Feelings are a superpower. That’s what makes Grant Kwiecinski, or GRiZ, among the grooviest musicians of our time. He zaps his music with electric emotion in a way that resembles the musical fluidity of a composer. His music takes you on a ride through an array of feels—from the heartache of tragedy to thrills of success to celebratory dance party vibes.
To have this experiential music available to us during a time in which expressing emotions is seen as fundamentally un-cool is imperative to humanity. Having something that reminds you of how good it feels to express your emotions in the suppressing age of social media is essentially the equivalent of going to church: it wipes your soul clean of anxiety and excess, and fills the gaps with light. Does better music exist to spark up to? (We beg to differ.)
Today, GRiZ released his fifth studio record, Ride Waves, which reveals a distinct facet of Grant’s personality: his social and political awareness. From grieving gun violence to celebrating friends, Ride Waves provides a guided catharsis in which authenticity is urged. The album also boasts high-level collaborations with Wiz Khalifa, Matisyahu, and Snoop Dogg. And it incorporates goosebump-inducing soul thanks to vocals from the Harlem Gospel Choir.
We caught up with Grant/ GRiZ to talk about Ride Waves, how cannabis played into the album creatively, and what it was like working with Wiz, Matisyahu, and more.
High Times: The music video for “A New Day” with Matisyahu is one of the more impactful, serious, and moving music videos I’ve seen in a long time. What made you want to dig so deep for this?
Grant/ GRiZ: It’s important to honor and pay respect to victims of gun violence. I think it is really important to talk about it with people, and to show that we can all agree on one thing: people being killed because of gun violence is really horrible. I think that people who’ve had siblings, friends, or loved ones die due to gun violence need to have their stories told if they’re open to it. This gun violence trend is tragic. We need to do something about it. And music is so powerful, there’s maybe no better means to send that message.
How was the collab with Matisyahu for that song?
It happened very naturally. I see Matisyahu as somebody who’s a very socially conscious person, and I really wanted to have positive social messaging in this album. This is the stuff I talk about with my friends, and these are a lot of the things I think about, so I wanted to be able to share that authenticity through the music. Matis was the perfect person to sing that kind of message. We were never like, ‘Oh we want to specifically talk about this,’ but as the writing started, we kept talking about like, turning a new page and the call-to-action of making positive changes in your life.
What do you want people to take away from “A New Day?”
That we all need to take care of each other!
There’s a big responsibility as an artist to be conscious of the messaging you’re putting out there.
Agreed. I think what I have to share is that you can’t do everything for all people all at once. But you can do something for somebody right now.
Tell us about your collab with Wiz Khalifa.
I had this song that I wrote on tour. I was a little misguided and didn’t really have a plan for myself. I was like, ‘I don’t know what the fuck is going on.’ I felt kind of adrift within my own life. And I wanted to—I needed to—put that feeling into music. The feeling of, I’m trying to like get to this place—and I will. And I have hope and I have faith that I will. That’s what the song is all about.
I wrote the hook and then I was passing through New York and stopped there to record with the Harlem Gospel Choir. It was just one of those sessions I knew was going to be awesome from the moment I got in the elevator with one of the singers. I could hear in her headphones that she was playing SZA and I was like, ‘Hey are you on the Grind Sessions?’ And as soon as she said yes, I already knew. I was like, ‘alright, cool this is going to be an amazing session.’ It was an omen. Everything about that track worked out so smooth and well. Wiz’s messaging on the song was perfect, his delivery is super dope, and it’s just a super feel-good tune.
How did cannabis fit into the creative process for this album?
You know, I tell you what: weed is always like a great like reset button for me. It’s a way for me to be able to hear music with a different set of ears. It’s like I’m in a different mental headspace. So, if I am feeling decompressed or if I’m feeling like my head is fuzzy or like I’m really sold on an idea, it’s always good for me to spend some time in a rash environment and smoke some weed. Then I like to re-listen to everything and kind of soothe into that wavey space and hear it. It’s like I’m almost hearing everything for the first time all over again.
Then, I can take time to enjoy it and take time to sit back and be like was this a good idea? And I can kind of analyze it from like a stone perspective. It’s a way to smooth things out and determine if something was ‘this’ or ‘that’ or too rushed or too much. It allows me to simplify and then relax to the beat a little bit. It’s always a great, great space to be in. Weed allows me to hit that reset button and be like, ‘alright, cool. Now let’s just chill and sit on this tune and enjoy it and let it wash over you and see if it feels right.’
It’s kind of like a meditation.
Yeah, exactly like a meditation. A marijuana meditation.
What can people expect from your new album?
You are going to get the full electro-soul, deep, wavey, instrumental, funk vibes. You’re going to get straight super-party-let’s-rage funk vibes. You’re going to get the in-your-feels, big-gospel-choir, sing-out-loud-in-your-shower-and-have-that-cathartic-moment vibes. You’re going to get that let’s-throw-it-all-out-the-window-and-party-with-your-friends vibes. It’s like, It’s really all the things that I love about music in one album. It’s music for every single mood throughout your day, your month, and your year— I guess it’s really lifestyle music. Music is a medicine that can take you through almost all the feelings that come with good experiences, you know? And combined with marijuana? It’s all about creating that marijuana meditation moment. That’s what the new album is about.