GRiZ is about to head out on tour — but before he does, he’s sharing an exclusive, inside look at his brand new, immersive production known as The Imaginarium.
Inspired by the classic film Fantasia, GRiZ is bringing his greatest musical vision to life as he embarks on the second leg of the Ride Waves Tour. It’s more than just custom visuals and dope lasers — it’s about connecting to the music in the moment, as much as humanly possible.
As GRiZ mentions in the interview below, it’s difficult to describe or define The Imaginarium. It’s better to just experience for yourself. He also talks Bangers (and even IDs a couple for us) and lets us know what we can expect with the upcoming tour.
Watch here and free your mind! Scroll down to read the full interview.
GRiZ – The Imaginarium
Let’s talk The Imaginarium, because there’s a lot of fans out there right now wondering what to expect…
Yeah, so there’s this concept for the show that I had. At first, I didn’t know that it needed a name. I didn’t want to put it in a frame. I wanted it to be a user-based limitless experience. When you start defining something then you start creating boundaries for it. If I’m gonna talk about a rainbow and I’m like, “Well it’s as big as a skyscraper” — then you have your own imagination of a skyscraper and it kind of becomes defined.
I didn’t really want to talk about it until I had something to show people. So, it was like working on producing the production and the show that goes beyond the show just being a blend of music. I really wanted to focus on what it felt like to be there and be in the presence of the moment. I wanted it to be as interesting and fresh feeling as it possibly could. I’ve seen a billion shows and I’ve played a billion shows — and I wanted to play a show that nobody had ever experienced from me before. Something that was completely new, that felt like transcending some sort of expectation.
So, I worked with my production team on this show for a few months. Using the Spring tour as a way to flesh out ideas and coming into this Fall tour and out of our Red Rocks show — this is the best version of a GRiZ show that we’ve ever been able to put together. Something that’s beyond just custom live visuals, something that’s beyond pyrotechnics, something that’s beyond confetti blasts, something that’s beyond 30 lasers on stage, something that’s beyond custom fabricated staging. Something that was, instead of these lifeless things being in a structure and working around them, using imagination to bring this entire thing to life.
It feels like a living organism. The show is a movie, it’s a play. It’s a living play. It requires the audience and that feedback creates this whole new living organism thing. It’s finally something that I felt like I could label, put a frame around, and conceptualize and say — this is the idea. But, from there, I can’t really describe it anymore. You just have to see it for yourself.
Would you say your last show at Red Rocks is the most accurate representation of the new tour?
Yeah, definitely night two — that’s the show we’re bringing on tour. The show has a specific time code to it so that we can do certain things that you couldn’t do without it. So we can have people appear and disappear on stage like magic. You just don’t get that at a show. This is Broadway-level shit.
Can you educate us on the pad device you’ve been playing during live shows?
So, it’s this program. It’s essentially a midi controller that I invented. It’s just a blank screen and I invented this mapping so I can have it control whatever I want. It controls everything from playing dubstep noises to playing drum samples, to controlling the mix; it has filters on it, delay effects, it launches clips — so that’s the brain of the show. It has helped me think about performing a song outside of a computer, like clicking around on a computer. I really wanted to present what I’m doing musically, outside of the box.
The vision, what really inspired the look for it, is Fantasia. There’s this old movie called Fantasia and there’s a director and he’s up on this podium and he’s framed out in black. Behind him, all the pit musicians of the orchestra. So, I get to be the wizard director! That’s what I wanted to do.
How will your Bangers series play into the new tour?
For me, going to shows was about dancing and finding a space to fit in. Not even fit in, but just to lose myself within the music. In times of struggle, I turn to music as a source of healing. As a safe space to return to. At the real base level of this music experience, dance music is my safe space. Dance music is the place where I can completely lose the outside world and be completely focused in on something that’s beautiful and brilliant and awe-inspiring and just captures my fucking soul!
And, that is the essence of the bangers’ incorporation into the set. It’s gotta be there! I love dance music so much. That’s the type of shit that I freak out for, so… There’s even more new music that just got released that’s in this set. And, I’m holding onto a few gems that you can only hear live right now.
Speaking of which, there are a couple of banger IDs we’ve been wanting to ask you about… Would you mind ID’ing them for us?
BANGER #1 – What is that?!
Play it again! [laughs] Ahh! Whamp! Bamp! Bamp! Yeah, yeah!
So that is a secret — the most secret of the weapons! A long time ago my buddy Lane was showing me this song and I was like — “Yo, that’s dope, let me work on it.” So, I completely flipped it around. That’s the last drop of this song called “It’s A Wang” by The SHiZ, which is me and Shooka’s project.
Will it be released? Yeah it’s gotta be released! It’s a more like trippy bass song and I think there’s definitely a spin for it. We’ve got plans to release more music in the future, of course. I feel like if Bangers 1, 2, and 3 exist, then maybe 4 to infinity exist, too, ya know?
BANGER #2 – That one is so gnarly!
Ok, yeah! Dat da nah nah nah, nah nah nah!
I can’t give you more info on that yet. But, I was in Europe in Madrid. I was playing this music festival and I was kind of off on my own listening to bands play. This band came on and played that riff — da datla datlat da nah nah nah, nah nah nah — and I was like, “Oh my god, that’s so sick! I wanna flip that so bad!” So, I did and that’s what that is. It’s a flip of this band.
The acronym for the song is “TKFC.” It’s a really ridiculous name, so I just don’t wanna drop it yet because it’s fucking hilarious. So, yeah — it’s a acronym — and it’s definitely my favorite song I’ve made in a long time.
It feels super GRiZ, but really the future version of it. So, I feel good about it. It’s got that kind of electro soul vibe, but not really, kinda dubstep, but not really. It just scratches those kinda vibes for me so I’m hella stoked on that shit!
I’ll be playing it on tour though foreal…
One more for you — How do you get into the right headspace to go on tour?
I just want to make sure that I’ve petted my roommate’s dog enough, just because I’m not gonna see him. So, I’m hanging out with Harvey. I’m making a lot of art right now. There’s nothing left I can do for tour, like I’m practicing saxophone and making some other new music — some more Bangers. But there isn’t much I can do. I’m just trying to be super healthy, meditate a lot, do a lot of reading. Trying to really slow my life down before it gets — in the touring cycle I feel like I go through a month in a week’s time. I’m trying to enjoy the moment, hang with friends, and summon up the best of vibes going into this tour.
More: GRiZ Drops Bangers.zip EP | Photography by Jason Siegel