Toronto based artist Grandtheft is one of the strongest producers in the game pushing his own eclectic brand of dance music. Whether it's on quality remixes or groundbreaking originals, his sound is all his own. Highly anticipated live performances are met with high praise due to his fresh selection, usually consisting of mostly his own work and his skill in the studio is well documented. Having his most recent release land on Mad Decent was a big step in showcasing his sound. The music possesses distinct hard-hitting percussion, dirty synths and catchy drops that Grandtheft has become known for and has garnered support from many tastemakers in the industry.
Grandtheft is currently working with Mad Decent to put out the official remixes for the Quit This City EP and we got the chance to ask him about his inspirations, software favorites, thoughts on 'Trap' and the future of dance music culture.
How and why did you begin making music?
I started writing music really young, like 11 or 12 years old. I played in bands in high school but I was also into rap and dance music. One older kid in my high school showed me the Orb and some old rave stuff which got me excited. I got a sampler when I was 15 and started messing with it. I grew up in a small town and didn’t really understand DJing until I got to university in Montreal. When I moved there I really started to learn about club music.
What is the electronic scene like in Toronto?
I don’t know about the scene but there are a lot of great events and a wide variety of different artists/sounds exported from Toronto right now. Not everyone works together but there is good energy in the city and it’s cool that the world is paying attention. With Drake and The Weeknd and new OVO artists... now Tory Lanez, Jazz Cartier... There are a lot of great artists that are getting big in the US as well.
What is your favorite software/VST’s to use in the studio?
Ableton, Serum, UAD plugs. I still use the hardware in my studio too. You have heard my vintage synths like my Roland Jupiter 6, DX7 and moogs in my records! Jupiter is a monster - it’s still my favorite synth ever.
The term “Trap’ has gotten a lot of flak for not being true to the origin of the sound. What do you think of that?
Yeah… Trap is Atlanta hood rap music. As the internet has made the world a much smaller cultural place, people from all over share in the same creative ideas, trends and even language. I’m never mad at electronic musicians and producers ingesting different forms of music to make interesting hybrid music. I just sometimes have a problem with cultural appropriation being taken to extreme levels I guess. It’s a deeper conversation but it is important to be sensitive to other cultures you are visiting and, most importantly, seek to understand where ideas originate.
You’ve been making electronic music for a long time, and things have obviously changed a lot. What’s one thing that has changed for the better, and one thing that has changed for the worse?
Technology has made it so much easier to make records and to DJ. It makes things very democratic. Everyone can do it! The flipside is that not everyone can do it well… so there is a lot more clutter out there. It’s harder to find the good stuff and harder than ever for quality music to get heard.
Dance music has branched out in new directions over the past few years. Do you see any trends continuing?
Dance music and electronic music are not going anywhere. Big room corny EDM is kind of dying I guess, which is cool by me haha. It’s a crazy wide-open time right now and a lot of different sounds are evolving really fast. I find that really exciting.
You’ve collaborated with many producers and you featured quite a few vocalists on your recent EP- Quit This City. What's it like working with other artists and how does it impact your music?
I spend so much time writing alone, so it’s fun and inspiring to work with others. I get to share ideas and learn too. In the past, I have mostly just worked with friends really. Doing that in person as opposed to online is partly what makes it fun. As far as the EP goes, Lia Ices and Kabaka Pyramid are artists that I really like and was able to make those happen remotely. Lowell and i wrote Quit This City together in my Toronto studio which was really fun. I have spent a bunch of time in studio with Diplo, Keys N Krates and Sleepy Tom to make those records.
How do you go about choosing a song to remix? Is there any part of the process that’s more difficult?
I used to do a lot of bootlegs... I wanted to remix rad songs that needed a different version for me to play in my sets. Some of those i have released, and some are secret weapons. Now, I get approached a lot to do remixes. I only do them if I love the song and feel I can bring a crazy new version to the table. I've been lucky enough to get to do some official remixes for a lot of big artists that I admire… So at this point it's more about the actual song itself and what I have to work with.
What are your plans for this coming year?
Mad Decent and I are almost ready to release a bunch of sick remixes from my Quit This City EP. I also have a collab with Major Lazer dropping soon. Lots of touring as always but trying to scale that back a bit to make room for more studio time. I have mad different projects and ideas on the go. Just trying to make the best possible tunes I can this year.