Live For Live Music recently flew to Colorado to cover the Snowball Music Festival and while we were there, we had the pleasure of catching up with Gramatik, who is currently signed to Pretty Lights Music label. The rising producer/DJ spoke at length about his influences, new music, collaborations, and the atmosphere at Snowball festival among other things – check out our exclusive one on one interview below.Kunj: Kunj Shah here with Live with Live Music. Great set! Nice to meet you.Gramatik: Nice to meet you.

Kunj: So growing up in Slovenia, do you find that the music scene different here than it is there?

Gramatik: Yeah it differs in some ways but it’s not that different but it has differences in terms of like cultural differences, you know. Here it’s more of like a hippie vibe, you know?

Kunj: Does that affect your show, as far as different vibes from the crowd?

Gramatik: No, I mean whenever I see a huge turnout and people to have a great time, you know, I don’t really care like what kind of people they are, as long as they had a great time, that they thought the ticket was worth it ,then I’m happy. And it’s like I see more and more that my crowd is kind of getting very diverse and it’s like people that don’t listen to Dubstep come to my shows and accept my kind of Dubstep. Then you have people that don’t listen to hip hop, they’re coming to my show because they accept my kind of hip hop and it’s cool now that I’ve been able to get people that are open-minded about music just as much as I am, you know? I’ve never been a fan of like discerning myself one type of genre guy. Whether I’m producing or listening, it doesn’t matter. My appetite is way bigger than just one genre.

Kunj: Yeah, I was going to say like how do you describe your musical style? Beatport says it’s chill out music but it’s not really.

Gramatik: It’s just a label thing so they can categorize it somewhere so they can sell it but it’s not. It’s like when my first album came out on Beatport it should have been labeled as hip hop or instrumental hip hop but there was no hip hop as a genre at the time at Beatport because it was offline because they were doing the Beatsource thing. But it isn’t, I don’t really care, you know, because I don’t give a fuck about the genres. It’s just music, you know? It’s like good or bad music so I didn’t care, I was like “Yeah, chill out. Whatever.” I don’t even think people were going to buy that shit on Beatport anyway because at the time it was just like electro house and techno and that’s it, and tech house and stuff like that.

Kunj: It was just another way to get out there.

Gramatik: Yeah and then it’s weird because now a lot of people think that music is actually chill out which is not, you know? But I guess whatever. Whatever makes you happy. Call it what you want as long as it’s something good.

Kunj: You’ve toured like Pretty Lights and Glitch Mob and a bunch of other artists, who is some of your favorite artist to work with?

Gramatik: Well that’s hard, it’s like pretty much everybody that I’ve ever worked with are my favorite in their own kind of way, you know? Like Break Science, it’s always fun when you get down with somebody else that’s really good in his world, and whether it’s like the same kind of music vibe or a different, you can always create something beautiful.

Kunj: What was it like producing your music? How much is like samples driven and how much is just straight from scratch?

Gramatik: It depends on the day, you know? How I feel – when I do hip hop stuff it’s usually more sample based like probably, 80-90% sample based, and there’s a lot of live instrumentation added to it, but I like to sample like old records from 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s you because that’s the kind of my favorite style of hip-hop. I listened to DJ Premier and Riza, those types of artists. I like to do that kind of solid hip hop because it’s just something that suits me. So, it has to involve sampling but the way I do it, I try to take it to the next level, and add like live instrumentation not just like kicking the snare and the chopped up sample but like he plays guitar in some of my track. So, I play some keys i’m not instrumental by any means but I know enough to get by. Then I got real musician friends who are really sick, you know?

Kunj: Make the live instrumentations and so on.

Gramatik: Yeah. Which is I’m trying to like…

Kunj: Let the guys pull it out.

Gramatik: Yes and in terms of sampling I try to do something that we’d like to call it collage sampling because when Primo and Pete Rock and those guys started doing sample base hip hop back in the day, they would find a track, they would chop some parts of their track, flip them over, add their drum to it and that would be a hip hop beat. So what I’m trying to do is I’m trying to take that to the next level in terms of like not just adding live instrumentation to that but just like using collage sampling as the platform which means taking like 6 or 7 different tracks from different time periods like 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and then just taking beats and pieces out of every track, tune them in together and then create a collage sample and layered it in. So it’s like not just one sampled track with kick and the snare added to it, it’s just it’s a fucking mosaic, you know? So that’s my kind of hip hop, what I’m trying to do with it. And then I have like the other side where I do glitchy and dubstep.

Kunj: So you’re consistently changing and evolving your music?

Gramatik: Yeah exactly. I like to, just like I said I’m very dynamic creature so I don’t like to get stuck in one style for a long time. Last year I did ‘Beatz and Pieces’ which was mainly like my kind of hip hop album and now I’m about to drop this new album which is new EP which is going to be like highlit energy level with Glitch Hop and Dubstep and stuff like that but in my kind of style still.

Kunj: Do you have a date?

Gramatik: No, not yet. But it’s probably going to come out in the next couple of days. It’s already done. We actually premiered it yesterday during my set. That’s the first time I’ve ever played the new tracks.

Kunj: Here?

Gramatik: Yeah. Yesterday, It was a premier, so that’s going to come out in the next couple of months, and then after that I might do something completely different. Try to keep myself entertained.

Kunj: So you are known for remixing like a variety of different classic songs like ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and ‘Knights of Cydonia’. When you’re remixing these songs do you listen to the song and think it needs to be changed or do you really love the original song?

Gramatik: No, I really love the song and that’s what gets me, First, I got to really like the song has to give me goosebumps when I listen to it and then it has to have something that I can corporate in my style. I have to hear it like, “Alright, I really fucking like this song.” And then I start analyzing it in my head like “What does this song had that it could be good in the remix of mine with my kind of twist on it” and then usually, “Oh man I could flip this part right here. It’s perfect tempo for a Glitch or a step or whatever.” When I figure it out in my head I’m like, “Alright I got to fucking remix this track.” But I contemplate for a while like what can I actually do with it that would do it justice as a remix. Not just go in and whatever happens happens. Yeah.

Kunj: So, you have a video for the track ‘So Much For Love’ where it took a perfect day between two lovers and then it cuts back to the girl waiting in the car and its just a dream. Were you involved in like to creative process of that video?

Gramatik: Well actually that’s a funny story about how that video came to be. It was made by my friends from back home in Capital City and they made this project for something else and they never used it. When they heard my album like before it came out ‘Beatz and Pieces’ I actually asked one of them, “You guys have any videos? This is going to be the first single. So do you guys have any ideas and shit.” They came back and they were like, “Dude we have the perfect video for this already made.” It really was like it was made for it. It’s like showing this like this surreal happy couple that just having their time of their life and then at the end is a tragic ending, it was just imagined by this girl, waiting in the car. It’s like this unhealthy, unreal, like almost like disturbingly happy relationship which never happened, you know? It’s like so much for love, you know? They keep telling us that since we were kids and it never really happens.

Kunj: Is that what you’re trying to say in the song?

Gramatik: Yeah and it was so perfect because the video was already made but it was never really made for the song. It’s just like one of those things in life that were just l meant to be.

Kunj: So you collaborated with Break Science with new song. Do you guys have any more collaborations planned in the future?

Gramatik: Yeah, probably, because we’re going to be touring for the next 4 weeks. We are starting Pretty Lights Music Spring Tour on March 24th. It features me, Break Science and Paul Basic. So, I’m guessing we’re probably going to make another track on tour.

Kunj: If you’re on the road together or something…

Gramatik: Yeah, exactly. It’s not something that we ever plan, you know? It just happens man. “Yo dude, let’s make a track.” “Yeah, sure, roll a joint, let’s do it.” We’re just having fun. It’s not “Alright, let’s set up a meeting and whatever.” We’re just dudes having fun.

Kunj: Where do you see the music in five to ten years from now?

Gramatik: No fucking idea because it’s just like, I have no idea. Like 5 years ago I had no idea i’d be doing these things right here, right now. It’s way out of my hand and pretty amazing because I’m really dynamic when it comes to that and I have to keep myself entertained and keep refreshing whatever I do so it doesn’t get robotic, you know?

Kunj: You have to evolve.

Gramatik: Humans are not static creatures, we’re very dynamic. Like most of us at least. I would like to believe, but that’s how I am. If I get stuck in the middle, I got to get out of it and try something new, something fresh. And it usually happens naturally, I get attracted by something. It’s not that I’m looking for something fresh, I get attracted by something and I find myself in that realm and I’m like, “Shit this is fucking awesome right now. Like I’ve been checking this shit out out and you know it’s like I didn’t even realize I like it, so now I’m going to try to start doing that. That’s how it should be.

Kunj: Especially as an artist.

Gramatik: Yeah exactly. That’s how it should be for every artist.

Kunj: So you played on several festivals across the country, what do you think of SnowBall? How is it different from other festivals?

Gramatik: Well the difference from other festivals musically? Because I was going to say, “Here you’re freezing your balls off, every other festival, you’re sweating your balls off.” Yeah that’s main difference. Musically, I don’t know. I guess it’s the same. It’s the same kind of names and the lineup that you see everywhere else in summer festivals so it’s pretty awesome, you know but it’s a pain in the ass because of the cold and it’s also pain in the ass during those peak summer time festivals when it’s like 110 degrees. Like that’s never as bad as this because you can always splash yourself with cold water you’ll be fine. Here it’s like walking down the street and you can’t feel your toes. I think it’s cool though to try to do a winter festival, it’s like only the second year and it’s working and people are showing up. I can’t believe I had a full tent yesterday!

Kunj: We flew here from New York for this.

Gramatik: Oh shit, yeah me too.

Kunj: It’s fun. Getting to ride and then come down here you know and see some music.

Gramatik: Like my manager said, “It’s just like it’s weird you see all these kids in ski pants and goggles screaming it out.” You never see that in the festivals , skipants and goggles. It’s always summer, everybody’s naked.

Kunj: Thank you so much for your time. It’s good to have you.

Gramatik: Yeah sure man. Anytime. Are you guys from New York?

Kunj: Yeah.

Gramatik: That’s sick.