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Grandtheft on Finding Balance Between His Inner DJ and Producer

In the mind of Toronto-based artist Grandtheft, the two roles he occupies as DJ and producer are further apart than most would venture to guess.

“I think it’s my natural state to be producing in the studio. I can just write music by myself for 16 hours and forget to eat. But I do love DJing,” says Grandtheft. “It’s like yin and yang though — I think that a lot of people think of [producing and DJing] as they go together, or they’re the same thing.”

Having garnered acclaim for working behind a laptop and mixing board as adeptly as he does a turntable (or these days, a CDJ), the man born Aaron Waisglass distinguishes his approach for his two disciplines in a surprising manner.

“They’re like the opposite parts of my brain or the opposite parts of my personality almost… I’ve kind of learned to be able to go out and perform and learn to love it too. But my natural state, I think, is just to be writing music by myself.”

In the face of any now-extinguished trepidations or frayed nerves behind playing to large crowds, Grandtheft has become a live hit. Having DJed for “15 years or something,” the last few of those years have seen the Canadian-born producer’s profile expand exponentially. For anyone seeking a palate cleanser from contemporary EDM, last October’s Quit This City fits that niche nicely. The EP, which saw Grandtheft dabbling in dancehall and other left-of-center musical stylings, has helped the artist become something of a favorite among the Mad Decent crowd. Even with the confidence and artistic certainty that comes with an ocean of Soundcloud plays and several Mad Decent Block Parties, Grandtheft will be the first to admit that in his nearly two decades of doing what he does, he’s had to adjust his approach from time to time.

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“I used to think of it like, I show up and I perform my stuff, and let’s see how they react to it. I’ve realized now that the special thing is the kind of give-and-take that you have with the crowd,” he says. “Sometimes, I have to pull myself out of it and say, Hey, just step outside of it and appreciate how crazy it is."

That synergistic give and take will be on full display tomorrow at Rec Room, where Grandtheft will be accompanied by an opening set from Florida-based DJ Chizzle. According to Grandtheft, this will be his first club show in Miami in quite some time, and he’s eager to extract the strong emotions that make for a transcendent and memorable night out.

“I try to dig a bit deeper,” Grandtheft says of his live sets. “I’m trying to make music that makes people feel something. Even if it is club music, something that connects with people in a certain emotional way… I think that all my songs do that, even the hype ones.”

Grandtheft with DJ Chizzle. 11 p.m. Saturday, August 27, at Rec Room, 1690 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 786-975-2555; recroomies.com. Admission is free. 

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