Grum talks homecoming with ‘Heartbeats: Ten’ and Deep State plans [Q&A]
A lot can transgress in ten years: Grum’s journey is testament. While most acts opt to warm up their careers with the warm-up treading of singles, the Scottish producer unabashedly catapulted his way onto the electronic scene, armed with a full-length as his inaugural artist debut in 2010. The seminal studio album, Heartbeats, would come to be recognized as a body of work in conversations with Daft Punk’s Discovery and Mylo‘s Destroy Rock & Roll, claiming a beloved arena of genre-blending innovation. A decade later would find Grum with a flurry of chart hits, his sophomore album Deep State, and his own imprint, Deep State Recordings—all of which, serendipitously positioned him for a highly-warranted homecoming.
Marking the ten-year occasion with a re-release of his debut LP, Grum welcomes both old and new sonic identities with Heartbeats: Ten. Enlisting Tinlicker and Paul Thomas for two brand new remixes, the Deep State label boss juxtaposes cutting-edge progressive styles with retro learnings in the latest repackage. Although 2020 signals a new era for the house producer as he continues to diverge from his early roots, Heartbeats lives on.
Dancing Astronaut chatted with Grum about the significance of Heartbeats, future plans for Deep State Recordings, and his original inspiration behind album tracks. Read the full interview and bonus questions with Tinlicker and Paul Thomas below.
Congrats on a decade since debuting Heartbeats! What motivated you to revisit the album?
Grum: Thank you. I recently got some of the rights to that album back, and with 2020 being the 10 year anniversary it all fell into place quite nicely for a re-release on my own label.
How did the release of Heartbeats go on to shape the evolution of your sound and career?
Grum: In some ways it gave me a great launchpad for my career, as initially debuting with a full album rather than singles is a great way to establish yourself. I was big into the 80’s sound back then, and that’s a theme that has always ran through my music in varying degrees.
What’s in the funnel for Deep State Recordings?
Grum: Coming up after Heartbeats: Ten, the next big project will be Deep State Reactor, a mix compilation of fresh new artists I’m loving. There will also be a couple of long awaited ID tracks by me on there—definitely one to keep your eyes peeled for.
How did the remixes from Tinlicker and Paul Thomas come about? Was there a particular reason why you tapped these specific acts to remix those tracks?
Grum: They are artists which I admire and have both been doing really great stuff for the past few years—Tinlicker with their album on Anjuna, and Paul with what he’s done with FSOE UV. We’ve also played loads of events together, and for that family vibe they were the perfect artists to ask.
Heartbeats: Ten is a tribute to the old, yet also a showcase of the new. Is this a brief re-welcoming of the retro sound you honed in on in 2010 or can we expect more?
Grum: In some aspects yes, I am feeling somewhat more inspired by those sounds these days than I have been for a while. But in a new way—a mixture of 80s, prog and trance perhaps? Watch this space.
Looking retrospectively back on Heartbeats, can you provide commentary on each of the original tracks you chose to include on the new package?
“Through The Night” – Probably my most well known track. Everyone seems to remember the video, anyway! This one was constructed around a sample from one of my favourite 80s bands, Toto.
“Cybernetic” – I vividly remember the idea for this coming to me in the middle of the night. I jumped out of bed and had to get the idea down there and then.
“Heartbeats” – Another of my most well known ones. Definitely a guilty pleasure, and very of its time.
“Want U” – I dabbled with some slower disco sounds around then too, this one was inspired by groups like Imagination.
“The Really Long One” – An ironically titled disco-to-acid journey— DJ tracks were a bit shorter back then.
“Transport” – This was originally an iTunes bonus track with the album. You can tell I was deep into Italo disco around this time.
What approach did you take in transforming this signature Grum track?
Tinlicker: We always try to look at tracks from a different angle. The original has this great 80’s feel to it and its hard to top that when you try to do the same. So we decided to do something else and gave the track bit more “Drive” with this running bassline.
Paul Thomas: I actually had a couple attempts of remixing this. I wasn’t happy with what I delivered first time round which leaned more towards a late 90’s techno vibe. The original is a great track and I just didn’t do it justice. So I went back to the drawing board and worked out what parts really fit with my “normal” vibe and out came this remix.
Favorite aspects of the original? What components of the original did you want to highlight with your remix?
Tinlicker: We love those 80’s inspired strings in combination with the vocals, so we tried to keep that feeling in the breakdown, but wanted the drop to be totally different from the original.
Paul Thomas: The original has a wonderful 80’s/disco feel to it and I knew the synths were always going to be the key part and focal point of the whole remix as soon as I heard them. I wanted to compliment it with the arp and pads I used to create a more epic feel to the breakdown which seemed to marry together really nicely with the main synth hook.
Featured image: Youd Photography