They help emerging talents earn fair representation, they strengthen local communities through the power of music, and on top of that, they’re responsible for some of the most kick-ass singles in the Aussie indie market of late. The Industry Observer talked to the artists behind what is probably the most exciting project in the Australian music industry today.

Established in 2013, GRID is a singular development program designed to give outer suburban artists a platform to craft for themselves a career in the music business. GRID, which stands for “Grass Roots Indie Development” pairs selected novel performers with seasoned industry professionals for one-on-one mentoring sessions, and accompanies them through the process of creating a fully produced track from the development and songwriting stage all the way to recording and release. GRID even produces promotional video content and offers a live showcase to launch the song.

The initiative has been fundamental for the explosion of hot up-and-coming artists like blues-folk performer Matt Katsis, (Busker’s by the Creek Festival finalist in 2018), South Sudanese musician Gordon Koang (winner of the Levis Music Prize at BigSound 2019), Angie McMahon, — who participated with the band The Fabric —, Daniel Elia, Clarissa Mei, Alana Wilkinson, Manorism and many more.

What makes GRID’s special is an approach that focuses on aspects like community support and education, facets that are typically neglected or overlooked amidst the rapid-changing and frenetic entertainment industry.

“We feel GRID holds a special place in the Australian musical landscape,” GRID Series co-founder Ayesha Mehta explains, “our primary focus is to give artists in outer suburban areas the opportunity to access networks, community, knowledge, and skills in order to create really strong work and have a platform to establish music as a mainstay in their lives”

The music industry went through a general period of growth from the mid-’70s up to the end of the XXth century, going from almost one billion physical records sold worldwide in 1974, to more than three billion in 1999, stats that we would never see again.

Napster, the iPod and the iTunes store, the decrease in the price of personal computers, the apparition of easy to use audio-editing software, and other technological advancements disrupted the industry during the first decade of the new millennium, lowering not only the barriers of entry for artists but also cheapening the market value of music for consumers. Before the blast of the Manchester and Seattle scenes of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s that ignited the market’s fragmentation, only a handful of artists could aspire to record their material in the best production facilities and have it promoted and distributed to a global audience. Today, independent artists can record, promote and distribute their tracks without ever leaving their room, with a quality that can rival any top 40 act.

GRID co-founders Ayesha Mehta and Ariel Blum
GRID co-founders Ayesha Mehta and Ariel Blum

The thing is, the number of recording artists is almost unfathomable, producing so much content that it surpasses the current demand. The market has never been as fragmented and saturated, each performer a needle lost in an infinite haystack.

Ironically, all the promising digital advancements that turned the industry on its head two decades ago now have come full circle, bringing us to the same place; you need the support of a major record label with a deep pool of industry connections to put your name in front of the lot, and make your voice heard among millions.

“Our ideal is to level the playing field and give light to artists who may otherwise go unnoticed,” co-founder Blum elaborates, “As the music industry has changed, and less resources are being plugged into artists and repertoire (A&R), we see a place for GRID to work with the industry to help introduce them to artists that may not come across their radar. With algorithms and stats becoming increasingly dominant as a means of ‘discovering’ new music, artists who don’t have that level of presence within the algorithms are to some degree relegated to obscurity. We’d love to work with DSP’s like Spotify and AppleMusic to find a way of giving a further platform to artists who don’t have the runs on the board.”

Similar to what is happening in most industries, right now a relatively small number of players are controlling the vast majority of the market share. According to research by Anita Elberse, Harvard Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, in 2014, the top 100 songs account for almost one-sixth of the total market. That means that of the hundreds of thousands of songs out there, only 0.001% of the offering is generating 15% of total sales.

A separate study, this one by MIDIA Consulting in 2013, found that the top 1% of acts that year earned 77% of all income, (record sales + live performances + licensing) leaving only the remaining 23% of the industry cake to 99% of artists.

GRID is well aware of the state of the current scene, and that is why the initiative aims to provide emerging artists with integral support and mentoring that covers all facets, not only the creation of the music itself but marketing and promotion.

“We’ve found that one of the biggest challenges for emerging artists right now is the pressure to maintain a distinct identity and brand on social media and the immediacy demanded on constantly creating and publishing new content.” Blum says, “Song-writing for many is a place where they can really and channel their own introverted tendencies, to take time to think, process and then reflect their understanding of the world. Artists at the emerging stages are often encouraged to be extroverts, to be loud, to be noticed. There seems to be a disconnect between the space an artist needs to truly develop and the value placed on things like social media followers and engagements.” says Mehta.

Paradoxically, while record sales have been dropping steadily for almost two decades, nowadays people are listening to music more than ever before in history. Streaming, the latest technological disruption to hit the business, takes advantage of the insurmountable catalogue of tunes that exist today and is becoming the preferred channel of music consumption. In fact, after years of decline, streaming has signified a comeback of sorts for the industry, commanding a steady growth path since 2016.

The 2018 report on U.S. music consumption by analytics firm BuzzAngle shows that streaming accounts for around 38% of all recording revenues in the world, and as much as 85% in the American market. A good example is Drake’s fifth album Scorpion, which sold around 500,000 physical CD’s, while getting 6 billion on-demand streams.

The 2019 year-end analysis by Music Business Worldwide (MBW) reveals that the three major record labels in the world, — Universal, Sony, and Warner — collectively generated over $2.26 billion from streaming in the fourth quarter alone, which equates to some $24.8 million each day, roughly $1 million every hour.

Sadly, the vast majority of the benefits of this new bonanza are not ending in the hands of the artists themselves. Even though new digital technologies have allowed the apparition and multiplication of new players in every sector of the music industry value chain, large corporations have used their financial advantage to turn the technological innovations to their advantage. According to the MIDIA industry study we mentioned before by Mark Mulligan, in 2013 just 1% of the total catalogue of songs available in streaming and subscription platforms accounted for 84% of all revenue.

Sure, as an indie, you can post your latest creation on your social media for the whole world to enjoy. But do indie artists have the muscle to reach significant audiences beyond their friends and family on Facebook? In the end, it’s actually harder to break into the scene because even if the barriers of entry have lowered and production has somehow democratized, the big distribution and promotion channels are still in the same hands.

“Our efforts are guided by what the artists are hoping to get out of the program rather than imposing ideas of what success looks like.” GRID co-founder Ariel Blum observes, “Some may want to really level-up and turn music into a career that is their full-time job, some will want to sharpen their songcraft to support other focus points like their activism and social justice work and some artists simply want to give themselves the opportunity to explore their creativity and create new relationships with other musicians.”

The Creative Independent is an initiative published by Kickstarter that serves as a resource of emotional and practical guidelines for the creative community. In a survey they made in 2019 among music industry professionals, they stumbled upon a worrying reality, the majority of respondents didn’t earn a living wage through music-related work. 67% of interviewees said just 20% of their annual income came from their craft.

Not surprisingly, according to the survey, the traditional gatekeepers of the industry, namely label executives, bookers and press still play a decisive role in an artist’s career. When asked what had helped them the most to gain traction in the music industry, 29% of musicians answered “having an in” and 27% said that one of their greatest challenges was overcoming “nepotism/unfair gatekeeper culture.”

One of the conclusions of The Creative Independent’s report was that for musicians, having a supportive group of peers is one of their biggest necessities in the current landscape. The industry desperately needs networks of mentors and collaborators where they can learn from the experiences of others, hone their skills and build relationships. These initiatives are sadly lacking today and that is precisely where GRID comes in.

“With GRID, we like to bring the focus back to the creation of the music and the fostering of a local and loyal community that can support the artist through the early stages of their career as well as facilitating meaningful exchange between the artists and the industry through one-on-one mentorship.” comments Blum, “Since establishing GRID with co-founder Ayesha Mehta in 2013 in the back room of a suburban pub, the program has grown and evolved to be nationwide, however, the guiding ethos around community, originality and creative expression has largely remained unchanged.”

Since GRID launched back in 2013 the initiative has only focused on musicians from Victoria, but for its fifth installment in 2019, the series partnered with telecommunications provider Belong, allowing the program to expand to the emerging music communities in the outer suburbs of Sydney, Perth, and Brisbane.

We got to chat with some of the talented alumni from the class of 2019 about their experience.

Jacki Tut (Outer South East Melbourne)

As soon as you listen to Jacki Tut’s rich alto voice blasting through your headphones you can’t help thinking of Lauryn Hill. The raspy texture, the inflections, the comparisons are inevitable, and Tut herself doesn’t shy away from the connection,

“…the voice, the rasp, the pen, the way she effortlessly dominated both hip-hop, AND soul”… Tut says, “the way her music spoke worth into me as a young black girl, the way she made me see imperfection in live performances as realness and not a weakness.”

Jacki is a South-Sudanese Aussie artist based in Melbourne’s South-East suburbs, developing a fascinating mix of RnB, hip-hop and soul. Her sound recalls the most traditional roots of these genres while feeling incredibly contemporary, imagine a fantastical beast with three legs, one firmly placed in the ‘70s, another in the ‘90s, and another in the future.

“Honestly my pen is guided by what I feel, both good and bad. I find that I’m able to articulate myself best when I sit down and write what I’m thinking and feeling.” Tut breaks down for us her writing process, “So, a lot of the time my lyrics are conversational in nature, either with myself or who I’m writing about. The inspiration can come from something as little as a conversation I had with someone that left me feeling a type of way, or situations spanning months that triggered a deeply emotional response from me.”

Her writing is gentle but direct, oozing an emotional intelligence far beyond her years, a delicate balance between strength and vulnerability. ‘Good For Now’, is the single born out of the GRID initiative, a rich, low tempo RnB tune with minimal brushstrokes of piano that gives it a distinctive jazz vibe and concise beats that take it to the realm of hip-hop.

“The recording process was very different yet a fun challenge for me,” she tells us about her experience with GRID, “Once I got over the initial discomfort of singing in a room of three people staring back at me, I really was just in awe of how Ariel and Allysha Joy were able to transform my lyrics and melodies into something so full and complete.”

The Melbourne leg of GRID 2019 featured Allysha Joy as song development mentor, best known for performing in Melbourne hip-hop collective 30/70. The poet, singer, and producer, made waves in 2018 with her first solo record Acadie:Raw where she showcased in all its glory her impressive husky vocal tone and infectious groove. The album was released through Manchester-based label Gondwana Records and was nominated for “Jazz Album of the Year” on Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide FM and listed in Bandcamp’s “Top Soul Albums of 2018.”

Also accompanying the GRID alumni in Melbourne was the series’ co-founder Ariel Blum, seasoned producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has in his resume collaborations with artists like Cash for Gold, Lara Andallo and Florence and The Machine. As a songwriter and performer, Ariel is also one-half of Australian trip-hop duo St.Ives alongside Anna O’Neil.

“When Ag Johnson (thanks girl!!) from GRID’s western outreach hit me up about this opportunity, I thought it sounded dope and applied. I can’t really compare it to anything, but I would say it’s in a completely different league on its own regardless.” Jacki says about the program, “It’s such a warming feeling to have people see something in you that sometimes you don’t even see yourself, and for them to not just recognise but nurture that and guide us through the ins and outs of an industry that is so hard to navigate… I’ll forever be thankful for the experience. They went above and beyond and continue to do so even now when the program is over.”

Completing the roster of mentors in Melbourne was Neda, part of the veteran worldbeat band Tumbarumba, Millie Dwyer, experienced manager who represents talent like Temgazi and electro outfit MAI, and South African born wunderkind Ecca Vandal, who peaked at 16th place in the Australian charts in October 2019 with the single ‘Exit Sign’ a collaboration with hip-hop group Hilltop Hoods.

“I feel a bit more sure of myself.” Tut elaborates on how GRID has impacted on her career, “The mentorship aspect of the program can’t be something that I overlook as I feel it was an integral part of my development as an artist. There’s so much value in receiving guidance from someone who has done it before you and wants the same for you too.”

Get to know Jacki Tut in three questions:

What is home?

Home is such an abstract concept for me. When I hear the word “home”, I think of South Sudan. Which can be considered somewhat strange seeing as I was born here in Australia and have never actually stepped foot in Africa. However, that’s where I have to give props to my parents for being able to instil the cultural identity and pride I have for my people and my country, amongst the noise of such a new, busy and diverse place like Australia. But in the same breath, Melbourne is home for me too. It raised me, it sheltered me from the struggle so many before and after me have gone through, and continue to go through, and it provided me with so much opportunity. The Jacki of today is most definitely a product of my home here and abroad, so I’m just blessed to be able to claim both places.

What do you think of artists expressing their political opinions?

It’s weird times we live in where one wrong slip of the tongue can lead to your public execution, and so I can’t fault people for being afraid to have an opinion, let alone voice it publicly. On a personal level, I really don’t think every conversation needs my input. I can’t speak for others, but I don’t like to dabble in conversations that I’m not entirely knowledgeable in. There are so many well-informed, extraordinary people at the head of these movements that articulate the opinions of the masses so well. And so, for me, it’s not about “keeping your mouth shut” out of fear, but to make space for those people’s activism in the very loud and opinion-saturated world we live in.

Do you believe music can change the world?

I can’t count how many times I’ve heard people say someone’s music has changed their life. So for me, there is no doubt in my mind about how influential music truly is. I can only hope that one day even one person can say the same about my music too. 

Chong Ali (South West Brisbane)

“Are you Australian or are you Vietnamese? Like, you’re not Australian enough for the Vietnamese and you’re not Vietnamese enough for Australians. What are you?”

Chong Ali is a man standing between two cultures, a musician threading through different sounds. He was born in Carole Park, a multicultural suburb of the City of Ipswich located just 19 KM southwest of the Brisbane central business district. A son of Vietnamese immigrants who fled the war, his upbringing was surrounded by people from different nationalities and beliefs.

“We had like, a whole mix of different cultures. For me, it was normal being amongst Asians, Latinos, Polynesians, Aboriginals…  I wish it could be like that everywhere, you know, a place where it’s kind of normal just to be a bit weird, a bit different. If everyone’s weird and everyone’s different then it’s normal, it’s like you’re not weird or different. You feel right at home.

Chong Ali’s first incursion into the music industry was his debut album Elevate in 2012, released with the hip-hop group EMR. Along with Danny Esco and Paul Lee the crew developed a blistering sound with skillful rhyming and unapologetic, socially conscious lyrics, traits that Ali would carry on to his solo career.

“Growing up I was exposed to different types of music through ‘Paris By Night’, which was a Vietnamese Musical Variety show that my parents use to play around the house.” Chong tells us, “The genres ranged from pop, soul and folk music and artists like Don Ho and Phi Nhung had an early impact on my musical influence. When it comes to Rap, artists like Tupac, Nas and Wu-Tang made a huge impression on my young brain. Nowadays, aside from American artists like Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, I’m influenced by the rap scene in South Korea, Japan, Vietnam and Asian artists in general.”

Imagine throwing into a blender some “boom-bap” similar to what Nas did in the late ‘90s, synth melodies, a bit of Vietnamese folk music, and a touch of trap, and you’ll have an idea of what Chong Ali sounds like. His single produced with GRID titled ‘Laughing Buddha’ is a defiant and vindicating track where he proudly screams to the world that his unique racial background is his biggest strength.

“The main themes that I write about revolve around the Asian Australian identity, the Vietnamese diaspora and the people in my neighbourhood. Aside from that I’m doing the whole ‘I’m the best rapper alive’ thing in as many different ways as possible.”

GRID’s South West Brisbane team of mentors featured experienced engineer and producer Konstantin Kersting — The Church, WAXX, Moses Gunn Collective —, Sarah Chipman, Managing Director of PR Agency Title Track, Nick Lynagh Director of PR and Marketing agency Habit, and Brisbane-based producer Yanto Browning, who has worked with acts like The Art of Sleeping, The Belligerents, and Jac Stone.

Completing the lineup is GRID co-founder and seasoned producer Ariel Blum and singer-songwriter Emily Wurramara, famous for her debut EP in 2016 Black Smoke, which amassed over 1 million Spotify streams, heavy rotation on Triple J and earned her a Queensland Music Award among other accolades. Wurramara and Ali had so much chemistry during the mentoring sessions that she ended contributing vocals on ‘Laughing Buddha’.

“What initially attracted me to GRID was the fact that they brought the program to my part of town. They targeted my community (South West Brisbane) and eliminated every hurdle that we’d otherwise have to overcome to get involved with a program of this nature.” explains Ali, “The recording process of ‘Laughing Buddha’ started with Ariel and I having conversations about what my artistic direction was. We went back and forth with different examples and moods and by the time we hit the studio, we had a solid understanding of what we were aiming for.”

Chong Ali

The Brisbane rapper is probably one of the most experienced artists to make part of the GRID initiative so far. Previously he had played at important venues like Bigsound and the Stylin’ Up Festival, was a finalist in the Queensland Music Awards of 2018 and was featured on the Triple J hip-hop show.

“I definitely pay more attention to the marketing side of the music now.” He elaborates on how GRID has impacted his craft, “Ariel and Ayesha showed me how important it is to have a clear idea of how to present the music after creating it. Then, once we hit the studio and I saw the level that Ariel and Emily Wurramara were operating on, I was immediately inspired to up the ante.

“The whole experience working on ‘Laughing Buddha’ was a masterclass in professionalism and artistry which I have since incorporated into my own process. The biggest artistic thing I do differently now is making sure my performance matches the energy of the song and using subtle performance details to enhance its whole mood.”

Get to know Chong Ali in three questions:

What is home?

“Home” to me can mean a couple of things. “Home” can mean a place where I feel loved and at ease with my family, which would be my physical residence. This feeling can extend to the immediate surroundings of my neighbourhood where I see familiar faces in the community and feel safe around them. On the other hand, “Home” can mean an overwhelming sense of belonging that your spirit innately gravitates towards. This is a feeling that I felt visiting Vietnam for the first time as a young child. I remember the feeling of being “Home” even though it was the first time I’d ever set foot in my parents’ homeland. In saying that, I guess South West Brisbane is where I live, but Vietnam is how I live.

What do you think of artists expressing their political opinions?

Growing up, it was unavoidable for me to constantly compare the way my parents interacted with Australia to the way the rest of the majority interacted with Australia. My parents clearly faced limitations due to their circumstances and watching them overcome every type of adversity, whether it was social or economic, shaped my outlook. This was one of the main reasons I gravitated towards Rap music early on because I resonated with the social issues that the artists at that time rapped about. It wasn’t a conscious decision for me to be “political”, I just wanted to express myself as authentically and as unapologetically as those artists. I don’t have a problem with public figures not giving their political opinion, that’s their business. But seeing what my parents went through and knowing how much work it took for me to be heard, good luck trying to get me to keep my mouth shut.

Do you believe music can change the world?

I absolutely know that music can change the world. Music has the power to bring people together, create communities, shape culture and influence the minds of people young and old. Music decorates moments and triggers memories that release endorphins making the world around us a better place.

Flewnt (Outer Perth)

A brilliant storyteller with a lightning pace, Josh Eggington, AKA Flewnt is a Koreng Noongar rapper from the south of Western Australia who has made of activism an essential part of his artistic persona. His music is not only a vehicle for aesthetic exploration but a means to homage his culture and strengthen his community.

The musician collaborates with the Dumbartung Aboriginal Corporation, a grassroots advocacy agency that works to mitigate the trauma associated with historical government neglect and active policies of dispossession, displacement and religious disinheritance against the Nyoongah community.

“I’m influenced musically by a lot of old school rappers but also loving and developing my style around the new hip-hop we hear today.” he tells us when we’re chatting about his music and influences, “I write mainly about my culture (Noongar) and my lived experiences. Also, I speak a bit about the things I see happening around me in this world.”

In 2018, he released the track ‘Kya Kyana’, a heartfelt, anthemic homage to his culture and people, accompanied by a video directed by Poppy van Oorde-Grainger that makes part of Beyond Empathy’s Excursion project, an organization that seeks to transform communities through the power of art.

The song racked two awards at that year’s WAM Song of the year competition, the main prize in the hip-hop/urban category and the Outstanding Indigenous Award.

“I chose GRID because of the great work I heard they had been doing and their uniqueness.” he explains, “GRID opened my eyes to the bigger picture of being an artist and understanding what I need to do to become a more successful one.”

The Outer Perth sessions featured in their mentor team RnB sensation Jamilla, who earned four nominations at the 2018 WAM Awards, Perth hip-hop veteran Beni Bjah, the first Indigenous person to win the West Australian Music Song of the Year and experienced stage performer who has opened the stage for seminal acts like Grandmaster Flash, RZA, and Cypress Hill, plus prominent booker, manager, and director of 360 Artist Logistics Hayley Ayres.

Additionally, they counted in their ranks with Matt Johnson, label manager at Walking Horse,  with a roster that includes bands like Denise le Menice, The Ghost Hotel and The Love Junkies, and producer Anna Laverty, who has worked on releases by Florence and The Machine, Bloc Party, and Depeche Mode at London’s famous Miloco Studios. And as always, there’s the multifaceted producer and GRID co-founder Ariel Blum behind the whole operation.

“If I hadn’t found GRID, I wouldn’t have the great connections that I do now with the awesome artists I meet there. Our friendships now go even beyond music,” he says.

Get to know Flewnt in three questions:

What is home?

With my family, friends and my people. Home to me is safe and I only feel safe when I have those 3 things.

What do you think of artists expressing their political opinions?

I believe musicians are obligated to give their political opinions no matter what they might be.

Do you believe music can change the world?

I believe it can greatly influence the world to consider change or inspire those capable of changing it.

Srisha (Western Sydney)

“I come from a history of genocide as well, I’m a Tamil and my parents fled Sri Lanka because of the genocide, so I think a lot of Tamils can resonate with the genocide and the history of indigenous people here in Australia”

Srisha is one of the most exciting up-and-coming hip-hop artists of the underground scene of today. Combining angelic singing with fiery rap, the Australian-born Tamil performer is developing a sound that’s almost impossible to classify, jumping between English and Tamil in her lyrics and incorporating traditional rhythms from Sri Lanka that flow seamlessly alongside contemporary electronic beats.

“Like I knew that I wanted to do music, but I didn’t know what content or direction I’d be going.” Srisha recalls, “Then as I was doing slam and spoken word I found there’s a lot of people that resonate with what I’m saying. Like it’s obviously not just me that’s feeling these things or seeing and  understanding these things happening in our society.”

Srisha

She first caught the attention of the public with a series of fire-spitting performances at the Australian Poetry Slam in 2017 where she snatched the title of Champion in Sydney and NSW with incisive, politically charged verses full of outrage and truth. Afterward, she went on to win the Bankstown Poetry Grand Slam at Sydney Town Hall also taking the People’s Choice award. Her success prompted her as a sensation in the poetry circuit, with performances at the Sydney Writers Festival, Carriageworks and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

“People have been so supportive in my community, rocking up to my event. You’ll see that a lot of them are from my community, and they’re hyped to see that someone that looks like them is doing what she loves… their opinion means a lot to me.” she says about what inspires her, “A lot of the things that I talk about in my music, I’ve drawn from conversations that I have in these communities.”

Among the team of mentors in The Sydney was multi-awarded musician Ngaiire, known for her album Blastoma from 2016 which peaked in ARIA’s Top 50 that year and earned her a place in Triple J’s Hottest 100. She has won four National Live Music Awards, the APRA Professional Development Award and various other nominations including the J Award Artist of the Year.

Also contributing as a mentor was Hannah Joy, singer, and songwriter of the hit band Middle Kids, winner of the prestigious J Award for Album Of The Year in 2018 and nominated for ARIA Best Rock Album.

GRID Sydney also had Melody Forghani, seasoned manager and director of the independent artist management agency twnty three and Ben Pierpoint, owner of management company Maximilian Brown, which has in their portfolio artists like Wallace, Little May and Ngaiire.

Alongside GRID co-founder and showrunner Ariel Blum, the Sydney sessions counted with Antonia Gauci on production duties, one of the most coveted sound engineers and mixers of the Australian industry, with credits that include artists like Will.I.Am, MOVEMENT, Vallis Alps, and Mansionair.

“Both my parents have a huge passion for music, my dad used to sing a lot and used to get us involved in community events and stuff. He’s very passionate and has always nurtured us to explore our creative side. So yeah I guess he does influence me to follow my passion.”

To support the Western Sydney leg the 2019 edition, GRID partnered with the Information and Cultural Exchange (I.C.E.). and their New Age Noise program, an initiative that works with female, transgender and non-binary youth offering free training in electronic music production. Four alumni from their program had the opportunity to sit around and shadow superstar producers Antonia Gauci and Ariel Blum during the recording sessions, getting an enviable peek behind the scenes of a professional studio environment.

In just under a decade, the GRID initiative has turned into the most important point of convergence in the local industry between aspiring artists and seasoned professionals. It serves not only as a factory of outstanding singles, but as a window for different communities to express themselves and make their culture known to the rest of the country.

“At a grassroots artist level, we’re living through a really exciting time in the music industry today. In each city we go to, we have been experiencing the depth of the music bubbling under the surface,” comments GRID co-founder Ariel Blum, “the stories yearning to get out and the way the work of the artists so often positions place, identity and community firmly at the centre of their expression.”

“It’s pretty wild to think we are getting close to 10 years… as a goal to achieve by our 10th anniversary, we’d love to facilitate stronger links between the artists across cities and foster new collaborations between the artists we work with.”

To close our chat, Blum and Mehta send a piece of advice to all of those musicians wanting to apply to the next installment of GRID, “We have always been attracted to artists who see the value of building strong communities and supporting their fellow artists. Just be yourself and take the time to fill out the application. We read every single one to really get an understanding of who you are as an artist.”