The Revolution According to grandson
June 8, 2018
When you first hear grandson’s music, it’s clear that each note is part of a story and the steps towards a reckoning. His music is raw, open, and honest, and though each song cuts to the heart, each song sparks thought and discussion. Over the past eight years, grandson, born Jordan Benjamin, has been making music that is distinct, to the point, and emotionally honest about our world today. Recently, I had a chance to speak with him about his music, our world, and his journey as an artist.
For grandson, music wasn’t a hobby nor was it a distant idea- but as he says, it was always a natural extension of who he is. At the heart of it, grandson is a storyteller, who blends genres like hip-hop, electronic, trap, and rock ‘n’ roll as the setting for the stories of his fans, the grandkids, as well as the climate of the greater world surrounding them. Stories are part of the driving force of his music, and each story has a moral and a point to it.
“From a songwriting standpoint, what inspires me is being a young person in what feels like a very critical juncture in the world, in Western culture. You know I think that the climate politically, and tension that is underlying so many different conflicts environmentally, societally- and how our relationship is to one another, it feels like there’s a real urgency there…The stories of these grandkids really inspire me to continue to write songs, the sorts of pain we all are dealing with, the sorts of vices we all turn to, and those stories shared with me by grandkids old and young really propels me to write the kind of music I write.”
With grandson, his music not only reflects the momentous times we are in, but essentially, the heart of his music is telling the stories of his fans, and the larger tapestry of experiences it makes up- and that responsibility in this time is something he doesn’t take for granted.
In speaking of music that is conscious of our nation and world, one can look at grandson’s music and see that he has something to say about the world, and he welcomes a discussion concerning the issues he sings of. In his songs like ‘thoughts and prayers,’ and ‘War,’ you can see that he isn’t afraid to speak of gun control, racism, and the need for peace. It is this boldness that sets his apart, and what keeps him going. And yes, it is this courageous honesty that is raw and electric, and it should be celebrated. Grandson doesn’t sing as someone who is unsure, but as an artist with an authority and drive to make a marked difference.
Inspired by other storytellers and from a number of genres, like Bill Withers, Bauer, Ray Charles, Nirvana, and Skrillex, grandson’s catalog echoes that of politically and socially conscious artists whose art was intentional in pointing out the setting it was made. “Most artists that stand the test of time are speaking on issues that are relevant to the time they were making their art… I think that it’s relevant, always, and I think that as long as there is rock and roll, there will be protest music.” Grandson makes protest music that echoes each of these influences, and their art can be heard in his music as he fuses these genres that form his sound. When one does make music as he does, it does open a larger conversation concerning the intersections between art and activism. As for those who disagree, he welcomes them to go to a live show, to witness the palpable energy, passion, and release that is shared between him and his fans.
But grandson’s music reaches beyond the story. He wants for there to be discussion, release, and for people to come together. But ultimately, it’s about sharing what’s changed his life and inspired him. “I want to inspire as many people as possible can with this life I have. I want to travel around the world, and affect people from all sorts of backgrounds, and I want to empower other people to find their voice, whether it’s running for office, starting a band, or just writing in a journal. These are the sorts of outlets that have changed my life, and all I could possibly want for my life is to provide other people with those tools to feel in control of their destiny, and I wanna rock out!”
As for those who want to make music, he offers his wisdom as well. “My biggest piece of advice would just be to figure out the why, of why they do what they do…You can find your team, you can find your family, but you need to first have to have that why.” For there to be impactful art, there must be an honest vision, and to stay honest, he advises to simply just be honest. And that in itself, that defined vision, in conjunction with passion and honesty, is a revolution all on its own.
grandson’s debut EP a modern tragedy vol. 1 arrives June 15 via Fueled By Ramen.