At a time when every imaginable classic rock, funk, and soul record has been used and re-used by hip hop and EDM producers alike, Vibe Street is wading through virtually uncharted waters with an unexpected blend of genres incorporating bluegrass, alt rock, and folk music electrified with synths and pronounced drums to make something truly unique and accessible. He just dropped his second album Home is Where The Heart Beats and we got a chance to talk about the project, his upcoming national tour, and more. Check out our Q & A with Vibe Street and see what he had to say!
Get Em High: For those who might not be familiar with you, explain ‘Grass Hop” and what make’s your music unique.
Vibe Street: So when I really started getting into the festival seen back around 2009-2010, I realized I experienced the most fun and excitement when I was at a heavy electronic music show surrounded by hippie/jam scene people. In short, I loved the feeling of all-out raging and releasing all of that energy into the world while at the same time being immersed in the good vibes that the jam scene fosters. A great example of this was seeing Bassnectar at Bonnaroo 2010, juuust before the EDM scene completely took off. The energy at that show was life-changing and really set me on my creative path in a major way. As my production skills developed, I started playing around with the warm, twangy, feel-good sounds from my favorite bluegrass bands and mixing it with the funky, electronic hip-hop styles I had been creating. The result was something that really caught the attention of the exact audience I wanted to connect with, and the Grass-Hop genre was born.
Over the last few years my style has evolved as I have blended all sorts of sounds and samples, taking the bits and pieces that really make me feel something and blending them in with the bumpin’ style of beats that speak to my soul. I’ve explored corners of the music world ranging from blues to soul and funk, while keeping the bluegrass a consistent piece. The style that I have developed truly allows me to connect with each and every aspect of my inner self without any real restrictions – something I am very grateful for. I’d say what makes Vibe Street most unique is how I choose to blend all of the different pieces together. I like to think when people attend a show they will experience some moment where they can’t believe they are hearing something they know and love mashed together in this totally new and unexpected way.
GEH: Your album new album “Home is Where the Heart Beats” just came out, how long has it been in the works, and what can people expect from this project?
Vibe: The album had been in the works for close to a year and a half by the time of completion. The first tracks were started after my wild experience of playing 5 sets at Electric Forest 2015 (which I drew a lot of inspiration from). The project took a while to finish because things were happening so fast as the project grew – adjusting to being on the road constantly and maximizing creativity took some time and patience. Finally things settled down a bit over this summer and I was ready to put something complete out into the world again. The album is now available for stream and free download and people can expect a lot of feel-good vibes, plenty of new experimentation with sound design and production, and a heavy focus on the grass-hop/future-folk styles. I meant for the 12 tracks to flow in a manner similar to how I like to experience a full day and night cycle at a festival – upbeat, groovy vibes during the day, a little more funk as the sun sets leading into some darker, weirder shit late into the evening, and of course those nice tingly feels to close out the experience as the rainbow sun rises.
GEH: What was different about the creative process on this album as opposed to your first?
Vibe: I’d like to think there’s more true intention poured into this project than anything I have done in the past. The experience of traveling and playing shows as Vibe Street these past few years has added quite a bit to my creative message that didn’t exist prior. When I started out I wanted to make people dance and feel and have a good time, and it led me to make some really fun music that I am incredibly proud of. Now, though, the message is bigger. Over the course of these few years, the fans and the experiences have taught be a true lesson about the magic of this world and what we can accomplish when we understand our connectedness and the power of community. It has opened my eyes to a wider perspective on the issues our world is facing and what we as common people can do to create a reality that we can truly flow and align with. So anyways, with this album I focused on choosing samples that really helped me convey that message, and it will certainly be a major focus of this project moving forward.
GEH: Being heavily influenced by bluegrass and jam music, which generally consists of several live musicians improvising, how do you translate such an organic performance into “pre-recorded” electronic production?
Vibe: Well Nick, you really nailed my number one priority right there, and now that this album is out and off my mind I really have a chance to dig in on this next phase. I am working on developing a new type of live performance that shifts away from me simply playing back my pre-made beats in an arrangement of sorts. It’s something I’ve been aiming at accomplishing for years now, but it’s always taken the back seat to production. It is now my main focus and I expect it to evolve quickly – this upcoming New Year’s show at The Fox and the “Good Vibe Revolution” Tour will certainly be the first tastes of what I have in mind. I want to have more live improvisation, unique setlists between tour stops and all sorts of unreleased edits and bits to keep things extra interesting. If there’s a happy medium between jam band and DJ, that’s exactly what I’m going for, but you’ll have to wait to see!
GEH: Your music is complex, tons of different samples, programmed and live instruments, and live variations happening all at once. Is it important to you that listeners understand all of the elements going into one track, or is it more about them enjoying the polished product?
Vibe: In my subconscious it must be important, haha, because I spend weeks grilling myself on the tiny details of a track that most people will probably never notice… but in reality, all I want is for my music to connect with people and put a smile on their face, or make them feel an emotion they haven’t felt in years, or ever felt before for that matter. If it makes them want to tell a friend “Hey! I found something new and cool you have to check out” or it makes them buy a ticket to a show to experience the community in person… then I am happy and doing my job well!
GEH: You’re getting ready to head out on a national tour in support of the album, any new elements music or production wise that you’re particularly excited about?
Vibe: I touched on this in an earlier question so I won’t bother being redundant… but all I will say it will be different from any shows or tours in the past. Whether you’ve been to 10 shows or 0 shows in the past, I promise you will enjoy yourself.
GEH: As you head out on the road how do you feel about the idea of fans using drugs to “enhance” their experience at festivals and shows?
Vibe: I am all for anyone who uses particular substances in a responsible, educated, tested and safe manner. It’s important to be respectful of the power of certain experiences, respectful of our own physical bodies and respectful of those around us – but with all of that being considered – people are free to make their own decisions in life and I believe we should be allowed to explore this world – both inner and outer – in any way we so choose.
GEH: Ok, rapid fire time. Favorite weed strain?
Vibe: Man that LA Kush from Natural Remedies has always been my go-to for studio productivity… but I gotta say my buddy Colton just gifted me some of this Bubblegum outdoor he grew and I must say that is fueling my New Year’s Eve preparation big time!
GEH: Bong, Blunt, Joint, or Dab?
Vibe: Pass em all!
GEH: Favorite album of 2016?
Vibe: Oh definitely HOKA by Nahko and Medicine For The People. That dude is on a whole nother level right now, and his work is truly painting a picture of where we are in this world and where we are heading. So much respect and love for that album and everything else they do.
GEH: Anything else in the pipeline for 2017? Or any shoutouts etc?
Vibe: Definitely check out the Evanoff boys, our main support for a lot of the tour stops. They rock out like Lotus or Tribe (if not harder), and you will definitely see some guitar sit ins from their main dude JJ, who absolutely shreds. We will also have more dope support and dates to announce mid-January, so stay tuned for that.
Otherwise, 2017 is an open slate for me, so I’m along for the ride with you! We’ll see where this release, this tour and evolving creative vision goes… and I know it will be somewhere beautiful and fulfilling. I just want to continue to grow this community and connect with more amazing people who see the world in incredible ways – we’ll see what we can accomplish from there!
Thanks so much for your time Nick, and thanks everybody for reading. Hope to see you all at The Fox on New Year’s, it’s gonna be a special night! Be sure to check out the rest of the tour stops and I will see all the smiling faces out there soon!