By Calli Ferguson | August 7, 2023
📸: shot by Calli Ferguson

As the sun set on a perfect evening in Central Park, grentperez performed a vibey, hour-long set for a joyous crowd. The singer/songwriter’s blend of jazz and indie always evokes a warm feeling and by the end, our cheeks hurt from smiling so much. The band seemed to feel the energy too, dancing along with us at Central Park’s SummerStage.  

grentperez is a Sydney-born musician who originally rose to popularity on YouTube and quickly built up a lovingly dedicated fan base, as well as a discography of original music that blends jazz, indie-pop, rock, and R&B. Following the exciting release of his latest album, When We Were Younger, grentperez has been bopping around the world, performing wonderful live shows for the Bittersweet Daze tour. We got to hear him along with a line up that included Ricky Montgomery, Mvmtoon, and Cavetown. 

From the radiant positivity, the way the band vibed in the evening sunshine and the smooth reverb of his live sound to the way that Grant played gleefully as he messed around with the audience, the performance perfectly encapsulated the carefree feeling of a warm summer evening. He had us head banging and encouraged us to “breathe in… breathe out… let’s party!” Towards the end of the set, Grant gave the audience permission: “If you want to be funny and start a mosh, feel free,” and then performed “Cherry Wine.” If you know the song, that’s quite a silly thing to say.  

These were just a handful of the moments that brought the SummerStage audience together in joyful smiles, dance, and laughter. We only wished the set could have gone on longer. We’ll be marking our groovecal for the band’s return to NYC in the fall.  

Before he took the stage in Central Park, we sat down with Grant, and he answered a few questions for the groovement. 

How are you feeling about playing SummerStage?
I am very thrilled, and I’d say honored, to play. I’ve been to Central Park before, but I’ve never actually seen SummerStage. So it’s gnarly to see!

You have a few dates left on this tour – how has it been so far?
Yeah. So far, I cannot complain. I had an up-and-down with my voice and whatnot. But I found my nightly routine. And I’ve just been recovering night after night, so it’s been good. 

Any highlights of the tour so far?
San Fran right at the start of this little tour was crazy. Doing that show was nuts, because I think I do have a pretty established fan base there as well. The road was crazy, and the drive to Utah was nuts! 

How are you getting around?
A little van! Sleeping in hotels, so we sleep in luxury and comfort… not really luxury but comfort!

How long have you been in the city?
Just yesterday, we watched the Yankees game! 

Did you play a show last time you were in the city? 
Yeah, I did! We played Mercury Lounge. But actually, I got this [Yankee’s hat] in November over a little holiday with my girlfriend. Yeah, it was a very good time.

Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started in music?
Yeah! I grew up around a lot of music–listening to music for sure. My siblings listen to a lot of Usher, Neo, Musiq Soulchild, and stuff. But my dad listened to Eagles, Bread, and The Beatles. So I grew up around a mix of the two genres. My siblings always sang covers and played guitar. I was like, “I want to do that.” So I picked up the guitar at 14 and started writing my own music at 17 or 18. And then YouTube: I was doing that stuff, and I guess I just gained a community. So I was like, “Screw this. I’m gonna drop out of uni. I’m gonna pursue music.”

Was there a particular moment or event that made you decide to drop out of university?
There was a little bit of a moment. There were two factors that came into play with this. One of them was Covid because it started going into online classes. And I’m like, “Screw this. I’m not paying however much I’m gonna pay to do this.” And then when I submitted one of my group tasks, it was like a group assessment, right? I understand why the teacher said this, but her feedback to me was, “This was the weakest link from the group.” So I just dipped.

Do you remember the first live show that you played?
Yeah! So, there are two examples of this one: I think the first ever show I played was just me and my guitarist, Timmy. It was a weird venue. That’s why I don’t really count it. It was our first gig together. We played in front of maybe 80 people at an artist showcase night, but the location was inside of a Masonic center, which was pretty interesting. But the first ever “gig” gig I played was actually a festival called Groovin’ the Moo back in Australia. I played all four of the Groovin’ dates. That was nuts. My setlist consisted of all of my songs. And it was fun. It was my first taste of live stage stuff. 

How did it feel to play your songs live for the first time?
It was weird in the sense that it’s very similar to performing live online. That’s the way I look at it at least– but the only difference is–comments are actual live reactions. 

Do you remember the first live show that you saw?
The first live show I saw was a dude, 88rising, Rich Brian. Oddly enough, that was my first-ever concert. I think it was 16. We moshed. I was pretty deep in there. Two of my lenses came off my glasses. And then some dude saw me on the ground and he was like, “Make room make room!” And I found it and held it up and everybody was excited. 

Can you tell us about your new EP, When We Were Younger? What was the process of writing it like?
Yeah. So the process of that was mixed. It was everywhere that I could get the chance to write, so there’s a mix of songs. They’re from Australia, from the UK, and from the US. But the idea stays constant: the whole idea of nostalgia, and memories, and getting back to how things were. Because I think during Covid, all I could do was really reflect on myself and what was around me. And I was starting to realize that things were slowly changing. Whether it be career or age. My friends were losing time for me. I was losing time for them. Same thing with family. So I thought it was just important to connect.

That totally comes through in the album. And it feels true of your 20s– that things change so quickly. 
I think what’s interesting is that with every decade almost, there’s a period of reflection and moving on. When you’re 30, you’re gonna think about your 20s. 40, you’ll think about your 30s. 

And was there anything that felt different about this project compared to previous ones?
Yeah, I think this one felt very thought out, I’d say, conceptually. Listening back to the music, I love it. There are always going to be a few things that I wish I could have adjusted and whatnot. But I think this album is definitely more thought out. 

We know you like to blend different genres – if you were to describe the vibe of your sound to somebody who had never heard of it, what would you say?
The way that I’ve been saying it is like indie jazz. Because it has those elements of a loose, raw indie vibe, but musically and melodically can be very jazzy. So I’d say that’s how I describe it. I could be wrong!

And where do you draw inspiration from?
In terms of artists, I’d say Rex Orange County comes through. I’d love to have Frank Ocean as one of my inspirations. Also Bread, The Beatles, even Bon Iver, and Norah Jones. And then I guess with life, the human experience is an interesting thing to talk about. I’d love to talk about it more in my music, to be honest.

How do you speak to the human experience in your music? 
I think what I try to convey in my music is the feeling of whatever I’m trying to write about. Sometimes I don’t really directly speak about it or have direct lines that go about it. But it’s about capturing the moment and the feeling of what that feels like. I think that’s an important thing.

What’s your favorite thing about performing live?
My favorite thing is messing around with the audience. I love getting them to say, like, “Can I get a ‘blah blah blah’?!” Like: “Can I get an ‘I love you Timmy’?!” Just the other show in Cleveland, I was getting them to wave their arms. And then during the periods when I was just singing, they had their hands down. There was this one person that was dancing by themselves. And I was like, “I like that… everybody!” So that’s my favorite part.

Do you have any pre-show rituals or routines that you always do?
Me and the band and I kiss each other’s hands. So we go in a circle and we all “mwah mwah mwah,” and then we all clap, and then we all work out. I always do like 20 push-ups before we go on. 

If you could play at any venue anywhere in the world. Where would you play?
Oh, man. Playing MSG would be crazy. If not, doing The Greek in LA as a headliner – that’d be nuts.

Awesome. And what else is coming up for you?
I’ll be back here during the fall. Gonna go throughout all of America. I believe it’s 21 shows. That’s gonna be exciting. Hopefully a Christmas song by end-of-year. And we’re working on the new album.

Is there anything else you want people reading this to know about you and your music?
I’d say if you enjoy what I’m doing: Thank you. Truly. That’s ultimately what I want them to know. A lot of love in that. Thank you. 

There’s a lot of positive energy in your music and among the people who love it for sure. It’s a really radiant thing. 
Exactly. I think so too. 

Connect with grentperez on Instagram, Spotify, and TikTok.

📸: shot by Callie Ferguson

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