Meet Jordan Benjamin – you might already know him, but he goes under the name grandson. At only 24 years old, the Toronto alt-rapper is already making a name for himself by releasing very political-driven songs and using his platform for the good of our country. Recently, grandson signed to Fueled By Ramen, home to artists such as Panic! At The Disco, twenty one pilots and All Time Low, and he has been pushing himself even further with their care and backing. grandson also just released a last minute debut EP, A Modern Tragedy Vol.1, today! Recently, we got to sit down and chat with him about FBR, growing up in Canada, performing at one of the March For Our Lives marches and more.
So, you recently made the jump from being an indie artist to being signed to Fueled By Ramen. What made you pick FBR? How has this experience been so far?
It’s been awesome! I think that it was really important for me to align myself with a team that was committed to promoting the same sort of values that I was [promoting] through my music, that believed wholeheartedly in the identity of what I was building independent but also had the resources and the experience to help me blow this shit up! From day one, the whole Atlantic/Fueled By Ramen team has been really supportive and enabled me to already get a lot of shit done in not a lot of time so I’m stoked with it.
Awesome! So you were born in New Jersey, grew up in Toronto and you’re currently based in LA. Are there any pros or cons of growing up with music in any of those areas?
Yeah, interesting! I absolutely credit Toronto with shaping a lot of my musical identity. Toronto’s a really, really diverse multicultural city and that’s represented in the food there, it’s represented in the music there, in all different facets of the culture there. It’s kind of a mosaic where these very distinct neighborhoods, pockets of people that kind of all come together in the public school system, in wherever or the parties. I was surrounded by a lot of hip hop, a lot of rock n roll, a lot of R&B, even dancehall. So a lot of that kind of influenced and inspired what became grandson. I moved to Montreal when I was 17 to go to college, go to university there and that is where I was kind of introduced to a lot of electronic music, a lot of trap, a lot of EDM. At first I felt like I kind of had to pick what kind of artist I had to be and which of these pockets of music that I was so inspired by, which of them I would fall into. Then it kind of dawned on me that I can do all of it! I think that there are elements of all of those places that I spent time in what became my music.
Okay, cool! A few months back, you released “thoughts & prayers.” The song is inspired by the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. The song has a lot of depth and meaning in it, of course, but what exactly pushed you into writing and releasing it?
That for me was something that I try and let my music and my writing be as transparent, a reflection of my life as I can. My whole life has been marred by shooting. I was 5 when Columbine happened. I remember being in school and seeing the news about Sandy Hook. It’s always something that I’ve been passionate about and have been surrounded by since I was a kid. I don’t think it necessarily has to be that way for the next generation of kids growing up. I feel a certain responsibility as an artist in this time to let my music be reflective of the time that I’m making this music in. So it was kind of a natural process. I didn’t really overthink it, I just wanted to make sure that when I looked back at this time in my artistic career, that I could be proud of having taken a stance. Being able to raise thousands of dollars for the Youth Justice Fund was an added bonus, it was really important. Throughout making the song I made it a priority to make sure that we were integrating charity and philanthropy in the rollout and release of the song and I’m really proud of how the grandkids, these fans, stepped up behind this cause and got behind it. It was badass to watch these 16 year olds and we got a lot of footage back from fans all around the world attending marches, making signs with the song, making their own merch – buying the merch, chanting the chorus. There’s no more powerful feeling for me as an artist than to watch my music become a part of these kids lives. It was really cool and I was really proud to have done that.
That’s awesome! You actually performed the song at one of the marches in LA, right?
What was that whole experience like?
It was incredible. It’s really hard to put into words what it felt like when 25 children ranging from ages 6 to 18 and their parents all showed up together. We just walked through the march and we had a bit of a standoff with some counter protesters – that was a little tense. There was a lot of moving pieces and I felt a lot of responsibility for these children and for the parents of these children, to make sure it was a memorable, meaningful experience for them. It was really powerful to watch people resonate with the messaging and I think that having children involved kind of set the tone in this sense of urgency and who we should be fighting for. It was really powerful.
So you just announced that you will be touring this fall with Nothing But Thieves. How excited are you for that?
I’m fucking stoked! I’m really stoked about something that was definitely on my bucket list. I really look forward to getting to know those dudes and partying with those dudes and getting to meet their fans. I think we have a lot of fans in common that were really, really excited when we announced this tour. You’re just going to have to wait and see that we have a couple surprises in store. We have some unreleased music. It’s going to be really fun.
Cool, that’s fun! What else can we expect from you this year?
Good music. Fire t-shirts!
Anything else you would like to add?
No, I’m just really happy and proud of what we have accomplished in a short time and what we are going to accomplish. The grandkids are a part of a revolution and run with us or run from us!
All photos by Sarah Waxberg