ELEMENTS Spotlight: Gramatik

August 12, 2016 -

Sydney Atkin

Headlining ELEMENTS Music and Arts festival is a DJ that is revolutionizing the music scene and changing up the rules in a money hungry industry. All the while dropping hip-hop beats layered with soulful blues guitar riffs, resonating bass lines and jazz infused electro-funk. Denis Jašarević or more commonly known as Gramatik, is a Brooklyn transplant hailing all the way from Slovenia. Denis stepped onto the scene back in 2008 when he released Street Bangers Volume 1, and has been making moves ever since.

Flash forward eight years, Gramatik is currently a heavy hitter in the electronic music scene; headlining festivals, collaborating with artists such as GRiZ and Big Gigantic, and even running his own label Lowtemp. Lowtemp was founded by Denis in 2013 as an independent record label, based on the notion that it was "created by artists for artists". Lowtemp represents artists such as Exmag, Illumntr, Gibbz, The Noisy Freaks, and Russ Liquid. However, Lowtemp doesn't just represent artists. Gramatik has successfully created a fair music movement within a corrupt industry. Let me be more specific, Gramatik and every artist signed to his label gives their music away for free. Of course you can buy Gramatik's music on his website or even donate to Lowtemp if you feel so inclined, but it isn't required in order to obtain one of his albums. Jašarević believes that music should be available to the masses, that it is a necessity in life, and if an individual has a desire to listen their needs should  be met. All in all, Lowtemp isn't a large money grossing record label, but rather a springboard for artists to jumpstart their career and get their music out there. Gramatik makes the majority of his money playing live shows around the country, and believes that other artists should follow suit. Lowtemp is self-described as "Freeing music by making music free". To an artist like Gramatik having access to music is just as necessary as having access to clean water or fresh air.

One might wonder if an artist can survive and even thrive by giving their music away for free. Jašarević is living proof that it can be done, he gave away his first two albums to Derek Vincent Smith aka Pretty Lights when he was first signed to PLM (Pretty Lights Music) label back in 2009. Since then Denis has released all nine albums he created for free, including his most recent album Epigram. No doubt that Gramatik is an artist for the people, but his ideals and morals dig deeper than simply filling his fan base's musical appetite. In 2012 Gramatik released an EP called #digitalfreedom, inspired by the fight against strict internet censorship bills. Jašarević openly admits to having his own roots in the clandestine scene of illicit file sharing. In fact he firmly believes he would not be where he is today if he hadn't ventured into the black market of illegal music downloads.

Is Gramatik's view on music, money, and accessibility ethical? Will other artists follow his lead? Only time will tell. One thing is certain, Gramatik is a music making machine, pumping out albums and EP's with no sign of slowing down. This musical madman is on a hot streak and it would be wise to catch him while you can. So come join us this Saturday, August 13th for Brooklyn's own ELEMENTS Music and Arts festival put on by none other than BangOn!NYC.


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