Laurie Sarkadi

Hot Blues: Grey Gritt releases Local Smoke video

An exclusive EDGE debut of the Yellowknife singer/songwriter's powerful new song

Local Smoke, Greyson Gritt’s song and new video, speaks volumes about the artist behind the blues licks and the finger-flipping lyrics.

“If you listen to the song, she’s this, she’s that, she’s doing this, and she’s doing that, and it’s like f*** off already, she’s burning this town down and there’s nothing you can do about it,” says Gritt.

Written as part of Carmen Braden’s Local Smoke Musical Exhibition, a nod to last year’s devastating forest fire season, Gritt says the song was a way of dealing with trash-talkers.

“It’s about inner strength, but it’s also an homage to the badass ladies in my life, because sometimes I think we’re not badass enough. We should be more true to our nature.”

The video is shot and edited by award-winning Vancouver filmmaker Brianne Nord-Stewart, who approached Gritt about working together after hearing the music.

 

Filmed during a housesitting gig in the Niven subdivision in March, the video is spare… just a couch, and a ton of natural sunlight streaming on Gritt’s old Martin guitar and impressive array of tattoos and piercings. Unmistakably centre stage is that booming voice, which took some technical expertise to mic and audio edit.

It’s perhaps the most vulnerable way a singer-songwriter can present. No drum kit or bass lines to keep the groove in the pocket, no splashy theatrics to distract from the lyrics and performance. Yet this too seems Gritt’s style, just layin’ it all out there, bare bones, for all the world to see.

Since openly sharing a transgender journey that included a double mastectomy, nipple graft and chest masculinization in Toronto last year, the 26-year-old, bilingual singer performed the French verse in another recently launched video, You’re Not Alone, released by the Department of Health and Social Services to raise awareness about mental health.

In that video, Gritt holds a placard with grim statistics on the increased likelihood of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trangender youth to have suicidal thoughts.

“I pushed to have an LGBT stat in there,” says Gritt, “so for me, my own experience is your mental health is affected by gender dysphoria.”

“She’s an activist, and is there a better way than music to talk about a cause or something that’s important to you?” says Marie Coderre, executive and artistic director of the Northern Arts and Culture Centre. Gritt has just completed a two-year mentorship under Coderre through NACC, and was recently accepted for a second two years in the program.

“Grey definitely is highly skilled, part of this pool of artists who are not amateurs and I want to help them with that,” says Coderre.

The mentorship provides rehearsal space, help in steering the business side of a music career and travel for performance development. Gritt says she benefited by opening for, and touring with, Harry Manx.

“When he plays you can hear a pin drop always, I learned a lot from watching that,” says Gritt.

Coderre says Gritt will be paired with another high profile New York blues musician next year, but can’t reveal who until the NACC lineup is announced this fall.

Gritt also plans to record a full-length CD and go on tour in 2016.