Marshmello on his first nomination and why “it’s going to be a party no matter” who wins
Editor’s Note: In this series, billboard dance interviews every 2022 Grammy nominee in the dance/electronic categories before the 64th Annual Grammy Awards on April 3 in Las Vegas, NV.
Bass, tech house, and Jersey Club have historically had little to no representation at the Grammys, but this year Marshmello is bringing all of those subgenres through the front door via a nomination for Best Dance/Electronic Album. for his LP 2021, Shock wave.
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The album, a dozen tracks formed from a multitude of styles and made alongside a host of collaborators, gave the Los Angeles-based star her first Grammy nomination. He’s up for the award alongside other high-profile first-time nominees Black Coffee, Major Lazer, Ten City and Illenium – who together mark the Grammys by recognizing a group of actors who have long been at the vanguard of their scene and their respective .
Here, the producer explains why he wants the Grammys to get even more expansive when it comes to electronic music, and what he’ll be doing to celebrate after the awards in Las Vegas this Sunday.
Where was Shock wave done, and how long did it take to do?
Shock wave was made right at the start of the pandemic and quarantine, in Hollywood, at my old house. I obviously wasn’t on tour or anything, so I was just at home, so it also took me like three months back and forth.
Who was the first off-album collaborator you played it for and what was their reaction?
I was in the studio working on something else, a studio that wasn’t my home, and I remember playing it for friends and people I was working with on music. Like, “Yo, I have some ideas for this album; that’s the direction I’m going. Their response was really great. I also showed my manager, Moe [Shalizi]. I’m very deprived of my music, even for my close team, until I get to a point where it’s like “Okay, I could release this right now”, so I was just showing them excerpts here and there. Then I delivered the whole album at once, finished.
This album was, at least a lot of the drumming, very hip-hop inspired. On “Fairytale”, on “VIBR8”, there is only hip-hop drums. I just wasn’t sure how they would take it – because, you know, Joytime III was more pop-punk, and Joytime and Joytime II were more my old style. So I wasn’t really sure. But the response was great and I was really excited.
Did you know that the special album was special or a “hit”?
I can only hope to be nominated for the Grammy Awards. I try not to think too much about the music I put out. I just think, “I like that, I think that sounds really good, I’ll put it out.” That’s where my mind went in this album. Don’t think about it too much, just do what I want to do.
What were you doing when you found out you were nominated?
I woke up and looked at my phone. I saw… I don’t even know how many texts. The whole screen was full. I had to scroll down. I was like, “Oh my god, what happened?”
why do you think shock wave oneappealed to Grammy voters?
I’d like to think because it’s a wide range of genres within the electronic dance music genre. That’s what I was looking for. With my other albums I wanted to focus on a certain sound, but with this one I was working a lot on hip-hop beats and doing this and that in a bunch of different genres and I was like, ‘What I just did try this?” Because even when I play my sets, it’s very multi-genre.
One thing that stuck with me constantly during the process of creating the album was listening and thinking, “Can I play this live? Would it be live? Some of my other albums were intentionally more relaxing or just more musical. If you look at my live sets, I play every song from Shock wave. They are all there.
The collection of albums nominated in the dance/electronic categories this year is sonically very diverse, from house to future bass to bass and beyond. What’s your take on disparate styles of dance music competing against each other in the same category?
Yeah, you know, that’s the great thing about… I don’t like to say “EDM”, but let’s just say “into EDM”. I think it’s really representative of the diversity of the whole culture. Like you said, there’s house, there’s future bass. I’m obviously proud that my album was chosen, because it’s diverse in itself. I sort of represent several genres. Personally, I listen to a lot of genres in general, so it’s kind of in my blood to do that. I also listened to a bunch of favorite artists, and went to see their sets when I could. I just knew I could create something with anyone I love, regardless of gender, and make it work.
In this category, this is the first nomination for you, Illenium, Major Lazer, Black Coffee and Ten City – why do you think it took so long for such an established group of artists to get the nod ?
I am not sure. I’m close to most of the nominees in the genre. I feel like we’re all just a little… not shocked, but a little like, “Whoa.” We are all very grateful. I’ve been working on this for a long time. We’ve seen all the waves of EDM, you know what I mean? I just think everyone who is nominated has a place in electronic dance music. Everyone who has been nominated represents their genre very well. We definitely have a sound and we stuck to it and kept doing it, doing it, doing it.
Is there anything you would like to see the Grammys change, evolve or grow in the way they handle electronic music?
It goes back to what I said before, that there is a lot to explore in EDM. [I’d like to see] the Grammys really get into the nitty-gritty of EDM, producers who may not be the greatest, but who really put a lot of passion and time into their works. We are so many.
If you had the chance to perform during the telecast, what would you do?
I’m obviously a producer, but I always really like to get my hands on it, whether it’s guitar or drums or something. I might do a rendition of one of my great songs with a band.
What’s the best Grammys after party you’ve been to?
I don’t even remember.
Are you going to Vegas for the show?
If you win, how will you celebrate?
I’m just super happy and grateful to be nominated and to be able to be nominated. I’m actually playing XS that night, so it’s going to be a party, whatever.
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