Many of you will be familiar with Montreal-based Frenchman Groj from his impressive outings on the likes of Traum and Box Records. This month, the budding talent took the reins at local MTL tastemaker Fauna & Flora, delivering an engrossing new EP featuring two original cuts and a remix from Microtrauma. Speaking exclusively with When We Dip, Groj shared the creative drive by the EP, his process for utilising his own vocals and much more.
WWD: Thanks for joining us Groj! Congrats on the release of the new EP. What’s inspired these productions?
When Jeff Mills came to play in Montreal a few years ago he was interviewed here and was asked a similar question to which he answered something along the lines of: “Do everything but music. Go to museums, read books, work a normal life take care of people around you”. That is something I apply every day. The less I focus on music and ideas the more penetrating and creative the ideas become when they develop. The trick is to write them down or record them as soon as they come. Stop everything, even if you are talking to your boss or in the middle of something. The second thing is to be okay with the idea that you may never have another idea ever again.
WWD: The release features some of your own vocals. Can you tell us about the process of recording and how you approach utilising those vocals in your music?
I have always been singing and writing text. I used to keep it to myself. As I am learning more about myself and finding my voice, I am naturally getting more confident about singing on my own tracks. Next step will be to perform singing live during my shows.
WWD: Obviously the track title ‘Woollongong’ caught our eye. Can you tell us a bit about the name and how you chose it?
Woollongong is the name of a town in Australia. I wrote this song when my father was hospitalized there last year for a major operation sowing his left arm back on the bone. It is a song about healing. Light Years is about when you get in a bad way with your significant other.
WWD: Microtrauma provides a remix on ‘Woollongong’. What was the first thought that came to your mind when you first heard the remix?
I chose Microtrauma because they are masters at making melodic tracks drive hard. For me it was a metaphor of my dad getting back on his feet for the hundredth time. It felt good hearing the remix, it has that kind of perseverance, that relentlessness.
WWD: Fauna & Flora is of course a Montreal-based label. What’s your connection with the city?
I have been a playing here for about 8 years now. I finally feel like I know almost everyone here and played at every possible venue: Pikinic Elektronic, Mutek, Igloofest, La Bachannale, Stereo… List goes on. I was reticent to begin a touring lifestyle since I saw how it can suck the creativity out of musicians. I think I’m at a stage now where I can take that challenge on without losing my creative flow.
WWD: How would you describe the state of electronic music in Montreal right now?
It’s definitely growing more and more and people are looking for more and more challenges musically. In 2011 at Igloofest I played a track with a pretty complex polyrhythm (5×7) “Erhap”, and most people thought I was train-wrecking. This summer I revamped it but kept the same polyrhythm and played it at Piknic Electronik and people cheered (you can check the live feed on my fb page). For me that was proof that the scene here is now rich and lively.
WWD: How did you first come into contact with the label?
I played with Tone Depth at Stereo. We had an immediate understanding artistically and that has been rare for me so far in Montreal. We decided to work and grow together. The result is big. Keep your eyes open for the releases coming out in 2018.
WWD: What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing artists in the current era?
Interpreting the ever-changing meaning of authenticity.
WWD: Do you have any particular goals you’d live to achieve in 2018?
To sing live to my new songs and tour more.
WWD: In terms of music and shows, what have you got coming up over the next few months?
There will be a show in December and a live singing set soon, kind of like a boiler room organized by Carte Blanche here in Montreal.
WWD: What would make for the perfect end to 2017 for Groj?
Spending time with my family and loved ones and dancing to Men Without Hats on vinyl all night drinking champagne.