With his unique production touch, Bear Grillz has quickly made a permanent home in the culture of bass music over the years, and it’s hard to ignore the massive imprint he’s made. In fact, it’s even harder to \ wrap up the current year without paying massive respect to the man, as he’s been one of 2017’s busiest artists.
In addition to having recently capped off a massive two-month tour of sold-out shows across the country, featuring promising producers like Dirt Monkey, Kompany, and PhaseOne, Bear Grillz has also brought back his very own and original stage production called “The Void” that has pulverized every city it’s been welcomed in.
To get the inside scoop on all things regarding the tour as well as a glimpse into what the New Year holds, we sat down with the grizzly beast for a little Q&A.
First and foremost, how was the tour? Looks like it was a blast!
It has been an absolute blast! There are obvious challenges of living on a bus for two months, but I try my best to surround myself with like-minded people to make the experience as enjoyable as possible.
You’ve talked a lot about how you’ve made sure this tour is bigger and better than the last. What kind of changes have you made?
I had a complete overhaul of my stage. The last stage (“The Void”) was basically 3D projection mapping, which is a cost-efficient way to get some good graphics. My “American Freakshow” stage was actually built from trussing and we used high quality LED panels and we added lasers in there. It was a difference of over a million dollars for the new stage versus the old one. Plus, I added fur to my helmet, which was my favorite part!
Tell us a little bit about how you came up with your stage design.
I knew I wanted to use LED panels. I wasn’t able to on “The Void” tour because of cost, but this tour I wasn’t going to let that stop me. Secondly, I wanted to create something that wasn’t just a big LED wall, so I focused on creating a perspective where if you looked at the stage from the dancefloor, it would almost look like a vortex of frames that surrounded myself in the center. From there, my production team did an amazing job building it from my vision. I really owe them (Wood Street Productions) a lot of the credit for making this idea come to life.
I can only imagine the amount of hard work that goes into putting together a tour like this. What kind of atmosphere are you trying to create for your fans with each show?
The bigger the brand grows, that allows me more creative freedom. My ultimate goal is to create an actual experience for people who come to my show. Aside from wanting them to leave sweaty and with a broken neck, I want them to have a unique experience they have never gotten from going to a concert. I want to be able to tell a story with my visuals and music.
What is it like going from an opener to headlining your very own tour?
I kind of wish I was still the opener! [Laughs) Just kidding! Things were a lot simpler as the opener. As the headliner, I’m responsible for paying everyone’s paychecks and that is a bit tough to manage when you know you’re responsible for putting food on everyone’s plates.
Aside from wanting them to leave sweaty and with a broken neck, I want them to have a unique experience they have never gotten from going to a concert. I want to be able to tell a story with my visuals and music.
Let’s take it way back. How did you come across EDM and how did you realize you wanted to become a full-time producer?
I actually started a company called INTO THE AM. I used to promote shows locally around Los Angeles. My first EDM concert was in 2010 when I produced a show for Steve Aoki, actually. From then on I knew this is what I wanted to do.
Do you feel as though you’re offering the same support you got that helped propel your career to the artists you brought along on tour?
To be honest, I try to help out the support guys as much as can. We often talk about marketing and doing things the professional way. I think there’s a certain expectation from fans that all DJs party from city to city. To me, that is hardly the case. I admit, I like to have a few Jameson and ginger ales here and there, but for the most part I am more focused making sure things are running smoothly. I give myself and 100% of my energy to the tour so there’s not much time other than meeting fans, playing my shows, and keeping up with marketing myself.
You’ve brought along some really talented openers. How do you go about picking certain artists to join you? Take us through your thought process here.
PhaseOne and I go back a few years from my first tour in Australia. To me, he is one of the most talented and unique dubstep producers/DJs right now. His blend of rock-infused dubstep gets me all fired up inside every night.
I love Dirt Monkey’s sound! It’s like an old-school wobbly dubstep that I love so much. His music is the perfect transition to PhaseOne and myself. His sets are bounce and fun and then PhaseOne and myself get on and kill the crowd. [Laughs]
Kompany is one of the better up-and-coming guys you’ll find anywhere in the world. I love introducing new talent on my tours, just like we did with Wooli on “The Void“ tour.
All three of these guys were my friends before the tour as well so, it was an easy decision.
Take us through a typical day on tour.
Wake up on the bus and talk with everyone about how fun the previous night was. Annoy my tour manager for a bit. Then my girlfriend Ashley and I will get some breakfast and then start figuring out the day.
I am that artist that is always trying to do everything. I’m always walking around and talking to people everywhere. We typically get into a city around noon, then it takes the crew about six hours to set up the stage. It can often feel like Groundhog Day since the routine is the same every day. I like to explore and eat at my favorite places in every city. Then I usually get to work. I always make sure to set up my own gear, have one last look at the merch booth to make sure it’s set up the way I like, and make sure to be in communication with my tour managers about any problems or concerns. Once the doors open, I always walk around the show and talk with the fans who come to see me. This is probably my favorite time of the show. Something about being able to connect with everyone and hearing their stories is such a humbling experience. I like to connect with them this way because if I wasn’t a DJ, I would be in the crowd with them.
What are your Top 3 tour essentials?
PBJ, Jameson and ginger ale, iPhone chargers.
Was there anything that was particularly special about your LA stop?
I grew up in Long Beach, so I actually got to celebrate Christmas with my family, which I was looking forward to. Obviously to play in front of my hometown crowd was awesome as well!