Southfield-bred electronic musician took a break from social media and cleansed his soul

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GRiZ needed a break. 

It was the end of 2017, and after six years of being pedal-to-the-metal with his career, the Southfield-bred electronic music producer and performer was burnt out on making music, on playing shows, on himself. 

"I was like, maybe I should just stop touring, because I have stopped liking who I am while I'm touring, and I don't know if I'm doing the right thing anymore," says GRiZ, born Grant Kwiecinski, on the phone from New Orleans this week. "I used to be so self-assured. I was like, I know my direction, I know where this goes. And I felt like I had just completely lost my way."  

An aggressive fan who bumrushed the stage at one of his concerts was one of the catalysts; following the incident, where the man was bodyslammed to the ground by members of the security team, Kwiecinski was backstage, crying for what felt like hours. Violent, aggressive energy had seeped into his bubble of love and positivity. He found himself looking at flights to Hawaii, trying to get away from the world he had created for himself.

He eventually found his way back by stepping away from the machine and re-focusing on Grant, not GRiZ, which entailed a cold turkey year-long break from social media. 

"I definitely went through withdrawal," says Kwiecinski, who performs a festival-closing headlining set Monday night at Movement. "I firmly believe that social media is a new addiction. It was compulsory. I would just pull out my phone, and my thumb would almost tap the screen. And I'd be like, 'what am I looking for?'" 

Being off social media — Kwiecinski is back on now, but says he knows when to put his phone down — gave him a clarity that he used to focus on his music.

With no destination or self-imposed deadline in place, he got "as lost as possible" in his funk-drenched electronic music, a journey he likens to hopping on a new ship and sailing until the shore found him. He resurfaced with "Ride Waves," his first album since 2016, which was released last month.

"I make music. I don't see it as my job, I see it as my existence," says Kwiecinski, who turns 29 next week. He says "Ride Waves" is his album of personal self-discovery, and he was surprised to learn that when he stopped trying so hard, things came easy. 

Kwiecinski's Movement performance will be his fourth time playing at the festival, and first booking since 2015. He grew up going to Hart Plaza's Memorial Day weekend techno fest as a fan and says he loves playing the event, and giving back to the musical history of the city he calls home. (He now lives in Denver and recently gave up his downtown Detroit residence, but is looking for a new space in the city.)  

He's currently working on festivities for this year's GRiZmas celebration, a series of charity events that raise money for Seven Mile Music, an after-school program that provides opportunities in the field of music for Detroit students. 

And he's back to enjoying life as GRiZ. It's all part of riding the wave and finding his balance, which Kwiecinski says is the mission of his life. He's found it's okay to not be go-go-go all the time and that sometimes, boredom is good. 

"Life is a very fast-paced thing," he says. "I have to be bored more often!" 

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama

Movement

Saturday-Monday

Hart Plaza, Detroit

Tickets $199 for weekend, $99 daily

For full lineup and schedule details, visit www.movement.us

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