Music has had a strong presence in Grayson Lindberg’s life. His parents both played in bands, his sister’s a dance major and he has only just begun his own musical career. For Lindberg, a Western senior, music displayed itself in the form of disc jockeying, the art of tossing tracks together to form a whole new sound.
When Grayson Lindberg knew he wanted to be a disc jockey, he bought a mixing board. About a year later he was mixing consistently at clubs and house shows under the name: GRAYMATTER.
“Grayson’s the type of person who has to be good at everything he does.”
GRAYMATTER’s friend, Nina Nixon
In the fall of 2014, Lindberg traveled to Angers, France, a small, Bellingham-like town of 80,000 where he immersed himself in French nightlife and language. There he developed his taste for house music, an uplifting form of electronic dance music, which tends to have more of a piano feel. It was in France that Lindberg performed his first official DJ set, forever leaving behind the days of Spotify and YouTube DJing.
After a year of practice, GRAYMATTER mixes consistently at both house shows and downtown clubs, such as Rumors Cabaret and GLOW Nightclub. Lindberg would practice every other day for about two hours, familiarizing himself with his mixing board and listening to a lot of music.
At the moment, he focuses strictly on DJing, creatively mixing different tracks and genres together while throwing in personal touches. He said he’s saving production for when he isn’t working three jobs.
Once song-making does happen, Lindberg plans to draw from his two strongest influences and passions: house and trap music.
House is a jazz-influenced EDM sub-genre with complex melodies relying heavily on strong bass thumps, according to Electronic Current, whereas Trap’s considered to be the hip-hop of EDM, similar in that it also relies on bass.
Lindberg’s friend and marketing director, Nina Nixon, said she cried when she saw how far he had come with his DJing. She’d seen over 300 artists and DJs perform in her life and when she saw her friend mix at the Wild Buffalo one night, it blew her mind, she said.
“No one gets that good that fast; period,” Nixon said. “Grayson’s the type of person who has to be good at everything he does.”
During sets, Lindberg said he feels differently depending on what part of the night it is. He said there’s a special feeling he gets when the crowd is at peak energy and the music tempos at its highest.
“When people are feeling your music and you’re mixing really well, it kind of becomes robotic,” Lindberg said.
He describes this robotic feeling as a state where his hands and mind work seamlessly with the mixing board, as if by second nature.
Lindberg mixes a hybrid of genres, particularly house and trap. Dillon Francis, Jauz and Jackal are but a few of many artists who influence Lindberg’s taste and mixing style.
Lindberg mixes music that keeps people with mixed musical tastes engaged, Nixon said. He hopes to attract that same crowd when his career transitions toward production.
“When people are feeling your music and you’re mixing really well, it kind of becomes robotic.”
Lindberg made a smart decision by learning the ropes as a DJ before making the jump to production, Nixon said.
“If you’re a really good producer and you go to perform and you’re not very good at it, you lose half of your following right there,” Nixon said.
Occasionally he’ll tailor his set in consideration of the audience. Lindberg said he had a good turnout at GLOW, where he played mostly hip-hop to match the atmosphere and audience of the club. At Rumors, people are already used to hearing house music, so Lindberg will loosen his musical confines and insert tidbits of house and trap.
In this phase of his career, Lindberg focuses most of his energy on house shows and his mixes reach the ears of friends and fans through Facebook and SoundCloud, Nixon said. The current aim is to get people’s attention, she said.
Lindberg receives additional help from his brother-in-law Jordan Andersen, a Western graphic design alum who creates GRAYMATTER posters and handouts.
Western alumna Karlie Hailstone has been Lindberg’s friend for roughly four years, starting from the moment they met in the Fairhaven dorms. She finds it interesting how much his musical taste has evolved over the years and says she’s impressed by his progress.
Hailstone remembers his initial sets as basic mixings of two songs. Now he’s developed smooth transitions between tracks and samples as well as implementations of bass drops, Hailstone said.
Lindberg has worked very hard for this and it’s finally paying off, Hailstone said.
“I’m really proud of him,” she said.
Lindberg can trace his DJ influences back to middle school when he started listening to hip-hop instrumentals. He would later go to Freak Night and Resolution, two concert events that drastically reshaped his musical taste and catalyzed his interest in becoming a DJ. He became hooked on EDM, or Electronic Dance Music, a broad genre that encompasses sub-genres like Trap and House, which are often played at clubs and raves. Three months after Resolution, Lindberg bought his very own mixing board.
Nixon is trying to persuade Lindberg to go to California after graduation in search of a musical mentor.
“There’s only so much you can learn by watching videos,” she said. “You really need someone who knows what they’re doing.”
Lindberg said he’s considering moving to either Seattle, Vancouver, San Francisco or Los Angeles, but has no solid plans for the future other than the transition to production.
“I want to go where the music scene is pretty budding for electronic music.”