Indianapolis-based bass DJ Wreckno have finally released their collaborative hip-hop anthem "Medusa," a turned-up, queer club banger with a hefty dose of energy, sure to get you sweaty and grinding on the dance floor...if only that were permitted.

By releasing the song today, June 25, they hope to bring a little queer joy to this moment and give people a chance to throw their own Pride parades, even if they're just around the kitchen.

While GRiZ remains characteristically elusive, Wreckno caught up with Westword over email to talk about "Medusa."

Westword: It's a tough time for club music. Talk about why you're dropping this song right now.

Wreckno: It’s a really hard time in the world for everyone right now. We’re all feeling the effects of the world's current state. Everything is already on pause when it comes to shows due to COVID, but with the events of George Floyd's felt like everything needed to come to a full stop. Everyone in the music industry had to take a step back from whatever they had planned and focus on the issues at hand. I honestly wasn’t sure when we would release it, or when the right time would be, but I was so happy when Grant told me he wanted to release this track before Pride Month was over. Personally, the song has been a ray of light in my life since we made it a couple months ago. I hope that our releasing of this song can be a ray of pure gay sunshine in someone’s life that needs it in this very dark time in the world.

In many ways, both Pride and dance music are all about bringing bodies together and building community out of that. How does that play out under COVID-19?

I think the short answer would be that it just doesn’t this time around. We sadly don’t get to have the Pride we are all used to, with hours spent dancing in crowds with loved ones. Everyone’s need for the dance floor is taking a back seat until the world is ready for that again.

What does Pride mean to you in 2020?

Pride is extremely important to me for so many reasons. Growing up in rural northern Michigan, I really had to leave my comfort zones of where I’m from to go out and search for the type of gay environments I felt I was so desperately missing out on. I spent a lot of time watering down what I wore, or how much I experimented with drag or non-gender-conforming stereotypes, because it was simply easier to exist in the rural areas without diving into that part of myself. Now, I have been moved out of that area for about a year, and my pride is starting to re-blossom, in a sense. I don’t feel the same weight on my shoulders that I used to feel. Pride to me is honoring this journey and choosing radical self-acceptance over self-hatred and self-doubt. Pride is essential!

How is this Pride different, and what's the function of music in all that?

I think it’s been hard for the folks that look forward to Pride every year, and it’s definitely unlike any Pride month we have seen before. What I have seen, though, that I find rather beautiful, is artists releasing music that carries the spirit of Pride during this dark time. I am biased because she is why I got into music, but Gaga releasing Chromatica the weekend before June truly was like a Pride parade for so many people around the world. I can certainly say that it is Grant's and my intention with "Medusa," as well. I hope everyone throws their own personal Pride parades when they hear this track.

Talk about the samples used on this track. What are their origins?

Since Grant took the reins on all of the production in this song, I can’t speak on where all the samples came from, but one really amazing part of this track is the lyrics “smiling ’cuz I’m young, rich, gay and I’m handsome!” These lyrics were inspired by YBN Cordae and Anderson .Paak’s song “RNP,” with a similar line that’s focused on their pride around their race. I thought it was amazing that with Grant's pull as an artist, we were able to get the green light from them for the use of these lyrics. The sass this line exudes is my personal favorite of the whole track!

How are you celebrating Pride 2020?

Other than this absolute queer anthem banger with GRiZ, I am celebrating Pride by releasing a four-track EP titled ROYGBIV on Tuesday, June 30, the last day of Pride. It is a collaboration between myself and a few other queer artists, as well as close family and friends of mine. NotLö is a Denver-based lesbian producer who worked on it with me, and I am just so happy that I can release some queer-friendly bass music bangers with my friends during a month that is so crucial for all of us in the LGBTQIA+ community!

Stream or download "Medusa" on various services
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris