It's not every day that a DJ/producer who tours the world, (allegedly) smokes mad weed, and is fully immersed in the EDM rave culture scene is given the Spirit of Detroit award from the city council. But the Southfield-born artist Grant Kwiecinski — better known as GRiZ — is exceeding expectations and crushing stereotypes. So how does a DJ who headlines music festivals and has his own strain of weed get recognized with such a prestigious award? It's everything that GRiZ does off the stage that speaks louder volumes than his music does (although his music is really fuckin' loud).
GRiZ was born and raised in metro Detroit and his sound is heavily shaped by the Motown sounds that were created here. During his live show, GRiZ plays an alto saxophone live against his beats and drum machines, creating a sound he likes to describe as "future funk."
After touring with some of the heavy giants in EDM like Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, and Big Gigantic, GRiZ started to gain recognition and headline his own tours. GRiZ's fan base has grown so much in the past years that he even has his own street team called the Liberators that promote GRiZ's shows and events and connecting fans together. His fans even call themselves the "GRiZ Fam." They can always be seen first in line for all of his shows, especially the hometown ones.
Recognizing Detroit is something that has been important in his career. For the past two years, he has played Detroit during the holidays at the Masonic Temple to hundreds of devoted fans and calls it "GRiZMAS." It's the one night out of the year that the GRiZ Fam and the rest of his crew can get together to enjoy each other's company and get down and funky.
This most recent (and second) installment of GRiZMAS was a little more special, and it's something that GRiZ may continue every year. He hosted "The 12 Days of GRiZMAS," and it was a major success for him and his record label, All Good. In the 12 days leading up to the event, he and the Liberators hosted charity events all throughout Detroit. One event was collecting coats for the homeless; another was collecting dog supplies to bring to dog shelters. He even did free concerts during the week for fans who weren't able to make it to the actual GRiZMAS show. There was even a benefit concert in a warehouse in the city that was appropriately called "Night Before GRiZMAS."
It's refreshing to see an artist like GRiZ not fall into the stereotype that most DJs and EDM fans do. Fans of music outside of the EDM world are critical of the scene that goes on at shows: drunken millennials roaming around trying to find a bro who is selling cheap MDMA (yes, this does happen). Of course, that same shit is going on at a music festival like Bonnaroo or Coachella where all types of music are celebrated (it's just "classier" MDMA).
When you see GRiZ live, you aren't thinking about how you need drugs to heighten the experience because he as a performer and producer has already done that.
GRiZ is in the process of making a new studio album (by the way, all of his albums are free to download on his website at mynameisgriz.com) and will make two stops locally.
Raising over $30,000 for a charity is no easy task, but GRiZ has a platform to make a change. Lots of artists unfortunately make music for our enjoyment and that's as far it goes. GRiZ is doing the opposite. He is shaping the sound of electronic music and giving back so much to the city that helped inspire him: killing two birds with one saxophone.
GRiZ performs on Friday, Feb. 12 at Saint Andrew's Hall and on Saturday, Feb. 13 at Populux, as part of the "My Friends and I Decided to Come to Your City and Play Some Super Rad Small Shows While I Write My Next Album" tour. The Saint Andrew's show is sold out but there are tickets available on the secondary market. For more information on these shows and to hear his music, check out mynameisgriz.com.