We first listened to Brick Grillins back in June of 2015, and it was just one of those happy coincidences while going through Soundcloud.

Since then, we have shared several of his tracks and projects, including some from his People&Places collective, which we are also big fans of, and have kind of accompanied his huge and constant evolution.

The Toronto-based artist is now getting ready to drop an EP with Gray Jacques, BiPolar, and we had the opportunity to ask him a few questions, which he was kind enough to reply to with a level of detail that we could only wish for.

 

1 – Introduce yourself.
As you know I go by Brick Grillins, my government name is Nick Skillins, I’m 22 and from Toronto, Canada. People always ask why my real name and rapper name are so similar and I guess there’s a few reasons. “Brick” was a nickname I picked up in Oklahoma City while i lived down there for a short period of time for school, mainly because of what I was selling. Long story. Coincidentally when I came back to Toronto, I was still very immersed in substances and my close homies started giving me these weird alter ego names when I was participating in whatever nonsense I was doing, they were all just played off my real name. Most of them sounded stupid as hell but for some reason I liked Brick Grillins, so it stuck.
2 – Have you always been surrounded by music? What drove you towards it or how did your first get in touch with Hip Hop?
I’ve loved music since I was little. When I was really young my dad had a Pearl drum set in the basement I used to hack around on, my passion from music mainly stemmed from that. I was like 4 years old so I was so bad but found it really entertaining. I was also that stupid little kid that would like, pretend to be in music videos when songs were playing on the radio, I don’t know if that makes any sense to yall haha. But man Sugar Ray would come on the radio and I’d be in the back seat of my mom’s van just going IN with these dumb little dance moves. I thought I was sick.
It was all top 40 though kinda shit in rotation, whatever my parents would play on the radio in the car. It was for Christmas when I was one year my sister gave me this burned CD of whatever she had been listening to at the time. I was skipping through songs and Dem Franchize Boyz – I Think They Like Me came on, I was like “man, where has this been all my life” hahaha. On God I listened to that junt 20+ times a day for the longest time. From there I really gained a passion for Hip-Hop and started searching around for other artists and sounds that appealed to me.
3 – How is it like to make music in a city where there’s a lot of talent and where there’s constantly new and great artists?
Toronto is a hub of so many creatives, it is craaaazy. I can honestly say the majority of the music I listen to comes out of Toronto. There’s definitely some Drake, The Weeknd and Party in rotation, but it is a lot of the smaller artists that have really grasped my attention. I think the amount of talent concentrated into one city is a good thing though. It’s a sort of quality control. If whatever you’re releasing out here doesn’t stand out, you can get overlooked very easily. This is a city where it is an absolute necessity to put your best foot forward every single time.
4 – It’s easy to tell that there’s something very real about you and that you’re not afraid to be yourself – does that make it easier for you to write and put things into tracks?
I appreciate that. It definitely helps with my writing no question. I find music as an outlet to talk about certain things I wouldn’t want to discuss otherwise. I kept a lot hidden up to that point. My dad being out of a job for 10 years, fucking up my scholarship getting injured etc. It’s why I started flipping whatever I could get my hands on while I was stuck down there so my parents wouldn’t have two shitty financial situations to worry about. I didn’t come from a broken home by any means, when I was younger we were well off, I was raised right, I had a well-rounded family, but that became part of the reason I was willing to do anything necessary to make sure I wasn’t a burden financially on what my parents had been going through at home at the time. I just got in with a bad crowd. Writing about it has made me come to terms with the highs and lows in my life. It’s given me the ability to turn a negative to a positive per se.
5 – What’s you normal writing process? Do you like to listen to beats first and then write? Do you write random and loose rhymes and then adapt them to instrumentals?
There really isn’t any set method to my writing. As long as I feel whatever I am writing is organic, I kind of just build from there. Sometimes a complete idea will be in my head right then and there, sometimes I’ll write half a verse and 3 months later the concept will put itself in my head and I’m like “Oh, this would probably complete the idea I was writing about forever ago”. I would say as of late though it’s been me sifting through Gray’s and D.R.O.’s production, all of their music makes me feel something, I’ve been finding it easier to create and complete concepts in songs lately.
6 – Where’s your favorite place to write?
Anywhere. sometimes I’ll be posted on my bed or something and a line will pop into my head, and I’ll write it down. Sometimes it’ll be me just going through the motions of the day and something will come to me, I’ll stop on spot and write it down on my phone and continue whatever I was doing. I like to write alone though. There’s very few people I can write around where I’m not disrupted.
7 – Tell us a bit more about the People&Places collective and how it all works.
People&Places is a collective D.R.O. and myself started shortly after meeting. We met after one of my performances and linked from there to make music in the future together. Once we got in the same room and started throwing ideas around we both realized there was some chemistry. All of the additions to P&P came very much the same way. Right place, right time based off organic connections built with other people in the city. It’s all in-house. Production, vocals, mixing and mastering, artwork etc. Although we do work with indiividuals outside the collective. We’re all for building each other up, whether it be in the collective or out of the collective.
8 – You have a very distinct style when it comes to music (with the adlibs, for example), did it come up naturally, or did you have to work on it?
I took a while to be honest. I’ve been writing for close to 4 years on the low. I didn’t want to put anything out until I could fully stand behind my product. That’s one of the biggest problems I see in artists today. They got this FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) mentality and feel the need to drop music constantly so opportunities don’t pass them by. In reality you create your own opportunities. Fuck riding waves. I just started releasing music a year ago, but even most of the earlier songs I dropped have been taken off the internet. Not because I didn’t like them, but because my style has changed, I have a more vivid idea of where I want my sound to go.
9 – You’re about to release an EP with producer and fellow People&Places member Gray Jacques, tell us a bit more about that.
I’m really excited about it. It’s called BiPolar EP and I definitely think it’s a level up for me. The concept reflects a lot of what I have gone through the past couple years as far as my personal life. It touches on both the extreme highs and lows. Usually when you move drugs you do them too, so my mood even up to now can swing up and down pretty abruptly. This has been in the works since May 2015, I’ve written half the content on a high, and half the content on a low. Not purposely, Gray and I have just made a gangggg of songs in that time and we sifted through our collection and chose the ones we thought reflected what it is like to feel like you’re flying one moment, and crashing the next.
10 – Was your collaboration with Jacques a natural process, when did you stop and say “ok, let’s do an EP”?
It kinda just created itself. Like I said since D.R.O. introduced us we just have been constantly making music with no real plan in mind, just whatever happens happens kind of approach. Spending as much time together creating as we did, the concept for an EP started creating itself, and when it became apparent to both of us, we were like “ok let’s get it then”.
11 – You have released two singles so far, “Pretty Boy” and “Selfish”, and it seems like you’re trying a new approach and delivery, which is definitely refreshing and shows versatility. How important is that to you, and is it something specific for this project, or something that we can constantly expect from you in the long term?
I appreciate that. I never want to be content with one sound. Eventually if you put the same sonic vibes out or the same message out again and again, people will lose interest. Nobody wants to hear what they think they have already heard before. People want to be refreshed with ideas and emotions in music they can relate to. Very few relate to extraordinary, over the top, money basking lifestyles. I mean I want that shit but I don’t have it yet, so I wouldn’t talk about it. Sure there’s an odd line in there about money or something because at one point flipping packs was going well for me, but for right now I find it hard to write about content like that when I walk outside to get in my shitty 1998 Honda Accord.
12 – What are some of your favorite artists right now?
Too many to name in my city, but in the last 24 hours I’ve listened to Drew Howard, Devontee WOE, Jazz Cartier, Tripsixx, Teddy. I love KEY!, Danny Seth, I like Swae Lee cause he got a high pitched voice like mine but makes it sound cool which is hard as fuck, I don’t think mine sounds cool to be honest, I just know it sounds different. The music and artists I listen to change all the time though. I’m always trying to find new sounds and vibes that can I can put my own twist on and incorporate into my own.
13 – What are your top albums from 2015?
I liked a lot of albums that came out this year but I can’t say I had a favorite. Albums/EPs and all that shit I find funny though. I find it hard to compare one to another. Project to project, artist to artist. They’re all influenced by completely different things and express them in completely different ways and are made by people who live completely different lives. I just listen to music and appreciate it for what it is.
14 – Where is your dream venue to do a show in?
Coachella fam. I want Cali weather, Cali bud, and like a million people sweating in front of me. Far-fetched but that would be lit.
15 – And finally, what can we expect from you in the near future, and what are the plans for the People&Places collective?
We’re just taking this stride by stride. But for certain you can expect some People&Places headlined shows in Toronto, as well as a few shows we’ll be involved with in the U.S.
Also, I can’t put a date on it, but expect a full P&P tape. It’ll be a big collaborative effort of the entire squad on one project.
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We hope that you now feel a bit more enlightened about Brick and his craft, but to get to know him a bit better, nothing like listening to him, and you can do so at his Soundcloud.
Stay tuned for more news from Brick and the People&Places collective, and especially for the release of the BiPolar EP.