Category: interviews

The Revolution According to grandson

The Revolution According to grandson

Sarah Beckford

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.

Dex meets Dexter: The deserved household name …

Dex meets Dexter: The deserved household name project of the year

Brian Rhatigan 

Illinois rapper Dexter Gore Jr., better known as “Famous Dex”, released his first full-length studio on April 6. The highly anticipated album was greeted with much acceptance, but that doesn’t mean Dex met some uncertainties along the way. I was able to ask Dex some questions about the road leading to his album, and what made the album what it really is.

Most people know Dex from his background in the SoundCloud rap scene, and some would even say (including himself) that he made the scene popular. “First off, I started this wave [of SoundCloud rap]” says Dex. On the contrary, even though he may be one the most well known “SoundCloud rappers”, he doesn’t give himself credit for actually defining SoundCloud rap. “I don’t think I changed what it means to be a SoundCloud rapper, I just got bigger, my music reaches more people than ever before.”

Prior to the release of his album, Dex released a single that broke into the viral realm significantly fast. ‘Japan’ was not only applauded for its lyricism and beat, but also for the aftermath of the song. ‘Japan’ was actually translated into an Instagram “challenge”, started by Roy Purdy. The challenge is to pretty much see who can do the specific dance to the song the best. “My boy Roy Purdy started that wave” says Dex. “That was all him, so I’m grateful everyone else is picking up and it’s spreading like crazy.”

One connection between SoundCloud rappers and mainstream success is features. Many growing rappers have worked with mainstream rappers to get their big break. For example, Lil Pump has worked with artists like Chief Keef and 2 Chainz. Dex, on the other hand, has worked with artists like ASAP Rocky and Wiz Khalifa (he also has an online relationship with Erykah Badu). “I love them both, but Wiz is my favorite,” he says. “He told me to put down the lean and focus on my music. That’s exactly what I’m doing!”

After the breakthrough of so many rappers from the SoundCloud scene, many are wondering who will be the next big thing to hit a big break. Well, according to Dex, that just may be Jay Critch. “Nobody got the wave and bars in my generation like Jay Critch… nobody can touch his talent.” Dex also says to be on the lookout for NBA Youngboy. Fortunately, NBA was recently released from jail, and maybe like Kodak, will be able to cook up a great project out of his experience behind bars.

‘Dex meets Dexter’ was released on April 6th and in my opinion, is set up to be one of the greatest rap album debuts of the decade, and definitely one of the best projects of the year. At this rate, if Dex’s flow continues to grow, it can only be uphill from here.

We had a chat with Demo Taped, an up and coming artist to look…

We had a chat with Demo Taped, an up and coming artist to look out for 

Adam Alexander, who goes by Demo Taped is a 19-year-old Atlanta based artist that has already released various singles, and an EP titled Heart. Adam started making music early on and began producing music in his bedroom with Garageband when he was 9. Demo Taped has also toured with the likes of WET and was recently picked to remix tracks for Sylvan Esso. His latest single Insecure (listen here) was released in September, it features his dad on bass and an organ recorded in his grandfather’s church. Demo Taped will be releasing an EP in 2018.

When did you start making music, and what made you start?

I started making music pretty early on. My parents had me taking piano lessons at age four. I grew up going to my grandfather’s church every Sunday and watching my dad plays bass in the band. He really introduced me to the musicians he grew up listening to and I really didn’t branch out and listen to many new artists for a while. After piano, my parents bought me a guitar and that’s when I started listening to Jimi Hendrix. I was maybe eight years old at this point. I was really kind of this outsider kid that didn’t quite fit in but I had friends. I was constantly told I “didn’t sound Black” and was made fun of for not being super knowledgeable about Rap and Hip Hop. I think that’s why I was really drawn to Hendrix. Whenever I was made fun of for listening to rock and folk music, I would talk about Hendrix and no one could say anything. I also read up on the genre more and started to point to the many black pioneers that made rock and roll possible. I felt normal when I listened to his music and so I started listening to the words more and eventually started writing. My parents bought me my first computer when I was nine and from there I started making things in Garageband.

Has the Atlanta music scene influenced you?

I’d say It’s influenced my mentality. Everyone is working hard in Atlanta. The art scene is thriving. You kind of see the work ethic that others have, and you’re forced to step back and reevaluate your process and how much time you’re spending on your art.

Where does the name Demo Taped come from?

There was a point in time where I was looking up different labels and how the whole process of sending in demos worked. I realized it was pretty much a dead process and a lot of demos/submissions probably get tossed. I wanted to take something associated with not being heard/having no voice (a demo tape) and make it my name and my voice.

Has music helped you overcome depression and anxiety?

Music helps me for sure. When I write your feelings, fears, and questions down, I feel better. Getting thoughts out of your head and voicing them is important. I’m oddly more comfortable expressing my deepest feelings in a song than in a conversation.

Lyrically, what is your latest single Insecure about?

Insecure is about the mind playing tricks on itself. It’s about the fear of making your feelings for someone known because your insecurities are holding you back. Sometimes, I let my view of myself stop me from even trying to initiate a potentially good relationship.

What was the recording process like for Insecure, how long did it take, and how did the idea come about?

I was in NY for three days working with YEBBA. She provided background vocals. Go listen to her song “Evergreen”. It will change you. Anyway, we were in the studio just talking about anxiety and different parts of it and we ended up talking about Insecurities. I pretty much just started talking about how I stop myself from trying in a romantic situation because I make myself believe that no one could be interested in me. We talked about it more and I started to see it’s a universal thing. From there, I recreated a sample I got from Frank Dukes with YEBBA and Pete Cafarella on keys. At this point, I had the idea for what the song should be about, but I was really focused on production. One night I called Ben Abraham, who is an incredible songwriter, and we sent melody and lyrical ideas back and forth via Voice Memos and wrote the song. After New York, I came back to Atlanta and worked out of my bedroom studio to finish the track. I recorded my dad on Bass. James Barrett Jr., who did live drums for the song, sent me several different passes of drum recordings and I arranged those. The last thing the track needed was organ. I ended up going to my grandfather’s church with Paul Anderson and we recorded the organ there, on the Hammond B3.

I really like the artwork for Insecure, and all the other tracks you have released do you design it, or are you involved in that process?

Thank you! The artwork for Insecure was designed by the incredibly talented Savana Ogburn. We’re on the same wavelength, I feel. I’ll tell her a weird vague idea and she’ll take it and fully flesh it out and make it beautiful. Big shout out to her!  All the artwork before Stay, I made personally. I love the visual medium so I’ll always be involved in some way.

How has your sound evolved since you released your debut EP Heart in 2015?

I’d say that I’m just exploring. I’ll always be exploring. The thing about Heart that most people don’t know is that it was completely and totally meant for one person. I wasn’t going to release it. I was very influenced by artists I was listening to at the time. With this new EP, I kind of sequestered myself. I didn’t listen to many artists and when I did, It was older music. I feel that this upcoming EP truly represents me, my thoughts, and the sounds I enjoy.

What can we expect from your EP coming out later this year? Is it finished?

The EP is done. 🙂 It will be out early 2018.

Who are your favorite new artists?

Really digging Steve Lacy, Standing On the Corner, Billie Eilish, Rex Orange County, YEBBA (Big shoutout), Wafia (Also Big shoutout), and a bunch more. So much good music right now.

We had a chat with Okey Dokey ahead of their set at Fountain…

We had a chat with Okey Dokey ahead of their set at Fountain Square Music Festival 2017!

Okey Dokey is a psychedelic indie band from Nashville, Tennessee. The band is composed of visual artist Aaron Martin, and The Week’s guitarist Johny Fisher. Earlier this year the band released their debut album ‘Love You, Mean It’ listen to it on Spotify.

We chatted with them ahead of their set at Indianapolis’s Fountain Square Music Festival! Catch the band at the HIFI Stage on Saturday at 10:00pm! More info here.

How was the band formed, or what made you want to make music together?

Johny: Aaron and I played in a band together when we were younger, and I always loved his ability to be open-minded and create with conviction. So, when I wanted to begin this new project concept, I went to a little party with him and we agreed to write a bit together and see what came out of it. It took about 3-4 months for us to get the material for our first record together. Then we hit up our other old bandmate Jeremy Clark and had him add keys and mix everything. The band sort of formed as the record was being created I suppose.

Which artists/bands have influenced you?

J: We all have a deep love for certain artists like Lee Hazelwood, ELO, Willie Nelson, Tom Petty, Steely Dan, all things Motown and so many more. Our inspirations live in a million nooks and crannies in between those artists. What I’m saying is…where to even start?

How would you describe your sound, or what genre would you place yourselves in?

J: Placing yourself in a genre just places yourself in a limited box. We try to combine various sounds that appeal to our ears in hopes that it appeals to the ears of others.

Who are your favorite new artists?

J: Lemon Twigs, White Reaper, Liz Cooper, Dan Luke & The Raid, Susto, Wells, Ian Ferguson and a million others

What’s next for Okey Dokey? Will you be releasing more music? More tour dates?

J: I’d imagine just a more of everything. We just started working with C3 Management and Paradigm and they are truly amazing folks and booking us out a bunch to lots of new places. In terms of new music, we are always writing. I’m sure new music will be peaking its head out soon.

What artists/bands are you most excited to see at Fountain Square Music Festival?

Johny: Dr. Dog of course

A conversation with Dan Luke and the Raid ahead of their set at…

A conversation with Dan Luke and the Raid ahead of their set at Fountain Square Music Festival 2017 

Dani California + Carla Huysmans

Dan Luke and the Raid are a psychedelic indie rock band from Bowling Green, Kentucky. Earlier this year the band released their debut single ‘Black Cat Heavy Metal’ and a few days ago the band released a single titled ‘Golden Age’ (read the review here). The band is composed of Dan Luke Shultz, Kendrick Brent, Dylan Graves, and Anthony Joiner. 

We got to chat with them ahead of their set at Indianapolis’s Fountain Square Music Festival! Catch the band at the HIFI Stage on Saturday at 6:00! More info here

What artists/bands have influenced you, or what inspires your music the most?

If I had to choose I would say The Strokes, David Bowie, Neil Young, The Lemon Twigs, Madvillain, BRONCHO.

How would you describe your sound?

It bops. Haha no I mean it’s got a bit of a psychedelic tinge, but I wouldn’t say we’re exclusively a “psych” band per se. I don’t know what to call it. Bop rock??

What is your favorite part about touring, and what can fans expect from your live show?

Being on stage and seeing people sing along to your song. Even if they don’t know the lyrics completely, you can tell they recognize it. It’s really cool and a little shocking to be honest but yeah, I love it.

What inspired you to write your two debut songs and how long did it take to construct them?

Well they’re both kind of circled around the idea of a late coming of age story which I feel is what a lot of people are going through right now. American 20 something’s are really struggling to get their shit together for a lack of better words. I think it’s becoming less and less of a joke too. It’s actually kind of annoying to make so many mistakes and know that it’s you. You’re the one fucking up, and there’s no sense in saying sorry because the only person you’re fucking over is yourself. It’s frustrating. I came up with the first verse lyrics to Golden Age maybe a week before we went in the studio, and it all came together right then and there. Black Cat Heavy Metal, on the other hand, took a total of 3 to 4 years. I wrote the intro lead, and verse when I was like 17 and forgot about it until I stopped doing that, and all of a sudden I remembered. Eureka! The miracle time bomb that is memory. What a dream.

How personal is your music, are the lyrics about your real life experiences?

Yes. Sometimes I try to make up a character in my head and give them a story but no matter what I do, it always has something to do with what’s going on in my life. I’ll write something like that and realize it has to do with me. I’ll deny it for a while but once I just accept it, it feels really good. It’s like I’m trying to tell myself something that I’m doing or feeling without realizing it. When I do it’s like, “Oh…. Okay. I guess.“ It’s a big weight off my shoulder. Sometimes. Sometimes it gets heavier. That’s life though.

Why did you decide to release Black Cat Heavy Metal as your debut single?

It felt right. The energy was so high in the studio, it was just one of those times where you go, “that’s the one.” We also had ritualistically chugged colt 45’s, for the sake of hype, so it all felt tingly and spiritual. Felt real good.

What or who inspired you to make music together?

Kendrick and I have been playing music together for about 5 years so that was an obvious match. Dylan and Anthony came in later, and they were real cool, so it was tight. If I can be completely honest, the night before we went to Austin to play SXSW this last spring, we all tripped acid and cried about how “this is the band man”. It was beautiful. If you can’t put that in there, we’ll go with how Dylan and Anthony were tight, and kick and I were best buds hahaha.

A lot of great bands have come out of Bowling Green, Kentucky have any of those bands influenced you?

For sure. All those bands that did it big were like all like family to me. I mean even a lot of the bands that haven’t blown up, or had a ton of commercial success I really dig, and love. Spirit Week, Waco Bell, Astronomy Club, The Cartoons. There’s this tight new band called Sugadaisees that I’m obsessed with. I’ve only seen them once but they kill.

Apart from releasing new music, what are your plans for the future?

Well, honestly that and touring is what we plan on doing in the future. Release music, tour, release music, tour, get married, release music, tour, have some babies, release music, tour, release music, pay off that damn mortgage etc.. So basically that formula until we die maybe?

What are your favorite new artists?

The Lemon Twigs, Andy Shauf, Bedouine, I’ve been digging that new Car Seat Headrest single too, Okey Dokey.

What artists/bands are you most excited to see at Fountain Square Music Festival?

Definitely gonna see Hoops, and Okey Dokey. I wish we were there to see Liz Cooper, but we’ll be in good ole Tennessee.

What can we expect from your set at FSMF?

A riot and/or a party. Maybe some ice cream cake as well? Who knows. You’ll have to see. Wink wink. There will not be Ice cream cake, but there will be a party! Okay?? We’re excited.