A little over a week ago, Life In Color landed in Miami for its tenth anniversary with colorful performances from Diplo, Marshmello, Desiigner, and more. During the festivities, the first set I heard while entering the venue was the festival’s opening act Nitti Gritti. Known for his trap, dubstep, and bass music productions, Nitti Gritti is a relatively new face in the world of electronic dance music. Playing his first show back in Halloween for Wynwood Fear Factory, he has recently returned from a tour with rising duo Bonnie X Clyde and was even brought up during their set at Life In Color.
Some might also recognize Nitti Gritti for his productions as Ricky Mears. Most notably Ricky worked on a remix of the Seven Lions song “Coming Home” with Seven Lions himself. He’s also worked on a five-track EP called Deliverance and has remixed Bob Marley, Flume, SBCR, and many more. I got to sit with Nitti Gritti to talk about his music, it’s directions, and more on his origins into the music scene.
Tell me about your first set at Life In Color.
Unfortunately, I had to cut my set short because my USBs broke and I had this whole technical issue. But this was my second festival ever and this is just a learning experience. Once I got up there [on stage], I was so humbled that so many people were going crazy. As the music was playing, they were giving me so much energy and it made me feel really good.
Talking about that music, when can we expect new 2017 Nitti Gritti releases and future shows?
For the shows, we’re working on a little tour right now. Music-wise, I just signed a song to Never Say Die, Trap Nation, and EDM.com. I’m sure Your EDM is going to have something of mine, but there’s a couple of things coming soon. I’ve got some stuff I’m singing on and with some homies, other producers and collaborations. I’m so excited to have at least ten songs come out this year!
Singing? Have you been singing since you were little or is this something newer that you want to try to add to your music?
It’s newer. I played drums and guitar for most of my life and I knew I had a good year. Singing came into my music in the last two to three years and appeared in my music as Ricky Mears. Now it’s going to be apart of my Nitti Gritti stuff. It’s really fun even though I’m by no means an experienced singer. Regardless, I know that I can do that with work and I’m really excited to share that.
Now that you bring up your other musical alias Ricky Mears, I have come to notice that one of the hardest things to do in the music industry is to rebrand or create new aliases and to see them have similar or greater success in comparison to previous material. And for context, your work as Ricky Mears was last seen collaborating on a remix with Seven Lions which is no small feat. What was the decision that created Nitti Gritti while already having music out as Ricky Mears?
The thing that happened is that I had so many styles of music that I took Nitti Gritti as an escape to create new music and I still have Ricky Mears to create new music. I thank God that I won an Above & Beyond contest and I’m going to be going into the studio with Above & Beyond in April as Ricky Mears. But Nitti Gritti is going to be going on tour and releasing music that goes into the harder trap and dubstep sound which is some of the music I grew up on. It’s really exciting to see both of these projects grow. Although the spotlight is on Nitti Gritti right now, Ricky Mears is not far away. It’s a project that is more passionate and that I take my time with. Even though both names are a lot of work, they are both alive and well.
How would you say you were mentally prepared for your set for today? Were you well rested or did you party last night and continue that party into this afternoon?
I just finished a tour with Bonnie X Clyde and I’m pretty sure I haven’t had any drinks in like the last four weeks. I thought to myself I better take it easy for a second and get my grounding before my set today. I had a nice restful time, but today I’m going HAM. I’ve been going crazy all day and I’m probably going to play tonight at Space. I’m well rested, I have a lot of energy and I’m ready to give it to anybody that needs it.
That’s awesome. But let me ask you about your biggest musical inspirations. Who would you say inspire you and your music?
First, I have to bring up the countries. I lived in Haiti for eight years where I discovered house music and the more Major Lazer kind of sound. From there, I learned about dubstep and Skrillex and all that type of stuff. But before that, I was into early 2000’s/late 90’s rock. This includes bands like Senses Fail, Brand New, Taking Back Sunday, and Sum 41 type of music. I live for that. After mixing that and the growing electronic music scene, that was what helped me make my sound. Even now, acts like Pendulum are incorporating live instrumentation into their live sets and I’m trying to follow suit with mixing the live music and the bands’ styles that I have into my electronic stuff. It’s just a long journey of so many different genres that have brought me here. I want to have an EP or album with one song of every genre one day. Or, at least, of every genre I’m capable of.
To dip your feet in a little of everything, right?
Yeah! And it’s also something for me to enjoy. If everyone else enjoys it, that’s fine. It’s just expression to me.
That’s an interesting thing to say because there are also plenty of musicians in your status who are worried about how their music is going to sound to the mainstream crowd and focus on making music that’s heartless. How do you feel about artists who focus more on what they think their audience wants in their music before themselves?
A lot of people like to just shit on this era of music for whatever reason. But we’re blessed to live in this time. You can look up whatever genre of music you want and you can find it. We live in an era where I can go home and record an album…in my house. It’s such a blessing that I think everyone takes for granted. Just because you don’t hear the music you like on the radio, doesn’t mean it’s not being made. I encourage people to dig and look for the music styles they like because we are in an incredible age where a quick search on SoundCloud or Spotify can find something good.
That’s true. Especially when you consider how there was time that musicians had to take lessons, buy instruments, take care of those instruments, and hone their musical talents over a greater period of time. Nowadays, a laptop can turn anyone into an Internet sensation that can compete with radio chart toppers.
Don’t get me wrong, though. It still takes a lot of work. I think it’s the fear of other people that stops us. I’ll tell you right now that I’m not the most talented DJ, guitarist, drummer, singer, or anything. It’s all work ethic for me. I have a little bit of talent and I push it to the limit. And there are so many people probably listening to the music and think, “You know what? I can probably do this.” You can if you work hard enough and that’s the only thing to it.
Well, it’s kind of like exercising a muscle where the more you put work into it, the greater resolve will turn out.
In that case, everybody could have a six pack. You just don’t see it. My tour manager, sitting with us, is an ex-Marine and he works out everyday and I have seen this guy do ridiculous things from working out. But the thing is that’s not a talent. That’s a skill. It has nothing to do with being born with something. Although there are some people born with certain disadvantages, there is no excuse for anybody to not be the best person they can be.
Make sure to keep your eyes and ears active to catch future music and shows from Nitti Gritti. Meanwhile, check out this recap of his performance at Life In Color.