If you go
What: Marty Grimes; with Chandler P; Spit, the Kid
When: 8:30 p.m. Thursday, doors at 8 p.m.
Where: Domino Room, 51 NW Greenwood Ave., Bend
Cost: $15 plus fees
Contact: midtownballroom.com or 541-408-4329
At this point, Berkeley, California, rapper Marty Grimes is still probably best known for his connection to hip-hop hitmaker G-Eazy (born Gerald Gillum). Grimes came up touring with G-Eazy, and the two are frequent guests on each other’s tracks — they most recently collaborated on Grimes’ “SIKE!” from last year’s “Cold Pizza” mixtape.
But armed with new management and a new album in the works, Grimes is ready for his moment in the spotlight. Last year, he headlined his first tour in support of his “Martyjuana” mixtape. He kicks off his second headlining tour, in support of “Cold Pizza,” at the Domino Room on Thursday.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: You’ve been asked a lot about your friendship with G-Eazy, but your collaboration with producer KDE (Kevin Beggs) stretches back almost as long — most of your tracks have been produced by him. How did you guys meet and start working together?
A: That’s my boy too, man. I met Gerald back at high school, so we were friends since 13 years old, and that’s who I started making music with. But I met Kevin literally four years later in college (SAE Expression College in Emeryville, California, where Grimes earned his bachelor’s in applied science for sound). So when I was in college doing that thing — production, sound, et cetera, engineer — we just fell into music and kept creating alongside with getting stuff done for class. … We pretty much became really good friends, and man, his beats and my music, it works so easily. We both have the same dream. But also, he only produced one track on “Cold Pizza.” I met up with Breakfast N Vegas, my boy Curtis (Austin). … In literally one weekend — three days — we knocked out like six tracks — six bangers — and then I came back again the next weekend, we did another four or five and then man, that’s all she wrote. We got a lot of work done quick.
Q: The “Martyjuana” mixtape felt more introspective and personal, whereas “Cold Pizza” brings the party. It feels like flip sides of the same coin.
A: Correct, you got it 100 percent. And at the same time — I did make “Martyjuana,” I’m not gonna say on my own, but me and Kevin have always wanted to put 100 percent substance into it. And me growing up listening to who I listened to and just being a fan of music and art so much and just creating it, I’ve always wanted to try and give the most substance possible and get as personal as possible. I don’t want to say — I’m not too much of the new school where it’s definitely more party, but I mean, everybody wants to have a party, so I can’t be mad at that. So for (“Cold Pizza”), I was like, let’s just have a little bit more fun with it. I’m not gonna say I did less thinking, quote-unquote, but it was definitely a different vibe. … And I sang a lot more on that one, because with a new producer — man, Curtis took me out of my element. He also helped me learn new ways of using my voice.
Q: Not just “Cold Pizza,” but all your music seems to have a strong melodic bent to it. Who inspired you with singing?
A: My mom — my mom is actually a singer. She’s in like a rock-funk Brazil band with my stepdad — she sings, he plays electric guitar and they do a bunch of fun gigs for businesses and small-cap venues. Her voice is crazy and I listen to her music all the time, and that’s just always my motivation to try and sing. And I did choir in elementary school, so I had a little bit of training in the beginning, but basketball took over. I know if I would have stuck with it, my voice would probably be a little bit better. Not to mention I burn a little bit, so I’m sure that’s not helping my vocal chords.
Q: So music has always been a big part of your life?
A: Yeah, yeah, and a lot of people don’t know that my grandmother is a professional violinist as well. She played for Million Man March, she did some gigs with Xzibit, she’s flown overseas with John Handy doing old-school jazz stuff. I used to play the trumpet with her when I was 8 years old. That’s where I got stage fright kicked out from, because I would be performing in front of thousands of people, this little kid with his trumpet doing the same loop.
Q: Any desire to play some trumpet in your shows now?
A: I would be trash at this point, man. That’d be embarrassing.
Q: I take it you don’t play anymore?
A: Not anymore. It stopped — once I got to middle school, high school, I was all about basketball. Even with music — me and Gerald made music in high school, but I was still on the team up until my junior year, where I just got a job and life kicked in, quote-unquote. But basketball was always the passion, and then when I got out of school, I seen how much I enjoyed music, how much it revolved around my life and was just a calling. I just literally fell into it and created what I created from it now.
Q: You’re working on new music, correct?
A: Yeah, I’m working on (new album) “Berkeley” right now. It’s funny because we were talking about singing — so far it’s been like six R&B tracks. So we’ll see how that goes. Right now we’re just coughing out ideas and getting music made. I’m working with more new producers, once again pushing the envelope, seeing where I can go. And yeah, so far what we’ve produced is a lot of R&B tracks, which is funny, but they’re fucking hot. I’m excited. I’m gonna balance it out no matter what, but it’s just funny how much more I keep pushing and pushing towards the singing.
Q: You actually joke about making an R&B record in your latest single “SIKE!”
A: That’s what’s funny about it, because I was serious when I actually said that. Me and Kevin were joking and I was like, yeah, I’m never gonna make that album. And then we’re making these tracks and I’m like, yo, this is exactly what I said I wasn’t gonna do.