It’s the last class of the day at St. Patrick’s High School in Ottawa, Ontario, and Julian Gramma is supposed to be working on an essay plan. But instead, he’s on his laptop negotiating the best prices and sending files to paying artists.
While the majority of his high school peers spent their days studying for the next math test or practicing, Julian spent hours creating beats, often making music all night until dawn. . At the age of 14, Julian officially adopted the moniker J Gramm, while selling beats on the now-obsolete online platform, SoundClick. In addition to monetizing his production, he frequently attended evening studio sessions at Belly’s. By the time of graduation, J Gramm had earned a number of solid production credits and made a bold move by moving to Los Angeles just a week after being called up.
Fast forward to now, at 27, J Gramm has worked with some of the biggest names in hip-hop like Travis Scott, Kid Cudi, Young Thug, Kodak Black, Pusha T, Eminem, Denzel Curry, Lil Uzi Vert. , Lil Gotit, Lil Keed, and many more. Outside of hip-hop, he is featured on tracks with Bon Iver and Britney Spears. In 2013, he captured the interest of the general public after producing two of Travis Scott’s first hit singles, âUpper Echelonâ and âShit On Youâ. In 2016, J Gramm produced Shelley FKA DRAM’s world hit âBroccoliâ with Lil Yachty, which peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard charts and was certified seven times platinum. Most recently, J Gramm was one of the architects of the highly anticipated Kid Cudi The man on the moon III album, helping in the production of “She Know This”.
With the advent of the internet age and the interweaving of social media with the music industry, it is evident that producers are now presenting themselves as artists. Many sign agreements and joint ventures with record companies to create their own imprints, house artists or release their own projects. In contrast, J Gramm, as a Grammy-nominated producer and diamond seller, has kept an extremely low profile on social media and the internet.
We caught up with J Gramm to learn more about the mysterious Canadian producer and his journey in the music industry.
What is it, man? How are you?
I’m fine, my brother. Thank you. Right here working, as the pandemic is now calming down more here in LA
Good to hear. I’m jealous. The pandemic is currently mad here in Toronto. Either way, let’s get right to the point. When did you go from being a simple listener to a music maker?
That moment definitely came when I first saw Soulja Boy YouTube Fruity Curls tutorial back. After watching this video, I went down to a production burrow and learned a lot from the YouTube videos and articles.
[Laughs.] I swear Soulja Boy needs his flowers! It’s awesome. How do you approach working with so many different artists? Would you say you have a distinct sound?
I wouldn’t say I have a signature sound. I’m just trying to be absorbed into the world of the artist I’m working with. When I work with someone, I like to know what they are listening to, what fashion they like and what they are going through. I really do my best to enter the mental space of the artist. I think that’s when the best work is created.
Dope, man. Toronto being the epicenter of the Canadian music industry, have you ever lived there?
No, I didn’t. In 2012, I felt there were more opportunities for me in the United States. After high school I saved enough money selling beats online to move to LA
I hear you. It’s amazing when you really put that in perspective. We have now seen several waves of Canadian artists and producers doing their thing globally. Are you connected with the new line of artists from Canada?
Yeah, that’s great to see. Honestly, with the world slowing down briefly, I had time to familiarize myself with things that are happening in Canada. I’m definitely watching now.
What was your first internship when you arrived in LA?
Probably Travis Scott.
How did it go ?
He contacted me on Twitter and we started working.
Word. Twitter was definitely the place to be for online networking in the industry at the time. As you were previously a product of the digital age, you currently have two posts on IG and all of your tweets were deleted a long time ago. We live in an age where social media and the entertainment industry are more than ever inextricably linked. Why are you so far from the Internet?
I think social media is very important and one of the best tools, especially for someone new to the game and trying to network. Once you’ve established real relationships in the industry, you can start to trust them more. At this point in my career, I prefer to stay behind the scenes and go out when the going is going.
As we all know, the industry is not for the faint of heart, it is a shark-focused business. What was it like to be alone and young in the music business?
It was really tough at times, the right people and the right mentors are hard to find. At one point, I lived in a small, locked-out studio and took the train for 24 Hours of Fitness to shower. It was great trash. There was a heavy metal band in the next room that was waging a noise war on me. For some reason I had this “things could only get better from here” perspective. I remember hearing cars go by, playing the music I made in that room. Stuff like that made me feel like I was on the right track.
I saw that you are credited on Kid Cudi & Eminem’s single “The Adventures of Moon Man & Slim Shady” then again on “She Knows This” from Cudi’s last album, The man on the moon III: the chosen one. I asked Dot about you and he said, âJ Gramm is a beast. He’s one of the most efficient and toughest producers I’ve worked with. I know Cudi’s camp is particular when it comes to collaboration. How did it all materialize?
It’s dope. Dot is my guy. A friend of mine put me in touch with Dot Da Genius, who is Cudi’s longtime friend and producer. Dot introduced me to Cudi and we’ve been working ever since.
So, with COVID-19 regulations easing in many US states, what’s next for you?
Now that things have calmed down, I attended other sessions again and invited artists to work. I can’t really go into detail, but there are a few exciting things I’m working on.