GRiZ has been reinventing and deconstructing contemporary electronic dance music in his own image for more than half a decade, fusing elements of funk, soul, dance, electronica and hip-hop with his own lush saxmanship. Now, with the new GOOD WILL PREVAIL, the Detroit-born, Denver-based DJ, producer and saxophonist has forged his most heartfelt and personal work thus far, expertly uniting the electric with the organic on singles like “Before I Go (Ft. Leo Napier)” and the smash, “Good Times Roll (Ft. Big Gigantic).” GRiZ has crafted a genuinely crowd-pleasing, groundbreaking set of future funk all his own, pulling back on EDM’s expected synthetics to showcase his unique artistry’s deepest human elements.
“That’s what gives this music its character,” he says. “That’s exactly what the GRiZ project represents.”
GOOD WILL PREVAIL is, “a don’t give up album,” says GRiZ. “We’re on the cusp of a crazy presidential election, it’s like we’re looking down the barrel of a gun. I’ve got friends talking about moving to Canada and I’m like, that’s the last thing we need. We need as many good people here as possible. You can’t just give up. You can’t change the world if you don’t try.”
Born Grant Kwiecinski, GRiZ grew up in thrall to nearby Detroit’s long lineage of musical innovation, spanning funk, soul, blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and electronic dance music. He began playing alto sax in elementary school, but soon expanded his personal toolkit to include creative studio manipulation and house rockin’ DJ sets. 2011 saw the release of GRiZ’s debut album, END OF THE WORLD PARTY, followed in 2012 by MAD LIBERATION and 2013’s REBEL ERA, each notable for their increasingly inventive brand of high-energy future funk. Further releases include mixtapes and a series of spectacular singles – including “A Fine Way To Die (Feat. Orlando Napier)”
GRiZ began work on GOOD WILL PREVAIL immediately upon completing his chart-topping 2015 breakthrough, SAY IT LOUD, continuing to tinker with it all the way through the Uber ride to the mastering session.
“I’m a person that’s always creating,” GRiZ says. “Whether it’s music or videos or parties, I’m always making stuff.”
Like its predecessor – a #1 success on the iTunes Store’s “Top Electronic Albums” chart despite also being available for free download via BitTorrent – GOOD WILL PREVAIL was written during a period of intense touring. GRiZ and his crew recorded on the move in studios across the country, from his Colorado bedroom to a house overlooking the Hollywood Hills, from Detroit’s famed Assemble Sound to a patio in Northern Michigan, live onstage at Detroit’s Masonic Temple to half a dozen stops in New Orleans. “Rather Be Free” – featuring fellow All Good recording artist and GRiZ touring guitarist / best friend, Muzzy Bearr – is perhaps the collection’s worldliest, co-written and partially tracked in South Carolina, polished while on tour in England, and then finally completed in a hotel room while on the road.
Work continued during the “MY FRIENDS AND I DECIDED TO COME TO YOUR CITY AND PLAY SOME SUPER RAD SMALL SHOWS WHILE I WRITE MY NEXT ALBUM” Spring Tour, an intimate trek that included sold out stops at such renowned venues as New York City’s Webster Hall and the legendary Roxy in Los Angeles. Returning to smaller rooms was a fond reminder of GRiZ’s beginnings, inspiring the martial mayhem and breakneck hip hop of the GOOD WILL PREVAIL highlight, “My Friends & I (Feat. Prob Cause).”
“That song became the rallying cry for this whole record,” GRiZ says. “That’s my life. My friends are my family.”
An inveterate collaborator, GRiZ is joined on GOOD WILL PREVAIL by a number of stellar featured guests. GRiZ’s insatiable passion for blues and roots music is represented by partnerships with singer/pianist Leo Napier (on the soulful first single, “Before I Go”), R&B singer/guitarist Son Little (“Driftin’”) and GRAMMY® Award-winning guitarist Eric Krasno. The famed Soulive and Lettuce axemaster joins GRiZ for two tracks, the album-opening “Wicked (Ft. Eric Krasno)” and “Gotta Push On (Ft. Brasstracks & Eric Krasno), the latter given infinite soul power with the anthemic inclusion of a Detroit gospel choir.
“The way that Eric understands music,” GRiZ says, “his soulful bluesiness, the qualities he brings to the table are exactly the things I vibe with. And then Brasstracks, man, I love big horn sections – Earth Wind & Fire, Chicago – so it was a pleasure to work with those guys. That was fantastic.”
GOOD WILL PREVAIL is marked by the cultural and political upheavals that coincided with its creation, notably GRiZ’s lyrics on “Can’t Keep Me Down (Ft. Tash Neal of The London Souls).” The track – featuring acclaimed NYC rock ‘n’ roller Tash Neal (vocals, guitar) – is perhaps the album’s most protean and powerful, a musical riot in real time.
“I loved their raw vibe,” GRiZ says. “They’re like Jimi Hendrix and Muddy Waters. I thought, this is sick.”
Also featured on GOOD WILL PREVAIL is the 2015 smash, “Good Times Roll (Ft. Big Gigantic),” featured in Apple Watch’s popular “Surprise“ TV spot and acclaimed by Your EDM as “an epic collaboration of jazz, electro, dubstep, soul, and everything in between” showcasing “one of GRiZ’s most infectious saxophone licks to date.” The track – the second collaboration between the two Colorado-based livetronica icons after 2012’s massive “Power“ – exemplifies GRiZ’s determined goal for GOOD WILL PREVAIL, stripping away the veneer of contemporary dance music and then fusing it with a more fine-tuned songcraft.
“If the last album was about coming up with ideas,” GRiZ says, “this one was about executing them and all the other stuff I’ve learned since then.”
GOOD WILL PREVAIL is indeed fit to burst with visionary production and new-fashioned sonic approaches. Throughout the album, GRiZ focuses on the core musicality of his distinctly original line of attack, favoring complex chord patterns over the minor blues scale featured in so much modern EDM.
“I wanted it to be more concise,” GRIZ says, “to the point. I got tired of needing to introduce these massive build sections just to keep the audience’s attention. I wanted to experiment with letting the songs build the tension. Letting the lyrics and chord structures affect the predictability of what comes next instead of being solely reliant upon percussion and increasing drum patterns.”
Long hailed for his idiosyncratic live blend of organic and electronic instrumentation, GRiZ will mark the new album with the “GOOD WILL PREVAIL Tour,” highlighted by his second consecutive sold out headline show at Morrison, CO’s legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre. The multi-talent DJ/artist has proven one of the most popular live acts in recent memory, blowing away sold out houses at top venues in major markets across America as well as festivals including Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Outside Lands, Summer Camp, Electric Forest, Shambhala, HARD Los Angeles, Holy Ship!!!, Electric Zoo, Moonrise Festival, Summer Meltdown, and Dancefestopia 2016.
“You always want maximum energy,” GRiZ says. “People jumping up and down. But the live show can also be much more than that. You can incorporate new moments, like playing a GRiZ song with no backing track, all live instruments. Just the band and me on saxophone, making these songs come to life with no electronics, that’s my favorite thing to do live and something I’m so excited to continue crafting.”
While his “mom’s proudest moment” is the recent debut of Native Roots and RootCellar Genetics’ Cannabis Cup award winning GRiZ Kush cannabis strain, the man himself is markedly gratified by the continued love and effort of his fervent street team and fan community, The Liberators. For GRiZ, the interpersonal creativity and artistic interactivity which drives GOOD WILL PREVAIL extends from his fellow musicians all the way out to the last rows on his ever-growing audience.
“There were points making this album where I felt the pressure,” he says, “like I better write some hits, but then I thought, fuck it. This music is created with the fans in mind. I want those people to know that I care about the preservation of this sound, that as I move to the next level I’m not going to leave this sound behind.”
Remarkable in its range, striking in its immediacy, GOOD WILL PREVAIL furthers GRiZ’s breakneck ascent to that next level, pushing the limits of his own original sound while also renovating notions of what a multi-platform, genre-blurring artist can be in the modern era. In the short term, this most contemporary of musicians intends to simply continue on his current path, expanding his musical knowledge and creative range, always forcing the funk forward. One thing is certain: GRiZ will prevail.
“My plans are the same as always,” GRiZ says. “As soon as this one’s done, I start writing the next one. I already have an idea of what I want to do. My life isn’t stopping.”