By Jocelle Koh
If we go down the grentperez rabbithole, the first video on the Filipino-Australian singer-songwriter’s YouTube channel was uploaded 8 years ago. On it is pictured a barely-adolescent grent singing acapella to Lianne La Havas‘ 2012 track ‘Lost and Found’, replete with crystalline melisma and all. Grainy with years of pixellation, the unfiltered video nevertheless is enough to show the raw potential of grent as a soulful musician and vocalist even from a young age.
Getting his start as a bedroom musician like many others and now boasting hundreds of thousands of YouTube subscribers and followers, grent’s dedication to his craft has now taken him to stages all over the world; most recently embarking on a world tour whilst supporting Eric Nam in certain venues across Australia. Now 20, despite his star clearly being on the rise, the down-to-earth singer-songwriter who quickly graduated from covers to writing his own oftentimes tongue-in-cheek, oftentimes sentimental tracks still remains tied to his craft with an earnest honesty and his quirky, larrikin sense of humour.
Releasing two acoustic-focused EPs which consistently became runaway streaming successes; Demo(s) About Love (2021) and Conversations with the Moon (2022), it’s clear that the audience grent has cultivated since his bedroom cover days is picking up what he’s putting down. But with his new EP Trail Mix Tape, the different layers to grent’s endearing personality and the changes that he’s facing in his life are put on show; providing listeners with a playful, fun tasting platter which continues to stay true to the artist’s Soul/R&B/Pop roots.
We spoke to grent about the new EP, his ongoing tour, and his creative process.
Q: Congrats on your EP ‘Trail Mix Tape’ and your huge tour that you’re about to embark on! Why the name ‘Trail Mix Tape’?
A: It reflects the songs in the tape nicely. Each is a different genre, kinda like the mix of nuts in trail mix.
Q: While your previous works ‘Conversations with the Moon’ and ‘Demo(s) about Love’ were more on the romantic side, the tracks in ‘Trail Mix Tape’ are a little more offbeat and cheerful. What sparked this change in perspective for you?
A: I think my music will forever be shifting in perspectives, attitudes and even genre’s, this little switch just came with time and new experiences. Like the sadness of Don’t Grow Up Too Fast or the chaos of Ego.
Q: What do you think is the perfect setting for audiences to listen to this EP in? Set the scene for us!
A: A drive would definitely set you right. 4 different emotions all in one trip? Sounds good to me.
Q: I love all the tracks on the EP, but ‘Ego’ makes me laugh every time. Can you share the story behind this song and what inspired its soulful, fast-moving arrangement?
A: Haha! To be honest, Ego had no real story behind. I kinda thought if I were to be this annoying egotistical dude, how I’d hate myself. Also, when people talk about money and success obnoxiously, I immediately zone out.
Q: ‘Day by Day’ is the last unreleased song on this EP which features a soulful, bossa-nova approach which is really fresh for you. What made you want to take the dive down this path?
A: I love my soulful tracks, definitely grew up in the RnB side of things and I wanted to showcase that in my next track. It’s also a little hint of what could come for the future.
Q: What’s your favourite track on this mix tape?
A: Day By Day, DGUTF (Don’t Grow Up Too Fast)
Q: You have a really unique sound. When did you first start writing your own music and finding your own sound? Were there any challenges along the way that you can share?
A: My first ever song was when I was 5 which is on YouTube somewhere (something for you to dig), but never wrote anything after that, up until 2019 when I wrote a Christian song, and I guess I thought “hey, I can do this”.
Q: When songwriting, do the lyrics or the melody usually come first for you?
A: Usually Melody!
Q: What were some of your musical influences growing up?
A: Bread (group), The Beatles, Ego, Chris Brown, Frank Ocean, Musiq Soulchild. To name some of the early influences.
Q: You’ve got a massive tour ahead of you. Are there any cities you’re particularly excited to hit up and check out?
A: Definitely keen for Berlin and Amsterdam! Keen to see the sites.
Q: Do you have any advice for budding singer-songwriters out there?
A: Hit up those melodies, experiment with where you wanna go! In terms of the lyrically, feel and rhythm now come into play, with how some words are very percussive, and how syllables create rhythm. It’s all fun stuff imo.
grentperez’s latest EP ‘Trail Mix Tape’ is available on all streaming platforms on the 30th of September 2022. Get your snacks ready, prepare for a drive and load it up! Follow grent on socials (YouTube, Instagram) for more.