Putting the Beats in Motion: Up Close with Grandtheft
The fast rising songwriter, producer and DJ talks celebrities, live spinning and must-have grub.
Photo courtesy of Maria Jose Govea/Red Bull Content Pool
Some artists find their niche and glue themselves in it while others scurry to assorted auditory realms, for Aaron Waisglass (a.k.a. Grandtheft) being able to present a plethora of sounds is what it comes down to.
"I feel like a lot of people have seen great success doing one thing, but for me I've always been into making different music from the get-go, ever since I was a kid I've been like that. I like to write and mix together house, rap—basically all different incarnations of music. It's about keeping it interesting and for me I need to switch things up."
Grandtheft's music catalog hosts an abundance of genre-bending recordings with hits of house and trap worked within an urban viscosity. He's released tracks through a variety of imprints including Mad Decent, Top Billin and Spinnin' Records, opened for acts like Avicii and Arcade Fire and holds some strong bonds with other diversified acts like Keys N Krates and Diplo.
Diplo and Grandtheft had sent some emails to each other, but it was the Ottawa Bluesfest a couple of years' back where the two finally met in the open. Diplo had been using a couple of Grandtheft's tracks during his live shows and when the two came face to face it was clear they shared commonalities, one being that they are true creators.
"I really like working with Diplo, he has a similar mentality as I do. He appreciates different kinds of music and takes the chance to do something that is impressionable. He also has an incredible ear and enjoys making live music so it's great to have him around me, trading ideas, listening to music."
Diplo and Grandtheft's beautifully wound remix of "Summer" by Calvin Harris highlights the strength of this hooking partnership. So far the remix has received approximately three million plays in total (between both platforms).
Grandtheft's 'Keep It 100 World Tour' began in mid-June and runs until September with stops throughout North America as well as across the pond in Australia and New Zealand. In addition to this extensive tour, the gritty artist is part of the 2014 residency roster at Wynn Las Vegas with specific sessions at Encore Beach Club and Surrender. Other residencies at Wynn's party-forward properties include acts like DJ Snake, Zedd, Martin Solveig and Lil Jon.
"The residency is such a great thing. I get to play different days, sometimes inside, sometimes outside. There's a variety in the crowd too, you get the locals and tourists that come out to listen," he explains.
It's clear that 2014 has already shaped up to be a strong year for Aaron and he's prepared to keep the energy going as long as the crowd wants it.
"If the crowd is alive and into the music, I feed off that even if I haven't slept in two days. There's that collective energy that gets me so fired up."
"At my shows, especially the European ones, I still expect no one to show up or that no one will know my music and it surprises me everyday how many actually do know. I'm not accustomed to having real fans and having people know the records. It's the greatest feeling when people come up and say your track is their favourite or when you find out the venue is sold out—it amazes me just to have people care about my music at all."
Multiple of Grandtheft's Australian shows have sold-out by the way.
Grandtheft's tackled a range of events including celebrity birthday shindigs (Paris Hilton's for example), underground raves and award show parties, but the whole idea of celebrity soirees doesn't really act as a motivator in this lad's day to day.
"I'm not really into doing celebrity parties to be honest, I've done them for sure, but I really just don't like how it's all about celebrity photos, waiting for celebrities, just the overall vibe isn't my thing. I like playing the shows where people are there to hear me or know my music."
There's a level of unpredictability in Grandtheft's work, something that may not peak in the brain until the next second, but settles in the spine and flushes through the tissue, making for a coaxing release. When you listen and watch Grandtheft's sewing skills with 808's it's different than when you're already predicting the next drop of an EDM tune from the "next big DJ." Instead you are listening to the transitions, thinking of his recipes, having eureka moments, strolling through past headspaces; there's a story to each offering and it's anything but vanilla. After all he is a producer, songwriter and DJ.
In less than two weeks the Toronto talent will grace the Ministry of Sound stage, the UK's cornerstone institution for dance music.
He also recently judged the Eastern Finals for the Red Bull Thre3style DJ competition, which was held at the trendy Hoxton nightclub in Toronto. The night welcomed a handful of DJ/producers that presented a 15-minute mix to a crowd of salivating electronic aficionados. The final Canadian showdown for the Red Bull Thre3style takes place Saturday, July 26 at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver.
Grandtheft may be jet-setting across the globe for now but upon his return to Toronto you'll probably catch the "self-proclaimed Yelp ninja" chowing down on a butter chicken roti from Mother India because "it's the best known to man."
Make sure to check out Grandtheft's latest offering, Keep It 100 / Let Me Tell You Something below and expect more adrenaline-pressed tunes to surface in 2014.