Senior Brendan Carmack, stage name Grizzwald, has been spending a lot of time in the WVKC studio on the third floor of George Davis Hall. He’s been preparing for the upcoming release of his fourth tape, “Chill,” which according to Carmack features only beats from people he knows at Knox.
“It’s supposed to come out in like two weeks. I’ve got to finish a few songs but school’s been taking up time,” he said. “The sound is chill. I guess that word can be used in so many contexts, like ‘oh, I’m just chillin’ right now’ or ‘you need to chill out,’ like good and bad ways, and so I think some of the songs reflect that.”
Carmack began recording the project over the summer while staying in Galesburg and training at WVKC to be a studio engineer. “A lot of the songs, they’re very emotionally charged about certain subjects,” he said. “But it’s like, even though they are charged and don’t have that chill vibe, that’s why it’s titled ‘Chill,’ to tell me to calm down, it’s not that bad.”
As both an artist and a producer, Carmack acknowledged that the recording process is at times frustrating, but fine-tuning and tweaking to get the right sound were valuable skills to practice. “I was like, if I record a tape, I’ll train myself to be able to record other people,” he said.
Carmack has loved music his whole life, but it was not until high school that he got interested in rap, when a friend introduced him to Lil Wayne. “I really liked how he used metaphors and stuff, how he would play with words,” Carmack said. “He’s only got the same four concepts he talks about, but it’s about how he does it.”
It was after this initial inspiration that Carmack began writing his own verses alongside his group of friends. Today he draws from the likes of Outkast and Kanye West Ð artists he sees as alternative in ways he can relate to. “Some newer artists, too, like Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, and Mac Miller,” Carmack shared. “But then for production É it would be Flying Lotus. He mixed way, way better music than I ever can, but like him.”
About his own music, and learning to produce, Carmack said, “All the beats I’ve made have very spacey feels.” He puts on his own shows, collaborating with friends both in and out of the studio.
“When I’m performing, it’s me rapping, why I picked the songs and what order I put them in, the visuals that we bring in together,” he said of these collaborative shows, and specifically of working with friend and artist, senior Tony Foley. “We’d set up a video projection that fit the song, didn’t really matter if people understood it or not, but that adding of the visual effect to my rap took it to a whole other level.”
Carmack’s ability to collaborate with other artists was in part spurred on by having access to recording equipment at WVKC, and by the sheer number of creative people on Knox’s campus.
“There’s so many artists at Knox, and there’s at least four other rappers. I’ve collaborated with each of them,” Carmack said. “And since I record people now, it’s going to be even easier this year to collaborate with people, not just rap.”
As Carmack prepares to release “Chill,” he’s also looking ahead toward the rest of this year and his plans for after graduation. “My biggest plan is just to keep doing music,” Carmack said. “My new album’s awesome, I think it’s like the best rap tape I’ve had, but I feel like I’m ready to move on to another thing. I’ve already got more in my head.”