meta-script2024 GRAMMY Nominees For Best Remixed Recording Discuss The Art Of The Remix | GRAMMY.com
Joshua Omead Mobaraki of Wet Leg
Joshua Omead Mobaraki of Wet Leg

Photos: Barry Brecheisen/Getty Images

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2024 GRAMMY Nominees For Best Remixed Recording Discuss The Art Of The Remix

In a roundtable discussion, 2024 GRAMMY nominees Dom Dolla, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Wet Leg, Terry Hunter and BADBADNOTGOOD share the processes behind their nominated songs, what makes a great remix, and their favorites remixes of all time.

GRAMMYs/Jan 23, 2024 - 02:10 pm

Given that a remix is an edit of an existing, complete song, one could assume it's easier to craft than an original track. The 2024 GRAMMY nominees for Best Remixed Recording prove otherwise: When done right, the remix is a rather painstaking craft that can give entirely new life to a song, even ones you already thought were perfect.

The nominees for Best Remixed Recording demonstrate the breadth and magic of the remix. Alt-jazz group BADBADNOTGOOD amps up and expands on Turnstile and Blood Orange's "Alien Love Call," while DJ/producer Dom Dolla turns the Gorillaz collab with Tame Impala and Bootie Brown, "New Gold," into a trippy dance floor heater. Chicago house legend Terry Hunter gives an unreleased '90s Mariah Carey track, "Workin' Hard," a timeless house groove. Dance pop artist Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs speeds Lane 8's instrumental piano house ballad "Reviver" into a bright jungle gem, and Wet Leg's debut remix is a dark dreamy disco edit of Depeche Mode's "Wagging Tongue."

GRAMMY.com recently spoke to all six nominees about their nominated songs, what constitutes a great remix and their favorites remixes of all time.

Congrats on your nomination! What does it mean to you to be nominated for the GRAMMY for Best Remixed Recording and to be acknowledged by your peers in this way?

Dom Dolla: I mean, it's the highest honor in music. I never thought it would be something that I would be considered for. Funnily enough, my manager said his gut feeling was it would have been for a remix first because that's where I started. I started as a DJ and when I moved into music production, I started off by remixing things and became known within the scene for remixes. This was before I delved into learning to be a lyricist and a songwriter. It's kind of like finally getting the nod for all of those remixes I punched out over the years.

Terry Hunter: Man, it is really dope to go back-to-back with this [category] with two major, iconic artists. [Editor's note: Hunter earned a nod last year for his remix of Beyoncé's "Break My Soul."] Each time, I wasn't expecting it. 

Most of the Best Remixed Recording [2024 nominees] are dance records. I'm from Chicago, the city that birthed house music, so to have that represented on such a major level is really amazing. That's a great achievement in my opinion.

Wet Leg guitarist Josh Mobaraki: It's f—ing crazy, so cool. We had literally no idea that was gonna happen. We had so much fun making it. We'd never done a remix before; we're a band and were just wondering what people might expect. It's really encouraging and exciting. 

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs: First of all, it is my second nomination in my career, so I can persuade myself that it's not a fluke…it makes me think that maybe I do have a seat at the table. Also, the track that got nominated is surprising to me. It's not something I thought a lot of people would understand and certainly not put forward for a GRAMMY nomination. It's not a commercial remix or a style that's often recognized by institutions. I'm really pleased about that, because I think the only way that this could have got through is that people really listened to it.

BADBADNOTGOOD producer and drummer Alexander Sowinski: It’s a huge honor! We honestly never thought we would achieve something like this and to be recognized by an institution like the GRAMMYs is amazing.

How did you approach remixing the nominated track?

Dom Dolla: This was actually one of the most fiddly remixes I've ever done. I'm a huge fan of Gorillaz, Booty Brown and Tame [Impala] and I just wanted to get it right. Knowing that it was the only remix that they were going to do for [2023's Cracker Island], I was like, I can't f— this up. So, I approached each section individually. I had one entire Ableton session built upon drums and toms, one for sound design, one for sampling the record and using interesting delays, one for chords, and then I put them all together. There were hundreds of channels as opposed to 40 or 50 like I would normally have.

It was the third attempt [that finally worked]. It took a bit longer than a remix normally would for me. At my first solo show at the Shrine in L.A., I opened with it and the crowd reaction made me feel, Yep. We're onto something.

Terry Hunter: I got the call that [Mariah Carey] was working on this 30th anniversary remix project of the Music Box, her first album. [They asked me to remix] "I've Been Thinking About You." I love that song. I mean, Mariah is the diva of all divas, and she shows it in every way with her amazing vocal performance. When Mariah came out [onto the music scene], I had a major crush on her, so that made it even more special.

I was even more humbled and shocked that once she had heard what I did, they called me to remix another record for an unreleased song that she recorded in 1993, produced by C&C Music Factory. In the '90s, C&C Music Factory ran it — they were the number one guys to go to for production and remixes — I had to do them justice on the unreleased track. The original has that classic '90s C&C feel to it and to go more house, more soulful, a more gospel feel with it was really amazing. It's a reproduction in my opinion.

Wet Leg (Josh Mobaraki): Hester [Chambers] was like, "Let's do a disco song," which is basically her response to quite a lot of "What are we gonna do?" I'd seen other remixes of Depeche Mode, which are a lot of quite long electronic tracks. We found another way to do something in a similar vein but a little bit closer to us. We just played and experimented and that first session was really great and fun. 

Then Ellis [Durand] came around to do the bassline and we spent the whole evening trying every single different bassline that we could come up with and ended up on a single note. Hester wrote and performed the new vocal on the remix. And she picked up a flute — really, a piece of bamboo with some holes in it — and it just happened to fit. We wrote around that and then plopped the lead vocal. Rather than affecting it loads and loads, we sped the whole thing up and that brought a new timbre to the vocal.

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs: I get asked to do a lot of remixes and there has to be a few things that are right for me to say yes. I have to like the project and want to be part of it — because you're then forever part of it — and I have to like the music. I have a lot of respect for Lane 8 and the world and career he's built. I liked the song because it was a very upfront EDM track, in the original form of EDM from 2010, 2011: big drums, big synth melody, what I would call kind of trance-y and very emotive. 

I took bars two to six of the eight-bar chord sequence and built my remix around those bits because that's where the lush stuff was for me. Once I found my mood with it, I went to 165 BPM or so — it was probably 120 to start. I tried doing a couple of house mixes which didn't feel exciting to me at all, probably because he'd already done a big four-four version of his idea. I basically did a (melodic) jungle remix, which is really fun for me because that's the first type of music I started making when I was a teenager and the thing that got me into music. I'm really grateful that he allowed me to take that risk because now there's a GRAMMY nomination. [Chuckles.]

BADBADNOTGOOD: The track came together in a pretty informal way. We were sent the stems for the Turnstile song and ended up jamming with a few friends in our studio in Toronto.

How do you generally approach remixes?

Dom Dolla: You're a lot more limited. When I'm listening to something someone asked me to do a remix of, I'll often listen to the vocal and the main hook elements, to see if there are things that stand out. As I'm listening, I try to delete the other elements in my mind.

If it's a melodic vocal like Damon Albarn's sung part in ["New Gold"], I'll imagine the mood I want to convey by changing the chord progression behind it. [The song has] these little ad-lib vocal rap parts and little grunts as well that I liked. I pick the elements that I really like and compound all my favorite sections and delete everything else that I don't think I'll use in the remix and limit myself to the sections that I love. Then I change the chords and get weird with production and stuff. And then drums are a whole other thing. I treat drums separately.

Terry Hunter: I still have the same formula. With a remix, for me, everything starts with the drums. They have to be in the pocket and then I start building from there. If I'm sitting down with any of my musicians, we may come up with a bassline or some chords. But before any of that, I gotta have the drums 75 percent done, because that's gonna tell the direction of where we're gonna go with the remix.

Wet Leg (Josh Mobaraki): Obviously, we [haven't made other remixes]. I've been making beats in my bedroom for 10 years and when I was younger, I was doing the band thing. [With this remix], I got to do my thing, in a way. Like every other bedroom producer, I spend a lot of time making four- or eight-bar loops. I love writing music with a computer. I've spent ages trying to work out how to make the sounds that I really love from other records, or even sounds that I don't really like so that I can sort of like them. 

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs: I'm looking for what I love in the original and I try to focus on and build something around that. For me, it's a really fun opportunity to do a particular kind of creative work where you kind of kick a ball of string down a hill and see where it ends up. I don't go into them knowing exactly what I want to do. You're re-presenting somebody's musical idea through a new lens, and I think it should feel like you've really gone there creatively and intellectually and pushed it. I think even the remixes that appear very simple still do that, the good ones.

It's definitely a big creative endeavor for me, maybe more so than writing original music sometimes. With original music, you might not turn an idea upside down and shake it out as much. With remixing, I'll take every sound that the artist gives me and I'll try and make something new out of it. I imagine other people approach it very differently.

BADBADNOTGOOD: Generally, we like to isolate the vocal track and take it out of context as much as possible. For this one, we thought the tone and timbre of Brendan [Yate]’s voice really sounded interesting over our groove and gave it a different feel. We also had a lot of fun with the dancey section over Dev Hynes’ [a.k.a. Blood Orange] bridge.

Does remixing feel like a separate muscle from making your own productions or collabing with another artist?

Dom Dolla: Remixing is a similar creative muscle but with a bit of a different mindset. It’s often a balance of re-imagining the hooks within the original record by surrounding them with a different mood or energy. I’ve always been super selective about remixing tracks for that exact reason, I never try to force it or use elements from the original that I don’t love. Writing original music is much more of a blank slate, which can make it as daunting as it is exciting.

Terry Hunter: It definitely is a different muscle that you're using because with remixes you have no control over the song. You have to make your idea of what you're feeling with the song and you have to work around that. And sometimes you have the pleasure of working with artists where the vocals were a little different and you ask if they can recut them to the music. That sometimes gives it a better feel to make it sound more original or organic. In the case with Mariah and Beyoncé, the vocals were perfect so there was no need to recut.

When you're collaborating with people, it's always great. It's a different energy because someone might come up with a sample or a bassline and that might trigger some drums and a chord progression.

Wet Leg (Josh Mobaraki): I over-intellectualize it a bit and then the girls are both, "Let's just have fun." And then I'm like, "Oh, yeah, let's do that."

[The remix] felt a bit like when we started making "Chaise Longue" and Wet Dream. That was me, Hester and Rhian [Teasdale] in this flat that we're talking to you from now, and that's the same place that me and Hester started this remix. 

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs: Yeah, it does. I think I have a remixing style that's separate from my original music production stuff. I think it's a part of my character as a musician that's slightly different from my other bits, if that makes sense. [Laughs.]

BADBADNOTGOOD: Absolutely, it’s a nice in-between because we can lean on the artist’s vocals and figure out a unique way to support it. It makes the initial writing process fun because you have such a strong starting point already. 

What do you think makes a great remix?

Dom Dolla: It depends on the intention, I suppose. If we're talking about house music, I think it's about great drums, great bassline, great hooks and it working on the dance floor. I think the intention of a great remix is giving it a new direction and introducing it to a whole different audience who wouldn't normally listen to it. For me, it's What are the parts of the song that I love and how do I introduce that to the house music world?

Terry Hunter: When you remix a record, the [original] artist or label is calling on that particular remixer to try to adapt what it is that you do sonically so you can stay true to yourself and your fans but also pay respect and complement the original. A remix is a hard thing to do. But technology allows people to make, in my opinion, lazy music. It can be quick and onto the next, but the feeling is not there, it's kind of cookie cutter-ish.

I think as long as you pay homage to the original and stay true — and even if you don't, sometimes you can just strip everything from it, and just come up with your own creative ideas. There's no right or wrong way. I feel there's no rules in music. It's just, when you hear that song, does it do anything for you?

Wet Leg (Josh Mobaraki): Sometimes a remix or a mashup almost feels like a magic trick. If you can make that feeling, that's really amazing. Usually that [happens by] recontextualizing a song that you really love. 

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs: When something really has its own flavor. A [good remix] takes a step back from the original source material, and you can hear that. There is always an element of deconstruction and reconstruction, and I think people like hearing that. Even with the very first ideas of the remix with the 12-inch mix and singles in the '80s and '90s, people enjoyed hearing the extended intros and outros. We still enjoy that; hearing the ideas spread out and chopped up.

BADBADNOTGOOD: Really just hearing elements of artists’ work taken out of context and infused with the energy of whoever is doing the remix is so fascinating.

What are some of your favorite remixes of all time by other artists and what makes them special?

Dom Dolla: The trentemøller remix of "Moan" is one of my favorites. It has really interesting sound design that stands the test of time. It's always just been really quirky and interesting. I feel like if it came out now, it would be really relevant and cool. The Thin White Duke remix of "What Else Is There" by Röyksopp is a melodic, euphoric, favorite moment of mine, I love playing that in sets.

Terry Hunter: I'm gonna have to shout out Masters at Work. They're good friends of mine so I'm being biased but not really because I get inspired from their work. They've remixed Saint Etienne, BeBe Winans, Madonna, Roy Ayers; everybody under the sun. Also, big shout out to David Morales and the late, great Frankie Knuckles, all of who are both GRAMMY winners and an inspiration for me for remixes and DJing.

[Picking] a favorite remix is so tough. It's not a remix, but it's a cover of a song by Rotary Connection; "It's All Right, I Feel It" by Masters at Work [as Nuyorican Soul] featuring Jocelyn Brown is probably one of my favorites. And Frankie Knuckles' remix of "The Pressure" by Sounds Of Blackness. David Morales has done a lot of major things but his remix of Jamiroquai "Space Cowboy" was massive.

Wet Leg (guitarist and vocalist Hester Chambers): That's a tough question. The Soulwax remix of "Midnight Dipper" by Warmduscher is a great remix. Soulwax in general, obviously. Also, the Soulwax remix of ["A Hero's Death" by] Fontaines D.C. is one of my favorites. My favorite part about that one is the steely synth line — it's a new addition, a new melody from the original song, but it's so catchy and really rad. Maybe that's what's so special about remixes is you can love a song and then somebody remixes it and it's a new interpretation and a new interaction for your brain with the song that you already love. 

[I also love] the Confidence Man remix of CHAI ["END"]. Deftones put out a really fun remix album a couple years ago of White Pony. I have so much nostalgia for that album, so it's lovely to have a new experience of it.

Wet Leg (Josh Mobaraki): This is an answer to a different question, but my first favorite remix was that Linkin Park and Jay-Z [EP], Collision Course. I think my mom was listening to loads and Linkin Park at the time. and stuff like that. I was like, Whoa.

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs: For me, one of the kings of remixing is the producer Shep Pettibone. He's kind of the godfather of the original pop dance floor remix. That sometimes is about just making a slightly punchier 12-inch version of the track and sometimes it's about really turning it upside down. His remix of "Bizarre Love Triangle" by New Order is one of the best songs of all time, really, and his remix is better than the original. His remixes are about maximizing the pop song in a dance floor context. His Paula Abdul "Knocked Out" remix is a bit crazier and dubby and strange.

He's a big inspiration for me and one of the people I heard in my late-teens, early-20s that made me think I could get into four-four music, like house and disco, because I was very against that. I was all about breakbeats and hip-hop beats and jungle as a teenager. He was also a producer-producer and did a lot of Madonna's stuff. His remix of Jane Child's "Don't Wanna Fall in Love" is so good.

BADBADNOTGOOD: Some of our favorite remixes are the versions of songs that draw you further into it with fresh energy and feeling. A few of them: D’Angelo "Lady (feat. AZ) [Just Tha Beat Mix]", Björk "I Miss You (Dobie Rub Part One - Sunshine Mix)," Janet Jackson "If (Kaytranada Remix)," Sade "By Your Side (Neptunes Remix)," De La Soul "Stakes is High (J Dilla Remix)" and Nas "The World Is Yours (Q-Tip Remix)."

2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Full Nominees List

Billy Joel Freddy Wexler
Photo: Lester Cohen/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

(L-R) Billy Joel, Freddy Wexler

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Freddy Wexler On Helping Billy Joel "Turn The Lights Back On" — At The 2024 GRAMMYs And Beyond

"Part of what was so beautiful for me to see on GRAMMY night was the respect and adoration that people of all ages and from all genres have for Billy Joel," Wexler says of Joel's 2024 GRAMMYs performance of their co-written "Turn The Lights Back On."

GRAMMYs/Feb 26, 2024 - 09:11 pm

They say to not meet your heroes. But when Freddy Wexler — a lifelong Billy Joel fan — did just that, it was as if Joel walked straight out of his record collection.

"I think the truth is none of it is that surprising," the 37-year-old songwriter and producer tells GRAMMY.com. "That's the best part. From his music, I would've thought this is a humble, brilliant everyman who probably walks around with a very grounded perspective, and that's exactly who he is."

That groundedness made possible "Turn the Lights Back On" — the hit comeback single they co-wrote, and Wexler co-produced; Joel performed a resplendent version at the 2024 GRAMMYs with Laufey. Joel hadn't released a pop album since 1993's River of Dreams; for him to return to the throne would take an awfully demonstrative song, true to his life.

"I think it's a very raw, honest, real perspective that is true to Billy," Wexler explains. "I think it's the first time we've heard him acknowledge mistakes and regret in quite this way."

Specifically, Joel's return highlights his regret over spending three decades mostly on the bench, largely absent from the pop scene. As Joel wonders aloud in the stirring, arpeggiated chorus, "Is there still time for forgiveness?"

"Forgiveness" is a curious word. Why would the five-time GRAMMY winner and 23-time nominee possibly need to seek forgiveness? Regardless — as the song goes — he's "tryin' to find the magic/ That we lost somehow." The song's message — an attempt to recapture a lost essence — transcends Joel's personal headspace, connecting with a universal longing and nostalgia.

Read on for an interview with Wexler about the impact of "Turn the Lights Back On," why he thinks Joel took such an extended sabbatical, the prospect of more new music, and much more.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

**You did a great interview with Rolling Stone ahead of the 2024 GRAMMYs. Now, we're on the other side of it; you got to see how it went down on the telecast, and resonated with the audience and world. What was that like?**

It's why I make music — to hopefully make people feel something. This song has really resonated in such a big way. More than looking at its commercial success on the charts or on radio, which has been awesome to see, the comments on Instagram and YouTube have been the most rewarding part of it.

Why do you think it resonated? Beyond the king picking up his crown again?

I don't think the song is trying to be anything it's not. I think it's a very raw, honest, real perspective that is true to Billy. I think it's the first time we've heard him acknowledge mistakes and regret in quite this way. And to hear him do it in a hopeful way where he's asking, "Is it too late for forgiveness?" is just very moving, I think.

Forgiveness? That's interesting. What would any of us need to forgive him?

He has said in other interviews, "Sometimes people say they have no regrets at the end of their life." And he said, "I don't think that's possible. If you've lived a full life, of course you have regrets." He has said that he has many things he wishes he would've done differently. This is an opportunity to express that.

I think what's interesting about the song is it has found meaning in various ways with various people and listeners. Some people imagine Billy is singing to former lovers or friends. Other people imagine Billy is singing to his fans asking, "Did I wait too long to record again?" Other people wonder if Billy is singing to the songwriting Gods and muses. Did I wait too long to write again?

In Israel, where the song was number one — or is number one, I haven't checked today — I think the song's taken on the meaning of just wanting things to be normal, wanting hostages to come home and turn the lights back on. So, you never know where a song is going to resonate, but I think that Billy just found his own meaning with it.

You know the discography front to back. What lines can you draw from "Turn the Lights Back On" to past works?

I think it draws on various pieces of his catalog, right? "She's Always a Woman" has a sort of piano arpeggio in the chorus. To me, it feels like a natural progression. It feels like, on the one hand, it's a new song. On the other, it could have come out right after River of Dreams. To me, it just kind of feels natural.

**Back when you spoke with Rolling Stone, you said you couldn't wait to hear "Turn the Lights Back On" at Madison Square Garden. How'd it sound?**

Amazing. Billy is a consummate live performer. I think he's one of the few artists where everything is better live, and everything is always a little bit different each time it's played live.

It's been really cool to watch Billy and the band continue to change and improve the song and the song's dynamics for the show. He told me tonight that tomorrow night in Tampa, I think they're going to try to play with the key of the song, potentially — try it a half a step higher.

Those are the sort of things I think great artists do, right? It's different from being on a certain type of tour where every single song is the same, the set list is the same, the key is the same, the arrangements are the same.

With Billy, there's a lot of feeling and, "Hey, why don't we try it this way? Let's play it a little faster. Let's play it a little slower. Let's try it in a different key." I just think that's super cool. You have to be a really good musician to just do that on the fly.

What have you learned from him that applies to your music making, writ large?

I've learned so much from him. As Olivia Rodrigo said to us at GRAMMY rehearsals, "He's the blueprint when it comes to songwriting."

He has helped raise the bar for me when it comes to melodies and lyrics, but the thing I keep coming back to is he's reminded me that even the greatest artists and songwriters ever sometimes forget how great they are. I think we need to be careful not to give that inner voice and inner critic too much power.

Can you talk about how the music video came to be?

Well, I had a dream that Billy was singing the opening two lines of the song, but it was a 25-year-old version of Billy. It was arresting.

When I woke up, I sort of had the vision for the video, which was one set, an empty venue of some kind, and four Billy Joels. The Billy Joel that really exists today, but then three Billys from three iconic eras where each Billy would seamlessly pick up the song where the other left off.

The idea behind that was to sort of accentuate the question of the song — did I wait too long to turn the lights back on?

And so, to kind of take us through time and through all these years, I teamed up with an amazing co-director, Warren Fu, who's done everything from Dua Lipa to Daft Punk, and an artificial intelligence company called Deep Voodoo to make that vision possible.

What I'm driven by is the opportunity to create conversations, cultural moments, things that make people feel something. What was cool here is as scary as AI is — and I think it is scary in many ways — we were able to give an example of how you can use it in a positive way to execute a creative artistic vision that previously would've been impossible to execute.

Yeah, so I'm pleased with it and I'm thankful that Billy did a video. He didn't have to do one, but he liked the idea of it. He felt it was different, and I think he was moved by it as well.

What do you think is the next step here?

It's been a really rewarding process. And Billy is open-minded, which is really cool for an artist of that level, who's not a new artist by any stretch. To actually be described as being in a place in his life where he's open-minded, means anything is possible. I could tell you that I would love there to be more music.

I'd love to get your honest appraisal. And I know you're not him. But his last pop album was released 31 years ago. In that long interim, what do you think was going on with him, creatively?

Look, I'm not Billy Joel, but I think there were a number of factors going on with him. Somewhere along the way, I think he stopped having fun with music, which is the reason he got into it, or which is a big part of the reason he got into it. When it stopped being fun, I don't think he really wanted to do it anymore.

Another piece to it is that Billy is a perfectionist, and that perfectionism is evident in the caliber of his songwriting. Having always written 100 percent of his songs, Billy at some point probably found that process to be painstaking, to try to hit that bar where he's probably wondering in his head, What would Beethoven think of this? What would Leonard Bernstein think of this?

I think part of what was different here was that, perhaps, there was something liberating about "Turn the Lights Back On" being a seed that was brought to Billy. In this way, he could be a little disconnected from it, where maybe he didn't have to have the self-imposed pressure that he would if it was an idea that he'd been trying to finish for a while.

Ironically, he still made it. Well, there's no "ironically," but I think that's it. There's something to that.

Billy Joel's Biggest Songs: 15 Tracks That Best Showcase The Piano Man's Storytelling And Pop Hooks

GRAMMY U Reps at GRAMMY Week
GRAMMY U Reps and staff walk the red carpet at the 2024 GRAMMYs

Photo: Andrew Sankovich

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GRAMMY U Reps Experience GRAMMY Week Like Never Before Thanks To The Recording Academy & United Airlines

United Airlines flew the GRAMMY U Representatives out to L.A. for an unforgettable 2024 GRAMMY Week. The trip provided significant professional development in music, and the Reps savored every moment. Take a look at the GRAMMY U Reps’ inspirational week.

GRAMMYs/Feb 22, 2024 - 10:38 pm

Thanks to United Airlines' partnership with the Recording Academy, the students traveled from all over the country to Los Angeles and met in person for the first time. In past years, GRAMMY U Reps have only been able to attend a few select events in addition to the GRAMMY Awards on Sunday. But because of United Airlines, these National and Chapter Reps were able to experience the music industry’s most exhilarating week.

Come with the GRAMMY U Reps as they experience Music’s Biggest Night, behind-the-scenes tours, and events highlighting various initiatives within the music industry during GRAMMY Week 2024. Learn how to apply to GRAMMY U here.

Tuesday: Travel Day

The GRAMMY U group chat was exploding with excited messages as we arrived at the airport early Tuesday morning. Each Rep was about to meet their co-workers — many of whom had only connected virtually — and gain the experience of a lifetime. 

United flew all 14 Reps to Los Angeles with exceptional timing, service, and care — even though we were traveling to work at GRAMMY Week, it felt like we were getting celebrity treatment. Once we touched down in L.A., we ran to the United baggage claim to hug our friends and capture the experience to share with fellow GRAMMY U members.

Philly Rep Tamara Tondreau and Nashville Rep Della Anderson┃GRAMMY U

Philly Rep Tamara Tondreau and Nashville Rep Della Anderson┃GRAMMY U

After grabbing lunch near our hotel in downtown L.A., we made it to the Recording Academy Los Angeles Chapter Office in Santa Monica for our first in-person team meeting. Sporting new custom GRAMMY U jackets, T-shirts, and hats, we prepared for our signature GRAMMY Week event, a Masterclass with actress/GRAMMY-nominated R&B artist Halle Bailey

Reps were briefed on plans for the week, then took an office tour where we spotted multiple golden gramophones. Since we work remotely year-round, this was our first time getting to see where all the magic happens.

Wednesday: Behind-The-Scenes & Behind The Music

On Wednesday, we were up bright and early to explore the Crypto.com Arena and learn about the behind-the-scenes preparation it takes to host the GRAMMY Awards each year. 

Jody Kolozsvari, Associate Producer of the GRAMMYs and a GRAMMY U alum, guided us around the arena. He also introduced us to the incredible audio, mixing, communications, and production teams as well as Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr

"Walking intoCrypto.com Arena and seeing the GRAMMY stage being built was a very surreal moment," said Sara Hudson, GRAMMY U's New York Chapter Rep. "Meeting so many of the people behind the show and witnessing the hard work that is put into producing the GRAMMY Awards made my passion for working in live music grow even more."

Later that night, Philadelphia Chapter Rep Tamara Tondreau and Los Angeles Chapter Rep Jade Bacon worked as GRAMMY U press at the A Celebration of Craft event, a collaboration between the Recording Academy Producers and Engineers Wing and Songwriters and Composers Wing. This was the very first time GRAMMY U Reps were invited to this exclusive event; Tamara, a songwriter herself, called this event "unforgettable."

"Since songwriting sparked my interest in the music industry, it was inspiring to be in the room with so many talented creatives," Tamara says. "Networking with professionals who hold multiple roles in the industry encouraged me and reaffirmed my goal of maintaining both business and creative aspects in my career."

Thursday: Fostering Community & Culture

Hosted at GRAMMY House, Thursday morning started with a beautiful luncheon at the inaugural A Celebration of Women in the Mix. This event made space for women in the music industry to gather and support one another, recognizing all of the strides made in a male-dominated field. 

Twelve of the 14 Reps identify as women, and this was a special moment to meet some of the industry leaders that we look up to as role models. Networking with female artists, managers, and producers who are laying the groundwork for our generation was a powerful moment we will never forget.

After delivering the keynote speech, Ty Stiklorius, the founder of management company Friends at Work, spoke with some of the GRAMMY U Reps.

"Having a conversation with such an established female in the music industry was incredibly inspiring," says Memphis Rep. Shannon Conte. "After this moment of mentorship and encouragement, I left the event feeling much more confident in my ability to one day succeed in becoming an artist manager."

Dressing up in our finest suits and gowns, we hit the town to attend the exclusive Black Music Collective’s 2024 Recording Academy Honors event, where legends Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz accepted Global Impact Awards. Sitting in the same room as these superstars was awe-inspiring, and it was an honor to see how the Black community was celebrated during GRAMMY Week.

GRAMMY U Reps Shaneel Young, Jade Bacon, and Chloe Sarmiento hosted interviews for our social media, highlighting the fashion of dozens of high-profile attendees including Adam Blackstone, Jordin Sparks, Flavor Flav, and Erica Campbell as they walked the signature black carpet. The excitement of the press line on the black carpet provided Reps with first-hand experience of what a career in press and publicity could look like. 

GRAMMY U DC Rep Shaneel Young aspires to work in music marketing. "Interviewing some of the most influential people in the industry about my passions: music, fashion, and culture, will be a moment I remember for the rest of my career," she reflects.

Reps at Black Music Collective’s Recording Academy Honors┃GRAMMY U

Reps at Black Music Collective’s Recording Academy Honors┃GRAMMY U

These two spectacular events immersed us in the initiatives the Recording Academy has implemented to celebrate diversity and representation in music, and we are so honored to be a part of the company’s continued mission.

Friday: Work Hard, Play Hard

After months spent planning our signature GRAMMY Week event, the GRAMMY U Masterclass with Halle Bailey, presented by Mastercard, we finally saw the fruits of our labor come to life. This year, we welcomed over 500 attendees in person, with members from every Chapter flying in to experience the event together at GRAMMY House.

GRAMMY U PNW Rep Chloe Sarmiento worked as talent lead and interacted directly with Halle Bailey and her team. "It was incredibly fulfilling to see the event come together on-site in Los Angeles after weeks of working on it from home," Chloe says. "Halle and her team were so great to work with, and I couldn’t have asked for a better speaker for the Masterclass!"

Working with experienced Recording Academy staff onsite further enlightened us about all things event production. From talent handling and partnerships to working radios and managing the stage, we were excited to execute a large-scale event with all of the Reps at GRAMMY House.

After a successful Masterclass, the Reps split up for the evening to conquer even more GRAMMY Week events. Half the group went to the #GRAMMYsNextGen party to spread the word about membership, host a photobooth, and interact with influencers and emerging performers. We met hip-hop duo Flyana Boss, and some of our other celebrity sightings included Laura Marano and Milo Manheim. It was inspiring to see other young professionals who have established themselves in the entertainment industry so early in their careers.

Mastercard surprised us with an entire seated table at the exclusive MusiCares Person Of The Year Gala honoring Jon Bon Jovi. It was an outstanding evening honoring the rock icon and the many ways he has given back to the music community. Following a live auction, Brandy Clark, Lainey Wilson, Jelly Roll, Shania Twain, and others performed some of Bon Jovi’s biggest hits — Bon Jovi even graced the stage with Bruce Springsteen for a special rendition of "Who Says You Can’t Go Home." 

The Reps were incredibly grateful to United and Mastercard for granting us the opportunity to witness these exclusive live performances. To see the music community come together to honor a legend while giving back and furthering the mission of MusiCares is a heartwarming aspect of the music industry we don’t get to witness every day.

Reps with Sabrina Carpenter at the Person of the Year Gala┃GRAMMY U

Reps with Sabrina Carpenter at the Person of the Year Gala┃GRAMMY U

GRAMMY U Chicago Rep Rachel Owen was one of the lucky attendees able to watch the thrilling performances while mingling in the crowd with other musicians like Sabrina Carpenter and David Archuleta.

"To even be in the same room as Shania Twain is an honor, she’s timeless and more exquisite than I could've even imagined," Owen says. "To see her perform live to Jon Bon Jovi is the type of moment you just never take for granted."

Saturday: Divide & Conquer

Saturday was jam-packed with events. Back again at GRAMMY House, a group of Reps attended the Best New Artist Spotlight, where nominees discussed their breakthrough years and what it means to be considered a "new artist." From upstarts Ice Spice and Gracie Abrams to the long musical journey of Victoria Monét, The War and Treaty, and Jelly Roll, these diverse perspectives all stressed that each person has a unique career timeline and reminded us as students to practice perseverance and patience as we navigate this industry. 

Various Reps continued at GRAMMY House, some working as press at the #GRAMMYsNextGen Ambassador Power Brunch and the first-ever Academy Proud event, celebrating LGBTQIA+ voices.

A handful of us worked as GRAMMY U press at the Special Merit Awards ceremony and subsequent celebration. Being a part of these exclusive events and witnessing historic moments like the presentation of Lifetime Achievement Awards was truly impactful. We interviewed nominees at the celebration, including boygenius engineer Owen Lantz (the supergroup would win their first three GRAMMYs the very next day.)

Hundreds of nominees attended the Special Merit Awards and Celebration, proudly displaying their blue medallions and glowing as they took their official GRAMMY nominee photos; the hopeful and energetic spirit of the event fueled our drive to succeed in this industry even more.

Sunday: And The GRAMMY Goes To…

Sunday morning was the day everyone had all been waiting for: the 66th GRAMMY Awards! After getting our glam on, the GRAMMY U Reps got to walk the red carpet for the first time ever. We took tons of photos and videos to commemorate this special moment and share our experience with friends and family.

While most of the Reps were posing on the carpet, Pierson, Jasmine, Rachel, and Chloe had the honor of being trophy presenters during the GRAMMY Premiere Ceremony. This was the first time GRAMMY U Reps from across the country were given the honor of being up close and personal during artists' career-defining moments.

Reps on the GRAMMYs Red Carpet┃Andrew Sankovich

Reps on the GRAMMYs Red Carpet┃Andrew Sankovich 

Moving into Crypto.com Arena to be seated for the telecast portion of the evening, the GRAMMY U Reps were ecstatic to watch the ceremony in person. As legends like Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, Tracy Chapman, and Stevie Wonder blazed on stage, all the Reps were singing and dancing along, thrilled to be a part of Music’s Biggest Night. Phenomenal performances from nominees SZA, Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, Dua Lipa, Miley Cyrus, and Luke Combs were equally captivating. 

Witnessing the live telecast after experiencing so much behind-the-scenes production exemplified how rewarding the music industry can be, and how prestigious winning a GRAMMY truly is. The quiet suspense before a winner was announced and the roars that followed created a rollercoaster of emotions that took our breath away.

Immediately afterward, we were off to enjoy the official GRAMMYs After-Party  — and not even the constant showers could not rain on our parade. The Reps hit the dancefloor as soon as NE-YO took the stage, and hearing "Time of Our Lives" felt especially relatable. 

As we headed back home on our United flights, we reflected on an exhilarating GRAMMY Week. Not only were we able to be part of exclusive events, but we also interacted with artists, learned from experts, and grew exponentially. Experiencing these moments with the other Reps brought our team closer, while meeting members and peers showed the expansive community GRAMMY U is cultivating. 

Because of United, we witnessed all the Recording Academy does for the music industry. After GRAMMY Week, we feel more inspired and empowered than ever to lead the next generation of the music industry.

With additional reporting from Pierson Livingston.

2024 GRAMMYs: See The Full Winners & Nominees List

Singer Tyla with her GRAMMY Award 2024
Tyla with her golden gramophone

Photo: Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

feature

South African Singer Tyla Won The Inaugural Best African Music Performance Category At The 2024 GRAMMYs. What Does It Mean For African Music On The Global Stage?

While Afrobeats and amapiano are certainly crossing over in America, Tyla’s win reflects how Western influence is often necessary for African music to transcend the continent. Is "Water" what African music needs to blossom?

GRAMMYs/Feb 12, 2024 - 10:43 pm

As the first recipient of the inaugural Best African Music Performance GRAMMY Award, South African songstress Tyla has officially etched her name into history. At the 2024 GRAMMYs, the 22-year-old's amapiano-infused Afro pop hit "Water" beat out several long-established names in African music.

While Tyla's success on Music's Biggest Night stresses the Recording Academy's continued efforts to showcase diverse African music, her victory is more of a one-armed hug rather than a full, legs-off-the-ground embrace of African music. 

This is chiefly because "Water" was successful and marketable for its use of Western pop influences. While Afrobeats and amapiano are certainly crossing over in America, bestowing a golden gramophone upon an artist whose work reflects familiar sounds is a curious step forward for African music. Still, Tyla's win may foster a greater embrace of the African sound, and the virality and pervasiveness of "Water" propelled the Johannesburg-born singer/songwriter to unheard of heights. 

"Water" hit No. 1 on the Billboard U.S. Afrobeats Songs and Hip-Hop/R&B charts, and became the first African song to enter the Billboard Hot 100 since 1968. The track peaked at No. 7, making Tyla the highest-charting African female solo musician in Billboard history. The "Water" dance challenge on TikTok further pushed the track into the global sphere, and the song has been featured in over 1.5 million videos.

The widespread appeal of "Water" is a culmination of elements, notably a fusion of Western pop with subtler amapiano influences. The song melds sleek American R&B and pop compositions with the log drums and piano trails synonymous with the South African amapiano genre. 

Read more: 10 African GRAMMY Winners Through The Years: From Miriam Makeba To Angélique Kidjo & Burna Boy

Indeed, most musical genres (regardless of continent of origin) draw inspiration from and contribute back to each other. The resulting music transcends regional boundaries and appeals globally — and Tyla's "Water" is proof of this resonance. Yet it also reflects how a major Western influence is often necessary for African music to transcend the continent. 

The Recording Academy's new Category was designed to highlight "strong elements of African cultural significance," said Shawn Thwaites, Recording Academy Awards Project Manager and author of the Category. In describing eligibility for the Best African Music Performance Category, Thwaites noted that songs must feature "a stylistic intention, song structure, lyrical content and/or musical representation found in Africa and the African diaspora." 

Still, when it comes to recognizing lesser known genres — from South Africa's gqom to Tanzania’s singeli and Ghana’s asakaa — the global audience still has a long way to go.

"We need to go deeper and in more detail within different genres of music. We know there are multiple different types of music — hundreds of genres, in fact — coming from Africa and from all 54 countries on the continent," Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. told GRAMMY.com after his three trips to the vibrant continent. "I'd love to see us be able to honor even more music from Africa and other areas of the world."

Thwaites hopes that celebrating the diversity of African music will also lead to greater cultural exchange. Eventually, this could lead to "more collaborations between artists of different genres and more artist relations between labels and executives in America," he said. 

But for this progression to happen correctly, there has to be a cultural education about the music within the continent and it's something Ghazi Shami, CEO/Founder of Empire Records, Distribution and Publishing — who consulted with the Recording Academy on the new Category — is looking forward to watching develop. 

"I think we'll see expanded categories in African music in the years to come, but this is a great start toward recognizing the merits and impact of African music," he told GRAMMY.com prior to the ceremony. 

Tyla's GRAMMY win is an exceptional achievement — particularly so for a young African woman. Popular African music has often been skewed towards male artists. At the 2023 GRAMMYs, Tems became the only female solo artist currently living in Nigeria to win a GRAMMY. (Sade, who was born in Nigeria, has won four GRAMMYs but lives in the U.K.)

A similar trend is observed in South Africa, where Miriam Makeba was both Africa's first GRAMMY winner and the country's solo female vocalist to win prior to Tyla. 

Tyla's win is a beacon to other young female performers in Africa — including fellow Category nominee Ayra Starr and singer/songwriter and producer Bloody Civilian — proving that female artists can and will be recognized, regardless of their country of origin. It also demonstrates how the distance between African artists and international prestige has been shortened, thus furthering the likelihood of artistic innovation.

Her win is also notable in a Category stacked with Nigerian artists. Of the five nominated works, "Water" is the only one not created by an artist of Nigerian descent or currently living in Nigeria. (Though South African producer Musa Keys is featured on Davido's nominated "UNAVAILABLE.") Although South Africa has a lengthy history at the GRAMMY Awards, Tyla is proof the world is listening to what her country has to offer. 

While her fellow nominees — Starr, Burna Boy, Davido, ASAKE & Olamide  — and artists such as Wizkid have also shouldered the responsibility for the globalization of popular African music, there is still a long road ahead. 

Tyla’s win holds significant promise for African music as pop music. While "Water" certainly has noticeable South African elements, its Western appeal may partially lay in its use of familiar sounds. For Africa to truly win, the world has to embrace African music for what it is, and not for what it's trying to be. 

Big First Wins At The 2024 GRAMMYs: Karol G, Lainey Wilson, Victoria Monét & More

Peso Pluma at the 2024 GRAMMYs
Peso Pluma attends the 2024 GRAMMYs

Photo:  Lester Cohen/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

news

How The Latin GRAMMYs Brought Latin Music Excellence To The 2024 GRAMMYs

Latin music was celebrated throughout GRAMMY Week and on Music's Biggest Night. Read on for the many ways Latin music excellence was showcased at the 204 GRAMMYs.

GRAMMYs/Feb 9, 2024 - 09:56 pm

The 2023 Latin GRAMMYs may have occurred months ago and thousands of miles away, but the leading lights in Latin music also shined at the 66th GRAMMY Awards. From historic wins and meaningful nominations, to electric performances and interesting installations, Latin music excellence was everywhere. 

In anticipation of the 25th anniversary of the Latin GRAMMYs in 2024, the exclusive GRAMMY House — the site of multiple GRAMMY Week events — included a significant installation dedicated to the Biggest Night In Latin Music.

The cylindrical display showcased some of the biggest moments in Latin GRAMMY history, including images, facts, and even a real Latin GRAMMY award. 

The celebration of Latin music continued throughout GRAMMY Week, with several Latin GRAMMY-winning artists also winning on the GRAMMY stage. Among the major moments at the 2024 GRAMMYs, Karol G won her first golden gramophone for her 2023 LP Mañana Será Bonito. "This is my first time at GRAMMYs, and this is my first time holding my own GRAMMY," the Colombian songstress exclaimed during her acceptance speech. 

Música Mexicana star Peso Pluma also took home his first GRAMMY; his album GÉNESIS won in the Best Música Mexicana Album (Including Tejano) Category.

Premiere Ceremony presenter Natalia Lafourcade — whose Todas Las Flores won big at the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs — also took home the GRAMMY Award for Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album. She tied in the Category with Juanes

Premiere Ceremony performer Gabby Moreno also took home a GRAMMY Award for Best Latin Pop Album for her album X Mí (Vol. 1)

Beyond the stage, Latin artists graced the red carpet and the nominations list. For example, producer and songwriter Edgar Barrera was the only Latino nominated in the Songwriter Of The Year, Non-Classical Category.

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