Local musician set to become new artist to watch in 2016

Janelle Harb

Features Layout Editor

The city of Buffalo has been known to be home to many popular musicians spanning between a multitude of genres.  Joining the ranks of native-Buffalonian artists like The Goo Goo Dolls, and Every Time I Die is 22-year-old Electronic Dance Music artist Nick Chiari, professionally known as GRABBITZ.  With a collaboration with renowned EDM musician deadmau5 already in tow, a second album being released, and a  headlining tour ahead, Chiari is set to become a giant in the EDM music scene in 2016.  The Griffin was able to discuss with Chiari about his upcoming album release, along with his already successful, albeit just beginning, career.  

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Janelle Harb: What is the EDM scene like in your hometown of East Aurora, New York?

Nick Chiari: East Aurora doesn’t really have much, but Buffalo does and it’s nice, everyone is really close with each other.  There’s open conversations on Facebook and stuff, we have a little community there but it’s not a huge market.

JH: Do you think the scene has changed due to its popularity in the more recent years?

NC: Oh, of course. Over time, people have been paying more attention and going to more shows and stuff and becoming more loyal like fans and consumers of the music.  

JH: How did you first discover all of these EDM artists like deadmau5 and Skrillex?

NC: I was first introduced to Skrillex around 2009 or ’10.  That’s when I started going from more hip-hop and R & B production to more dance music production.  And then it wasn’t until the past few years that I’ve started doing vocals on the songs.  

JH: Did you picture other people doing the vocals on your songs at first?

NC: No I’ve always been singing! I’ve always been singing since I was really little, so it’s always been something that’s been incorporated into my music.  It’s just been getting a lot more serious lately.

JH: What are you looking forward to with this new album release?

NC: I just really want everyone to hear it, and be open to it being a little different.  Did you listen to it?

JH: I did! I did listen to parts of it.

NC: Did you like it?

JH: I did like it!

NC: Good, I just want people to listen to the music without any expectations and, I just want people to like it, really.

JH: As someone who’s kind of outside of the scene, I still really enjoyed the album.

NC: Thank you so much. That’s way more important to me than someone who’s used to hearing this kind of stuff.  

JH: Nowadays, a lot of electronic artists sound the same with all the beats and drops, but this was a break from that and it was different.

NC: I really appreciate that, thank you so much.  

JH: What’s your inspiration behind your music?

NC: There’s a huge amount of inspiration that has been gathered over the years.  A lot of alternative rock and classic rock, like Led Zeppelin, The Doors, some Nine Inch Nails, Alice in Chains. Then, you know, I was really inspired by Eminem and Dr. Dre, Timbaland, and what they were doing in hip-hop at the time, back in the early 2000s and the 90s.  On the film scoring side of things, I really am inspired by Hans Zimmer, and Ennio Morricone who used to compose all those Western film scores.  It’s a huge range of things and if I wanted to include something more modern in the dance world, I’d have to say Skrillex and Nero are a couple of my favorites.

JH: I think that’s all so broad, but you can still find it reflected in your music.

NC: Oh, thank you!

JH: With all of those artists, is there any dream collaboration you’d have? I know you’ve already gotten recognition with deadmau5.  

NC: I would love to work with Skrillex, and I feel like I’m close.  I feel like I’m almost there, but I would love that.  I’d love to work on something with like Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, any of those big dogs, I’d just love to get in the studio with them and see what happens.

JH: And so how was your opportunity to work with deadmau5?

NC: It was great! I mean we never got together in the studio to work, it was all over the Internet, but I think it’s a huge opportunity for me, and it’s gonna be an amazing song because he makes amazing art.  He’s finishing up some things and getting his plan ready.  I kind of just have to wait and see.

JH: Did you completely freak out when you realized that he recognized you?

NC: Yeah I saw that he followed me on Twitter and I checked it to make sure it was the same account, he sent me a message, and I knew it was going down.  

JH: What have been some highlights of your career so far? Has that definitely been one of them?

NC: That’s definitely been one of them.  He created one of my favorite songs and when I sang over it, just him recognizing that is huge for me.  Getting some of music licensed in television like on CSI, I’ve had about a handful of songs in that show.  One of my songs if licensed on ESPN and Fox for the NBA season.  This record is a huge milestone for me, whether or not it gets recognition itself, it’s just important for me to get it out there.  This is one of the most important things yet, I think.  

JH: How does your song production work? Do you work on the melody and then write lyrics along with that, or vice versa?

NC: It always changes… sometimes I can put together 30 seconds of a song and have all 30 seconds of that be completely polished and finished, or I’ll hash out a complete 4-minute song, that’s pretty rough, and record rough vocals, and have this really rough cut of music that I can work on over time.  Normally, it’ll all start with a melody or drumbeat first, it always has to have some type of melody, and that’s really it. I’ll compile songs for as long as I need to until I feel I can compile another track, and then I’ll put them in order and figure out how the experience will go, and mesh them together.

JH: One of your more popular songs “Float Away” is my personal favorite, what was the process behind that one in particular?

NC: I really appreciate that, thank you. I kind of made “Float Away,” and it was supposed to become a pop record.  Because, you could tell, the vocals on it are a little more pop-oriented, but when it breaks into the dance part, it’s heavy and still very, very dance influenced.  I decided it should be part of my GRABBITZ project, tweaked it a little bit, fixed it up, and it ended up being the lead single.  I love the song, I really love the way it turned out.  

JH: Why do you go under the name GRABBITZ?

NC: It doesn’t really mean anything, I used to rap a really long time ago, and GRABBITZ was the name I used that I didn’t want anyone to know that it was Nick Chiari, so I could swear and say whatever I wanted in my rap music.  GRABBITZ was just a totally random, I have no idea, just a name that totally stuck over the years.  

JH: And so did you discover this music basically all online because there wasn’t much of a scene here yet?

NC: Yes.  Through high school friends actually, Facebook and stuff, sharing Skrillex’s first EP and I didn’t know what it was or who it was, and it wasn’t until a year later that he came out to Buffalo at the Town Ballroom, and he would never come to the Town Ballroom now, it was him, Twelfth Planet, and Not As Strong, they all came on Skrillex’s first Mothership Tour, and I went and saw him, and it was unbelievable, but I cannot believe where it has come to now, it’s so funny.  

JH: Each of those artists could fill 10 Town Ballrooms by now.

NC: Oh my god, yes.

JH: You must’ve been a fan pretty young then if you saw Skrillex at the Town Ballroom.

NC: That was 2011, yeah. I mean it was just about a year after I had discovered this type of music, dubstep, house music, and how it all started to branch off into all these genres. It’s actually pretty cool to look back on how fast it’s all evolved.

JH: Do you see the scene progressing as fast as it has been in the future?

NC: I’m not sure. It doesn’t seem like anything massive is happening at the moment, but then when you look back over time, you realize how quickly it’s progressed. Like even with me, deep down I want to make albums and I want to make music the way that albums used to be, like I want you to sit down and put it on, not because of all the vintage stuff, but just because I like that. It’s becoming not marketable to do that, you need to put out like singles and some of these artists release like 20 songs in a year, just single after single, and it’s tough.  It’s changing quick, you have to make choices to go with what you want or with what the consumer trends are.  

JH: I really admired how in your album, every song kind of flowed into each other, because it’s so interesting how an artist can find a way to do that. I also liked your classic and more simplistic album art, I can just tell you’re an old soul, and you just love the art of it.

NC: Oh wow, this is awesome.  You’re awesome, thank you so much.  

JH: How do you feel leading Buffalo into this music scene and joining the ranks of bands like The Goo Goo Dolls?

NC: I’m not sure if I’m even coming close to them yet, but I hope to.  I think Buffalo is a great city, and there’s nothing that people can really do about they way the market is, and what people buy tickets to go see.  I see country concerts get sold out constantly here at Darien Lake.  It’s just the way it is, it’s just the market, there’s really nothing you can do.  I think good music will prevail through it all, if you’re throwing good shows with good music, then you should eventually be able to build over time.  Because those who do come to your events, they’ll stay.  

JH: How has that process been in building this fanbase?

NC: There’s a group of kids called the Buffalo Rage Community, and all these people started this big group of people who love dance music, and they throw shows every year.  When I got in with them and we threw a show together, that’s when I started making a lot more friends in the dance music scene in Buffalo, and that’s helped me a ton.

JH: Is your next step to try and get on some kind of bigger tour like Warped Tour?

NC: Right now, I just recently signed with William Morris, so they’re my agents now and they’re trying to fill out headlining shows at smaller venues, rather than doing support tours.  We’re trying to market it as a hard-ticket act, like you’ve gotta come out to see GRABBITZ, you’ve gotta come out to hear these songs, and hear them live.  We’re gonna start small and see what we can build from that.

JH: So every time you compose a song, do you layout the melody and tone first?

NC: Sometimes when deciding the way I’m going to sing it, I come up with a lyric or something.  Most of the time I come up with some place-holder lyrics.  And then I can really draw what content I want from the song.  

JH: How do you come up with the content of your songs?

NC: I really draw from whatever I can, whether it be past romances, or problems I’m dealing with, or struggles, or things I’m having fun doing, it’s always something.  I’m not opposed to making things up though.  I’m not opposed to creating a fictional story.

JH: Do you prefer the Buffalo vibe or the fast-paced LA lifestyle?

NC: I do love Buffalo and how chill it is, but LA really is not that fast paced.  With New York, sometimes I get a little tweaked out and don’t know how to handle myself because it’s just so fast. LA is nice, and everyone is right around the corner, 20 minutes from each other.  

JH: As a local person, where are your favorite places to go?

NC: One of my favorite restaurants is Mangia in Orchard Park.  It’s so funny because my brother-in-law actually runs things over there, he’s the manager.  I love Taste [in East Aurora], Hutch’s [in Buffalo], and Lunetta’s [in Cheektowaga] is my absolute favorite spot ever.  

JH: Has your family been very supportive of you in going to LA to pursue all of this?

NC: Yes, everyone loves what I’m doing, and encourage me to keep doing it.  I have the best family.  

JH: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

NC: I’m just really thankful that you’re interested in doing a story or an interview or anything, so just, thank you.  This means a lot.  

 

GRABBITZ’ new album, Better With Time, comes out Friday, December 11th.  It will be available on iTunes, as well as Soundcloud, for your listening and convenience.  

 

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