Jasmine Phull speaks to Leeds-based producer Graeme Shepherd aka GRUM about 'brostep', the new album, and music teacher Mr Gilmour.
Music is universally loved and whether it’s rock, pop, electro or house, the millions of global fans are testament to the fact that the beat that beckons your feet and the melody that sways your hips, knows no borders.
And as its nectar fills your ears, you close your eyes and fill your lungs – it’s an involuntary reaction, like a blink of the eye. It’s something you can’t control nor something you want to stop. Scottish born, UK based dance music producer GRUM, knows this feeling only too well.
With an ever-growing fanbase in the US, the twenty-something gratefully revels in the mass of international fans who welcomed his 2010 debut Heartbeats with open arms.
As a Scottish born, UK based artist, why do you think a lot of US listeners have so readily taken to you? What is it about your music that they can relate to?
I really have no idea but I do feel quite fortunate that it has been popular over there. I suppose in some ways it is quite accessible for people just getting into this sound. Most of my previous productions were structured more like proper songs too, which must help. It seems like brostep is the big thing over there now so maybe they have tired of camp disco. Incidentally I’m moving away from that sound to an extent. But worry not, I have yet to be seduced by brostep.
You’re from Leeds; how has Leeds or the UK shaped your musical output?
I’m actually originally from a small village in Scotland but I moved down here to go to uni. At that point I already loved dance music, so I guess the only thing that Leeds brought was the bigger club events that I hadn’t experienced before.
The most influential person in your musical career? Was there someone from your youth that was instrumental in the beginning of your musical journey?
I just remembered that when I was about 12 or 13 I made this really awful dance tune using a keyboard and my Dad’s computer… and I brought it into school to let my music teacher, Mr Gilmour, hear it. He was really impressed and incredibly embarrassingly played it to the whole class. So yeah, Mr Gilmour. I suppose from that point on I must have thought, “maybe I’m not actually rubbish at this”.
- Date: Saturday 26th November 2011
- Event: Together Winter Music Festival at Alexandra Palace
- Venue: Alexandra Palace
- Artists: Fake Blood, Simian Mobile Disco, Maya Jane Coles, Eric Prydz, Fenech-Soler, John Digweed, Sander Van Doorn, John Dahlback, Utah Saints, Sebastien Leger, Chris Lake, Alex Metric, Burns, SebastiAn, Hot City, The Japanese Popstars, Death In Vegas, GRUM, Starsmith, The Glimmers
How inspirational were conversations around the dinner table during your childhood?
Not massively… I think I usually ate as fast as I could so I could run upstairs and watch The Simpsons, if I’m honest.
How important do you think the live gig is? Do you think listeners can gain a totally different perspective when simply listening to you via their speakers?
I think being skilled as a DJ and being clever about the order in which songs are programmed and mixed can elevate the songs above their singular impact… producing an experience greater than the sum of its parts, or something like that.
Who are you currently listening to?
Orbital, Underworld, Kris Menace, Maceo Plex, Leftfield, Mark E.
You released debut Heartbeats early 2010. Is there one thing that you would do differently the second time around?
The album ended up being very nostalgic and looked to the past quite a lot. There were lots of references to older music that I loved. It was a product of its time though, so it’s all good. This time I’m really going for something new and fresh sounding and bringing excitement back into dance music. No squeaky balloon noise leads. Yes I’m looking at you, Afrojack. Oh and no urban artists shouting over tunes either.
What was something that was surprisingly harder than expected during the creation of Heartbeats the album?
Creating an album is a massive project and I did everything - producing, engineering, mixing, mastering. Normally there are many people involved in each stage. So the length of time involved from conception to being released took a little longer than normal. Mixing the tracks when you are emotionally attached to them, and have heard them many times, is also a challenge.
You’re also involved with label 'Heartbeats', what role has it played in your career?
It was setup by Kevin Mckay (Breastfed, Glasgow Underground) to specifically release my music. The label has been great as without it I’m not sure I would have had such great exposure. We also licensed the album to loads of territories, so it has helped things worldwide too.
The most influential city in terms of your musical output?
I’ve been living in Leeds since it all kicked off so I guess I’d have to stick with that!
Interview by: Jasmine Phull
GRUM plays at the Together Winter Music Festival on November 26th at Alexandra Palace, with Eric Prydz, John Digweed, Simian Mobile Disco, Sander van Doorn and many more.
Tickets are no longer available for this event
You can find these artists/djs playing at the following events: