UPDATE: Yesterday was the big day! We not only got to check out Grizfolk’s set at KAABOO (which was fantastic as expected) we also got the chance to meet up for a quick chat and a photo op in real life. For more on Grizfolk and our conversation with Adam a few weeks ago, keep reading below. In the meantime, check them out online using the links below. Definitely a group to keep an eye on.
In a few weeks, Grizfolk will be playing at one of our most anticipated festivals of the summer, KAABOO Del Mar. The festival takes place September 13-15 in beautiful Del Mar, California. We got an opportunity to talk with Adam Roth – Grizfolk’s lead singer (he also plays guitar for the group as does Eriksson). When we talked to Adam, he was in Utah for a show. We are diving deep into our coverage for KAABOO this year and this interview is just the beginning. Our next post will feature a countdown of some of the activities, experiences and bands we are most looking forward to. But for now … we are super excited for you all to check out the interview.
For those who might not be familiar with Grizfolk (first of all if you aren’t you should be!) the alt rock group is a mixture of Swedish/American musicians: Adam Roth, Sebastian Fritze, Fredrik Eriksson and Bill Delia. This talented group came together back around 2012, when Fritze and Erriksson met singer-songwriter Adam Roth. They have been well received on the music scene and experienced a boost from “The Struggle” (one of my husband’s absolute favorite songs). My husband is one of the quietest people you will meet, and when I told him I was going to talk to Grizfolk he practically yelled out his love for both his favorite song (which he called life changing) and the band in general. If you know him, you know how unusual this type of response is from him.
Grizfolk has been consistently releasing great music since they formed and there’s quite a bit we recommend checking out. One good place to start is with Grizfolk’s newest album, Rarest of Birds, which was released July 19th. For more info on Grizfolk, check out the links at the end of this post.
We got the opportunity to check Grizfolk out live a few weeks ago at Firefly Music Festival where they played intimate sets including one at the festival’s newest addition, The Roost. We were so grateful to grab some of Adam’s time while the band was on the road and he couldn’t have been nicer. Without further ado, here’s a taste of our conversation. Looking forward to seeing Grizfolk again out in So-Cal at KAABOO so soon!!!
Can you tell us a little about your inspiration for the new album and what if anything prompted what some might describe as a more organic sound?
“Part of it was our ears are just tired. We made our last record on the road on laptops. We were tired of moving . . . we wanted to produce music we would listen to [given how the last record was produced on the road]. Our producer, Allen Blickle, had a vision that lined up with what we wanted to do.” Adam then describes the more organic or different vibe and how they talked and experimented with what they were looking for. When they had the songs and put it together the result was something the group and production ended up feeling took them in the right direction and ultimately that was the more organic (less electronic sound) we hear on Rarest of Birds.
Speaking of the new album, it looks like KAABOO will be the first festival Grizfolk plays after the Rarest of Birds release- is there anything you are particularly excited to play or see how the crowd responds to in a festival environment?
Absolutely, my favorite song…one of my favorite songs is Pretty Penny and I am really excited for that” Adam also mentioned being excited to play “Believing” and “Hurricane” for the festival crowd, saying that Hurricane was a great song for a sing along and he thinks it will be interesting to see the crowd response to it.
From the artist perspective what do you feel the biggest difference – be it vibe, experience, or anything else – between playing a festival and playing a stand alone show?
Adam expressed how much the group loves playing festivals. You could hear in his voice how genuine this was. “We know lots of people are there to discover music. It is an opportunity to reach them, change minds, to open people up to what we are doing.” He went on to explain how there are so many styles of music featured at a festival – so even if someone came for the hip hop for example – it is an opportunity to draw them in and make new fans and maybe to inspire someone or catch someone who discovers Grizfolk. Adam says that the group definitely “tailors their set list a little differently” for the festival situation – and that they really love playing festivals for a lot of reasons. One of which is that they “want to reach new fans.”
Author note: In preparing for interviews, I almost always have a few questions that I know I am going to ask and then a few ways that I might want to take things depending on the response. I could tell right away from talking to Adam that he and the group definitely love festivals and have real passion for festival vibes. That was especially cool because I had just seem them perform at my home festival so recently and also for the obvious reason of how we at LTFL feel about festivals too. So any time you can talk to someone, especially someone from one of your favorite bands about your shared love for festivals it is definitely a discussion path I wanted to continue.
Do you guys ever take the opportunity to spend time hanging out at the festivals you play or exploring, and if so, can you talk to us a little about that experience and maybe some of your favorite performances or moments?
Grizfolk has played several festivals, including Hangout, Voodoo, Firefly, and Bottlerock. Adam’s answer to this question was probably my second favorite part of the interview. And if you keep reading, you will get to hear about the first favorite soon…but back to Adam:
“We always try to explore at festivals…I wanted to become a musician in part because of the experiences I had attending festivals.” One of the group’s most recent favorite things was seeing “our friends X Ambassadors playing at Firefly – we knew them a long time and before they blew up. Watching them play and thinking on how we knew them back before…watching the crowd reactions to them.” It was definitely awesome to hear how excited for and proud of X Ambassadors he was, and how cool it was for them to be able to see them play a huge festival set. We spent a little more time in general talking about exploring and walking around the festival vibe as well.
So, based on your previous answers – it sounds like the answer to this is going to be yes. Before touring festivals, did you have the opportunity to attend any festivals as a fan?
I felt like I could almost hear him nod yes through the phone. As we had discussed above, Adam expressed that one of his motivations as a musician was his festival experience. Wanting to be in a position to play festivals one day. He thinks that his first festival experience was Jazz Fest when he was a kid. And then another major festival experience for him was Coachella. Should there be a sound effect here.
Adam explained that after moving to and living in Los Angeles he at some point had the opportunity to attend Coachella seven years in a row. “I would lose my mind at Coachella for a weekend. Come out really inspired. Really wanting to make music to play at a festival.” He says that a lot of times when they are writing music, though not always, they are writing with a festival in mind or at least picturing the songs being played for the biggest crowds they can think of – like those at a festival.
Here I told Adam that I had never been to Coachella, but that it was something I think I wanted to do one day. Our conversation traveled over to having seen the group play recently at Firefly. He responded by saying that Firefly (which Grizfolk also played in 2015) was probable one of his favorites, that the festival really left a mark on him… maybe on them as a group too.
Speaking of festivals, one big thing coming up for you guys is KAABOO – is there anything about KAABOO in general or a specific performance you are looking forward to?
“For us, because we have been based in California for about seven years KAABOO is kind of like a home festival” for Grizfolk. “Lots of our friends will be there. It will feel nice to be home and the weather will be amazing . . . It sounds like the weather will be practically perfect – I chimed in and he somewhat wistfully started talking about Southern California . . . I wrote down the word pretty in my notes and I think we both started to kind of trail off into thoughts of gorgeous California weather. Playing at a home festival definitely sounds like something the group is excited for and the weather will be the cherry on top.
I jumped out of order a little bit to write about one of the most meaningful moments of our chat last. One of my new favorite questions to ask is below and I ask it because everyone we have had the opportunity to chat with has taken this question and made it their own in a lot of different ways. I think this was one of the best and most heartfelt answers I have heard so far. I teared up a little listening to this response, partially because of the unquestionable sincerity with which it was said, but also because of how close to home it hits. It is also always striking and powerful to hear from someone in this position that things can be hard, but that they can also be overcome.
Is there anything you would like your fans to know about you, your music – please feel free to take this question in whatever direction you like whether it’s excitement about your album, a message, or even something totally off the beaten path?
His answer started with something like absolutely or definitely before a pause (which I think I held my breath during)
“I was going through a hard time – a dark period with alcohol . . . and drugs right before making this record . . . I quit it all and put my creative energy into it [the album] and it sort of saved my life…and the energy and support of fans was a big…their support in reaching that…I really want to say Thanks. Thank you. It was crazy.” Here Adam explained how things have changed over the year or so that all this has taken place and how much more positive a place he is in now. Adding that the fan support and energy was a big part of what he describes as having his life saved. It is cool he says, because you get the album as a result.
What I took from that was that he was saying, not only did he have the experience of going through something hard and growing from it, but that the way he handled it – through creative expression and pouring himself into the record – resulted in the record being something tangible to show for it. And that the record and the fan support therefore mean all that much more.
Not only did Adam want to thank the fans, he wanted them to know that “there is a reason not to give up and to hang on and to hope. If there is anyone out there struggling, he says, he wants them to know this and hopes the music or message reaches them.
As I said, the way he delivered this was just . . . you could feel it, in a good way. I feel like I need to take a deep breath now still as I am writing this – it is such a powerful thing to hear this kind of message from an artist. It not only makes me want to listen to the album again and knowing everything I learned in talking to him, it also makes me even more stoked to head out to KAABOO and see Grizfolk perform at their home festival.
Huge shoutout to Adam, Grizfolk and KAABOO for the opportunity for this chat. And check out Rarest of Birds which was released July 19!!!!!!!
We will be going all in on our KAABOO Del Mar coverage, so check back soon for an update on some of the bands and experiences on our KAABOOlist (it’s a to do list pun…no?) and maybe even another artist interview.
In the meantime, drop us a line or a comment if you are headed out to KAABOO and check out our KAABOO Spotify playlist featuring a few songs from each artist on the KAABOO Del Mar lineup. For more info about KAABOO, check out our lineup release post here and our daily lineup follow up information here. Or visit the official website.
For more info about Grizfolk