Seattle rapper Grieves is on the final leg of promotion for his new album, Running Wild, which he is calling the Dark Waters Tour. He’s touring with recording-mates Greater Than, and stopped in Eugene, Oregon on Friday, September 28th.
Grieves’ brand of whimsical, self-deprecating hip-hop lends itself to truly entertaining shows with barrels of character. The HiFi Hall in Eugene was packed to capacity and the whole crowd bounced with the beat all night. He played one or two brand new songs, as well as plenty of tracks from his new record, opening with “What It Dew,” and following with “Faded” and “Boop Bop De Willy.” Older favorites such as “No Matter What” from his previous album also made it to the setlist, and he ended with “On The Rocks,” the single from Together/Apart.
Grieves’ encore included an older tune, “Lightspeed,” and then he welcomed Greater Than back onstage to help close out the night. The final song of the evening was the perfect sendoff, “Postcard.” Before the show, we had a chance to speak with Grieves again, so we followed up on our last chat about Running Wild:
MFC: When we last spoke about Running Wild, you mentioned how "Postcards" filled a sonic space in between your new and old sounds with a more positive, classic, hip hop sound. Any plans to experiment more with that style?
Grieves: I think I've found myself, especially now with the newer music that I've been producing, going more towards that. I don't know why. I think maybe that's the last vibe I was at on the record, because those were some of the last songs in the creative process of that record. So, I think that's probably where I'm still at, as far as muscle memory is concerned for making music. But, I try not to hold myself to one thing, or feel like I have to do one thing, which is very much what Running Wild was. It was, "Fuck it, I'm just gonna do whatever." But, I have found myself leaning more towards the "Boop Bop-y" kinda sound, and the more "A-Ok" sounds, and the more "Postcard" sounds. But just, because I think that's where I left off with that record. In between I produced that whole record for Greater Than, so I've been all over the place, but when I'm sitting down to conceptualize what I want to do for myself, that's kinda where I'm at.
MFC: You described Running Wild as a chance to explore new directions and versions of yourself musically. Now that the album has had some time to ferment since we last spoke, how do you feel about its reception?
Grieves: It made some people uncomfortable. It did what I wanted it to, I think. I never really go into a record with expectations of like if it's going to change my life or anything like that. A record is always kind of a display of my life, and it's all the past at that point, until the record comes out. I gotta do what I want it to do. I don't know if I changed anyone's opinion or anything with how they feel towards more of a modern soundscape, or if the people that are only into the modern soundscape would listen to something like a "Postcards." But, I've just been, especially during that process, so influenced by all those things. I wanted to put it together and I think it'd be cool if everybody could have a place where they can have all those different sounds, but I don't think you're ever gonna make a Hip-Hop Head happy. You gotta be making "93 'Til Inifity" over and over and over, or doing trap shit. You can't have a melting pot of a record and make everybody happy. I don't think I lost fans, and anybody that I lost with that record was never on board anyways, they heard "On The Rocks." I've been doing this for so long, I get a lot of "When are you gonna make Together/Apart 2?" Like, bitch, I'm not. I'm never going to make the same thing twice. If that's what I wanted to do, I would go get a fucking regular job where I did the same damn thing every day. This is a chance for me be different every time, and that's what art kinda is. I'm not supposed to replicate the same thing over and over. So, whatever, I'm gonna do me.
MFC: I really respect that. It's all about growth and creativity, and just never stopping.
Grieves: Yeah, because you eventually run out of that thing, right? So, if you are making "93 'Til Infinity," you can't keep doing that. Maybe you can, but it's sad. As a person who loves all of those things, it's sad to watch somebody stay in that place, or it's even sadder to watch them revert to that place. Like, "Wait, this was good 20 years ago, I gotta do that again." Like, nah, dawg. It's just struggling with the idea of making people happy is hard and it's a part of art. And it's something I'm gonna try not to focus on too much. [Laughs]
MFC: You told me "Boop Bop De Willy" captured more of your live charisma, as well as being 100% produced by yourself. Do you think that's an avenue that you'd like to explore more in the future?
Grieves: Yeah, we've talked about doing a fully-produced record by me, but it's not something I wanna say, "Yes, that's what I'm gonna do," because if I produce a record for myself and I'm sitting down and the table and I'm looking at it, and it's not what I want, then I'm not gonna put it out. Then I'll take some of my favorite songs off of it, go to another producer, and have a record. Like I've always done. I've always had a handful of the tracks on the records, no matter who its produced by. This one being the least of that. Running Wild had the least songs produced by me of any record I've ever put out. I think "Boop Bop" is the only one other than the instrumental, "Levees." Which, to me, was exciting. I finally found a producer where I was like, "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes." Even with Together/Apart, people are always like "We want Budo again!" It's like, man, I made half the beats on that record. So, I would love to [fully produce a record]. I think that would be great. It would be great financially [laughs] to just have myself involved with it and then take some of that money and allocate it towards hiring super badass musicians to come in and rip lines there's no way I could do. That's a very romantic idea for me to do, but I don't want to force it. I definitely don't wanna get to that point. I think you see it a lot with artists, you see it a lot with rappers, too, where they're like, "Well, I can do everything!" And they put out the "I Did Everything" record, and it's real bad. I don't wanna do that. I never really put that foot forward, and if I do, I want it to be an organic transition. And even at that point, I'm not gonna say shit about it, I'm just gonna be like, "Here's the new record."
MFC: Another thing you described was the "last call" local recording phenomenon that you had with collaborating with locals in Seattle. You said you missed that a little bit. (Grieves: I did.) Do you feel like maybe that is also something you could expand on? Doing more of a collaborative record with locals or people you've gotten to know in Seattle?
Grieves: So, our openers on this tour is Greater Than, and they're two MC's out of Seattle, and I produced their whole record. So, both those dudes, Fearce and Grynch, have been around for a long time on the Seattle scene, and at this point they're like OG status. They started coming through the studio separately for their own things, and then together it just started kinda happening and we ended up producing a whole record. And that's been really great for me. To contribute to something that isn't fully 100% me, has been really nice for me creatively, because I get to do some different shit. Like, really different shit. And if I wanna revert on some things, like, "Oh, I was doing this back then," it's cool because it's not for me, so I don't feel like I'm copping out." If they're sitting down and they're like, "Man, I really think this track could use this," I'm like, "Oh, yeah fuck it, I would never do that for myself, but yeah fuck it. Let's do it. That'd be great" I like that because it opens up my spectrum a lot more. It's that local collaborative, I'm excited to do it. It's like a labor of love kinda thing, and it's nice to have it. Especially when everything's so goddamn serious all the time with this. When you enter it as a business, it's not what people show you on their instagram recaps all the time. [Laughs] It's a lot different. But yeah, that shit's been fun, and I would love to continue to do that. I'd love to start working with other artists, whether they be local or not. As long as we're like-minded. I definitely am not selling beats and shit like that! [leans toward microphone for emphasis] [laughs] As long as it's a like-mind collaboration, it feels good. It's inspiring to put art out again.
MFC: Finally, after the tour, what's next? What's going on?
Grieves: Fucking lock myself in the studio. I mean, I have to. At this point, this [tour] has ran its course. We've pretty much wrung the towel dry. [Laughs] This run is literally the last three drops outta the towel. I bought a house over the summer, so I didn't really do much other than work on the house and stuff like that. It's a fixer-upper. But, now I'm in a place where I can focus again and put some energy towards the music, and that's definitely something I'd like to do. We have a show in Seattle in December, but it's a fund-raiser for adopted animals, so it's not a campaign show. But, it's something to do, it's over the holiday season. [MFC: In the hometown.] It's the hometown, it gets us out there playing again, stays a little relevant, and then hopefully we can follow it up with some music in the Spring or Summer. Maybe not a record, but maybe something.
MFC: Have you thought about doing anything at your new place as far as a home studio?
Grieves: Eventually I need to convert it all to be that, but for now I'm gonna have to bounce back and forth. But yeah, I'll have a little home studio as well, like a little setup, until I can gut my basement and make it a legit studio. But, I'm so fucking tired with all that stuff right now. [Laughs] I just think about doing it and I get stressed out. So, I'd love to make the music before the stress of that comes into my life. So, we'll see.