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A deep dive into Gratuit’s sound

Born in America and raised in Europe, Gratuit is an electronic music artist known for his sophisticated blend of warm organic and darker synthetic elements.

Photo credit: Gratuit – Official

His sound, forged in the vibrant clubs of Belgium and honed in the bustling music scene of New York City, elegantly bridges the gap between dance floor intensity and melodic sophistication.

As a co-founder of Undermind, a prominent electronic music collective, event business, and record label, Gratuit has been instrumental in hosting numerous electronic music shows at iconic venues across Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Now with a solid base of support in New York and an ongoing residency at Bloop London Radio, Gratuit is set on broadcasting his signature sound to the entire globe.

EG recently had the privilege to sit down with Gratuit, delving into his latest release ‘Movin’, his early fascination with house and techno, and his future plans in the electronic music sphere.

EG: Hi, Gratuit! Welcome to EG. It’s a pleasure to have you here with us again. Where are you at right now? How have you been?

Gratuit: Thank you for having me. Currently, I’m sitting in my London studio finishing a batch of new tunes for this summer, while also preparing my setlists for a few local shows this weekend.

EG: First of all, congratulations on the release of your latest single, ‘Movin’’! You must have been excited to be able to share this one with everyone. What has the initial reception been like so far? Do you remember the first time you played this one live?

Gratuit: This was one of the earlier tracks I ever produced and it’s a great feeling to finally have it out in the wild, given the positive reception. I first played it at a large event in NYC that was hosted by my artist collective, Undermind. The party was located in the massive dining room of China Chalet, a – now-closed – dim sum restaurant by day / underground club by night, which was the type of place that could only exist in NYC. That show was right before COVID-19, and while the following months and years were not easy for anyone, the memory of that night and the crowd’s reaction to this tune specifically helped get me through the pandemic.

EG: So, what can your fans expect to find on ‘Movin’’? Is there a concept or trigger driving this one? What was the creative process like for it?

Gratuit: ‘Movin’’ merges two distinct musical concepts that have since become somewhat of a signature in my other productions: hypnotic synth leads and driving grooves. The story of the song is told in three parts, with an aggressive undertaking at the start fueled by a rolling sub bassline and sudden stabs, cut in the middle by a melodic and transporting arpeggiator breakdown, with all elements crescendoing together at the end helping the listener to piece it all together. There’s another unreleased original of mine featured midway through my new EG Spotlight guest mix where I strive to do something similar, with both synthetic and tribal elements.

EG: And why did you decide to go with Undermind Records for its release? Did you already have a previous relationship with the label?

Gratuit: Undermind Records is the label offshoot of my artist collective, Undermind, with day-to-day operations being run by my dedicated partners back in NYC. The label was launched in 2021 and features a wide range of Melodic House and Techno talents across the U.S., Europe, and Latin America. Given that I premiered the song live at an Undermind event, the namesake label only seemed fitting for the release.

“Electronic music has always been a passion that has transcended financial incentives while providing a larger sense of freedom from other challenges in life”

EG: How did you get your start in electronic dance music? When did you first start producing your own tracks?

Gratuit: I started DJing when I was growing up in Belgium as an American kid at the age of 16 while my parents were expats. At that time, I had never encountered House or Techno music in my home country and was immediately keen to get involved. Since I grew up speaking French as a second language while going to electronic events, this influenced my choice of stage name, Gratuit, which means “free” in French, usually in a monetary sense. For me, electronic music has always been a passion that has transcended financial incentives while providing a larger sense of freedom from other challenges in life. As for production, I did not immediately spend time in the studio, but over recent years this has become a critical focus for me. I have several new releases planned for the near future.

EG: You’re also behind your own residency for Bloop London Radio. How did that come about? What can listeners expect to find in these sessions?

Gratuit: I moved from NYC to London a couple of years ago and joined the Bloop London Radio family shortly after. It’s an incredible, fully independent station in central London, focused exclusively on electronic music, and run by a talented and passionate group of individuals. The slate of residents is impressive – a coveted roster of labels and clubs is represented by the regular DJs – and the station also attracts top-tier international talent for live guest performances. Stimming was here just last week for instance.

EG: What do you think the future of electronic dance music looks like? Are all these innovations and big-screen festival performances bringing us closer or farther away from the music? Have we lost something along the way?

Gratuit: In general, I think if audiences are after something specific such as big-screen festival performances, then by all means I’m for having that happen. Personally, I tend to prefer somewhat more intimate events with a curated crowd and a greater focus on sound with less emphasis on visuals. Many of my most memorable nights, both as a DJ and a member of the audience, have been those with minimal lighting, and often in some of the smaller spaces – but great sound is always non-negotiable! I hope that both types of experiences can continue to coexist moving forward.

EG: It being such a hot topic, how do you feel about the recent implementation of AI in the creative side of music? Have you explored any form of AI recently? What’s your relationship with that like?

Gratuit: Definitely a hot topic! I wouldn’t say I’m an AI expert by any means – both generally and musically – but my quick take is that if it’s a tool that artists can use to enhance their musical creativity then great, but if it’s a tool that can simply replace artist creativity then maybe less great.

“I tend to prefer somewhat more intimate events with a curated crowd and a greater focus on sound with less emphasis on visuals”

EG: Finally, can you provide some insights into what’s next for Gratuit? What can we expect from you in the coming months? Where can your fans catch you next?

Gratuit: This summer, when not playing local events here in London, I’ll be heading back to Ibiza for a couple more shows, and possibly another night or two back in my hometown NYC.

EG: Thank you so much for your time, Gratuit! See you on the dancefloor!

Gratuit: Great chatting with you and thanks for having me!

Gratuit’s ‘Movin’’ is now available on Undermind Records. Stream and download here.

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