Spontaneity at its Finest
Caught in the act, young Denis Jasarevic gazes up at his mother. No, he hasn’t been caught sneaking a treat, or drawing on the walls. Young Denis Jasarevic, or the future Gramatik, has been caught listening to his sister’s mixtapes. Fast forward to the present day music scene, and the same Slovenian artist is killing it across the musical landscape. With early roots in American jazz, soul, funk and blues, Gramatik’s musical interests crept forward until they stumbled upon hip-hop culture. Denis fed his musical addiction by creating hip-hop beats at the age of 13, and only kept his gaze on music from there. Yet, Gramatik faced an artist’s nightmare: his home country held a limited music scene. Encompassing a population of roughly two million, and of that, an even smaller percentage of hip-hop listeners, Gramatik looked outward for supporters. Denis Jasarevic began sharing his tracks via Beatport and bit by bit accumulated a grass-root fan base. The impact was permanent; upon the release of his first album in 2008, “Street Bangerz Volume 1” topped Beatport’s “100 Chill Out” chart for six months straight. An accomplishment to say the least, as this artist never thought he’d gain such a following, let alone make much money off of his music.
In 2013, Gramatik left Pretty Lights’ label, “Pretty Lights Music” to focus on his career. A firm believer in artistic independence, Gramatik created “Lowtemp” label to keep his musical creation unrestricted. Since then, Denis Jasarevic’s focus has been spread across his own musical career and across two other side projects: Exmag and Grizmatik. His latest album, The Age of Reason was released earlier this past January, and has been called his most “mature” album to date. The production is a testament to every musical genre that has shaped Gramatik; each song is as vibrant as it is unique. The production is complex, yet at the same time sends out the notorious funk and chill-out vibes Gramatik is known for. Although the spotlight of fame is ever-growing, Gramatik refuses to let it get to his head. A bi-product of free file sharing, Denis Jasarevic keeps his notions humble by releasing all of his music online for free.
What’s more, Gramatik and GRIZ are about the music they produce. Their vision is to use music as a platform of artistic expression, and as a means of keeping music free from the pressures of mainstream EDM. Gramatik and GRIZ understand their tracks may not appeal to the vast masses; they prefer it that way. Their beats are complex, creation deadlines are not believed in and their production emphasizes musical originality. These two would rather create soulful escapes than hardcore head bangers.
Holding the production talent of an older musician, 23 year old GRIZ practically bleeds musical training. Private music lessons were a staple of his youth; the alto sax and piano were his childhood partners-in-crime. Formal concert halls took the backseat once GRIZ, or Grant Kwiecinksi, discovered Fruity Loop Studios at the age of 14. The program allowed him to record varies instrumental beats, produce electronic fusions, and combine them into whatever arrangements he chose. FL Studio’s gave GRIZ the musical rebellion he sought. The program allowed GRIZ to step back from regimented note composition, and instead play around with beats in a symphonically freeing mess.
Once college hit, Grant Kwiecinksi took his music production seriously. 2011 saw the release of End of the World Party, and the festival scene saw the debut of an up and coming artist. Yet, as GRIZ notes in an interview with Charleston City Paper, the 2012 debut of Mad Liberation and the 2013 release of Rebel Era are where his career formally began. The summer of 2012 was an especially lucky time for Gramatik and GRIZ fans, as Electric Forest welcomed one of the funkiest duos to date: Grizmatik. Originally a spontaneous, nighttime secret set, “Grizmatik” found itself christened by fans on social media the following day. There were no original plans for Grizmatik; it was just two buddies wanting to mess around. Yet, the #Grizmatik tag appeared everywhere, and the duo found themselves looking at future stage collaborations.
From there, Grizmatik played only a handful of yearly sets. Hectic schedules and fears of over-use convinced Gramatik and GRIZ to put the collaboration on a short performance leash. This decision allowed the duo to focus on their independent careers and labels, while still keeping the fun and spontaneity of Grizmatik alive.
Onward to 2014 and fans finally have everything they need: independent artist albums, as well as a collaborative tour. 2014 has been graced with the long-awaited Grizmatik tour. If you’re looking for a concert that will showcase the soulfulness of music via live instruments and notoriously funky, goose-bump-inducing tracks, this show is for you. Limited tickets are still available here.
Written by Annette Lucero