Grant Kwiecinski-- better known by his stage name GRiZ--is no newbie to Austin’s South By South West. In fact, the DJ and producer found himself back at the music festival just a couple of weeks before his fourth studio album, Say It Loud, March 31 release. The Detroit native took some time to sit with us and chat about the festival, his collaborations and releasing his music for free.

Photo by Victoria Patneaude


Music Connection: Is this your first South By South West?
GRiZ: This is not my first South By. I have been here twice before. The first time I was here, I had no idea what I was doing, and we played a bunch of really terrible stuff and it was a learning experience. It always gets better.

MC: What’s your best advice for somebody coming out to SX for the first time?
GRiZ: Take chances. There are different levels to doing South By. You either do one thing and nothing else, or you try to do everything. I feel like you need to do it all. There’s no pussyfooting with it.

MC: Your album is coming out March 31. Tell us about the collaborations on it.
GRiZ: The whole album is [basically] a big collaboration. I worked with so many people on it. Some people you may know and some people you might not know. And I don’t think any particular person is the most important feature because even the smallest bits, like my homie from Seattle playing trumpet, is important. Every small piece is such an important part of the bigger collage.
Most recently we had Talib Kweli and he’s such a huge inspiration to me…This guy, Mike Avery, he’s an amazing singer. A kids choir from Los Angeles. There’s this guy, Ivan Neville, and the Neville’s are profound funkateers, I guess you could say. My [friend] Andrew Block out in New Orleans…it’s just chock full of a bunch of people that are just out of this world fantastic.

MC: Something interesting about your music is that you have it all online for free. What made you decide to do it that way?
GRiZ: Well, at first it was like a convenience thing. It’s just a really easy way to get music from me to you—all I have to do is just give it to you. All you have to do is click. On a more philosophical level—the ethos behind it is—I don’t want to sell you an idea. I just want to give it to you, and I want you to experience it for yourself instead of investing any monetary value in it. I think music is more of a spiritual thing, and I really think that it should be available for everyone.

MC: What words of wisdom can you share for anybody looking to release their music for free?
GRiZ: The advice is as simple as: why not just do it? If you’re worried about losing money, or you’re worried about not being able to appeal to music distributors, I think they’re going to get behind you if they believe in the project.

MC: Is there a song on the album you consider to be your favorite?
GRiZ: No. I like each track individually because to me, it carries such a story behind it. Some of the songs have parts played by my friends that we recorded in a cabin in Michigan, and we’re out there in the middle of 15 acres of land in the forest for two weeks. So it’s like every single piece of it has a small semblance of a really strong memory for me. They all have a different kind of connotation behind them. At one point, every single song on the album was my favorite.

For more information, visit mynameisgriz.com.