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Insomniac’s Metronome series features mixes from some of today’s fastest-rising electronic stars, as well as championed legends. It takes listeners deep across a wide range of genres, movements, cultures, producers, artists and sounds that make up the diverse world of electronic music.

Since the yonder years of pioneers Kraftwerk, there has always been a common misconception that electronic music is music for machines, soulless robot noise empty of humanity and emotion. Last year, Porter Robinson shattered that notion with his status quo-defying Worlds. He proved that electronic music, in fact, goes beyond laptops and digital screens.

The same goes for up-and-coming artist Grabbitz and his recently released Friends EP. Via the seven-track project, he explores the depths of human emotion—his mother was battling cancer during its creation—and further proves that electronic music is more than in-your-face drops and mindless, four-on-the-floor loops. Friends is a definitive release that progresses the evolution of modern electronic music through actual artistry, songwriting sophistication and layered complexities.

Grabbitz, née Nick Chiari, makes it look easy. The multifaceted artist and former rapper does it all: He’s a producer, a songwriter and a singer. Since dropping Friends via Monstercat last month, and with a recent relocation to Los Angeles via Buffalo, NY, things are picking up fast. Even deadmau5 has an eye on him, having reached out after Grabbitz released a bootleg vocal edit of his track “Silent Picture.”

For his Metronome mix, Grabbitz drops the deep feels and instead takes listeners on a bass-heavy, bone-shaking ride. Strap in; it’ll be bumpy.

You’re quite the renaissance man, compared to many of your producer colleagues in electronic music. You’re a singer, songwriter and producer. Which of these three trades presents the most challenges to you? Or do they all go hand in hand?
I would have to say production presents the most challenges. There is always something new to learn, a new technique or method of accomplishing something. Sometimes I take different approaches to production to see how it affects my songwriting or creativity. Singing comes in at a close second, though. I’m always trying to improve my voice and apply it in different ways.

Let’s talk about the Friends EP. 
The Friends EP is my most cohesive and meaningful project yet as an artist. I’ve always dreamt of making a real album or a real EP that could reach a large number of people, and it has finally happened.

It offers a large range of emotions and carries a lot of depth, compared to many other releases I’m hearing online. Where were you, emotionally and spiritually, during the creative process of Friends?
I was still living at home in Buffalo, NY. I would say this period of time was my most creative in a while: I didn’t really have to worry about anything except my music, and maybe a short-lived job selling home security systems. For the past eight years, my mother has been battling cancer on and off, and it’s had a rough effect on my family and me. That’s where a lot of the emotion is coming from. The songs range in content from love to loss, but all of them carry some of that weight.

I’d put you in the same realm as Porter Robinson. Like WorldsFriends is proving that there’s more to electronic music than builds, drops and bass. Like Porter, you’re showing that there are, in fact, emotions and humanity in electronic music. 
I take this as a great compliment, so thank you. I generally don’t think music should have any guidelines or formulas. Of course, I have had fun making songs based on buildups and drops; I still have a burning passion for dance music. But I create all kinds of different music. Over the span of my career, I hope I can put myself in a position where people can enjoy every type of music I make, whether it be an energetic dance song or a ballad. Music doesn’t have rules, to me; it is made from the creativity of the artist, and that shouldn’t be bound by anything. It’s my ultimate form of expression.

When I listen to Friends, I get the sense that there’s a story to be told. What is that story?
Friends has a few different stories built into it. I wrote about the complications of love, my passion for dance music, my struggles with having a racing mind, the story of a loved one, the battle to find happiness. All of these were intertwined into my project, and they all represent me at the time of the creation of the EP. So I wouldn’t say there is a continuous story from start to finish, but if you piece everything in the EP together, there is a semblance of where I was at in 2014.

You even include an intro, outro and interludes on Friends. You really present electronic music in an artistic manner.
This was my way of displaying the other types of music I create. They are perfect for supporting the more energetic sounds of the project. I have always been keen on creating cinematic pieces, and hopefully I’ll be scoring films someday. “A Walk to the Gallows” was a piece I wrote to pay homage to one of my favorite composers, Ennio Morricone.

You’re not playing any shows at the moment, focusing mainly on production. I really hope you come with a full live performance setup. I think you’re beyond the DJ protocol.
Keeping time open to create has always been really important to me. I’m doing a few shows here and there, performing with a DJ set for now. When the opportunity and timing is right, my team and I surely plan on incorporating live performance. It’s always been a dream of mine to play live, so I’m going to make it happen.

By the way, welcome to Los Angeles. It seems like moving to L.A. was a key move in your career. 
Thank you. Moving to L.A. was pivotal for me. With the help of my management—Ashlee Johansen and Danny Celis—I’ve been able to meet and befriend a lot of great people here. There is a certain feeling just being in L.A. Creation is happening all around you; competition is fierce. It’s motivating and incredibly good for networking. Being in the right place at the right time with the right people could create a huge opportunity in an instant. That’s why it’s the best move.

We have to talk about the whole deadmau5 situation. We know the story: He found your vocal edit of his track “Silent Picture”—off his 2014 album while(1<2)—online and reached out to you to collaborate on an official release. Walk us through your experience, and tell us what you’re hoping for with the upcoming collaboration.
The whole point of releasing it was for him to hear it someday. He created a piece of music that inspired me. I had no choice but to write to it; my pen had been forced to paper. I honestly didn’t think it would happen, especially after so much time had passed after the release. When I found out he had heard it and was interested in using my vocals, the feeling was so gratifying. Joel has been releasing previews and teasers, so I’m going through the experience as I write this, and seeing what people have to say about it has been flattering. I know whatever Joel does with the track will be amazing. I’m just enjoying this time, and I’m beyond excited to hear the final result.

What’s next in the world of Grabbitz?
Looking ahead in 2015, there are going to be some more releases, some cool content, and some great shows. I’m just going to continue working and writing music. I’m hoping to make a lot of new fans this year, and I hope to improve as an artist in all aspects.

Track List:

Grabbitz “BALLIN” (VIP) *
Dusty Bits “We Bout to Crush” *
Grabbitz (ID) *
Valentino Khan “Deep Down Low”
Grabbitz “Biodome”
Grabbitz “Biodome” (Dubstep VIP)
Grabbitz “Fire”
LAXX “Threat”
Grabbitz “Don't Stop” *
Grabbitz x Strictly Embee “Unorthodox”
Grabbitz “Rumors” * vs. Savages “Swing” (A Cappella)
Knife Party “404” (Grabbitz Remix)
Grabbitz “Turn Around”
Eptic “The End” (Carnage & Breaux Festival Trap Remix)
Grabbitz “BALLIN” *
BARE “Finger Trvp” (Grabbitz Remix) *
Knife Party “LRAD” (Grabbitz Bootleg) *
Eptic “Death”
Grabbitz “Here With You Now”
Grabbitz “Stutter” *
Grabbitz “Get Ya Body Down” *
TC “Get Down Low” (Levela Remix)
heRobust “Sheknowshebad” (Grabbitz Remix)
DotEXE “Inside Out”
Grabbitz with Faustix “Friends”

* unreleased track


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