Our Q&A with Rapper Grieves

Listen to the hip-hop artist’s latest album before picking up tickets to his September 30 Cactus Club concert.

On August 25, 2017, rapper and producer Grieves drops his fifth studio album. Throughout the 15-track album, titled Running Wild, the Seattle-based artist layers synths with pulsing drum beats and warm bass lines, creating his lushest, most atmospheric album yet.

And on September 30, Grieves headlines at venerable indie venue the Cactus Club. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online or at the concert. We chatted with the rapper in advance of his Milwaukee show.

Have you always wanted to be a musician?

I always wanted to make music, but when I think musician I think of a job, like chef or construction worker. Growing up, it’s hard to decide what you want to be, what craft you want to devote yourself to.

I went to school to be a kindergarten teacher – that’s what I went to school for. But I realized that I was good at music, better at it than I was at teaching.

How would you describe your music?

It’s open, expressive and a projection of myself, a way for me to vent. I’m not always good at talking through things, but I’m good at expressing myself through music.

How has your sound evolved since 2014’s Winter & the Wolves?

Year by year, record by record, song by song, I learn so much more about myself and am able to apply what I learn to my work.

What was recording in Stockholm like?

It was inspiring. What I didn’t know about the experience, though, was how removed I’d be from my everyday distractions. I couldn’t read the street signs; I didn’t know anyone. It was just me and the music. And that was something else. I was isolated with the music, but very focused. And I couldn’t have done as much if I was here. I was much more creative because I had nothing else around me.

What’s your favorite track on Running Wild?

Every time I listen I find a new favorite song, depending on where I’m at emotionally.

“RX” is a strong contender for my favorite; it’s the first single we released. There’s a song called “No Sleep” that I really like too. And the last song, “5,000 Miles,” was an important song for me to write too – it’s a love song, but it’s lighter and happier than the love songs I’ve written before.  

If you had to sum up the album in a single sentence, or phrase, what would it be?

“A departure from my norm.” I knew that I’d have to challenge myself to make the album and – in the process of challenging myself – I’d have to depart from my normal process.

What can Milwaukee fans expect from your September 30th concert at the Cactus Club?

I’m going to pop out of a giant block of cheese covered in beer [laughs].

Everybody gets the same show. And I’ve been working my ass off lately to make sure that the show is 100 percent.

I’ve been building the sets and programming lights for the last month. Everything you see and hear is all me. I do all of the programming, the arrangements. I put all of myself into it.



Lindsey Anderson covers culture for Milwaukee Magazine. Before joining the MilMag team she worked as an editor at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and wrote freelance articles for ArtSlant and Eater.