Exclusive Q&A: Rainer + Grimm Talk R&B, Sam Smith, And The Future Of House

By Rami Abou-Sabe

Rainer Millar Blanchaer and Jeff “Grimm” Crake burst on the scene in 2014 with their bouncy, breezy remix of Sam Smith‘s “Stay With Me.” After a string of successful releases, including their take on Golden Coast’s “Break My Fall,” the pair are back with a brooding original EP The Bridge.

We sat down with Rainer + Grimm before their show at The Sinclair Thursday night (Mar. 2) to talk about their newest release, R&B influence, and what’s next for the duo.

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“We made that song in about four hours, and it was really easy,” Rainer said about the viral Smith remix. “We put it out and it exploded. So it was go time! We hadn’t fully developed what we had in mind, it just sort of came out that way.”

While grateful for the success, the duo made a conscious effort to mature their sound on subsequent releases. “We’ve tried to make a nice progression into getting darker,” Rainer added.

Check out the full Q&A below, and stay tuned for our upcoming feature on Viceroy‘s headlining set.

Rainer + Grimm at The Sinclair. Photo by Rami Abou-Sabe.

Rainer + Grimm at The Sinclair. Photo by Rami Abou-Sabe.

The first track on your EP “Set You Free” features JYDN, and he’s a straight up R&B vocalist.
Grimm: Yeah, from Ottawa.

How did you guys link up with him?
Rainer: It was a label friend of ours that passed his stuff along. At first he was interested in signing the song based on the vocal alone and what we did with it. He was like, “This is really cool – I don’t know if it’s right for my label, but I’m glad it happened.” So a little later we were able to put it out ourselves.

The sound on that track in particular is classic R&B, with a darker aggressive quality.
G: I think it’s a sound we’re trying to find… Or have found. Rather than us just putting things out.
R: Yeah, and a bunch of that comes from the Toronto R&B influence. The scene there has been so strong for the last five years.
G: It’s definitely the darker side of things.

And you guys still have those classic piano stabs, the stuff that put your remixes on the map, so sounds familiar. I was pretty impressed by the EP. What has the reaction been like?
G: It’s been good! “Changed” has been getting a lot of play from bigger DJs like David Guetta. And when we play it out the reaction has been great.

I know there’s only been three shows so far this tour, but what’s been the highlight?
R: Atlanta was really cool. I had never been, and had sort of an obscure reference of Atlanta just from movies and stuff.

And the Super Bowl.
R: Yeah, exactly. But really cool crowd, really cool people. Really chill.

So what’s on the horizon? Obviously you have the tour for the next couple months, anything planned after?
G: We have a lot of original music, and we’re just deciding how to put that out. Now that we’re releasing stuff ourselves, we don’t necessarily need
to have a label. But we’re just keeping our minds open…

Rainer + Grimm at The Sinclair. Photo by Rami Abou-Sabe.

Rainer + Grimm at The Sinclair. Photo by Rami Abou-Sabe.

R: The streaming game has really changed the way we’re able to work. Spotify and Apple Music have both given a little more freedom and money to the smaller artists. So it’s less power in the big label’s hands, so they’re a little bit less of a gatekeeper. We’ve had issues with releases where it just takes forever to get everyone on board.
G: Two heads instead of an office full of people. Just better at decision making [laughs].

Is the next batch of original music in the same style?
G: It is. Maybe some of it’s a little further.
R: It’s a progression.
G: We have our own imprint that we started, Bleeding Hearts Club, and that’s what we’re gonna self contain everything in, pushing our own brand. The only thing we have associated with it right now is the EP, but who knows what other releases there will be.

Do you expect to expand the roster and pull in other artists?
G: I think eventually, but right now we’re gonna grow us.
R: We started it just so we could have an avenue in between bigger label releases, just for continuity. So anytime something didn’t work with a deal, we could just go to ourselves. In the future it may be stuff we’re doing with friends that goes that way, so the idea would be to branch out eventually. We’re just concentrating on us for now.
G: Selfishness.

You gotta do it man, good for you guys. Best of luck. What do you see as the future of dance music?
G: Less big room. Even some of the big room like Tchami, he has a new imprint where they’re all making smaller … They’re making heavy stuff still, but it’s not for festivals or huge rooms. And I think it’s just gonna get back to music. Instead of preset Ableton tracks that sound like the same thing.

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