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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: I’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 ‘concept album’? There seems to be heavy parallel’s amongst the track titles (water: ‘Raindrop’ and ‘Tears’, love: ‘Lotta Love’, “Serotonin’ and ‘In Love’, nature: ‘Autumn’, ‘Sunrise’ and “Raindrop’) which would allude to a shared theme.

G: I wouldn’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. That’s really cool you picked up on that!

RG: There is a pronounced, ‘vintage’ sound to the tracks on this LP, was a lot of classic gear used in the studio? If so, what pieces?

G: Honestly there wasn’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, ‘Tears’ has had a pretty successful run, earning spins from Annie Mac and Pete Tong… What’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 it’s very rare to know that your tune will be a success or have a good reaction. Generally I finish most music, think it’s “good enough” or “ok” and then send it to my manager and label and see what everyone’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: You’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. There’s some really amazing talent up there so I’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 we’d love to put them out there.

It’s no secret that we’ve been fans of Grum (Graeme Shepherd) since the beginning, back when this big old blogosphere was still in its infancy. His debut “Heartbeats” in 2010 set the internet afire, a flame that spread to ignite the nu disco craze of the last few years. Now Grum prepares to release his sophomore album “Everytime” in early 2014 but before that, he’s been gracious enough to put together an exclusive mix for us. The 18th in our series, Grum’s mix features some tracks he’s been working on including remixes of Luke Million’s “Midnight” and The Other Tribe’s “My Girl.” Stream/download the mix below.

Tracklist:
1. Luke Million – Midnight (Grum Remix)
2. Booka Shade – Love Inc (Hot Since 82 Remix)
3. Fehrplay – Talk To Me
4. Rhayader – Innervision (Douze Dub Machine Mix)
5. Henry Saiz – Madre Noche
6. Jimmy Van M, Luxor T, Afkkt – Lucid
7. The Japanese Popstars – Out of Nowhere
8. The Other Tribe – My Girl (Grum Remix)
9. Jeremy Olander – Let Me Feel
10. Andre Sobota – Lights
11. John Digweed & Nick Muir vs Guy J – Heaven Scent

We’re not ones to talk about mixes that aren’t ours (because they are all awesome), but I happened to come across one that I truly, madly and deeply love. This one comes from Gotta Dance Dirty’s aRod who’s somehow managed to put all of my favorite artists into this 15-track mix that includes the likes of Hot Natured, newcomer Luxry, Grum, Joe Goddard and Diamond Cut. Play this on a sunny or cloudy day in any and all situations regardless of whether you’re trying to get “turnt up” or just turnted.

Tracklist:
1. FKJ – Lying Together (Edward Newgate Remix)
2. Hot Natured – Planet Earth
3. Nadia Ksaiba – Virtual Lover
4. Badboxes – JSMN (Diamond Cut Remix)
5. Bondax – Giving It All (Joe Goddard Remix)
6. Luxry – J.A.W.S.
7. Crooked Colours – Moontan Nocturnal (Grafton Primary Remix)
8. Luke Million – Midnight (Grum Remix)
9. Skream – Rollercoaster (Jimmy Edgar Remix)
10. Hot Natured – Alternate State
11. Cyril Hahn – Perfect Form (KAYTRANADA Remix)
12. London Grammar – Strong (Jonas Rathsman Remix)
13. Daniel Avery – All I need
14. Breach – Everything You Never Had (Joe Goddard Remix)
15. Jim James – Know ‘Til Now (Pixelated Remix)

Interview: Grum

Apr 23 2013

I’ve missed seeing Grum perform twice in Austin, Texas and once in New York City, but as consolation I had the opportunity to chat with Graeme Shepherd, the man behind the moniker. Grum came to prominence four years ago with the single ‘Heartbeats’ and with the help of blogs like Discodust, the Scottish-born producer was introduced to a worldwide audience. His follow up releases ‘Can’t Shake This Feeling’ and ‘Through The Night’ met with equal approval from dance floors and now Grum is preparing his second studio album Human Touch. The lead single off the album is ‘Everytime’, which first appeared on Annie Mac’s show on BBC Radio 1. People expecting the Grum of 2010 and disco well…this isn’t it. ‘Everytime’ is a reverberating through the smoke and lights of a warehouse at 4AM house track that washes over you with cascading synth waterfalls. It demonstrates Grum’s talent as a producer and his ability to transcend genres. I’ll always have spot for ‘Heartbeats’ on any and all playlists but I also welcome new Grum and look forward to hearing the rest of Human Touch.

Nancy Lu: How would you describe yourself as an artist?
Graeme Shepherd: I think what most defines me is a good ear for emotion and melody. I always like to think my music has a certain class and feeling to it. My production is generally more about warmth than being too clinical.

Nancy: What initially inspired you to create music?
Graeme: As a youngster I had various obsessions with different pop songs – usually electronic, so always had a general interest in music. The initial buzz of discovering dance music as a teenager (MOS Dance Nation compilations!) got me interested production. It was such an exciting thing and I felt that I had something to contribute. For me, it’s always been about creating something that gives a big emotional response.

Nancy: It’s been almost three years since Heartbeats. Can you tell us what you’ve been up to in the interim?
Graeme: I suppose it looks like I’ve not been doing a lot. The touring and remixing schedule after Heartbeats came out was non-stop. I started to get on with producing the new album in early summer 2011 and it took about a year to complete. The first song that came out of this was Everytime. After passing it to a few DJ friends and getting a great response, it helped set the path for the record.

Nancy: You initially got your break via Aleks at Discodust and now blogs are more important than ever in artist/music promotion. One might say that there are too many blogs, which leads me to the topic of over saturation in the industry in general. What are your thoughts on this and do you feel like this adds any pressure for you as a music maker?
Graeme: I think if the music is good enough, in the end it will always reach some level of success. It does feel like there are many many more people producing dance music now than even just 3 years ago. It’s hard to keep up with the number of new names. However, a lot of it is very throwaway. There appears to be a lot of “me too” productions without much innovation. It’s an even greater problem in a genre like nu disco which has many brilliant producers but is inherently conservative.

Nancy: From Heartbeats to Human Touch, how would you say your sound has changed?
Graeme: I think 5 years of DJing has had the cumulative effect of inspiring me to create more of a club record. This album is far more contemporary than Heartbeats. As an artist I am now much more interested in creating our own good dance music culture than relying too heavily on nostalgia.

Nancy: What are your thoughts on American dance music culture vs the rest of the world?
Graeme: I think it’s a great thing that dance music has blown up over there. The US has always had their own unique take on things: cars, food, sports… it makes sense that the music has taken a similar path. However I can’t say that the EDM stuff has very much to do with me and what I enjoy.

Nancy: Tell us more about Human Touch and what we can expect.
Graeme: Human Touch has a different overall aesthetic to Heartbeats. I think over exposure to electro and disco had me longing for the Halcyon days of ravier sounds and less over-production. A more open minded attitude. Big dancefloor and festival moments, without being dumb. Some introspection. We are living in a world of celebrity worship, constant communication, paranoia and division – this album is about forgetting all that and losing yourself a bit. I think people will be pleasantly surprised.

Nancy: Dream collaborations?
Graeme: Sasha, Orbital, Gui Boratto.

Nancy: Tell us something not a lot of people know about you.

Graeme: I can speak a little Russian.

Perseus has returned to follow up their fantastic remix of Grum’s “Through the Night” that got a lot of chart love last year. As Prometheus stole fire from the Gods to give to mankind, Perseus bestows their latest “Seychelles” to us as a free download. The electro disco production duo captures the best of 90s R&B by sampling Toni Braxton’s vocals and kicks things up a notch by overlaying them with a lush tropical disco beat. The track has recently been featured in The Magician’s latest Magic Tape #20, but you can listen to it in its singular glory below.

Heartbeats

Sep 11 2009

Grum has just released his latest single but the DJ promo has been out a while now and it’s been getting great responses from other dj’s. Grum is going to be big when his album comes out in 2010. So, start the journey by downloading these three remixes of the track. We got 100 copies to give away of the 320s so be fast and use the Yousendit link, the rest of you will have to make do with the 128 or you can buy the whole thing.

“Grum’s two favourite records of all time are Daft Punk’s “Discovery” and “Dare” by the Human League and the spirit of these classics is coursing through the veins of “Heartbeats”. Joyous, fun-filled and perfectly crafted for maximum impact on the dancefloor, this is the sound of the blogs heading to the pop charts.”

Grum – Heartbeats (Stockholm Syndrome Vocal Dub) (YSI, 320)

Grum – Heartbeats (Stockholm Syndrome Vocal Dub) (direct link, 128)

Grum – Heartbeats (Stockholm Syndrome Vocal Dub – Jockey Club Edit) (YSI, 320)

Grum – Heartbeats (Stockholm Syndrome Vocal Dub – Jockey Club Edit) (direct link, 128)

Grum – Heartbeats (Weird Tapes Version) (YSI, 320)

Grum – Heartbeats (Weird Tapes Version) (direct link, 128)