The rising house star has hit single “Thinking About You,” featuring Kaskade’s collaborator Sansa, has over 1.6 million streams on Spotify alone, and he just released an EP composed entirely of remixes.
We had the chance to interview Gianni about what his experience has been like thus far:
How has being based in Chicago influenced your sound? Do you plan to stay there?
Being in Chicago has been one of the reasons I have dabbled and produced and written so many different types of music. Being around so many ethnicities, genres, and cultures has influenced me profoundly. During my earlier years in high school was when the time the whole Chicago hip-hop wave started with Chief Keef and Chance [The Rapper], and I really got involved producing and writing hip-hop and rap.
I had found dance music at a very early age because my dad introduced me to Kaskade and Tiësto when I was ten years old. That’s also when the very first iPod came out with the four red buttons [laughs]. As I finished high school, dance music took over my life.
You grew up playing the violin and drums, how did you transition to production and songwriting?
It all happened around the same time. When I was eight or nine I started playing violin and played for many years. Throughout middle school I played drums in band. In high school I was in the concert choir. Everything played its own part in shaping me as a musician. Violin taught me music theory, drums taught me beats, and rhymes and singing taught me about vocals, keys, and all the ways in which a voice can be used.
I attribute all of these time periods and musical instruments to my growing as a musician. What it really came down to was that I felt limited in using these instruments; I wanted to be able to do more than simply play them or read sheet music. And that led me into production.
I never forget when I was ten years old and I got my first laptop and midi keyboard. That night I made an entire track with GarageBand and I remember showing it my mom and she was like, “How did you make that?” That’s how it started. I took a break for a few years. When I was about 13 or 14 I came back to it, and the passion started growing and growing until all I wanted to do was create.
Your background is multicultural, being Italian and Haitian. Would you say that affects your sound as well?
I would say this has helped me see music in a global view instead of just music that is in front of us everyday. As a child I had many opportunities to travel at an early age and I was able to experience many different cultures, languages, and see many parts of the world that many people never get a chance to see. That really rounded me, not only as a musician, but it changed my view on the world. I want to be able to connect with people from all over.
The European part of my upbringing made me discover dance music at an early age; the Caribbean part of my family introduced me to a lot of different sounds and cultures that I try and incorporate in some of my productions. I think there has been one ‘Gianni Blu sound’ people know, but over the next few months, I will be releasing new tracks that will show a large range of versatility where people will really be able to hear the multicultural influence.
You just released an EP of remixes for “Thinking About You.” Can you tell us a little bit about the process of this EP? And the process of making “Thinking About You”?
I’ll start from the beginning.
This song has been a long journey. I produced and wrote the initial song early 2016, then sat on it for a while. I wasn’t sure of the direction in which I wanted to go with it. As I previously mentioned, one of my biggest influences to this day has been Kaskade. I love the sexy vibe he incorporates in his records and I wanted to do something similar. I came across Sansa browsing the internet, as she was featured on one of his releases, and I became hooked on her vocals.
I reached out to her, and showed her the entire demo laid out and she loved it. So I got her vocals on the record and spent a few months getting it mixed and mastered properly. I was still unsure exactly how I wanted to release it. Because during this nine to ten month gap I had not released any music so I wanted to make sure that when I came back whichever record I released would be my best work to date.
Finally in March of this year, I felt like I waited enough time and decided to release it. It started to pick up very quickly, being supported by Martin Garrix, Sirius XM, and started getting spots in numerous playlists on Spotify. The real momentum came when many known Instagram dancers started using the songs in their dance videos such as Elena Cruz and Gabby David. That created a spinning effect where so many other dancers were dancing to the record and uploading their own videos, creating a bit of a viral movement. To date, there are probably over four million views.
About the remix EP, mid-summer I realized I wanted to bring a new life to the original song. I wanted to be able to introduce it to different audiences and musical markets where the original could not go. So I started reaching out to numerous DJs whose sound I like and knew they could create something different. I got Speaker of the House who brought a melodic, beautiful, and emotional sound. I got JYYE who brought a “club” vibe to it. I got BVD Kult who spun the track into a tropical house vibe. And I got the duo Jekyll | Hyde who bring that grunge and base energy.
It took a bit of time to put it all together and plan the release completely as this was our first major remix EP release on my independent label Building Life Uniquely, but I am thrilled with how it came out!
Do you have any dream collaborations?
Right away I can tell you one of my biggest inspirations is Diplo. He would definitely be my dream collaboration for the way he brings a global view to his music whether or not it’s his own project. Major Lazer because he brings musicians and cultures from all around the world together, including his collaborations with Skrillex.
Some other ones would be: Sean Paul, J Balvin, Kaskade, Skrillex, Justin Bieber, Tchami, and Oliver Heldens.
What’s in store for the next year?
I’m looking forward to my next single “Right Amount of Wrong” coming out October 24th. This record has been getting prepared for a while and I am so excited to release it. It has a similar sexy/sensual vibe to “Thinking About You,” but it’s more so a club record with higher energy. I am excited to see what comes from it!
In the next coming months I have many releases I am finalizing from tropical house records, deep house, to some urban hiphop/dancehall records with some known artists that I cannot wait to share.
I am also planning a project in different languages that I think will please people. I want to create music for everyone, in every genre. I don’t want to be limited to only club records or only pop records. I want to be able to jump in and out of many genres and boxes all at the same time.
I am also, of course, always working on more shows and plan to do a lot more touring in the next months and years to come.
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