Mitch Grassi on Musical Influences, New Music, and His Evolving Sound
GRAMMY Award-winning vocalist and Pentatonix band-member Mitch Grassi released his debut solo EP, Roses, on August 27 under the name "Messer."
If you like Troye Sivan, CHVRCHES, and Conan Gray, you'll love Messer. His music is a fierce celebration of inner-darkness, identity, and humanity. Roses combines elements of electro-pop and future pop to create the perfect soundtrack for the upcoming fall season.
The EP starts out strong with "Angels Pray," a gothic-pop masterpiece. The track boasts undeniably catchy melodies and a sophisticated arrangement. "'Angels Pray' came from a place of longing, specifically longing for an escape. it’s that inexplicable desire to run out the nearest exit and leave everything behind in search of your higher personal truth," shared Grassi. "it’s the need for a bird’s eye view. When we find ourselves in the midst of chaos, it is often very difficult to view our circumstances from a larger perspective. The narrator of this song is searching for solace, perhaps in a new place, or perhaps in another person."
"Boy in the Pictures" is dynamic and danceable, with artful lyrical content and attention-grabbing synth tracks. The relaxed tempo and heavenly harmonies of "Gasoline Tears" are unforgettable; velvety vocal ad-libs highlight Grassi's profound talent as a songwriter and performer.
We spoke with Mitch Grassi about his musical influences, new music, his evolving sound, and more. Read the full interview below and stream Roses now.
Where are you based? What is the music scene like there?
I'm based in Los Angeles. It's difficult to generalize the music scene, as it's pretty diverse. I think musicians come to LA because you can really experiment with multiple sounds here.
When did you first begin writing and music? Who or what inspired you?
I've always been fascinated with music and composition, starting from a young age. As a teenager, I was really inspired by Imogen Heap's vocal style and the fact that she produced her own electronic music to accompany her vocals. From there, I became pretty obsessive about electronic music in all its forms.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
I love Swedish pop and electronica, 80s goth, electroclash, EBM... I'm really inspired by a group called Autechre at the moment.
How would you describe your sound?
This question is always tough! There's definitely an obvious pop throughline to my music. I suppose it's a bit dark, too? Describing your own music really feels reductive!
How did you decide on the name “Messer” for your solo project?
"Messer" is the German word for "knife."
Tell us about your latest release, Roses. Who or what inspired it?
The songs on this EP came about at the beginning of the pandemic, at a time when the world was undergoing major changes. I felt as though my inner world was massively transforming at the same time. These songs sort of poured from me while I was experiencing a heightened state of mind; the songwriting process was frenzied and exciting. I suppose the EP is my homage to romanticism, love, and knowledge of self.
"I felt as though my inner world was massively transforming at the same time."
Do you have a favorite track on the EP?
It changes now and then, but for the moment it's "Boy In The Pictures." I feel like I really got to live out a lot of fantasies on this one–It almost felt like writing in a diary.
What is your songwriting process like?
Usually, it starts with a chord progression and loose melodies. I'll lull myself into a meditative state and try to clear my mind as much as I can. Then, I begin to write words and phrases I'm channeling in my state of clarity. I'll go through that list and form a loose concept that I think pairs well with the music. This is, of course, just my starting point. The songwriting process is very unpredictable for me; it's always full of surprises. It's a great exercise in trusting my intuition.
How does Roses and your songwriting style differ from your work with Pentatonix?
It's much different working at the helm of a project, as opposed to being a cog in the machine. Obviously, I have much more creative control over the music I make. With both projects, there is a certain set of creative parameters that must be adhered to in accordance with the respective project's overarching artistic goals.
Are the two connected for you, or do you consider them to be unrelated projects and styles?
I would only assume that there are subconscious influences going both ways, because I bring my own personal flavor of ideas to both projects. I was in Pentatonix during a very formative time of my musicianship so I think it would be unwise to say they are completely different, but I definitely approach both parts of my life much differently.
How do you think your sound has evolved since the start of your career?
I think I'm more aligned with what I believe to be tasteful. Before, I think I was receiving a lot of external messages that increased the level of extraneous mental noise. The "Mitch DNA" hasn't changed much over the years, though–just matured.
If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Don't get caught up in what others are doing and trust your gut.
"Don't get caught up in what others are doing and trust your gut."
What’s next for Mitch Grassi–and for the Messer project?
I'd like to keep exploring myself, and in turn, showcase that exploration through art.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you?
I'm really just so grateful that people are interested in anything I have to say. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to my supporters!