The East Coast meets the Pacific Coast with reggae duo, Grassy Dread, comprised of Rob Burns (New York) and Amren Acree (Hawaii). Currently, in the process of releasing a full-length album, they’ve taken the time to chat with our team.
Altwire [Omayra Lopez]: For those who haven’t yet heard of you, can you please tell us a little about yourself, your musical style, and any other fun facts?
Grassy Dread [Rob and Amren]: Grassy Dread is a reggae group blessed with a unique blend of rock, hip-hop, and soul to inspire fans of any sub-genre within the diverse world of reggae. We are well rooted in the traditional and unafraid to branch out into innovative territory. Grassy Dread champions a sound that we call Dub-Rock-Reggae. Whether you follow the tradition or the trend, the Grassy Dread fusion has something you can get down to.
Altwire [Omayra Lopez]: Was music a part of your life growing up?
Grassy Dread [Rob and Amren]: Naturally! The creative core of Grassy Dread consists of Amren Acree and Rob Burns as a writing/production/performance duo. We both grew up in two very distant and different worlds – Hawaii and New York. We were exposed to lots of different rhythms that shaped us as artists.
Altwire [Omayra Lopez]: What’s your writing process like?
Grassy Dread [Rob and Amren]: By the time that our paths crossed we each embodied very diverse viewpoints on how reggae music should sound based on our musical backgrounds. In coming together we strive to set aside differences and allow for a new vision to take over – One that combines the best of both worlds. East Coast Hip-Hop and Dancehall flavors feature side by side with west coast Cali-Roots and Jawaiian tastes.
To respect and preserve the universality and authenticity of what reggae music has imparted to us our writing process usually resembles a type of back-n-forth collaborative effort where one will come up with an idea and, after articulating and forming it in basic terms, will pass it along to the other, giving full creative license and trusting him to bring his expertise to the idea and do “his thing” with the song.
This back-n-forth continues until, at a certain point in the process, the song begins to express itself in a way that was unanticipated by both parties. Then both of us as producers have to sort of back away and let the music itself have a voice in how she wants to be heard. For us as co-producers, this is where the real magic happens.
Altwire [Omayra Lopez]: What personal hobbies do you enjoy when you’re at home or off the stage?
Amren: I enjoy creating things with my hands, and refurbishing old furniture to give it new life. I also enjoy gaming or watching a good documentary or comedy during my downtime
Rob: I stay heavily involved in projects that build community. I also value some grounding alone time during which I will usually be studying topics that interest me like language and metaphysics.
We both love getting out into nature whenever possible.
Altwire [Omayra Lopez]: What advice would you give up and coming artists?
Grassy Dread [Rob and Amren]: Our advice to the up and coming artists everywhere and to the artist inside everyone, can be heard in our music. On our debut album – Loving Confrontation we encourage artists to not be afraid to let their “Lion roaar!”. And sometimes that “lion” can feel like a “lonely lion” as artists “walk alone” and trod their own “path of destiny”. If artists got a “Good Thing” in their hearts, we urge them to always stay true to themselves. But to do that you have to really know yourself. So realize that the art of living, and therefore every other art form in life, comes down to a collaborative effort between the parts of yourself that you are conscious of and the parts of self that you don’t know yet. Awareness is the key. You can find a lot more advice and encouragement along those lines contained in our new upcoming album – Lucid Living.
Altwire [Omayra Lopez]: What is the greatest advice you’ve ever received that has helped you in your career?
Grassy Dread [Rob and Amren]: A career means a path or road. The right path to take is always going to be the path that you make. In order to blaze your own trail and be sure that you are on the path that is right for you, then you have to first decide where you are going and then follow closely the compass of your own heart.
We see a lot of memes with little tidbits of helpful hints come across our path in this information age. If you follow reggae to any degree then you likely have noticed a ton of memes that have cute little quotes attributed to Bob Marley since his image is so iconic. Ironically many of these memes are things that he never said. But thankfully we have recordings from the legends of the past that can help us here today. There was one thing that the honorable Robert Nesta Marley did say in one of his last interviews and it is without a doubt the most versatile and timeless piece of counsel we can have or offer, especially for anyone striving to establish their career in this age of social media.
In the famous interview, when asked to “talk to the people” and tell them what he would if they were to “never hear his voice again” he said: “Well ya see the people have a voice inside of them that talk to them, ya know? That is a voice that the people must listen to. Because in everything you’re going to do there is a wrong way and a right way. And if you listen good you will know the right way.”
Altwire [Omayra Lopez]: What’s in store for the near future?
Grassy Dread [Rob and Amren]: Right now we are still in our humble beginning stages. But on the very near horizon is the launch of our new album – Lucid Living. So you can expect to see a few stellar singles accompanied by some beautiful art and impactful music videos over the coming months. And Grassy Dread will be on the road promoting the Lucid Living album on a west coast tour. So be checking for that. We would love to see and connect with people along the way.
Altwire [Omayra Lopez]: Is there a message you would like to send to your fans and our readers?
Grassy Dread [Rob and Amren]: One Love! It’s more than just a catchphrase it is a streaming feeling and a line of thought that, when combined, result in small but powerful actions capable of harnessing the positive vibration we all love in reggae music. So if you value reggae on any level then it is up to you to care for it and do your part to spread its nurturing influence in the world.