Grandson—aka the Los Angeles-based artist, Jordan Benjamin—is an optimist. When the rain pours, that just means more flowers. If one plan has to fold, that must mean another is about to open. If he’s at the end of one road, turn left or right, a new road is right there. That’s the spirit the musician has used throughout his career. And whether fans notice it explicitly or not, it’s present and it resonates in his music. But in order to maintain this sense of optimism, something must hold. Grandson is rooted in an aim to make work that feels honest and engenders self-satisfaction, pride. It’s the result of myriad hours spent and almost as many musical influences. Today, with an acclaimed debut LP in his rearview along with recent collaborations with artists like Kesha, Travis Barker, and Vic Mensa, grandson is slated for a swath of tour dates in 2022.
“I try to focus,” grandson tells American Songwriter, “and then refocus my compass towards making things that feel honest and I’m proud of. Some of the things will get played all over the world and help me live out my rock star fantasies and other things will be for me and the people that love me and that’s okay, too.”
Above all else, the 28-year-old New Jersey-born grandson is measured. He’s analytical and thorough-minded. It’s the product of a sharp intellect combined with diverse interests. If one path goes dark, there’s always another to jump back to. For example, when tours for artists like Avril Lavigne and Imagine Dragons and his own headlining tour sprouted, he knew he had to put away plans for a deluxe release of his 2020 LP, Death of an Optimist. Nimble toes win the modern-day, after all. Now, his future musical endeavors are focused on his sophomore release down the road.
“Such a big theme of my work is finding optimism,” grandson says. “Trying to stay confident we can put on these shows and be safe and responsible and give people an outlet, a release, something they’ve been looking forward to. Now, there’s nothing to do but pack up my gear and hit the road.”
Growing up, grandson was exposed to music, and perhaps more importantly, recording music from an early age. His father had his own little studio in a broom closet in the family basement full of old synths and other equipment that the kids weren’t allowed to touch for fear of breaking it. But the idea, nevertheless, was planted; music was treated with respect and dignity, not as some frivolous lark. As a boy, he listened to classic rock. His siblings showed him hip-hop. He played acoustic guitar, discovering Jack Johnson and Ben Harper and later Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave.
“I talk to a lot of young people who feel a certain anxiety around finding their own purpose,” grandson says. “I’ve been one of those people who are really fortunate to have had that instinct early on.”
Grandson likes the work. The gratification he gets from learning something new, achieving something big in his field—these are the moments that drive him.
“It doesn’t matter what your passion is,” he says, “once you start falling in love with the work itself, of practicing and showing up and the repetition of it, then you can really—it can really take you somewhere.”
As a teenager, grandson got some helpful recording equipment. He was able to get his hands on a demo of the Ableton software. He produced music, using hip-hop aesthetics and some live instrumentation, too. He gravitated to people who liked music and wanted to make it. As a college student in Toronto, Canada, he went to study education, thinking he might become a teacher. Outside of school, he started DJing and promoting shows, selling tickets. Grandson later dropped out of college and began working with music full-time.
“That’s when I moved to L.A.,” he says, “made the jump over here and spent a couple of years finding and developing my sound.”
He dove back into artists like Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Roots. Also groups like Limp Bizkit, Deftones. Soon, formally, his moniker grandson was born. It came from a stroke of inspiration: to combine different elements of the music he loved into a new sound. He calls it “making constellations” from these different points of musical light in the sky. Today, grandson notes, there is so much music in the world, it’s hard for any new artist to stand out. Everyone has multiple interests, influences. The only key is to remain true to self.
“It’s a challenge for songwriters,” he says, “to find their unique expression while also at the same time be building a sense of momentum, as far as who you are.”
Grandson’s first breakout hit was the song, “Blood // Water.” The track hit in 2018 and kept going for months, landing on television shows, playlists, and other tastemaker locales. Today, grandson says, the track opened a lot of doors. It enabled a world tour and afforded him breathing room to work more. These are important factors for burgeoning artists, a sect of people who can feel self-doubt like its oxygen. But just because someone has a hit (the song currently has some 15 million YouTube streams) doesn’t mean it’s all peachy keen. It can make an artist feel like every song will be a hit, it can alter expectations. Since then, grandson has worked to cultivate his sound, his catalog, and relationships with other creative people.
“A lot of these opportunities came from having a clear identity as a songwriter,” grandson says. “Having a through-line of my sound while exploring different topics. And then trusting that opportunities will come from that consistent vision.”
One such opportunity was the theme song he wrote for the popular D.C. comic book movie Suicide Squad. That film’s director, James Gunn, reached out to grandson and they developed a mutual friendship. Then when the opening came for the song, grandson was ready. Up next, though, is a cornucopia of tour dates for the musician. But he’s looking forward to them. Performing on stage is a boon to his mental and physical health, he says. And he likes bringing his uplifting messages to towns across the map.
“That’s why I do it,” grandson says. “When I hear something that touches a feeling that I needed to feel, it makes me feel human, makes me feel a part of something bigger than myself. I’m just so grateful.”
GRANDSON 2022 HEADLINING AND FESTIVAL TOUR DATES:
Saturday, Feb 26th – Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theatre *w/Royal & The Serpent & Oxymorrons
Sun, Feb 27th – Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theatre *w/ Royal & The Serpent & Oxymorrons
Tues, Mar 1 – Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom *w/ Royal & The Serpent & Oxymorrons
Wed, Mar 2 – Seattle, WA – The Crocodile *w/ Royal & The Serpent & Oxymorrons
Fri, Mar 4 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Complex *w/ Royal & The Serpent & Oxymorrons
Sat, Mar 5 – Englewood, CO – Gothic Theatre *w/ Royal & The Serpent & Oxymorrons
Mon, Mar 7 – Phoenix, AZ – Van Buren *w/ Royal & The Serpent & Oxymorrons
Tues, Mar 8 – Albuquerque, NM – Sunshine Theatre *w/ Royal & The Serpent & Oxymorrons
Sat, Mar 12 – San Antonio, TX – Paper Tiger *w/ Royal & The Serpent & Oxymorrons
Sun, Mar 13 – Houston, TX – Scout Bar *w/ Royal & The Serpent & Oxymorrons
Tues, Mar 15 – Orlando, FL – The Plaza Live *w/ Royal & The Serpent & Oxymorrons
Wed, Mar 16 – Tampa, FL – The Orpheum *w/ Royal & The Serpent & Oxymorrons
Tues, Mar 22 – Charlotte, NC – The Underground *w/ Royal & The Serpent & Oxymorrons
Wed, Mar 23 – Madison, TN – Eastside Bowl *w/ Royal & The Serpent & Oxymorrons
Fri, Mar 25 – Baltimore, MD – Sound Stage *w/ Royal & The Serpent & Oxymorrons
Sat, Mar 26 – Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer *w/ Royal & The Serpent & Oxymorrons
Wed, Mar 30 – Detroit, MI – St. Andrews Hall *w/ Royal & The Serpent & Nova Twins
Thurs, Mar 31 – Columbus, OH – Newport Music Hall *w/ Royal & The Serpent & Nova Twins
Sun, April 3 – Chicago, IL – Bottom Lounge *w/ Royal & The Serpent & Nova Twins
Tues, April 5 – Minneapolis, MN – Varsity Theatre *w/ Royal & The Serpent & Nova Twins
Wed, April 6 – Omaha, NE – The Waiting Room *w/ Royal & The Serpent & Nova Twins
Fri, April 8 – Kansas City, KS – Granada Theater *w/ Royal & The Serpent & Nova Twins
GRANDSON’S IMAGINE DRAGONS SUPPORTING TOUR
Sun, February 6, 2022 – Miami, FL – FTX Arena
Tue, February 8, 2022 – Jacksonville, FL – VyStar Veterans Arena
Thu, February 10, 2022 – Raleigh, NC – PNC Arena
Sat, February 12, 2022 – Columbia, SC – Colonial Life Arena
Mon, February 14, 2022 – Belmont Park, NY – Long Island – UBS Arena
Wed, February 16, 2022 – Montreal, QC – Centre Bell
Sat, February 19, 2022 – Pittsburgh, PA – PPG Paints Arena
Mon, February 21, 2022 – Indianapolis, IN – Gainbridge Fieldhouse
Wed, February 23, 2022 – St. Louis, MO – Enterprise Center
GRANDSON’S AVRIL LAVIGNE SUPPORTING TOUR
Tues, May 3 – Moncton, NB – Avenir Centre
Thurs, May 4 – Halifax, NS – Scotiabank Centre
Sat, May 7 – Montreal, QC – Place Bell
Tues, May 10 – London, ON – Budweiser Gardens
Thurs, May 12 – Windsor, ON – Caesars Windsor
Fri, May 13 – Toronto, ON – Coca-Cola Coliseum
Tues, May 17 – Winnipeg, MB – Canada Life Centre
Wed, May 18 – Saskatoon, SK – SaskTel Centre
Thurs, May 19 – Edmonton, AB – Rogers Place
Sat, May 21 – Calgary, AB – Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
Sun, May 22 – Calgary, AB – Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
Tues, May 24 – Vancouver, BC – Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre
Wed, May 25 – Victoria, BC – Save-On Foods Memorial Centre
Photo courtesy Shore Fire Media