Do you ever see an artist profile where they say that someone is the hardest working producer/artist in the game? A lot of times that can be hyperbole, but when it comes to Nitti Gritti, there is nothing inaccurate about that statement.
Ever since bursting onto the scene five years ago, Nitti Gritti has steadily continued to rise to prominence in the EDM world. The Miami-based producer/DJ, real name Ricky Mears, has always embraced all genres, and now it feels like he has a hand in everything. Whether making mainstage and dubstep bangers, making vibey house with Sidepiece, or dabbling in the Latin realm and winning a Grammy to boot, Nitti Gritti has proven to be one of the most prolific producers in the game.
We recently got the chance to have a brief chat with Ricky at this year’s HARD Summer. We discussed how he first got into music, his latest double single “I’m Feeling Good/Guest List,” his various side projects, and the return of live music. Check out our interview below.
What’s up Ricky! Thanks for chatting with us. First off, give us a little bit of your background, how’d you first get into music and production? What did you want to be growing up? How’d you wind up where you are now?
“I feel like the first thing was just, I was in bands, playing rock music. I led worship, I was in church bands, stuff like that. And, then when I found electronic music, like deadmau5, Skrillex, earlier than that, 08-10, all that type of stuff was just influential to creating music. So I was like alright, let me see if I can fuck around with some electronc music, and it was really bad for a long time, I stuck with it, and eventually it just got better.”
Tell me about your latest single “Guest List.” First off, it goes hard, how did you come across the collaborators? How did you fuse dance and trap like that?
“I’ve known shndo, he’s my brother, I’ve known him forever; and then Chase is this kid I met through Tik-tok, he’s just a dope rapper, and we just linked, and we actually did the other song, “I’m Feeling Good” which released first. And we kinda just had a session all together. And I just always thought about when I heard drill, the rap shit that came out that was based off of UK Drill. I was thinking oh, when Americans do it, they kinda just make it like trap. But, I felt it would make more sense to make it UK bassline, so that’s kinda why I went that route with the song. So it’s like UK drill mixed with UK bassline but with American producers and rappers. But I was trying to more homage than just complete rip-off, my own version of it.”
You also have a ton of side projects. How do you have so much time? Tell me how you b2b Wuki became a thing, and how did Sidepiece become a thing? Did you expect it to get so big?
“So I mean, to answer the first question, there really isn’t ever enough time, so you just kinda go in and around it and do the best that you can with the time you have. That was another one, me and Diplo started in writing camp, and it just sat for like a year. And, then when I talked to Dylan about making a group, we showed each other a record. He showed me ‘Temptation,’ an earlier version. And, I showed him ‘On My Mind,’ and we had a couple of house songs already made, and when we came together we just decided that we should release them as one group, and it made way more sense, and obviously it’s paid off.”
When you’re producing, you have so many different styles and side projects. Do you ever feel like you have to stick to a certain style, or need something specific that makes it a Nitti Gritti production, or do you just go for it, full send?
“Not usually, I feel like Nitti Gritti specifically is always been able to do whatever I feel like as Nitti Gritti is what I want to put out. Now, because of Sidepiece, I wouldn’t really touch in the tech-house area because that’s already exactly what that’s doing. But, almost any other genre, that’s what Nitti Gritti is for, it’s for being, just always have fun with it, and play broad sets, have broad sense of music. It doesn’t matter if it’s rap, or even Latin music, whatever I can get my hands on, I’m down to do it.”
Also, you’ve won a Latin Grammy. Tell me about the song you worked on and how that feels?
“I work with Diplo a lot, I have a publishing deal with Mad Decent. So, we’re always just working together, sending beats to random people. And a couple of years ago, he said, yo, do you have any beats for Bad Bunny? So I sent something over, and it worked on something, and it ended up being 200 MPH, so it ended up being on X 100pre. And it’s just a massive album, won the Grammy, got my plaque for it, it’s like 10x platinum, really dope.”
How does it feel to be playing the first festival back in Southern California?
“Great. I got lucky, I played both the first ones, I played Day Trip and now I get to play HARD. It’s great because I got to play my house set, and now I get to play my b2b with Wuki and then I have a Corona set later, so it’s just incredible. I really actually playing different sets, because I have so much shit I want to play, it’s almost better for me to have that many sets so I can actually express it out.”
Other than working on tons of music, what did you do during the pandemic?
“I enjoyed my free time, I didn’t do shit. I played video games, got fat, ate food, relaxed, slept in. All the stuff I can’t do now that I’m back on tour, and I’m going to miss dearly, I did that. So, now I’m finally back out of it, I deleted Call of Duty off my computer. We’re all back and up and running. But, quarantine, it was a necessary relaxation for me in a sense. Just cause touring so much, I feel like every DJ was like, oh wow, the first three months were great, and the last seven months, it’s like, alright, we’re over this.”
There’s only so many live streams you can do?
“Yeah, we’re all over that shit. They’re fun, but, Jesus.”
What else can we expect from you for the rest of 2021?
“I’m doing a lot of double-sides, like A/B sides, like Stay/What You Wanted, the one I just put out Guest List/I’m Feelin’ Good, and then I have these other, two or three doubles coming soon. So, it’s been really fun, all the shit I made during quarantine, we just were like, let’s put it all out every two to three weeks. We’re back in festival season, people are going to hear the songs, they’re going to enjoy it, that’s all that matters. It’s not really to overly push it, go super-radio, it’s just to have the music out there for people to enjoy it.”
Any other words for the fans?
“I’m just happy that people are back, and now I can actually say in an interview, and now I can actually say in an interview that I’ll see you guys at a show, so that makes me happy.”
Check out the latest from Nitti Gritti, “I’m Feeling Good/Guest List” out now on Hush Money records?