When you openly express yourself through a creative medium, overtime it changes the fabric of who you are. There’s a soft embed that resonates in every decision you make, and how you react to what life brings you. One could easily see failure, if they are not careful. You could become obsessed with searching for the thing that solidifies success. In this unfortunate circumstance you will inevitably find yourself ruminating; the one that sugar coats sublime tinges, and the one that decimates your spirit because that silent audience won’t speak to you. This only happens, of course, if you’re not focusing on the Art.
Trip-101 largely produced music for the moment. He played countless parties all over Michigan. The beauty of his talent was how involved he was with the community he cherished so hard. I don’t think I ever went to an underground party in my life, and Nick wasn’t there. The photos online of him standing over a plethora of analog sweetness can even trigger the curiosity in people who have no connection to the “scene.” Trip-101 embodied the scene harder than anyone I know. I can’t think of an individual who played two parts as well as he did. He could dance in the best circles at the party, sweaty and flipped out with the crowd. Or hop up on stage and drop a Live PA set like nothing you’d ever heard before in the Techno game.
For fifteen years, Nick Grumeretz was involved in Michigan’s underground electronic music scene. He first started producing when he was fourteen. My earliest memory of Nick and his music was visiting him in Ann Arbor, MI. He lived in the basement, cluttered as a thrift store. He was just starting to produce techno. It was raw, but I was envious of it; meaning it was good. I remember always thinking Nick made darker, yet worldly sounds.
The aspect of his creative ability that set him apart was how early he began to experiment. He figured out what he liked and went to bat for it, regardless of opinion. He was before the wave, way before it. Dude couldn’t drive, couldn’t legally do much of anything. So he explored his own depths. What a stud he was for that, and now that he’s gone, I see it. I want to tell him he likely inspired me to explore myself; motivated me to experiment with things.
Anytime I would visit Nick, he would share his sounds, always. I recall thinking almost every time, “How in the hell does he know how to use all this shit?” If you witnessed a set by him, or watched him comically as he stumbled through all those damn wires, you’d understand the level he operated on. He could organize fifteen pieces of gear like some mad scientist developing a new technology for the masses. The interesting aspect to the music was how hard it clashed with his personality. Which gets you thinking about who he was.
In part one of this story, I talked about how life runs on two parallel lines. I spoke about how Nick often hung out more on the free spirited side of himself. If you apply this theory to his music, you clearly see two forces at work, one light the other dark. Yes, he personally had some darker moments, and that came through in his sound. But his sense of humor told a different story, the one I remember more than anything. Everyone has a dark side, but I can’t think of a more dichotomous representation of a person’s creative work and their character in “normal” life. I wonder if Nick’s harsher periods were part of a larger meaning, almost like a great performer providing his own muse for his evening rituals. That has to be part of it.
The radical purveyors of youth always die young. They just do; they burn up the minutes quick in small segments as they cast bright memories for the rest of us. I’m too scared to sprint these days, and I’m not sure Nick ever truly slowed his steps in music, or in life. Isn’t it true that changing one thing changes something else you didn’t intend to part with? I think that’s right.
Music can transcend meanings, creating its own kind of definitions. You begin to form a new vocabulary with it. You start seeing yourself in the notes and how your own silhouette traverses the universe by the second. In my mind, I think its one of the most gratifying personal experiences an individual can have. To create something is to live.
Attempting to bloom the color around your life and around your soul transpires into real growth for yourself. Sadly, we may not realize this for years. It can take almost a lifetime to understand the point in which you do anything. As long as you’re true to yourself and the feeling you’re trying to emulate with instruments, nothing else really matters in that moment. Trip-101 had over a decade of these experiences. What a fantastic realization! He probably danced alone more than he danced with friends. I bet he laughed out loud when the beat he created fit perfectly with the atmosphere he got lost in, over and over again. I’m happy that I witnessed it, really happy.
The last conversation we had, Nick was excited about getting back into making new music. He admitted to feeling lost with it, and this is part of the process, to be sure. The mind seems to need a resting period from all things. The body benefits from this as well. Creating anything is like a drug: you can’t resist it, and you keep doing it.But over time, that spark wears off because you’ve over done the good in it.
Who are we kidding? If you’re involved in music, there’s a good chance you do drugs, or did drugs at some point along the way. Some of us get trapped in this world too easily, but that’s the nature of our inner self. Curiosity is a beautiful thing and in the same way, so is moderation. I’ve had periods in my own life where I treated just about everything in my path like a bag of trash I could throw around. I can’t blame that all on drug use, so I’ll blame ninety percent on that.
Drugs are fun; they help people feel better than they normally would. They take away pain and self doubt. They help us talk to people we’d normally be too afraid to approach. They implore us to open up our minds and see the stillness all around us, and that unmistakable sense that the earth moves, with or without you.
The amazing part to me is we get to choose if we want to take part in it. Hell, nowadays you can hardly meet anyone who isn’t on some lab made synthetic mood stabilizer. Sad but true, and too many of these subscribers truly believe they need it, or they’ll die.
EPILOGUE: What else can we say about the people we’ll never see again? Its an endless mind bomb, with all the fragments swirling in the wind: a weird silhouette object vividly spasming in the ether. It was really worth it, worth the effort and worth the time. You’ll never meet another Nick Grumeretz. He was an original.
I leave you with a line from Gary Snyder’s Turtle Island poem, “A Prayer For The Family.”
“Gratitude to Wild Beings, our brothers, teaching secrets,
freedoms, and ways; who share with us their milk;
self-complete, brave and aware
in our minds so be it.”
– Ryan Boos
To read part one of this story click here for hazyacres.com