September is a great month for live music in DC! The Set List recently caught up with two artists as they geared up to hit the east coast this month.
After hitting #13 on the Hip-Hop/Rap albums Billboard charts and #57 on the Top 200 with 2014’s Winter & the Wolves, Grieves is back and better than ever with his 5th studio album, Running Wild. I caught up via email with the mastermind behind Grieves to get an insight on the process of his new album.
Grieves, also known as Benjamin Laub, took a much different approach to this new record. He spent time in Stockholm working with Swedish producer, Chords, to create a cohesive record for himself and his fans:
Chords has always been someone I knew I wanted to work with… I didn’t really know what to expect from making music outside of my own studio in a completely different country. Turns out I thrived. I realized how easily distracted I am in my day to day life and it took unplugging and going to Sweden to figure that out. I don’t really know anyone out there, I don’t speak Swedish, and I’m generally lost everywhere I go in that city. My time there provided me the opportunity to spend some well-needed one on one time with the music and my creative process…
The vulnerable, honest lyrics of Grieves captivate his audiences. Online music magazine Consequence of Sound sums it up: “Lyrically lush anthems…well-crafted and poignant.” His evolution from dark subjects –heartbreak, addiction, and poverty– to more positive ideas is evident on his latest release. However, you can still expect the same hard-hitting drums, entrancing synths, and strong bass lines to keep the soulful vibe listeners have come to love. When asked about the shift from dark to light, Grieves’ response was exactly what you’d expect from an eloquent writer.
Music has always been a way for me to cope with the chaos around me. It’s also been the greatest thing to ever happen to me. I haven’t done the greatest job at showing that part and I wanted to change that. If you’ve ever been to one of our shows you know the energy of Running Wild. It’s something we’ve been doing for a decade but never translate it over to record. This time I wanted to change that.
Grieves is currently out on his extensive North American tour headlining shows in DC, L.A., Denver, Chicago, and more. Catch Grieves at DC9 Nightclub on September 21. Pick up your tickets here.
Though Canada’s Belle Game only released their sophomore LP, Fear/Nothing, on the 8th of this month, they have been gaining momentum around the world for years with the “crush pop” and big choruses that their fans have come to know and love.
Frontwoman Andrea Lo cites Australian electronic group The Avalanches as an influence growing up, with a mix of electronic artists such as Jon Hopkins and Loscil on her playlist today. This pattern of inspiration can be seen throughout Belle Game’s multiple EPs and two full-length albums. Andrea Lo’s vocals are dreamy yet expansive. Her voice makes the vulnerable, personal lyrics capture the attention of anyone in the room.
The release of Fear/Nothing comes after their critically acclaimed debut LP, Ritual Tradition Habit, which received rave reviews from Pitchfork and Rolling Stone Magazine. The band moved away from a traditional songwriting process to a more simple, “jamming with friends” style while making their newest album. Lo reflected on the influence of this decision on the album’s sound, during our email exchange:
Having the ability to move from a more logically structured process to something that’s inspired more by a feeling, whether physiological or emotional, has given us the ability to create works that have become more increasingly honest, and authentic to ourselves as a band, and as individuals.
While Belle Game is not headlining the upcoming DC show, they are supporting Broken Social Scene both Tuesday, September 19 and Wednesday, September 20 at the 9:30 Club. The Tuesday show is already sold out, so don’t miss out on tickets for the following evening! Tickets are available here.