FLIPTRACY: Crafting a unique sound
by Keenan Ketzner
One of the greatest achievements as an electronic producer is when their production is so seamless, it seems to defy its electronic origin entirely and sound as natural as the birds or rain. With well over a decade of hard work under his belt, producer FLIPTRACY (real name Josh Grzyb) holds this accomplishment ever more near and dear with each album he releases as he strives to capture the immediate, in-the-moment feeling of live music in his continually expanding electric universe.
Unique to many beat makers, Josh has a deep-rooted involvement with music, slowly nearing four decades of skill to draw upon.
“I started music really young: piano lessons in elementary school, followed by starting drum lessons in junior high. I’ve pretty much been really involved with music and art my entire life since 1st grade I bet. I’m 37 years old.”
It wasn’t even until several years with band experience behind him that he started to realize his growing desire to have more control over his own projects. He was originally a budding young drummer for an undisclosed group, but felt a sense of relief in the musical avenue of production saying that “it [seemed] really refreshing and exciting- although, since I knew very little about production I understood it would be a completely new thing to learn, invest in, and nurture into a very important aspect of my lifestyle…”
This desire to craft his own unique sound and style marked a turning point in Josh’s life. When he dawned the FLIPTRACY name, he took on an endeavor to make naturalistic beats for an indefinite period of time. Mainly with no features, no guests, even taking the graphic design of his projects into his own hands.
One of FLIPTRACY’s hallmark sounds and defining features is his love for physical hardware, and you will see all of it lovingly documented in the info sections of each album – from Tascam records, to Roland samplers, Korg synths, and even a few drum machines. Getting a real, tangible feel for the instrument was a necessity for Josh, citing that nearly everything he’s done has been run through his Roland SP-303 and 404’s.
Josh also notably managed to avoid the digital train entirely, citing that he doesn’t even have a computer in his studio. This is part of what brings his music so close in spirit to those who’ve inspired him such as J Dilla and Pete Rock. Josh hones in on this magical realm of human expression magnified by electronic means by literally grabbing hold of it as much as he can.
Josh is also specific with his delivery of music. His FLIPTRACY project is largely done without live performance to support it, and often sees it getting use in commercial areas such as promotions for snowboarding (a longstanding hobby for Josh). He doesn’t care as much about playing the music live, as much as he is concerned with getting the listener into the same relaxed headspace.
With passion for music still burning in his heart, Josh Grzyb has a project in the works about cave snowboarding, and following pursuit with his usual modus operandi, should be putting together another album in the very near future. And it’s something that we can probably all be looking forward to for a very long time.
“FLIPTRACY is something I can do my entire life until I’m dead. It adds a consistent feeling of opportunity and interest that may not always be there for physical things like skateboarding, snowboarding, and cycling. I can be making beats when I’m 80, but probably won’t be doing tailgrabs at Baker or noseslides on ledges at that point. So music production, combined with my graphic design projects, I’m confident will keep me feeling like ‘me’ as I get older and older.”
To listen in and learn more about FLIPTRACY, see fliptracy.bandcamp.com.
Published in the March 2016 issue of What’s Up! Magazine