The Rebel Era Tour - Late Show
Pegboard Nerds, The Floozies
815 V St. NW
Washington, DC, 20001
Today at age 24, GRiZ (or Grant Kwiecinski, to his mom) is already being hailed as visionary. This spring, he’ll release Say It Loud (via his All Good Records imprint), a follow-up to its more funk-step predecessors, Rebel Era and Mad Liberation. With assists from rapper Talib Kweli, Afrobeat-group Antibalas, the L.A.’s Children’s Chorus, and others, his new full-length finds a golden mean between an abundance of brass instruments, liberal use of soulful vocals, and shimmering, synth beats.
Modern gadgets may bring his creations together, but GRiZ is, at heart, a time traveler. The name Say It Loud is an homage to James Brown’s funk-soul spirit and pioneering messages of equality. The horns throughout the album shout-out to GRiZ’s favorite albums, Miles Davis’ masterpiece, Sketches of Spain. And GRiZ’s outsize live shows at local DIY spots such as Scrummage University not only earned him his name and convinced him to drop out of college—it referenced a legacy of Detroit dance pioneers from the Belleville Three to the Detroit Techno Militia. (“They created the opinion and the space for me to be able to come and do my own thing,” he says, respectfully.)
More than a year-and-a-half of his life went into writing and recording Say It Loud. GRiZ began, of course, in Detroit, then moved to a remote cabin upstate with Exmag to escape the trappings of city cacophony and cell-phone service. From there, he landed in Brooklyn at Daptone Records’ studio, collaborating with Antibalas. And he hit Los Angeles just to work with the Children’s Chorus on the album’s opener, “The Anthem.” The change of scenery is necessary, he insists, “Because seeing a different place, you catch the different vibes, feeling of that place.”
Finally, late last year, he dropped the funk-fuzz single “A Fine Way to Die” (co-written with singer-songwriter Orlando Napier) to tease his newly evolved sound. “That song was the atypical GRiZ song. It was the heart and soul of the album and gave you a little of everything: the bass stuff, the rhythm stuff, the horns, the vocals, the guitar,” he says, adding: “It is a wild, interesting song with movements to it.”
“Stop Trippin,” co-written with vocalist Jessie Arlen, advances that sonic dialogue with his fans. “That song is basically where I am right now,” he says. “I want to write better songs. I want to write contemporary funk songs. I want to produce an album that kind of has the new James Brown singing on it. You know what I’m saying? Something that sounds like it was made at Muscle Shoals.”
If GRiZ sounds wiser than his years to you, you’re not the only one. “I remember first meeting Mike Avery who sang on ‘The Anthem.’ When I met him in person, he was like, ‘Holy shit, man, I thought you were going to be a 40-year-old dude! How do you come up with these songs?” As ambitious as Say It Loud may seem, this is a natural next step for GRiZ, who thrives on bending genres. “I could’ve sampled everything. Most of my music is created for a live experience,” he notes. “But now, I really want a body of work that is 100% my own.”
Pegboard Nerds have had a formidable year since they started. The duo creates a unique blend of electronic music, spanning, electro, dubstep, moombahcore, glitch hop and drumstep. Not confining themselves to a single genre, they have reached out to a wide audience, amassing an impressive following in the past 12 months.
Their first release was the tune “Gunpoint” on the young Canadian label “Monstercat”. This was the start of a string of monthly releases, with hits such as “Self Destruct”, “Disconnected”, “Pressure Cooker” and “Fire In The Hole” which held the number one spot on the Beatport Glitch Hop
Just outside the jazz mecca of Kansas City springs liberal oasis Lawrence, Kansas -- separated only by the waves of wheat from the epicenter of the electronic music revolution in Colorado. From Lawrence, it would logically follow that an act could rise to prominence fueled by the swing of Basie, the birth of Charlie Parker's bebop, and the wild frontier of electronica. Born in funk and bred in the digital age, live electronic duo The Floozies have burst onto the scene at a time when the industry needed them the most.
Brothers Matt and Mark Hill share the stage just as easily as they share a musical brain. Without a setlist, and without a word between them, Matt's guitar is in lockstep with the thud of Mark's kick. Endless looping and production builds the raw scenery upon which palm muted chugs, searing solos, and wobbling bass paint their dazzling array of colors.
Well versed in everything from Chris Cornell to Kavinsky, the sonic vision shared by the brothers eschews contemporary electronic influences in favor of broader, deeper tastes including Zapp & Roger, Lettuce, and Amon Tobin. That wide?angle view of a century of popular music allows the Hills to remix Toto and The Dead -- in the music you can hear reverence for the giants of the past, all the while producing wildly futuristic tunes for the masses to dig now.
When the pendulum swung as far as it could away from live instrumentation to laptops, The Floozies rose up to the challenge, swinging as hard as they could in the other direction with neck?snapping, knee?breaking funk so dirty that the gatekeepers stood up, wiped themselves off, and took notice. A bold live show full of sonic exploration and unbreakably deep pocket grooves has landed the brothers on stage with luminaries of the jam world Umphrey's McGee as readily as electronic elites GRiZ and Big Gigantic. Sold out shows in major markets, and huge festival appearances at Electric Forest, Wakarusa, and Summercamp have cemented the duo's ascent, while headlining tours across the country and festival appearances at SnowGlobe and Rainbow Serpent Festival in Australia dot the horizon.
The Floozies are bringing the funk back, and they're right on time.
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