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An Interview With Eric Griffin Jr.

Eric Griffin Jr. is a very recent addition to Kansas City's music scene. While not having played many shows here yet, his smart pop songwriting and cool, laid back feel make him an excellent candidate for next KC artist to grab some national hype. Eric told me about his recording process, his musical past, his favorite KC bands so far, and more in his first ever interview below!

Where are you from and what part of Kansas City do you live in? Do those places play roles in your music?
I'm from Greensboro, North Carolina. Now I stay in the Midtown area of KCMO. They've absolutely played a role in the music I'm making. I spent the first eighteen out of around twenty years of my life in Greensboro. My parents are both pastors which shocks most people who know me, but I was singing in the church choir as soon as I could talk. I've been in KC for a year and some change and that's really where the idea of me making music as "a thing" really became a reality. The material really writes itself in that regard. It's all just a reaction of being here. It's a lot less complacent than my experience in North Carolina. Shit's more stirred up here.

Ever get compared to King Krule or Mac DeMarco? What do you think of them?
All the time. I'm a fan of both. They both were in the mix of what I was listening to that made me initially get into playing guitar again. I was focused on a lot of other instruments and ways of making music for a long time. I feel like a large part of the comparisons come just from listening to so many of the same artists. Also not having seriously recording music until January 2015, I think a lot of my stuff that I was releasing at the beginning of the year was especially reminiscent of their work, kind of a starting point for finding my own sound. They're kind of like the Guthrie to my Dylan, but not as intense. Mac DeMarco actually snuck me and my friend into one of his shows when he came to North Carolina, so I've got fond thoughts about him.

What musicians inspire your work and are they the same ones you listen to on a regular basis?
Harry Nilsson, Joanna Newsom, Daniel Johnston, R Stevie Moore, Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen, '50's top 40 hits, Brook Benton, Aretha Franklin, Howard Hughes if he made music, Brian Wilson. Some days they're the only ones I can listen to, especially Nilsson. I like to fall sleep to Joanna Newsom. I can get really trapped into listening to the same things over and over again just from being obsessive. The same goes for movies, which have just as much influence. I'll watch the same movie every night for weeks at a time.

What made you want to change from making hip-hop instrumentals to guitar-based pop songs?
I still make hip hop instrumentals, but that's just shit I get psyched on. Y'know, like just music to get hype on and geek out on about production. I love it, but playing guitar and pop music is my makeup. That's the shit I breathe in and out everyday. It doesn't make any sense to me really, it's just the best feeling I've had so far. It's like walking in the snow for and hour and getting butt naked in front of the fire.

"Cherry Coke + Weed" is a standout track. What inspired it?
I was back home in North Carolina for Christmas and I was just really into this girl, who had a boyfriend and even if she didn't, I was only in town for a couple weeks, but the song's just pretty much saying if we were together it'd be like having cherry coke and weed together, two great things that you never really think of going hand of hand but then it's like damn, this could be the life, getting stoned and drinking cherry coke. It's a pretty basic idea. I also don't really drink soda so maybe that says something in itself.

You shift between using live drums, no drums, and electronic drums on your songs. How do you make the decision on which way to go?
It really comes down to what's accessible to me at the time. Everything besides "Pick Ur Sinking Ship" and the new tape, "Go Home, Kid." was recorded in a college dorm room at the mercy of my friend who owned all the equipment I was using, which I was cool because it really got me used to churning out songs and recording them in spans of 2-3 hours.

Is writing and recording your music a laid back or intensive process?
It's so laid back. It's the best. I love it. I do it all in my room so I just zone out for hours on end working on shit. When I was recording in the dorms, it was the only time I never thought about cigarettes. I could go for personally unprecedented amounts of time without a smoke, just from being so wrapped up in recording. Now that I record in my bedroom it's a whole new story. You can probably hear me taking drags on the new tape.

What was it like working with Wiener Records for this EP?
It's very hands off so far. It's pay to play so to speak. They emailed me and were kind of like "you should make a tape with us." They're a subsidiary of Burger. Anyone can be on it though for a fee. The biggest factor in me working with them was a buddy who believed in me and kind of just bestowed me with the money to afford it. I'm a big fan of Burger and bands that started on Wiener so it's really cool to be even slightly in cahoots with that whole gang.

How much time went into preparing "Grow Up, Kid" versus your past releases?
My whole life. This tape is my coming out party as Eric Griffin Jr. No bullshit, no trying to be anybody else. I really found my direction with this tape and I think it shows. I've always been very personal in my writing, but this past summer especially, really just made me sit down and write and record. Once I started that part, it took no time at all.

Why do you choose not to promote your music that aggressively?
I'm lazy and I thought I was [laughs]. No, I guess because it's so personal but necessary. I'm making music for myself, but I share it for myself too. I want people to hear my music, it's my only way of communicating a lot of things, especially the things I feel more strongly towards, but I like the idea of them stumbling onto it. It's the people I don't know personally who excite me. They have nothing to base it off of, so maybe they're getting more of the picture than the people who have their own ideas of who I am or what I'm trying to say.

Do you think the "bedroom pop" genre is oversaturated due to the ease of recording it?
Probably. That's just a tag I slap on my shit to say it's low fidelity. I'm making pop songs in my bedroom, it's as close as I can get. Genres are dumb and barely even exist anymore. What kind of music is Randy Newman or Nilsson? I don't know. It's all music. You like it or you don't, but it's all music. I can make stoner metal in my room if I want to. At the end of the day it's still Eric Griffin Jr.

What local artists would you like to play with in the future? What's your overall opinion of Kansas City music?
I'm a big fan of Organized Crimes. Anything Ian Teeple is involved in most likely rules, but I'll say The Fog. I love Bummer and it would be pretty funny to see us on the same bill. Tech N9ne would be tight. Anyone who's playing bebop jazz if I can keep up. KC's cool. There seems to be a good amount of people who all kind of swim in the same waters. I think the art scene in general has a good pool of youth here. There's a lot of healthy hunger, I think, but without the sacrifice of a community.

Anything else you want the people to know about you?
I guess to anyone paying attention, just know you're watching a baby take his first steps. There's a lot more to shit to come.

Eric Griffin Jr. On Facebook

Eric Griffin Jr. On Bandcamp

We will be streaming Eric's new EP "Grow Up, Kid" as soon as it's released, so keep checking back!

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