meta-scriptThe GRAMMYs At Lollapalooza With Deadmau5 And Atmosphere |


The GRAMMYs At Lollapalooza With Deadmau5 And Atmosphere

Backstage with Deadmau5 and Atmosphere at the 20th anniversary of Lollapalooza

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

The Recording Academy Chicago Chapter played host for The GRAMMYs At Lollapalooza during the festival's 20th anniversary installment from Aug. 5–7 in Chicago's Grant Park. The Chapter conducted exclusive backstage interviews with artists performing at the festival, including GRAMMY-nominated electronic producer/remixer Deadmau5 and hip-hop collective Atmosphere.

Deadmau5 spoke about performing at Lollapalooza, music production, creating music for the video game "Minecraft," and transitioning from remixing to producing, among other topics.

"I like the subjectivity of music production," said Deadmau5. "I go home and I write [a] track but then other producers and placement agencies have this different vibe and take on the track, and apply it to their moment. It's something for everyone, literally."

Widely known for his oversized illuminated mouse-head mask, Canada native Joel Zimmerman (aka Deadmau5) has established himself as one of the most innovative and popular global live electronic acts. He has collaborated as an arranger/producer/remixer with artists such as Foo Fighters, Tommy Lee's Methods Of Mayhem and electronic artist Morgan Page, the latter project garnering him a GRAMMY nomination in 2008 for Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical for Page's "The Longest Road." That same year Deadmau5 won a Juno Award for Dance Recording Of The Year for After Hours. His most recent solo project, 2010's 4 X 4 = 12, cracked the Top 50 on the Billboard 200. Deadmau5 is currently touring the United States and Canada.

Minneapolis-based hip-hop collective Atmosphere features rapper Sean "Slug" Daley and producer Anthony "Ant" Davis. Daley discussed working with Davis, the evolution of the group's style, songwriting, and performing live, among other topics.

"We're interested in trying to find this place within the audience where we're all kind of on the same page," said Daley on performing live. "When I play sets it's about trying to run the gamut of everything that we've done and play a little bit off of all the different [albums]. That's a way of showing that [our music] is all tied together."

Atmosphere's Daley and Davis released their debut album, Overcast! in 1998, followed by 2003's Seven's Travels and 2005's Headshots: Se7en, both of which made headway on the Billboard 200. Their 2008 release, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That S*** Gold, featured guest background vocals by the likes of Tom Waits and TV On The Radio's Tunde Adebimpe, and peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200, their highest-charting album on the pop chart to date. Released in April, their most recent release, The The Family Sign, peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard 200. The group is currently on tour throughout the United States.

Come back to tomorrow for more exclusive backstage interviews from The GRAMMYs At Lollapalooza.

(The GRAMMYs At Lollapalooza: Videography by Colleen Mares and Thomas Brankin; Interviews by Kiana Basu, Liz Gassner and Max O'Kane)

The GRAMMYs At Lollapalooza 2011: Arctic Monkeys, Atmosphere, Black Cards, Haley Bonar, Cage The Elephant, Cults, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Deadmau5, Dani Deahl, Deluka, DJ Lady D, Fitz And The Tantrums, Foster The People, Gold Motel, Ellie Goulding, Skylar Grey, Mayer Hawthorne, Kids These Days, Le Butcherettes, Maps & Atlases, My Morning Jacket, Tab The Band, and Young The Giant

YOASOBI kneel in a pose for a portrait

Photo: Kato Shumpei


From Tokyo To Coachella: YOASOBI's Journey To Validate J-Pop And Vocaloid As Art Forms

YOASOBI, blending J-pop and Vocaloid with narrative-driven songs, is capturing a global audience through their performances at major festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza, marking a significant moment for Japanese music on the international stage.

GRAMMYs/Apr 9, 2024 - 04:37 pm

For decades, Japanese music has been one of the hardest to access as a foreigner. Even with the popularization of cultural exports like anime and the emergence of streaming platforms, it is still considered a niche, and fans often have to dig deep in order to find albums, translations, or any kind of content at all.

"There weren’t many opportunities for Japanese music to go out into the world until now," says YOASOBI’s producer and songwriter, Ayase, over a Sunday morning Zoom from Tokyo. "If we were to break into the mainstream, I think there’s a lot more work to do. Being a part of Coachella is one of them."

The duo, composed of Ayase, 30, and vocalist Ikura, 23, is gearing up for their first performance at the mighty Californian festival next weekend, plus two sold out headline shows in Los Angeles and San Francisco. In August, they are set to play at Lollapalooza in Chicago, IL. 

"Performing at festivals like Coachella was one of our goals when we put our live team together, so I believe that it will be a place for us to grow further,” says Ikura, who lived in Chicago as a kid and considers these opportunities a "full circle" moment.

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Formed in 2019, YOASOBI found overnight success with their debut single "Yoru ni Kakeru," a bright-sounding but harrowing tale that topped Billboard’s Japan Hot 100 chart for six non-consecutive weeks. They continued to rise further, recording five EPs (three in Japanese, two in English), the opening theme to Netflix’s anime series "Beastars," 2021’s "Kaibutsu," and their magnum opus so far: "Idol."

Released in 2023, "Idol" became a massive hit, placing No.1 at Billboard's Japan Hot 100 chart for 22 weeks and counting — an all-time record break. It was also the nineteenth best-selling song of 2023 worldwide, according to the IFPI. With these accolades, it’s easy to understand why the duo is fully booked, but what makes their music so enticing to global audiences? 

Listening to YOASOBI is like entering a rabbit hole. First, you get hypnotized by the glistening synths, bursting like fireworks, and the rock riffs taking melodies to full-speed. Then, you discover their adage is "novel into music," and all songs are based on fictional stories written by various authors. There’s also the animated music videos, each with a different style, giving their sounds another layer for interpretation. And finally, there are Ayase’s and Ikura’s (under the name Lilas Ikuta) own solo careers — treasure troves ready to be unearthed.

"I don't know, to be honest," says Ayase when asked about their growing popularity. "I guess the fact that a lot of Japanese [exports] have been prevalent around the world had to do with it. But also, maybe it's because people are experiencing this combination of music with storytelling that is interesting to them." Ikura agrees, adding that YOASOBI allows fans to "enjoy this bigger world that we are part of in a more three-dimensional way."

The experience is similar to how they create their music: mining, collecting, mixing, and transforming different threads into a new fabric. From fictional stories, Ayase transmutes his feelings into beats on his laptop with Logic Pro, then inputs melodies and lyrics through Vocaloid softwares like Hatsune Miku. Ikura listens to the Vocaloid demos, and then adds her own feelings and flair into the interpretations. For English-language tracks, they work with translator Konnie Aoki, who is "very mindful of phonetic sounds," and Ikura listens to the Japanese versions up until it’s time to record, so that she can have "the right emotions set."

It’s such a natural process for them that Ayase is surprised to know that there are still people who don’t consider Vocaloid as "real" music. “Those people probably don’t know what music is,” he says with a laugh. “Do they think that instrumental music, where there's no human singing, isn’t real music? There’s really great Vocaloid music out there, and it’s basically [voices] created through synthesizing softwares. It's very different from AI, which is auto-generated music. Vocaloid is humans creating music using these softwares. That's the only difference from a human singing a song.”

To Ikura, who maintains her burgeoning solo career in tandem with YOASOBI’s busy schedule, Vocaloid allowed her to broaden her talents. "It is my first time singing songs that somebody else wrote, so it was an opportunity to challenge myself with things that I wouldn't necessarily write, or sing in a tone or voice that I wouldn't come up with myself." She says that these experiences influence her solo works all the time, in a "synergy" that allows her to "have more colors to work with in my palette."

"I started producing music through Vocaloids,” adds Ayase. “And it truly broadened my ideas and imagination when it comes to creating music. It allows creators to come up with melodies that a human singer may not come up with. It's a fascinating culture. The possibility I feel is infinite, and it really makes the impossible possible, in a way.”

Read more: It Goes To 11: How One Piece Of Technology Makes YOASOBI's Musical Vision Come To Life

Endless possibilities are also a big allure in AI technologies, but Ayase doesn’t see this as a threat. With the right boundaries, it’s just a tool — like Vocaloid, Logic Pro, and the internet — that can be used positively. "However, as a creator myself, I really hope that creative works come out of the imagination and ideas of the human mind. In that sense, [AI] may not be 100% a positive thing for us," he shares.

But that’s something for the future. Now, YOASOBI is focusing on their very real, very tangible events ahead. "Finally, we have this opportunity where people around the world are discovering our music. So, performing at festivals like Coachella, Lollapalooza, or doing our solo shows, I think it's important that we communicate with the audiences and maximize this opportunity as much as possible," says Ikura.

And it’s not just YOASOBI getting all the attention: according to data and research company Luminate, J-pop in general is on the rise. "I’m very proud, as a Japanese person, for that situation. For us, it’s really about taking it one step at a time," says Ayase. “Our ultimate wish is to have our music or reach as many people around the world as possible, and so we will continue to work hard every day."

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REZZ performs
REZZ performs at Escape Halloween 2023

Photo: Tessa Paisan


REZZ Is Ready To Be Seen On New Album: "It Just Feels More Evolved"

Electronic producer and DJ REZZ has arrived in a new headspace, but a familiar place. Recorded in her hometown of Toronto, her new album, 'CAN YOU SEE ME?,' is the experimental, sonically far-out result of a much more chill outlook.

GRAMMYs/Mar 13, 2024 - 01:43 pm

REZZ thought she was going to die on her last tour.

The prominent electronic producer and DJ born Isabelle Rezazadeh was traveling through North America in support of her 2022 album, Spiral, when all of a sudden, insomnia reared its ugly head. 

She was sleeping two hours a night at most, which caused severe anxiety that prevented her from eating. But she was forced to repeat the cycle of getting on a plane the next day and playing headlining gigs. It was traumatizing. 

"It makes me laugh all the time because the title of the last album was Spiral, and ironically, I spiraled out of my mind that year," REZZ tells "After I experienced such a terrible time, I really have changed." 

Now REZZ is settled into her hometown of Toronto, truly appreciating the little things in life. Getting a good night’s sleep. Taking a hot shower. Eating a solid breakfast. Most of all, she appreciates having time for her craft. "I am much happier being at home and making music," she says. "I feel normal. Every day is just chill."

In this happy and chill headspace, REZZ made her new album, CAN YOU SEE ME?, out March 14 on her label, HypnoVizion Records. Ironically, the record does not sound chill at all.

Where Spiral was more radio-friendly and featured vocals from pop star Dove Cameron, CAN YOU SEE ME? is decidedly experimental. REZZ buries the melodies underneath gruesome sound design and explores a wide variety of BPMs, combining "a lot of my main inspirations. Fusing bass music with industrial sounds. Mixing crazy noises and crazy rhythms," she says. 

"DYSPHORIA" is a stuttering, slow-moving production that flaunts massive low-end frequencies. REZZ takes the tempo even slower and makes the bass even deeper on "CUT ME OUT"; in an experimental move, she goes double-time into a house music break at the end of the track. 

"The inspiration was super high. [CAN YOU SEE ME?] just feels more evolved," she continues. spoke to REZZ about how her artistry has evolved on CAN YOU SEE ME?, trusting her fans through this evolution, and how she plans to approach touring to maintain her chill state of mind.

The title of this album is CAN YOU SEE ME? Do you feel like you’re finally being seen as an artist?

That title came from the track on my album, "CAN YOU SEE ME?" I do like that interpretation of it, though. It could be perceived as a flex of "Check this production out. Can you see me now?" I’m super down for it to be perceived that way. 

I really like the music on this album. I think it’s really representative of where I’m at currently with my music production. It really capitalizes on the instrumentation. 

I realized that my favorite music I’ve ever made is definitely instrumental music. Sometimes that type of music isn't the most streamed or the most popular. But for me, to my core, my favorite stuff is instrumental, and I think this album is really reflective of that. 

One key difference between this album and your previous releases is that there are no tracks within the 90–100 BPM range. Why is that tempo absent from this album?

There are no mid-tempo songs on this album in terms of what I'm notorious for: the 85, 90, and 100 BPM range. But what I did try to do was execute some of the feelings of my previous instrumental music. The same feeling, but in a different BPM range; that was really refreshing. With that came some new styles for me. 

But I do think that while there's no particular mid-tempo on the project, I truly believe that my fans are going to connect with it super hard. I don't even think they will notice the difference in terms of the BPM. I think people will be like, This definitely still sounds like her, just a little bit different. A little bit heavier. A little bit darker

I plan to create more stuff that's around the 140–150 BPM range. It's a new pace for me. It allows for new ideas and new arrangements.

My favorite artists are the ones who are so fearless. They'll make whatever they want to make, even if it's the weirdest thing you've ever heard in your entire life. That, to me, is a true artist. I want to continue down that path and make whatever I want.

What song on this album do you think will challenge your fans the most?

Out of all of them, I think "Exorcism" will. I'm stoked, though. I made "Exorcism" with this amazing artist named Kavari. She is insane with her sound design.  

The sound design on "Exorcism" is so out there. It's so ear-catching. It's one of those songs that you almost don't know if you hate it or love it. I don't even know if I can call it a song. I don't know what it is. It's like a terror, horror track. 

Kavari already has the support of Aphex Twin. She's amazing; she's the epitome of artistic integrity. She's up and coming, but I really believe in her project. I feel really lucky to have worked with her in her, I suppose, early-blooming career.

What is it like for you to take younger artists under your wing?

It's awesome. It benefits everyone involved, but I don't care how big or small an artist is. It doesn't matter what their monthly listeners are or how popular or famous, or not famous [they are]. It just matters to me if I like their stuff. 

I love working with newer artists because their drive is so sharp. As an artist, when you start your journey, usually you're so fast. You're so quick. You're responsive. My personality is very much like that. I'm very impatient with making music. I love working with other people who are like that as well. 

I find sometimes, when people have been at it for a really long time, there’s a little bit of laziness going on. They've done it all, so they don't have that same hunger and desire to get the song done.

Deadmau5 took you under his wing; he signed some of your first releases and you produced "Hypnocurrency" together in 2021. Now your collaboration has reached new heights with your shared project, REZZMAU5, which has a song on CAN YOU SEE ME? What has it been like to take your working relationship to the next level?

There are no words. It genuinely is so insane to fathom. I know I've said this a million times in so many interviews about him being the reason that I started. But I really think that should never go unnoticed. 

It's the craziest thing when the reason you started doing something is because of someone that you perceive as a legend. You admire their art so much. Then to have a whole project [with them], it’s unbelievable. 

I remember the first show that we played. We headlined Veld Music Festival in Toronto. When I was 16, I attended that festival. I saw [deadmau5] perform there. It was unbelievable. Very inspiring. To then headline that stage in front of 60,000 people. It's just completely shocking. I cried a little bit in my room before I went on stage because I was just so overwhelmed by emotion.

How has your relationship with deadmau5 changed in terms of making music, if it has changed at all? 

He definitely respects me a lot. He doesn't love a lot of electronic music and a lot of electronic music artists. So it feels really special to me to feel his respect. He definitely cares a lot about my opinions when we're working together.

He's very honest with me, too, which is amazing. If I have an idea that he doesn't like for a track to be included in our set, he'll very quickly tell me, "I don't like this. This is trash." But I really respect the honesty. 

How are you going to approach touring for CAN YOU SEE ME? so that issues like insomnia and anxiety don’t arise?

Well, first of all, there isn't actually going to be a whole album tour. That experience was so traumatizing that I changed the trajectory of my touring. I'm not spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on production. I'm not doing any of that. 

I picked select CAN YOU SEE ME? themed shows, and it's going to be sprinkled throughout the year. There's going to be Red Rocks. There's going to be one in Phoenix, Miami, and New York. But these are all spaced out. It's not within one month. 

For someone else, [a larger tour] would have been easy. But for me, it is what it is. You can change a lot about yourself, but some things are not so natural to be changed.

As the Serenity Prayer goes, "Give us the serenity to accept what cannot be changed, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

So true. If I had a choice, do I want to love touring all the time? I'd say yes because that would just mean more shows and more success. But I don't have that choice. I prefer to be home. The nature of my being is different. 

It's like forcing an introvert to constantly go to parties every weekend. They don't want to do it. You can't force that. It's going to cause them a lot of damage because they're trying to mold and shape themselves into something that they're not.

It’s impressive that you were able to become more self-aware from that experience.

It’s not always easy to do. Certain circumstances will traumatize you and keep you traumatized for a long time. That's totally understandable. But in my specific case with that experience, I'm so grateful it happened, even though it was single-handedly the worst thing I have ever experienced in my life. 

I felt totally out of control. It felt like something had taken over me that I couldn't fix. Once you experience a situation where your life feels like it’s out of your hands, that's when you get slapped and you realize what's really important. 

So was the new album made after you realized what’s really important?

Absolutely. This album came together very quickly for me. Very effortlessly. There was no strain. There was no stress. There was no overthinking. It was very smooth because my brain had space for it. My brain had the clarity and the vision.

I think that's why I love this album so much, too. It's very representative of where I'm at. It's really high-quality stuff. Being in this headspace has a lot to do with the project and the way it's turned out.

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Musician Camden Cox
Camden Cox

Photo: Jeff Spicer / Stringer / Getty Images


How Singer/Songwriter Camden Cox Brings Lyrical Integrity To Dance Music

The multi-hyphenate has worked with some of dance music’s biggest acts — including John Summit, deadmau5 and Kaskade — and is on a mission to "write from the soul" in a genre where lyrical depth is often underappreciated.

GRAMMYs/Dec 15, 2023 - 04:24 pm

Underneath much of dance music’s beat- and melody-driven landscape is shallow lyrical content — unless Camden Cox is holding the pen. 

The 30-year-old singer/songwriter’s philosophy — write not just from the heart, but also from the soul — is a defining aspect of her fan-first artistic identity.  This deeply personal creative process has also enabled her to transcend the genre’s vacuous, garden-variety lyricism. 

Cox’s voice quivers as she recalls the start of the songwriting session that would spawn John Summit’s "Where You Are," a song that embodies this ethos. "I was going through a breakup and I was wondering if they were thinking about me as much as I was thinking about them. I take myself back to that moment and I get emotional talking about it," she says. "I just love putting emotions into my lyrics — it’s such an incredible feeling."

"Where You Are" is not the only dance/electronic consensus hit to which Cox lent her lyrical muscle this year. The British songstress also co-wrote "Escape," the single with which  Kaskade and deadmau5 debuted their joint project, Kx5, in 2022. Penned by Cox, Hayla (who vocalizes its ruminative lyrics), Eddie Jenkins, and Will Clarke, the song was released on Kx5’s eponymous LP, which has been nominated for Best Dance/Electronic Music Album at the 2024 GRAMMYs. Fellow nominees in the category are Playing Robots Into Heaven from James Blake, the Chemical Brothers' For That Beautiful Feeling, Skrillex's Quest For Fire, and Fred again..'s Actual Life 3 (January 1 - September 9 2022)

Beyond her indomitable collection of writing credits for esteemed producers like Eli & Fur and Dombresky is a repertoire of work that’s entirely her own. Cox's recent work includes a solo single, October’s "Touching Me," and a just-dropped collab with Summit and Mathame called "Hungover" in which Cox is the featured singer.

In an interview with, Cox details her refusal to write anything "half-ass," subverting dance’s often tepid interest in lyrics, and how her time behind the decks has informed her approach to singing, songwriting, and DJing.

"Escape" and "Where You Are" were two of the biggest dance records this year. What about these songs caused them to skyrocket?

We followed the same formula. We wrote "Escape," and we had no idea that deadmau5 or Kaskade were going to get their hands on it. It was just a normal, ordinary session. 

We wrote this song, knew it was amazing, and then nothing happened with it for a year or two. Then, all of a sudden, I heard this random demo from deadmau5; he'd done a version of it. Once Kaskade got involved, they revamped the whole song. 

John Summit heard it and absolutely loved it; he was playing it out everywhere and he also did the official remix for it. His team reached out to us and said, "Can you write something similar?"

Deadmau5 has been an incredible influence on you, how did the song find its way to him?

Eddie Jenkins also wrote both of these songs with Hayla, and his management knew deadmau5’s management. He sent the song to deadmau5 and was like, "Hey, this your comeback, I think." It wasn't very deadmau5 [at that point]; it was a lot darker and a lot more progressive. 

I've based my entire sound and influence around that [deadmau5 type of] sound...It was so validating because I spent my entire career, my childhood, and my teens listening to Random Album Title by deadmau5. As a writer, you write what you are inspired by because it's just in your blood, in your mind, in your soul. 

So, it goes to show how much I did listen to Kaskade and deadmau5 to be able to get a song to them, however many years later. 

There will always be a place for beat-driven tunes in dance, but do you also get the sense that people are looking for a little more emotional resonance from dance music now?

Yeah. What I love about these two records is they can be stripped to piano and they're literally like ballads. They're so meaningful and they’re so from the heart. We wrote them with absolute integrity — they’re not just something you throw away. 

When  you do these sessions where the writing just takes more time and effort, it's so worth it when you get the final outcome. I think people love that because you not only can rave to it, but you can cry to it as well.

How do you balance your lyric-forward approach in a genre where lyrics aren’t always as appreciated as they are in other genres?

It's such a tricky one because I've been in sessions where the songwriters have been like, "It doesn't matter what the lyrics are as long as the melody is good," but lyrics are my thing. I love writing lyrics. I always dig deep and take my time. I’ll have rhyming dictionaries open; it's an operation for me. 

Even though lyrics can take a backseat, I don't let that affect the way I write. Even if people don't listen, I'm still going to write it from the soul, because you will get those musical people that want to break it down and hear the story, and they're the people who are really going to appreciate it. If one person can listen and appreciate it, that's good enough for me.

Do you often find yourself pushing back in these situations?

As I've grown in confidence and experience, I push back more and more. Whereas a lot of producers will say "Oh no, this is fine," I'll say, "No, I've heard it before." I've heard it a million times and I want it to mean something to me and to whoever gets to listen. Eventually, they just give in because they know that I'm not going to settle. So, I'll hone in on the lyrics, and then I'll send them a new version with better lyrical content.

You grew up in a very musical home; your dad loved rock and your mom, drum ‘n’ bass. How you made your way to dance music is clear, but what’s kept you here?

It's the one genre I just don't ever get bored of it. It's in my blood; I grew up on drum ‘n’ bass music, so I just love heavy, heavy beats and big basslines. As a little girl, I used to prance around singing along to the Prodigy and stuff like that, so it's in my soul.

I find that dance music is the most timeless genre. Pop is pop, and you’re always going to get songs that stick around for years, but those dance tunes that came out 20, 30 years ago that are absolute classics. In the dance world, when a song hits, it will stay with ravers forever, and I just think there's something really special in that. I listen to dance in my spare time when I'm not even working or writing. All I really listen to is dance. 

You used to start your songs as poems. Tell me how that started; did you read a lot of poetry when you were younger?

I didn't read it, but when I first started writing, I struggled with lyrics. I remember the first song I wrote. I said to my mom, "Can you write me a poem and I'll make it into a song?" And she did. Then I asked my dad, and he did the same thing. I made them into a song, and that unlocked a part of my brain. After that, I just started writing the poetry. 

Now, the melodies usually come before the lyrics, but if I have a sentence or something in my head that I think is really inspiring, I'll write it down. I never go full poems anymore. I go for a quote, for example. I recently found one, something "like remember when this all seemed impossible?" and I had a session with John Summit and I was like, "I wanna write that concept." So, I went in and sang something to those words. There’s no rules, and that’s what I love about it.

You’ve said you’ll often go into the studio and freestyle since the first take is often the best. 

It's my favorite way to write. When I freestyle, I always do it with a handheld mic, because I just feel like I can be a bit freer; I can walk around, I can sit down. The trick is to put autotune on pretty full blast, with loads of nice reverb and delays and compression, so it almost sounds ready when you hear it back. 

It'll all be a bit messy, but then you'll hear it back with the tuning on and you're like, Yeah, that's what I was trying to do. I just love working like that. I find it the most creative and the most productive because you come out with so much stuff and then you just narrow it down until you get the best three sections.

Learning how to DJ has to be transformative when it comes to conceptualizing new songs.

It’s helped me even further. Now being the one in control of the decks and understanding what keeps a crowd has unlocked a whole new world. It's crazy because I thought I knew everything that you could know about dance music — I grew up on it, I write it, I live and breathe it — but there's a whole other perception with DJing, and it's really helped me with my writing.

It's also hard to get a booking as a singer on a dance song. One of the reasons why I wanted to start DJing was because I knew I could probably get some bookings out of it. Two was because I'm writing all these dance songs, and all these DJs are playing them out and no one knows I've written them. I just wanted to get behind the decks and play my portfolio. It's opened up a whole new fan base for me.

Speaking of, you recently wrapped your first residency in Ibiza. How was that?

I go to Ibiza every year anyway, being a dance head, and I've been to all the clubs. I've gone and watched my songs being played out, but I just never envisioned myself doing it. And then this year, all these bookings flooded in because I started DJing. 

I've only been DJing for a year and a half, but because I had already made a bit of a name for myself in the dance world as a singer when people started to realize I was DJing, I was getting bookings a bit easier. I started suddenly seeing my name on some posters and it all became very real. 

I had the time in my life, but I also did find it very exhausting because there's so much traveling. Tour life is actually quite hectic, and it really hit me, but it was also very incredible and such a learning curve. Each gig, you learn something. 

Now that you’re doing the singing, the songwriting, and the DJing, how do you find balance? 

I'm a machine. I think I'm a bit of a workaholic because I just love it so much. I genuinely know how lucky I am that I get to do what I love for a living. But I found the more gigs I did, the more traveling I did, I knew that as much as I wanted to be in the studio — and I was getting offered good sessions — I'd have to turn them down because I knew I'd need a couple of days to recover. 

I did my last show, and it felt so fulfilling. Now, I'm back in the studio, and I built up so much inspiration over the summer because I couldn't write as much as I wanted to, so I was bursting at the seams. I'm going like 100 miles an hour right now, writing five days a week. I'll be doing this until I burn out.

Given that you’ve been writing so frequently, what has the process of shaping your musical identity been like these days?

I feel like I'm starting to find a few identities in my writing. There's a darkness to what I'm writing, but there's a good balance between brightness and darkness, as in this raw emotion that will come out in a really pretty melody. I'm good at finding that balance where you could cry and dance to it. 

Thinking about how this relates to your music, where do you hope to take your artist project next?

Getting nominated for a GRAMMY for something of my own is the dream. Getting nominated as a writer is such a big tick for me. So now, I want to aim for the next level, which is maybe getting nominated for something that I'm singing on, and eventually getting nominated for a GRAMMY for something that is just mine.

I've also got some really exciting collabs coming up. Me and John [Summit] have a song coming out together in two weeks. Right now, I'm establishing myself in London, in the UK a little bit, but it just takes a lot of time. 

Some people have one song and then that's it — they're blowing up in the charts. It's not happened like that for me; I've been working away behind the scenes. I'm just hoping that through some collaborations, I will be introduced to new audiences who will then discover my music, which will allow me to keep releasing.

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Kendrick Lamar GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic


GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

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He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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