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Family Swank: Griffin Pollak

Family Swank: Griffin Pollak

Name: Griffin Pollak
Age: 17
Sign: Scorpio
Swank: Producer
Take a listen: GriffinPOnTheCut

G P_FS

[Before we begin, an apology: Over the last month-and-change, I’ve been overwhelmed; life as a senior in a demanding, yet fresh-to-death high school is getting the best of me. However, I’m back, fully reenergized and feeling brand new. I’d also like to give a special shout out to Ebony Magazine for the recent love: you guys are trill.]

Nowadays everyone’s claiming to be the dopest rapper, flyest designer, or edgiest photographer, but a lot of that is hyperbole: there are only so many artists skilled enough to make the cut. Enter 17-year-old New York native and music producer Griffin Pollak. Marrying smooth snares and hi-hats with silky piano melodies, Griffin refutes the urban myth that hip hop is dead. We chat with Griffin about his entrance to the game, his love for jazz, and a loss of lyrical substance in mainstream hip hop of today.

Mass Appeal: I heard your song Madizm with the up-and-coming Manhattan rap duo FishNChips—comprised of Noah Chenfeld and Lucas Fishman—that recently dropped. It’s been receiving a lot of attention.

Griffin Pollak: Yeah, Lucas and Noah are both really talented. We had been talking for a while about getting a track done, so it was cool to finally get that going. I think it came out pretty dope.

MA: When did you first wet your feet in the producing game?

GP: Well, when I was eight-years-old, I started playing the trumpet and drums and quickly got really into music, especially hip hop. Later, I started recording and editing some jazz songs and samples with a few friends, but I didn’t really start producing beats until around 2009. That’s when I first started to see a lot of guys on YouTube doing sick live performances with their MPCs.

MA: How would you personally describe your sound to someone who hasn’t heard it before?

GP: My sound typically has sort of a mellow vibe because I try to use a lot of smoother, jazzier samples. Also, I’m always looking for different ways to emulate sounds of the Golden Age of hip hop, as well as funk.

MA: Your top 3 favorite producers of all time.

GP: That’s easy: Pete Rock, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and, of course, Primo.

Griffin Pollack_FS

MA: When producing, do you keep it old school and use MPCs and drum machines or do you use programs like Maschine, Logic Pro, or Ableton?

GP: I first entered by using an MPD 18 that is really great for getting into producing, but now I usually use Maschine and all its hardware. It has more features that really help you individualize your music.

MA: Do you prefer old school producers like J Dilla over the leaders of the new school like Knxwledge?

GP: My main inspirations are the classic heads like Dilla, Lord Finesse, etc., but I definitely see a huge amount of talent in the newer guys like Harry Fraud.

MA: Aside from making music, what else do you do in your free time?

GP: I actually love to read. I also enjoy snowboarding, partying with the homies, but if I’m not doing any of those things chances are I’m in the lab creating a beat.

MA: In what direction do you see your music moving in next five years?

GP: Honestly, I really can’t say. I mean, I haven’t done a lot of work yet trying to put my music out there…[b]ut one thing’s for sure, I will definitely still be making tracks

MA: What’s your opinion on the music of today, including but not limited to hip hop, rock, etc.? There are people that say music, across genres, has lost its substance and originality in today’s landscape. Do you agree?

GP: Specifically in hip hop, I can certainly see a loss of substance and/or originality in a lot of rappers, especially trap rappers. However that being said, I think hip hop producing is still on the come up. As for the rest of music, I see a lot of innovation and talent out there in groups like Arcade Fire and Mumford and Sons.

MA: Motto you live by?

GP: In “Moment of Truth” by Gang Star, Guru says, “Don’t be quick to judge, you may not know the hardships people don’t speak of.”

MA: What’s next on your to-do list?

GP: I’m not sure. Just to stay up, keep doing me, and definitely try to keep this hip hop shit alive and well.

GP_FS

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