Interview: Grid City [Bay 6 Recordings]
Christchurch duo Grid City might not be on everyone’s radar but I suspect that will change rapidly with the release of their Summer Funk EP on Bay 6 Recordings. 4 slices of liquid goodness, ranging from deeper and introspective to hands-in-the-air party-starters, it marks them as ones to watch. I caught up with Michael and Tony over a beer, a studio mic, and via email to find out more about their journey.
What was each of your pathways into Drum & Bass? Any specific artists or moments that drew you in?
Michael: I remember driving about when I heard Morning Light by Concord Dawn on the radio for the first time, and it kinda blew my mind, as I was a total trance-head before that. Then my friends took me to an Aphrodite gig at The Ministry, which was next level: the atmosphere, the bass, so epic. Hooked ever since.
Tony: There was a Shapeshifter gig at a rave in Chch, when I was about 16, might have still been in school, that was my first DnB gig. And a mate always cranked DJ Hype CD’s in his Prelude with a phat 18" sub in the back.
How long have you each been producing for, and have you always worked together?
We both dabbled a little in the art of production before we met, playing around with Rebirth and then Reason. Tony had been using CuBase when we met, and that's what we started with, and continued to use for the first few years before recently moving onto Presonus StudioOne. In total probably around 20-odd years each on and off, more on recently for sure.
What's the division of labour like in the studio - have you each got your specialisations or is it split pretty evenly?
Michael: I do more on the musical side, with a background in piano, and Tony has a keen ear for detail which helps with the audio engineering side. We tend to share ideas and input throughout the process.
How did you land on your name? And Michael, you go under an alias for your online activities, is there a story behind that?
We had a list of names - some of them pretty terrible - and this is the one that stuck for both of us. We actually didn’t realise there was another Grid City in Christchurch (Grid City Grooves is an NZ On Air-funded show on Pulzar FM)! The Johnny Dominic name is a funny story…[redacted - you’ll have to find Michael to ask him about this one!]
You've got a release forthcoming on Bay 6 Recordings, how have you found the process of getting your tunes out into the world? Are there any labels that are on your bucket list to work with?
We were not really sure what to expect when we submitted the tracks. We did some homework on which labels shared the sound/vibe we thought fitted our tracks. We were stoked that Bay 6 liked them, and they were keen to move forward. They've been super awesome throughout the whole process. What other labels would we like to get on? Well Hospital Records would be massive, lets see what happens….
Any thoughts on the changing nature of artist revenue in 2020? We've gone from artists making a decent amount off the actual physical release of their music, to a time where digital releases are fairly cheap and revenue comes from touring and merchandise etc. What sort of a role do you think Spotify and APRA play in this environment?
Spotify as a listener is great, because everyone can just find what they want. As an artist, the royalties are much lower, but your music is heard, right? Live performances are how artists get paid these days, having talked with other artists on tour, and that's why so many more artists are touring. APRA is great, and we totally recommend any NZ artist to sign-up.
How are you finding the scene in New Zealand, and specifically Christchurch at the moment? We're going through a peak period for drum & bass, but strangely enough in Christchurch there aren't a huge amount of venues…
The Ministry, Base and The Civic were all quality music venues pre-earthquakes. Dux Live was one of the prime locations afterwards (so many good gigs). Now we have fresh new event venues popping up like the recent Flux and Hide clubs. Christchurch has always been the DnB capital of New Zealand (just ask Wikipedia).
Any picks for artists or labels that people should be watching out for, and anyone you'd be keen to collaborate with?
Monika Music is really good, fresh and liquidy awesome (also ChCh-based), and Midknight MøøN are ones to watch. Bay 6 are coming out with some really great tunes, Smooth n Groove have some really nice jazzy liquid vibes as well. There are so many more labels popping up, some artists are even just doing their own, see Lee Mvtthews. There are so many new producers about, as well as most of the classics we grew up listening/watching. We would be keen to collab with more vocalists, would be cool to try our hand at a pop style DnB song for something a bit different.