Interview: Grum + Human Touch LP
Scottish electronic musician, Graeme Shepherd, better known by his stage name Grum, burst on to the then burgeoning ‘Blog House Electro’ scene in 2007 and injected a heavy dose of Disco and vintage sounds while the likes of Justice, MSTRKRFT and Crookers where dominating the fresh-faced movement. With a debut album that earned comparisons to Daft Punk’s Discovery and Mylo’s Destroy Rock & Roll plus being named iTunes ‘Best Electronic Artist of the Year,’ Grum is no stranger to illustrious accolades.
His sophomore LP, Human Touch is forthcoming (on his own, Heartbeats imprint) and thankfully, I was able to catch up with the man to ask a few questions about the project:
RiCHARD.GEAR: Where are you currently based and where was this album produced?
GRUM: Iâ€™m currently based in Glasgow, but I produced most of the album when I was living in Leeds in 2012.
RG: What was the inspiration for this album, could this LP be considered a â€˜concept albumâ€™? There seems to be heavy parallelâ€™s amongst the track titles (water: â€˜Raindropâ€™ and â€˜Tearsâ€™, love: â€˜Lotta Loveâ€™, â€œSerotoninâ€™ and â€˜In Loveâ€™, nature: â€˜Autumnâ€™, â€˜Sunriseâ€™ and â€œRaindropâ€™) which would allude to a shared theme.
G: I wouldnâ€™t say there was specifically an idea of a concept but these themes have been inspiring me quite a lot. In a time when dance music was all about the technical side of things (heavy drops, ridiculous bass sounds), I was trying to bring some more spiritual influences back into it. I guess that comes across through these references. Thatâ€™s really cool you picked up on that!
RG: There is a pronounced, â€˜vintageâ€™ sound to the tracks on this LP, was a lot of classic gear used in the studio? If so, what pieces?
G: Honestly there wasnâ€™t that much vintage gear involved apart from some old Roland analogue synths. I was however messing about with multi samples quite a lot from old Yamaha FM gear and the Roland D50, both of which have quite a unique sound which really appealed to me.
RG: The first single from Human Touch, â€˜Tearsâ€™ has had a pretty successful run, earning spins from Annie Mac and Pete Tong… Whatâ€™s your reaction been to this? Did you know from the moment you wrote the tune that the reception would be positive?
G: I think itâ€™s very rare to know that your tune will be a success or have a good reaction. Generally I finish most music, think itâ€™s â€œgood enoughâ€ or â€œokâ€ and then send it to my manager and label and see what everyoneâ€™s thinking. Sometimes you can get lost in the moment and think your tune is great while no-one else agrees, although I try to keep these moments as rare as possible.
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RG: And is that a nod to Godley & Creme we hear in there?
G: Well spotted. I loved the sample, so happy we managed to clear it.
RG: Youâ€™re from Scotland, and in looking at the personnel involved with the forthcoming singles and remixes, there appears to be a host of Scottish talent (Mia Dora, Barrientos, etc). Did you personally select each remixer or was it a fluke to have so many countrymen on-board?
G:Well Kevin Mckay, who runs the label is very hands-on with procuring remixes and has some good contacts with these guys, hailing from Glasgow himself. Thereâ€™s some really amazing talent up there so Iâ€™m happy to be involved with showcasing it to the world. I think Scotland has always had a great dance music scene and some top producers have come from here.
RG: Human Touch is forthcoming on your very own, Heartbeats Recordings. Is there anymore we can expect from this imprint? New signings or is this purely an outlet for your personal work?
G: It was originally started up to release my music but as ever, if any great unsigned tunes get sent in then weâ€™d love to put them out there.