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    Jordan Benjamin, better known as grandson, is an alternative singer-songwriter with a powerful voice and a unique sound. His lyrics tackle relevant social issues such as politics, corruption, war, and violence. One of his most recent projects, a collection of collaborations with other artists, specifically Zero 9:36, phem, DREAMERS, and K. Flay, is part of a campaign to encourage people to register to vote. The title of each song in the campaign ends in “Text Voter XX to 40649”. When they text the number, listeners are provided with information on voter registration in their location. grandson also created the XX Resistance Fund, a movement that “serves to empower youth and connect passionate people with ways to get involved in the progressive causes they care about”. The foundation connects grandson’s fans, who call themselves the grandkids, with charities and organizations based on the societal issues they are interested in supporting. More information can be found at xxresistance.org. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview grandson via Instagram direct message. 

 

Q: Let’s start simple! How have you been lately?

A: I’m doing alright, thanks. I’m doing my best to navigate this time of extreme uncertainty with some positivity, staying creative, and being optimistic for change even if it kills me.

Q: Why did you first decide to go into the music industry?

A: I was making music as a hobby, as an outlet for my feelings as a teenager, and spontaneously started posting music on SoundCloud, which led to an A&R in Los Angeles shooting me an email, and I went to explore the opportunity of being a songwriter and artist. I dropped out of school in 2013 a couple of months after my 20th birthday and moved to Los Angeles.

Q: How have you, as a musician, been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: The biggest way is through the loss of live music. It has devastated an industry that employs thousands and thousands of people, from musicians to tour managers, security to local production teams, and venues to light and sound technicians. This entire ecosystem working behind the scenes imploded overnight, and it will be the very last one to get back to work. It’s difficult to build these familial relationships on the road with your touring crew for years and then suddenly have that flipped upside down. It’s also an important mental health outlet for so many of us, artists and fans alike, who come to a show to feel understood and connect with a community that they are safe in.

Q: I really love everything you’ve been doing to encourage people to vote! Do you have any advice for young people voting for the first time in this year’s election?

A: The ballot runs so much deeper than just who is the president. Our judicial system, our municipal and state legislation, climate change, social justice, and more are all on the ballot. Do your best to get informed on which candidates represent your values and be proud of doing your part to maintain a vibrant, healthy democracy that represents all of us. 

Q: I love all the collabs you’ve been releasing lately! If you could collaborate with any artist in the world (aside from the ones you’ve already worked with), who would it be?

A: I’ve been fortunate enough to work with all kinds of amazing artists this year, from electronic music to rock and roll, personal heroes to the new up and coming artists I’m discovering online. I’d love to work with Skrillex someday!

Q: What can we expect from you in the near future?

A: Lots of surprises to come, stay tuned!


woman at a concert putting hands in a heart shape
Unsplash, Anthony Delanoix

Sam Exner

Augustana '23

Sam is a sophomore at Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. She is hoping to double major in pre-medicine and Spanish with plans to eventually be a surgeon.
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