An Interview and Review: Gramatik Did It Proper at the Copper
Denis Jasarevic, aka Gramatik, is just getting into the meat of his Age of Reason Lowtemp tour in the U.S. and Europe. On April 10th, he made a small pit stop at the Copper Dragon, a venue in a small college town, Carbondale, Illinois. Gramatik brought his own lights, sound, and production crew, so he came, set up, and then tore the place down.
It was almost half expected that Tyler Dondero, from their newly formed side project Exmag, would be playing guitar with Gramatik since he seemed to all summer, but that wasn’t the case this time. During this portion of the tour, Denis had fellow musician and producer Russ Liquid play with him, and for those that don’t know, Russ Liquid is a very talented abstract electronic producer. It was a pleasant surprise to see him on stage with a keyboard, trumpet, and saxophone, all of which made for a unique set.
Russ’s addition to the set was a very musical addition; it is hard not to be a sucker for horns, especially over the smooth grooves of Gramatik. They blasted off a great cover of “Superstition” as well as many originally sampled horn parts played live by Russ.
Gramatik closed with a remix of Jay Z’s “Encore;” however an encore wasn’t had. It was 1:15am; there was time, but the Carbondale crowd didn’t get it. “So motherfucker if you want this encore, I need you to scream til’ your lungs get sore” – Denis cut the beat only to be met by an unsuspecting crowd that didn’t show appreciation, but disapproval. I don’t know if they didn’t get it or just wanted to keep the party going, but either way, it didn’t seem like Gramatik was feeling it, which starkly contrasted with the rest of the set. I didn’t notice any animosity from him on stage either; the show just kind of ended.
If it was intentional and there were hard feelings, I apologize on behalf of the Carbondale community. If the show was meant to end that way, it certainly seemed like an awkward way to end a set. Gramatik is an instinctual producer who intuitively picks his tracks and messages, so either way there can only be respect for whatever the reality was at the end of that set. That instance aside, Gramatik still proved that his name should be festival headline status.
Catch the interview, photos, and tour dates below.
Interview by Kyle Sutton at the Daily Egyptian.
Let’s start off by talking about your new album. How has your music evolved up until now?
Denis Jasarevic: I started out making hip-hop beats using samples from other artists/records. On [The Age of Reason] I recorded my own samples with the help of my homies Exmag and other talented musicians, like Eric Krasno (Soulive & Lettuce). The future is in analog samples.
How did you create Lowtemp?
DJ: Lowtemp was created in order to have my own avenue to release my own music however I want. Also, I wanted to provide a platform for other producers to share their crafts with the world.
What do you see for the future of the label?
DJ: We’re going to keep releasing music and see how far we can take it.
What role do the live instrumentals play in your overall production?
DJ: These days, they play in a lot. I still produce with samples when I hear things I like, but with live samples I record myself; I can produce songs exactly how I hear them in my head.
What presences do Eric from Exmag and Russ Liquid bring to the stage?
DJ: They both bring a different thing. Eric is a super cool surfer-type guy who carries a very cool vibe about him, and Russ is all energy and all over the stage. We recently got him a wireless microphone for his horns so that he can walk anywhere on the stage.
Do you plan to continue adding new elements to your stage production? If so, what would you like to include?
DJ: Oh, definitely… once you start to feel satisfied with yourself, you are already dead in the water. We are always thinking of new ideas … my lighting designer, Devon Brown, is the man, and is constantly bringing new ideas to the table for our stage production ….Watch out for that kid, he’s a Jedi with the lights!
Your spring tour is now about half way through. What have been the highlights thus far?
DJ: It definitely was in (Washington) D.C. at the 9:30 Club. The show was great and sold out, which was amazing. However, earlier in the day, we went on a Segway tour of the Capitol, and now I’m addicted to Segways…. I gotta get one ASAP.
Your show at the Copper Dragon in Carbondale is shaping up to be a pretty intimate show. Do you like playing for smaller crowds or say a festival sized crowd?
DJ: I like them both … I love huge crowds because when you ask them to scream you feel them … However, I love smaller club shows because I can make out faces and can actually participate with the crowd on a personal level.
What do you like to do in your free time, when you are not touring or producing?
DJ: Catching up on my favorite TV shows (Boardwalk Empire,” “Breaking Bad,” “Game of Thrones,” “True Detective,” etc.) and producing more music.
Don’t miss Gramatik on his Lowtemp U.S. and European Spring Tour! Dates are listed below.