The one-month anniversary of my voyage to Electric Zoo is approaching in just days, and I'm feeling sort of guilty that I didn't manage to get this interview transcribed sooner. Gramatik gave a great interview in the media tent on a sunny September afternoon shortly after he blasted the crowd at his early set with a hearty dose of Sunday morning bass. It's always nice to discover that an artist isn't only musically talented but also a genuine friendly, fun person. Gramatik's capable of chilled out tunes, but he held no bars for his set at Electric Zoo, regardless of potential temporal constraints, and everyone left happy and well-warmed up for the rest of the Zoo.
Download: Gramatik – Live at Electric Zoo 2011
EARMILK: To start off, how're you doing?
Gramatik: I'm doing good, considering the fact that I'm sleep-deprived, 30 hours I'm guessing, I'm awesome, it's the last show of the tour, a crazy summer tour that lasted three months, and I had a blast, the time of my life, and I'm happy. I'm happy, and it's bittersweet, you know, having it end, but we go home, I'm going back to Europe on Tuesday to do ten shows there in September, October, for like six weeks, and then we're coming back by Halloween weekend to do the fall tour in the States. So me and Michael Menert from PLM are doing a fall tour together, we're co-headlining, and the new artist that just got signed to PLM, Supervision, is going to open up for us. I'm looking forward to that.
EM: You also recently signed onto PLM, right? Has that affected what you do at all?
G: No, it hasn't. I've been kicking it with Derek since 2009, we always had like, the same vision about music, you know, we liked the same kind of styles or liked to blend the same kind of genres, but we all have our own inputs and our own style of doing that. And you know, PLM is like a family. We're homies, we're not coworkers or whatever, we rage together, tour together, make music together, and it affects me only the a positive way that I'm really comfortable in that environment and that kind of setup that PLM offers.
It's not a typical kind of label, it's a label that actually gives you a chance to expose yourself to a massive fanbase and at the same time they invest money and publicity and promotion for you and all that. It's all on point. And they don't want to influence you creatively or business-wise in any way, they just let us be business-wise and creative on our own, and take control of our own artistry and our own careers and make decisions. They encourage us. Derek encourages everybody to be business-wise and creative-wise on our own, and that's the environment I was always looking for. So you know, you have the freedom to do exactly what you want.
EM: What kind of musical background did you come from?
G: I come from a little bit of everything. When I started out when I was a kid, I listened to a lot of rhythm and blues, rock and roll, Beatles, and stuff like that. Then I started listening to hip hop when I got to eighth grade, and then electronic music later on in high school, it's a mixture of all of it. In one day I listen to The Prodigy and fucking Black Keys, Ratatat, Arctic Monkeys, and Casabian and stuff like that too. And when people see what kind of music I listen to, they're usually like, wow, you listen to that? I would never say that. I'm just open minded and I like everything that moves me. I never considered myself to be a one-genre type of guy. I like everything that has soul, that has fucking flavor, that has substance, that has meaning. That's the kind of guy I am.
EM: How do you usually prepare for a live show?
G: I just smoke a blunt and hope for the best. It's really funny, most of the time, right before we're about to go on stage, I'm kind of like, I really don't want to do this right now. It's a weird feeling, you know, of I kind of just want to chill backstage and smoke weed and drink, and then I go, aw, we've got to go perform, and then I go on stage and I'm not sure what's going to happen, and then we drop the first few tracks and I'm all-in, like, yeah, this is what's up. So it's really mixed emotions that gets like that, weird, you know. My boy that plays guitar with me on stage always says, "how the fuck do you not want to do this right now? What's wrong with you?" And I'm like, "I don't know, I'm flaky." And then we get on stage and I just get a little wild with it. It's like, it happens a lot, you know.
EM: What was your favorite of the shows that you've played throughout the tour?
G: Um, that's hard. Oh, no, it's not hard. It's Red Rocks. It was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had. So uh, it's intimidating, to say the least, you know. There are 10,000 people above you, and you're like, wow. That's one of those moments that's burned into my brain and it's going to stay there forever. Even if somebody would brainwash me, I would still remember that. So yeah, Red Rocks, definitely.
EM: Do you think you're going to stick around here and hang out at the festival?
G: I'm going to try, as long as I can stay fucking awake, you know. I'm probably gonna pass out at one point, under a tree or something. But I'm going to stick around because it's our last show, we're going back to Europe on Tuesday, and I definitely want to rage out and smoke some weed and chill with my homies. So I moved to Brooklyn like three months ago, and New York's become my second hometown now, and I really enjoy it. When we come back, we're going to be living in Brooklyn, as well, and I can't wait.
EM: And where are you originally from?
G: I'm from Central Europe, and it's called Slovenia. So that's right between Austria and Italy. Right in the middle of Europe. I'm on the coast of Slovenia, which is on the Adriatic Sea, and my hometown is really chill, it's like 30,000 people in the entire county, and it's all just hotels and beaches, you know, like, sand, beaches, grass, beaches, concrete, beaches, and hotels and casinos and that's it. So in the summer it's really fun and chill and in the winter it tends to get kind of boring. It's a small tourist town. But it's the main tourist attraction in my home country, and everybody goes there in the summer, and a lot of tours from Germany and Italy and AustriDeia and Hungary and Russia, they come, it's really chill, there's no substantial crime, there's no unemployment rates, no homeless people, it's just chill. A chill place where you can just relax on the beach and enjoy the sun. We have an above-average amount of sunny days and it doesn't get really cold, like we have snow once every five years, so it's pretty nice, but it does get boring, you know. Because growing up in a small town, by the time you're 16, you know everybody. And by the time you're 26, you hate everybody. So you know, I'm 26 right now, and it was about time that I got the fuck out of there and moved to New York. Because I always wanted to move here, so I'm happy. And I always want to go back in the summer, you know, because summer is awesome.
EM: Yeah, I'm from Cape Cod, so I can relate. So have you been to New York a lot? Have you spent a lot of time here?
G: Yeah, totally. This summer we've been chilling in Brooklyn and Green Point and doing three or four shows a week, flying out and doing shows all over from San Francisco to Chicago to everywhere. And in the meantime we're just hanging in Brooklyn and I'm like two blocks away from Adam Deitch's studio, and we've been chilling there and making music and fucking around with beats and shit, and I was working on my album while we were in Brooklyn. And then we would fly out and do shows and come back and make some more music, and it's been awesome. I had the time of my life this summer. It's my best summer of my life. Definitely. Ever since I was five years old, I wanted to go to New York, ever since I saw it in the movies, you know? I was like, wow, I want to go there. It sounds pretty cliche, but it's very personal to me. I've always been in love with the city even before I ever came here. And when I came for the first time it was all that and more. So you know, I'm happy to be here.