Donna Grantis: ‘Diamonds & Dynamite’ and her relentless pursuit of perfection

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Donna Grantis – picture by Karrah Kobus

On her debut solo album, Diamonds & Dynamite, Donna Grantis attracts on her rock, funk, and jazz backgrounds to create a singular mix of sounds which are heavy on improv whereas owing deeply to her roots.

Grantis is most frequently acknowledged for her years as a member of Prince’s New Energy Era and as his co-lead guitarist in 3rdEyeGirl, whose 2014 album, Plectrumelectrum, reached No. 1 on the Billboard Rock Chart. On Diamonds & Dynamite she steps ahead as guitarist, songwriter, producer, arranger, and bandleader, joined by drummer J.T. Bates, bassist Cody McKinney, keyboardist Bryan Nichols, and tabla participant Suphala.

On Diamonds & Dynamite, Grantis attracts on her rock, funk, and jazz backgrounds to create a singular mix of sounds which are heavy on improv whereas owing deeply to her roots.

Rising up in Toronto, Grantis graduated from McGill College in Montreal with a level in music and an emphasis in jazz efficiency. After commencement, she fashioned a jazz-rock trio, constructed her profession onstage and within the studio, and independently launched an album, Suites, in 2012. That very same 12 months, a YouTube video of considered one of her reside performances led to a name to audition at Paisley Park Studios. She was employed and spent the following 4 years touring and recording with Prince. The expertise took her around the globe, together with headlining the Montreux Jazz Competition and Essence Competition and performing on the White Home.

In 2018, Grantis laid some groundwork for Diamonds & Dynamite with a 7-inch single, “Trashformer/Violetta,” which she lower with Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready and launched on vinyl through his HockeyTalkter label. She was nearing the album’s launch date when she spoke with Guitar Lady. 

… I actually love the sound of an electrical guitar.

The gear listing in your web site focuses in your electrical guitars [Notice: Grantis is a longtime PRS artist; her fundamental guitar is a CE22 that she has performed for 20 years], however actually, you began out on acoustic if you have been 13. Are you able to speak to us about that only a bit?

I did begin on acoustic. My older brother had an acoustic guitar at dwelling, and I had made a cope with my dad that if I discovered to play one music completely and utterly on acoustic, he would purchase me an electrical guitar. As soon as I did that, I didn’t return to taking part in acoustic for a few years. I don’t carry out with it now, however I decide it up round the home on a regular basis as a result of it’s straightforward and obtainable. I take advantage of it to observe typically, and if there’s a music taking part in — as a result of there’s music on a regular basis at dwelling — I’ll decide up the acoustic guitar and play alongside once I really feel impressed. If I’ve a music concept, I would decide it up and work out a riff.

However I actually love the sound of an electrical guitar. I really like maintain. I really like the number of tones which are obtainable. I really like the amount and the sensation of taking part in notes and letting it ring out in maintain and develop into suggestions. I really like the way you don’t at all times know what you’re going to get with suggestions and the way these tones and maintain notes will react. I discover that to be actually thrilling. Additionally, I discover that it’s a particularly versatile instrument, so I completely make the most of the totally different pickup settings, relying on what sort of music I’m taking part in.

When and the way did you refine your wants by way of gear? Was it trial and error? Was it a course of?

I actually needed to have a whammy bar. I’m an enormous Hendrix fan, so having a whammy was actually necessary to me when selecting a guitar. Additionally, there’s one thing about taking part in a guitar — selecting it up and taking part in it, even for a couple of minutes, and simply understanding how snug it feels. I feel a terrific guitar makes a musician extra impressed to play, so it’s that magic of discovering an instrument, taking it in, and being impressed to play and create.

What are among the greatest challenges that you just’ve confronted all through your profession, and the way did you overcome them?

I feel it’s necessary not essentially to view issues as challenges, however simply to have a relentless pursuit of 1’s objectives. For instance, maybe, a technical problem. I’ve at all times felt like the one factor separating … say there was a troublesome solo that I needed to study. I approached it in the best way that I assumed, The one factor that stands in the best way of me studying this explicit piece is time, is placing the work in.

My fundamental purpose has at all times been to perform three fundamental issues in any musical state of affairs. Primary is to play the fabric completely technically. The second is to ship that materials with super really feel. The third is to play the fabric with probably the most complementary tones. So any musical state of affairs that I used to be in — any audition, gig, rehearsal, or recording session — these are the three fundamental issues that I might purpose to perform prematurely of the classes, in order that once we would hit the stage, or jam in rehearsal, or hit “report,” I might be able to ship these issues.

I definitely hope that we get to that time the place female and male musicians might be on the identical listing.

Will we ever attain some extent if you and different ladies who’re included on lists are “One in all fifty sensational guitarists” with out the phrase “feminine” inserted or a separate listing created?

Oh, I completely hope so! The explanation why these lists exist now could be as a result of there may be an imbalance — there are usually not as many well-known feminine guitarists in comparison with male guitarists. And so lists like that, I feel, educate and encourage younger ladies to take a look at feminine gamers and to find out about different ladies who play music. However I completely agree. Think about a listing of “The fifty finest male guitar gamers.” That simply appears foolish. It’s a matter of individuals taking part in to the very best of their potential, inspiring individuals musically, shifting individuals, and making them really feel one thing. I definitely hope that we get to that time the place female and male musicians might be on the identical listing.

Do you will have some phrases of knowledge for younger ladies who aspire to work within the music trade in any capability?

I might say deal with creating your craft, comply with your coronary heart, relentlessly pursue your objectives with laser focus, encompass your self with a crew of people that help what you do, attempt to fulfill your potential, transcend your potential, continue to learn and dealing in your craft day by day, be the very best you could be, and comply with your bliss.

DIAMONDS & DYNAMITE Tracklist:
MR MAJESTIC
DIAMONDS & DYNAMITE
VIOLETTA (feat. Mike McCready)
TRASHFORMER (feat. Mike McCready)
LIONESS
ELEKTROMAGNETIC
MASTER MANIFESTER
ELSA

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