The acclaimed electronic artist on freeing music by making music free.
Gramatik grew up glued to his stereo: a kid in Slovenia raised on R&B and jazz. By 13, he was building his own tracks; mixing beats on an old PC. His sound grew up. And it grew bigger and broader than electronic music’s traditional boundaries: part hip hop, part soul, part electronica, all backed by live instrumentals and vocals.
Gramatik has become a singular voice in the electronic music present. He’s also become a symbol of its future; one of the genre’s maybe unlikely philosophers. For Gramatik, freeing music starts with making music free. Giving away his early tracks helped the artist build a social following of over five hundred thousand fans. Today, he headlines shows and festivals around the world.
Call it a contradiction. Call it the new normal. Gramatik calls it The Age of Reason. His new album is now available to fans as a BitTorrent Bundle. And it’s a call to action for what’s next in music. Download the Bundle, and get fifteen new tracks, two music video exclusives, tour photos, and album art. And if you want to kick in your email, bonus. You can unlock a special message from Gramatik. (PS: The Age of Reason tour starts now. Go.)
We got to catch up with Gramatik this week, on the eve of his tour. Herewith: the story behind The Age of Reason, and other true stories.
Words with Gramatik: On The Age of Reason
Your sound is hip hop plus R&B plus soul plus electronic, delivered against a backdrop of live instrumentation. It’s a lot. What’s the philosophy behind what you make?
I don’t think about philosophy that much when I’m sitting down behind my laptop. In that moment, I’m just a vessel. I do whatever feels right. The result is sometimes outrageous, sometimes cohesive, but it’s always pure Gramatik from the soul.
What were you up against as an independent producer? What are some of the challenges you faced?
I come from Slovenia, in Central Europe. It’s small (only 2 million people). The only true resource I’ve ever had at my disposal to figure out how to make this music thing work was Google. The Internet helps. But the biggest challenge facing independent producers is the financial thing. Everything comes out of your own pocket, so until you’re able to sell enough tickets (at the right price), you’re going to be eating a lot of Ramen. It’s only once you break through that barrier that you can finally start executing your artistic vision, the way you envisioned it from the start.
The Age of Reason is your seventh LP. What makes this record different from what’s come before?
This one is different because I was able to work with more amazing musicians and singers – more than on any other record. Everyone from all the Exmag guys to Gibbz, ILLUMNTR, Orlando Napier, Eskobars… it’s definitely the most musically mature record I’ve ever produced.
Has technology changed the way you create?
Most definitely. Technology is changing the way I create on a daily basis. It’s such a beautiful thing in my eyes. All these technologies and algorithms are evolving so fast, and it only makes my life and my music-making process easier and better. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us.
The Age of Reason is an album about enlightenment. What would an enlightened music industry look like? What do you see as music’s future?
An enlightened music industry would first lose the word “industry” from it’s name. I guess like any other enlightened system. It would be strongly based on fairness on all possible fronts. Everything else is just maintenance. I don’t believe I’ll witness that change in my lifetime, but I’ll do everything I can to help it become a reality for the next generation.