GRiZ (27-year old Grant Kwiecinski) returned to the Bay Area for a pair of shows at the Warfield and we spoke about his history playing the Bay Area, his love for Miyazaki films, the success of producers in 2017, his favorite holidays, and more.
Q: You’ve been coming to the Bay Area for years. Shows at the Independent, Outside Lands, Funksgiving at Bill Graham in 2016, two shows at The Warfield this weekend…do you have any particular memories of the Bay Area that make it a special place for you?
GRiZ: The first time I came here we were fortunate enough to be on this rooftop that overlooked the city at night, we were just drinking wine, hanging with friends. It was quite the magical experience. That experience you feel when you get to a new place and you can really take a moment to appreciate this new terrain that you’re surrounded by. The environment of San Francisco has so much history to it that I really appreciate. Musically, socially, and culturally. There’s this new culture of people, it’s a crazy place to be.
Q: I read that you’re a Miyazaki fan. What’s your favorite film?
GRiZ: Man, that’s a really bad question to ask. I have a top 10 list of my favorite movies of all time & just for the sake of not having my top 5 be entirely Miyazaki films I had to pick one. So, right now, my favorite Miyazaki film is probably ‘Princess Mononoke’. The battle scenes are amazing & then on top of that there’s a really good kind of love story, or at least a story of affection & mutual respect. More than that the entire theme of the movie being about the forest & the trappings of modern society & trying to create technology & how that destroys the natural environment & how instead of that helping society move forward, it makes it move backwards.
Q: So many times this year they’ve done Miyazaki events in the Bay Area and they’ve been such a big deal.
GRiZ: ‘Totoro,’ ‘Howl’s Moving Castle,’ ‘Porco Rosso,’ Spirited Away’ of course, that’s like the banger, banger, banger. ‘Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind’ that one’s amazing. There’s no such thing as a bad Miyazaki film.
Q: Have you seen that they’re making a Studio Ghibli theme park in Japan?
GRiZ: Yes! Yes! Yes! I already bought my tickets! They aren’t even for sale yet & I already bought my tickets.
Q: One thing I wanted to talk to you about was your friends & how they got involved with Chance The Rapper’s hit “No Problem”. What was that like for you, being so close to them, seeing that track blow up?
GRiZ: Yeah, man, Ivan is a dear friend of mine & he’s one of the most outgoing, positive, good crew vibe type of people. He’s just trying to bring up himself & all the people around him. It’s a good group of friends. There’s a lot of amazing producers and musicians that are in his close circle. It was a well-deserved thing. What Ivan was telling me was when that song was finished it wasn’t one of the songs on the album that was promised to be like the one & that is the one. For me, the way I perceive it, the way it happened with Ivan, that kind of crossover is just the start of this new fostering relationship between producers and vocalists. Hip-hip vocalists, or pop vocalists. You have producers on the pop side like Zedd who is producing all these major hits for pop vocalists & that’s a beautiful space for us to be in. I remember a few years ago it wasn’t even a thing where producers were coveted like artists. You were just a producer, or you were a DJ. Now it’s like DJ’s are musicians, which is awesome because you get this sensibility like ‘I’m a DJ I’m making tracks for the DJ space.’ Or you have producers as an artist producing tracks for the live performance space. So, you get all these weird bastardized crossovers of different musical stylings & pathways converging giving you this new understanding of what music can sound like in a live space.
Q: Oh, yeah, Zedd, Kygo, The Chainsmokers they’re all doing big things in that world.
GRiZ: Love it, or hate it – like maybe you don’t love Zedd, or The Chainsmokers, but what these guys are doing is creating a space where that is an acceptable thing. It creates a space for all of us to be seen in that space as like a ‘producer-artist’.
Q: Reading an interview with you yesterday you mentioned you wanted to make songs that could be on the radio. Do you want a big radio hit?
GRiZ: I think it would be super, hella cool to hop into a cab & hear my song on the radio like “yeah!” & also be like “who is this Griz guy? He’s horrible.” That’d be really cool.
Q: You did Funksgiving here last year, you’ve got Grizmas coming up, you’re playing on Halloween – but what is your favorite holiday?
GRiZ: Grizmas season. Grizmas in the D.
Q: You’ve already bought a bunch of Christmas stuff for that show already?
GRiZ: Yeah, man, we started early!
Q: I saw that photo of you in the Santa outfit.
GRiZ: I was pulling fake snow out of my buttcrack for the next 5 days. It’s like glitter. Yeah, the Grizmas thing is amazing. We started planning super early this year to make sure we could provide and access the most we possibly can. The whole thing is for charity. The entire thing is about giving back to charitable organizations called ‘Little Kids Rock’ about putting back in kids’ lives. Kids who don’t have music programs in their schools. It’s not about making the next Stevie Wonder, but it’s about giving kids the opportunity to see life in a different way. I had an experience with music as a kid & then I’m like ‘I like music,’ ‘I like that music is in movies,’ ‘Maybe I could work in the film industry.’ You know? Just something like that. It’s all about getting your hands dirty these days. I think that’s something that’s really lacking with the experience of life. We experience digitally so much that we lack the actual doing of the sh**. Just do the thing, get your hands dirty, make mistakes, have fun. Do life stuff.
Q: Thank you for coming back to the Bay & joining me.