Singer, songwriter, instrumentalist and producer Ethan Gruska literally has music in his blood. His grandfather is famed composer John Williams, and his sister Barbara is a drummer who is touring with Foo Fighters on background vocals. Ethan made waves as a member of the dock duo The Belle Brigade, and he's currently producing albums for Phoebe Bridgers, Fiona Apple and more. His new solo release En Garde is out January 24th and is already receiving great acclaim. For these reasons and more, he's our TALENT SCOUT Artist of the Week.
NAME: Ethan Gruska
HOMETOWN: Los Angeles, CA
MUSICAL TRAINING: I'm mostly self taught, with some great training/advice from family (also musicians) and various teachers at school. I was never classically trained, but I took a year of more intense composition/theory classes at Cal Arts when I was 18.
FIRST GIGS: Playing shows with my sister in my first band The Belle Brigade. We did a million little club gigs, which also led to one of my first really great jobs which was us opening for and playing in Ray LaMontagne’s band. Those were amazing early opportunities for me.
MUSICAL INFLUENCES: Debussy, Ravel, Paul Simon, Elliott Smith, Randy Newman, Ahmad Jamal, Brad Mehldau, The Beatles, The Kinks, Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar, Blake Mills, Tony Berg, Perfume Genius, Aaron Embry, and the list goes on and on...
WHAT I’M LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW: (Sandy) Alex G's House of Sugar, anything Perotin on Spotify (Gregorian chanting), Nefertiti by Miles Davis.
MY BIG BREAK: I’ve had several really lucky moments, but the most recent pivotal moment for me was meeting Tony Berg and making my first solo record with him in 2016/2017. The record by no means did commercially well. but it brought me a lot of really cool opportunities and work, and it allowed me to work more and more with Tony, who's been a real mentor to me. We then co-produced Phoebe Bridgers' first solo record together and that also was an enormous project for me and a big moment in my life so far. Those were big turning points.
LATEST PROJECTS: I finished a new solo record, countless sessions writing for and playing on other people’s records, doing production work for Phoebe Bridgers, Manchester Orchestra, Bad Books, a few up and coming new artists, and a little bit of scoring work here and there.
FAVORITE KEYBOARDS AND WHY? The Roland Juno-106, Yamaha SK-1, Critter and Guitari Pocket Piano, Teenage Engineering's OP- 1, The Roland SH-101, and the Yamaha U3 upright piano to name a few.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU? Trying to stay busy writing producing and playing, and probably playing shows in support of my new record in 2020.
ADVICE TO THE NEXT GENERATION: Work hard, be obsessed with other music/writers/players and let them inspire you to create your own thing. Being able to play like someone else is less valuable than being able to bring your own voice to the equation. But always let other music and art influence and challenge you.
For more information visit https://www.ethangruska.com