As separate artists, Grieves and Budo seem to have arrived from two entirely different ends of the spectrum: Grieves is a hip-hop artist originally from Colorado, while Budo is a Brooklyn-based composer and multi-instrumentalist. But as a collaborative team, they create a musical style that is seamless and distinct. The duo will be showing its style to Madison Sunday as it performs at The Frequency.
Grieves made his first attempt at rapping at a rap battle in Ft. Collins, Col. Initially, he entered the genre as a fan, but as he become more immersed in the music, he started to write more serious material. He said he was inspired by other artists involved with Rhymesayers Entertainment, an independent hip-hop label.
In 2008, Grieves and Budo combined their varied creative talents for the first time in the album 88 Keys and Counting. After touring with those set of songs, Grieves took a short hiatus, undergoing some personal hardship.
These experiences in the interim would later serve as inspiration for his next creative venture, he noted.
The duo then teamed up once more for its latest album, Together/Apart. As usual, Budo lays down lush instrumental tracks, and Grieves tops them with his characteristic narratives and rhymes. The album focuses on the many paradoxes and trials of touring life in addition to some other themes, Grieves said.
It may sound like a well-worn story on the surface, but Grieves approaches it with a refreshing perspective.
“You’re getting a whole bunch of people in one place sharing the same thing,” he said in an interview with The Badger Herald. “I think that’s an extremely powerful thing that a lot of musicians overlook sometimes.”
For him, this collective experience of concert-going is fascinating. It’s something he celebrates as an artist.
Like any good theme, the album has many ambiguities and nuances, offering a wide array of interpretation. Grieves also discussed how the album reflects the dual nature of his own life. He described the stark difference between his life as a touring artist and his personal life.
“I can’t imagine two more extreme existences,” he said.
As far as writing and recording, the duo has no set method or formula. They write when inspiration strikes, and they exchange ideas as they go along.
“If it works, it works,” Grieves said. “We don’t really constrict ourselves to a certain madness.”
The two began touring with Together/Apart in Canada, and they will be entering the Midwest this weekend. They stop in Madison this Sunday at The Frequency.
The tour will finish off on the west coast.
Grieves and Budo aren’t particularly interested in synthetic beats at their shows; instead, they’ll be using live instrumentation when possible. Budo said there will still be standard bass and drums, but he will also be playing keys, guitar and trumpet at various points throughout the show.
In spite of his sometimes dark and pensive narratives, Grieves still maintains a sense of humor during his performances, noting that he wasn’t afraid to take part in some “interpretative dancing” in the midst of his performances.
“I am the Michael Flatley of the hip-hop game,” he said jestingly.
The duo is excited about performing together in its first headlining tour. Prior to this tour, it performed at Vans Warped Tour in the summer, and it also did a few shows with Atmosphere, another independent hip-hop group.
There is interesting chemistry between the two, and they believe that their work in the studio translates well into live performances.
“There’s a comfort level on the stage. … A lot of times the music comes alive when we’re playing it in front of people,” Budo said.
They also hope to perform songs from both 88 Keys and Counting and Together/Apart on the tour.
Grieves and Budo will be joined by two friends on tour: Minneapolis-based rapper Prof and comedy rapper Type. They believe that these artists will add an interesting dynamic to their shows.
Budo said that fans should expect a solid show from start to finish.
Grieves and Budo will be playing at The Frequency, 121 W. Main St., on Sunday at 9 p.m. The show is open to guests 18 and older. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Visit madisonfrequency.com for more information.