On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me... a toking, saxophone-wielding, philanthropic DJ.
Grant Kwiecinski, aka GRiZ, is more like Santa than one might think. The producer, DJ, musician, and metro Detroit native returns home this holiday to present a marathon event that can be crossed off our wish-list for the fourth year in a row. The "12 Days of GRiZMAS" is in full-fledged party mode, and over the course of its three years has raised over $80,000 for local music education charities thanks to a stellar lineup of events, performances, and interactive fan gatherings (Roller Disco, anyone?) — all of which leads up to a two-night blowout concert at the Masonic Temple.
Known for implementing live instrumentation, backing vocals, soaring saxophone improv, and some of the most inventive track transitions in the game, GRiZ, in many ways, is the future of EDM. The 27-year-old is an unrivaled force in the electronic music scene for more than his energizing fusion of future funk, soul, trip-hop, and dubstep. GRiZ is surprisingly unyielding to the pressures of ego or fame and has found that the key to success is more about giving than taking.
In honor of the "12 Days of GRiZMAS," Metro Times offered up 12 questions for a closer look at GRiZMAS and why the EDM pioneer offers his music for free.
Metro Times: How has your life changed since coming out in an essay published in The Huffington Post earlier this year?
GRiZ: I definitely feel like a more solid version of myself. I know who I am and I'm glad I can share that side of myself with other people and hopefully help them with their struggles. It's good to be able to have someone you can relate to, growing up I didn't really have that. It hasn't really changed my life as much as I am trying to change other people's lives.
MT: Do you have a favorite Michigan moment?
GRiZ: Any moment I get to have in the summer in a hammock, lounging underneath some trees in the middle of the woods as the late sunshine flickers between the leaves with a slight breeze rolling through. The way it smells, the way the air feels, it's completely unique to where we are.
MT: Why the saxophone?
GRiZ: I definitely didn't choose the saxophone because I was in electronic music. I played the saxophone because I was in a band and there was this girl I had a crush on. I sort of fell in love with music more than her, and of course you know how the rest of that story goes.
MT: What have you learned from offering your music for free?
GRiZ: Being able to just give music to people is a very liberating feeling. I love knowing that people will always have a way to connect with me on that level. It takes the idea of music being about money out of the equation. Music is about music.
MT: Other than your Cannabis Cup-winning strain GRiZ Kush, what is your favorite strain and preferred method of consumption?
GRiZ: Always joints and either Strawberry Cough or Gorilla Glue No. 4... that's my favorite.
MT: You've often credited the Disney movie Fantasia when asked about your earliest memory of music. Do you have a favorite sequence to smoke to?
GRiZ: Probably the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy scene. It's so beautiful.
MT: What are some of your favorite records to come out of 2017?
GRiZ: SZA Ctrl and I fucking adore the new Sam Smith record. Tame Impala just dropped their remix album and it's amazing.
MT: How did GRiZMAS come about?
GRiZ: Detroit is my city, you know? I wouldn't do it anywhere else. I get to be with my friends and do it in familiar places and new places. I thought, if I can give back, where do I see myself doing that, what's a community we can bring up. Detroit brought me up so I just wanted to give back.
MT: GRiZMAS has raised over $80,000 for the nonprofit Little Kids Rock. How did you get involved with that organization?
GRiZ: They are a fantastic music charity and we wanted to make it about music because it brings people together. It helps me manage all of my emotions, happiness, sadness, fear, pride, everything. I wanted to offer more musical experiences to kids who don't have them. It's a perfect fit.
MT: Do you have a daily mantra?
GRiZ: It gets better. It always gets better. Every single day, it's worth trying.
MT: What does your 2018 look like?
GRiZ: Writing my next album.
MT: What do you want for Christmas?
GRIZ: I want everyone to be happy and spend time with family and friends and to just enjoy the shit out of themselves. That's all I want.
GRiZ will perform Thursday, Dec. 14; at Royal Oak Music Theatre; 318 W. Fourth St., Royal Oak; 248-399-2980; royaloakmusictheatre.com; Doors at 8 p.m.; Tickets are $39.50 in advance; ages 16 and older; as well as Friday, Dec. 15 and Saturday, Dec. 16 at the Masonic Temple; 500 Temple Ave., Detroit; 313-638-2724; themasonic.com; $39.50 advance. To learn more about Little Kids Rock visit LittleKidsRock.org.