Scot dance music sensation Grum, born Graeme Shepherd, creates unabashedly pretty, pop-infused tunes (“Can't Shake The Feeling“) and has had his debut long-player, Heartbeats, picked up by U.S. club label supreme Ultra. The accessible, feel-good nature of his choonage has inspired comparisons to Calvin Harris.
He'll be spinning at Control at Avalon tonight. We caught up with him to ask a few questions:
LA Weekly: There seemed to be a time not too long ago when dance music strove to keep as far away from pop as possible. Now the opposite is true. Is this a healthy thing for dance music? Why?
Grum: I think the merging of pop and dance music has happened because producers and artists are diversifying their sounds. You find big hip-hop artists like Black Eyed Peas and Kelis embracing a more club sound an enlisting dance producers to work on their records. In the other direction, and in a scenario which I think applies to myself, I think many producers who had traditionally made typical club music outgrow that and want to try something with more production and writing depth to it. I don't think this really affects the old skool club scenes (house, techno, etc.), but for this new 'sound' which perhaps you could consider people such as myself, Aeroplane and The Twelves to be making, its great. Of course, our sound is accessible so I guess some people start off with that and then get more into those underground scenes.
Do the Calvin Harris comparisons get on your nerves, or are you flattered?
Being compared to Calvin Harris is very flattering, although I think our approaches to music are slightly different. His is very knowing, perhaps a bit cheeky and often takes an ironic look at 80s music. I like to my music shows a real love for older music, and embraces it rather than referencing it in a clichéd way. Of course, his success has been incredible so it would be nice to emulate that.
Where do your music video concepts come from? How important are music videos to you as an artist?
For the videos for the last two singles we have been working with an L.A. based production company called The General Assembly. They tend to come up with the main story after being given some rough inspiration from myself and my management. I always wanted the videos not to take themselves too seriously, which we have definitely achieved. For me the most memorable videos have been really quirky, for example many of the Fatboy Slim vids, so I was keen to apply those principles. Music videos are increasingly becoming an important online tool; if you come up with a great idea that triggers something in the viewer, it can become viral and millions of people check it out. I tend to stick to what I know (music, I hope) but I always love checking out the finished videos when we get them back.
When you're booked at places like Control at Avalon do you DJ? Do you only play your own tunes or do you play others.' Do you get darker and clubbier than your own work, or do you keep it fun and accessible?
For now I'm doing DJ shows on tour. My sets tend to be a mixture of older well known productions of mine, some of my new remixes I like to test out, and any other club music I'm loving at that time. My music is pretty happy but I think for a club set you need contrast, and highs and lows, so I like to play a real mixture and hopefully string it all together in a coherent order!
Grum spins tonight at Control at Avalon, 1735 N. Vine St., Hollywood. Info.