Directed by Travus Copeland & Edward Dignan. Edited by Travus Copeland
Grill Billyenz is a rapper with an ear towards the future, creating a unique sound that's hard to categorize but oh-so easy to listen to. The Normal, IL artist embraces left-field songwriting and production for tracks that can move mysteriously or pound with noise, moving in any direction as long as you least expect it. He's premiering a new track and visual today with These Days called "Cush", loud and fast and way different, an excellent introduction for new listeners to the mind of Grill Billyenz.
"Cush" is in your face at a speedy 1:30, and the frenetic pace plus wild visual make the track a repeat watch and listen. Grill Billyenz owns the whole thing, going to the conservatory and bringing the listener in with his charismatic performance. The whole track vibes, and Grill Billyenz keeps every second of "Cush" interesting. The song is produced by Liz, who was responsible for some amazing beats on Nnamdi Ogbonnaya's Drool project (also out on Sooper Records), and who uses a banging array of drums and synths to keep it moving.
His music has continued to become more experimental since his Lucille 13 project, and his last release 5 was far from conventional as well. "Cush" is a look at his upcoming project Freak, due on 4/20 this April, and is sure to be an entertaining and thought provoking listen. Liz and Grill Billyenz have worked extensively, and he produced all of Grill's Freak project, including "Cush", indicating that Freak is sure to be a wild ride.
For the new listeners, who is Grill Billyenz?
He's my alter ego. My nom de plume. The other me. He's Billy Yenz aka Billy Whiz Kid. The part of me that will never grow up. The part of me that understands that I was put here to create and will forever do that 'til I am no more.
Where are you from, and how did you get your start in music?
I'm from Normal, IL. Born and raised. I've always been an artsy kid. I went to a lab school so music / art / performance was always encouraged. I didn't start making my own music until I was in high school. I think I just been an audiophile my whole life so music/sound has always been a thing. But, in terms of what we're talkin' about now...sophomore year of high school. Friday nights; my cousin and our homies, in a basement, freestyling over everything old and new. We decided we wanted to get serious about what we were doing. Started putting together projects as a group and solo. Doing every weekend in town at a house on campus or at the coffeehouse. Treating the shit like the musicians we were looking up to at the time. All that. It's been like that since 2007-08 but things have expanded.
How would you describe your and music and its influences?
My music has been described to me as a Dali painting. A carefully crafted collage words about an idea or thought. It's escapism. To be honest, I almost feel like I just warp in and out of different art movements and write according to what my eye is feeling. So something like Freak is like me on my Bauhaus shit. I'm applying the same concepts a painter would to canvas but I just write it in words. It all just becomes one. Most of the influence is just from the art movements both literature and visual. Shell Silverstein is one of my favorites. Influence wise from music, I'm cut from that: Ghostface Killah/Raekwon, Psychodrama, Def Jux, Galapagos4, Dr. Seuss, Toonami, Rap City (Big Tigga era), Get Rich or Die Tryin', Portishead, Bad Brains, Tony Hawk Underground cloth. I'm an android. The mainframe got all types of data on it. When it loads up, it comes out sounding like me.
There's a lot going on in "Cush", and the track came together in a great way musically and visually. What was your goal with the song and video?
Song wise, I wanted to make a catchy-ass song witta bounce. Short, sweet, to the point. I wrote that song when I was living out in California. Kush is everywhere. But, in my years studying "botany", I've always found it funny how much people like to talk about their...flowers. So, being in Cali, that's all day. I'm like "I get it!" So I wanted to write some quick shit about that. Then video wise, I just kept saying how I didn't want to hit people over the head, I'm sure they'll get it. Let's just try to put a spin on it a bit. Customize the idea in a way. Lifestyle type shit. I just wanted to have a lively looking visual to compliment the song. I was geeked when I saw it all come together.
"Cush" was a look at your upcoming project "Freak" - what can you tell us about that project?
Freak is a body of work that my friend, Liz, and I have been sitting on for close to 3 years. It was written during a period of life where I was going through some of my lowest lows and highest highs. I say that in the most literal sense possible. We've gone back and forth with this one and it finally found a home with our friends over at Sooper Records. We're thankful to finally be apart of a family of musicians that believe in what we do and vice verse.