Grum Talks New Album, Human Touch
Three years after his critically acclaimed debut album, Heartbeats, Grum (born Graeme Shepard) is back with his highly anticipated second LP, Human Touch. Garnering early support from DJs such as Eric Prydz, Sasha, Pete Tong, Danny Howard, Hot Since 82, Groove Armada and more, Grum’s Human Touch is a perfect spring anthem that all dance music fans can get behind. Putting a modern twist on genre favorites like disco, 80s, and 90s progressive, Shepard remains diligent throughout the album in his quest for hi-quality production and diverse sound. The end result is a magical sophomore album that showcases his growth both as an artist and as an adult. In an exclusive interview with Robotic Peacock, Grum told us about the inspiration behind his new sound,
“There’s a perception that you should be making the same type of music, but I don’t really follow that. It’s good to keep it fun and interesting. So when I sat down to create Human Touch, I started to really get into Orbital, Underworld, Leftfield… if you listen to their music the way it’s put together is really genius compared to standard level nowadays of mainstream dance music. It’s absolutely genius stuff. I like the way they had massive hits but DJs would play it or you could see them live and you could also dance to it and it works on the radio as well. So they ticked all the boxes with it but still maintained their credibility and I admire that a lot.”
And this is precisely what Shepard does. Human Touch takes you on a journey of emotions—from the poignant title track “Human Touch” and hi-energy synths on “The Theme,” to the happy sounds of “Autumn” and chilled out vibes on “Serotonin,” Grum’s Human Touch “ticks all the boxes” without losing any of the musicality or ear for melody that put him on the map in the first place. A bright and beautiful album that can be enjoyed by the masses, Human Touch encourages listeners to connect with their neighbors and enjoy their company, a perfect message just in time for spring.
Human Touch is out on April 14 via Heartbeats.
Read the full interview with Grum below!
Robotic Peacock: Hi Graeme, where are you speaking to us from today?
Grum: I’m in Leeds right now, this is where I live.
But you’re from Scotland, correct?
How was growing up there?
Cold and rainy…
Lots of time to work on music, yeah?
Yeah, I think that’s it. There are a few people…proportionally a lot of people who make dance music as well…from Scotland…and I think it’s because it rains all the time.
Plenty of time to make another studio album, right? So, how does your second album, Human Touch, differ from your first album, Heartbeats? How do you think your sound has changed/evolved since then?
When I’m interested in music it’s like I’m always trying discover something that I didn’t know before. For me, it’s a constant discovery process and you’ll hear that in the stuff I’m making too, like little bits of influence from the stuff I’m listening to at the time will come through. When I made the Heartbeats album I was really into Italo Disco stuff.. Patrick Cowley kind of mixed with Fleetwood Mac/soft country sort of stuff so it was a lighter vibe. But then I’m always trying to further my dancefloor tracks and make sure those work as well so it’s a mixture of ideas. Between the albums it’s several years. As you can imagine, your taste from 3-4 years ago is not the same as it is now. Yeah so it changes for me and it always changed.
In a previous interview you said, “There appears to be a lot of ‘me too’ productions without much innovation. It’s an even greater problem in a genre like nu disco, which has many brilliant producers but is inherently conservative.” How do you remain proactive about your sound and trying to remain liberally creative?
I think you just have to listen to lots of different types of electronic music, to be honest. There are whole vast waves of dance music from certain periods where there is zero influence from it. For example, right now everybody is really into Chicago house and early 80s disco, you know things like that, but then there are whole parts of it that are being completely ignored. When I was writing this album I really started getting into this early 90s progressive house music where it was, at that point, still quite new and quite different to the American stuff – I think it was still mostly British. I took a lot of influence from that because it was so different than what was around at the time, and at the moment its still quite different to current music. It goes less for the big drops and more for adoptions but still for the dancefloor not just for the headphones, you know?
What inspired opening song “Human Touch” to be the title track of the album?
To be honest, I had a few ideas but I’m really terrible at naming things. I kind of went through the track titles and I think Human Touch kind of sums up what I was trying to do with the album so I sort of just ran with it. The meaning of the phrase kind of sums up where I was with electronic music – trying to make it vague but with artistic integrity.
What kind of equipment did you use for the album?
The first album was all laptop and after that I started buying all this equipment. Before you know it you’ve got a studio filled with stuff you don’t even use half the time! So part of the album is analog and then I kind of went back to using the computer towards the end because it’s what I’m used to and it’s much faster.
Are there plans to do a remix LP of the album?
Wasn’t planning to but that’s a cool idea.
Any fun facts about the songs on the album?
There was one track I was really surprised by the reaction when I played it out, called “Feel It Everywhere.” That song has been getting very good crowd response at clubs. And on the single, “In Love,” the sample is from this early 80s disco track called “Peanut Butter” by Gwen Guthrie. I’ve always wanted to use that vocal – it’s like a classic dance music vocal sample. And I’ve wanted use and I thought this time I want to do something with it for awhile and then it (the sample) kind of inspired the sound.
What are your plans/tour dates for the summer?
I’ve got a few things lined up in the UK – hoping to get to the U.S. in June/July.
What do you hope people get out of the record?
I hope they listen with an open mind. I know they’re used to more disco-y stuff but I just hope my fans will follow my sound. And maybe they’ll have some nice moments, too. I hope maybe it’ll rekindle more imagination towards dance music, as well.