by Logan Lowrey-Rasmussen
In the afternoon of late November, I drove up to Scottsdale to interview Garrett “Tryb” Namenye, a DJ and producer based in the Valley who has not only opened for substantial names, but managed to build a strong, interactive following with bass-heavy music and inventive branding. While most DJs hide behind various personas and ego barriers, Tryb is managing to break these artificial walls by staying true to his work and gearing down on the nitty-gritty aspects of his career and family.
With this in mind, I was given permission to come inside his apartment to not only talk about his new Contact EP, but give listeners a better insight to the man behind the artist: get settled in for “At Home with Tryb.”
Logan Lowrey-Rasmussen: Can you tell us about your relation to the city of Phoenix and its music scene?
Tryb: So, I moved here in 2015, and from the get-go, I just got into the scene like any way I could get in. I was flyering, doing online promotion, any way I possibly could. Playing house-parties for people I didn’t even know. I would see someone online saying, “Hey I’m throwing a house-party, looking for a DJ,” and I would be out there. I got involved in any way I possibly could.
Tell us about the music you make: what would you consider your genre?
There’s a huge delay between what’s hot off the studio and what is [released]. [In relation to the] music I released a month ago, those [tracks] are probably six to seven months old [from when I made them]. The stuff I’m going to be doing in the future is more aggressive, like if dubstep and bass music had a baby with rap, is what I am creating. Moving forward, everything I do is going to have myself performing live vocals over my tunes, and really developing / harnessing my vocal abilities [to] break that barrier between DJ and crowd. More like, somebody interacting with the crowd while they are spinning records; sort of like an MC, but I don’t consider myself a rapper.
I remember when I first wrote about your work, you had a word or nickname for your kind of music. What did you consider your earlier work?
It was called “Kuduro”, and it was a music style that came from South Africa; pretty much four-on-the-floor BPM, no snares on the two and four, so it was like that [begins rhythmically clapping], you know, that kind of thing?
Now it’s heavier and more bass-oriented; I’ve lost that reggae vibe, and I now like to think of [my music] as more refined and urban, if you will. I still call my remixes “Frootlegs,” and I still do since its apart of the brand.
One thing about your whole “Tryb” image is the Pineapple; can you tell us about the history behind it?
Way back in the 14-1500’s when the Americas were explored, they discovered Pineapples. They aren’t native to Europe and they would import Pineapples [which was] expensive as hell due to shipping them all the way over. Only the rich could have these Pineapples; they would take this fruit and would “rent” them out to people, like parties. They would have parties full of people and pineapples, and it was a sign of hospitality and wealth. It was something I brought on, and there’s an interesting duality to Pineapples: it’s a fruit, obviously, but it’s a really aggressive fruit. If you look at the leaves, they are extremely pokey…
It’s an alien looking fruit.
Yeah, 100 percent, and also, it’s also acidic. If you kept the fruit in your mouth, it would eat your mouth away. It’s also really sweet, so there’s that duality of aggressive and really sweet. Moving forward, that’s the kind of music I want to do: really aggressive music and slow-jams.
I didn’t know one of the cornerstones of this interview would be discovering how frightening the Pineapple is [chuckles]. It’s a very predatorial fruit.
It does not want to be eaten!
With your music, what venues have you played around the valley and who have you opened for?
I’ve played everywhere from Loco Patron down in Scottsdale, The Pressroom, Rawhide multiple times, Monarch, AURA Nightclub (where we had the Contact Tour), Bar Smith —
Didn’t you play Goldrush? I feel like I caught your set at Goldrush [Music Fest].
I played the first day of Goldrush on the second stage, that was a really good experience, shout out to Relentless Beats for that. I love playing festivals because it’s people that know me and my music. You name [a venue in Arizona] and I’ve played it.
Before I came to Arizona, I used to DJ in Hip Hop clubs, college dances, weddings, car shows, fundraisers, 5Ks, any way I could play music, I did it. I’ve opened for NGHTMRE, Boregore, Kai Wachi, Eptic, DJ Blend, Cesqeaux; I’ve played Phoenix Lights, Trap Fest, yeah.
Have you toured out of state at all?
Not out of state, no. This first [Contact Tour], I wanted to do Flagstaff and Phoenix. I wanted to make it super short-and-sweet: the EP was only two songs, so two cities, why not?
They’re very different scenes, anyway, and I think it captures two different audiences.
It’s such a vibe up there. I love it [in Flagstaff], there was so many people who came out, it was poppin’. I didn’t expect it to be that good; after you’ve been playing so many shows, 400-500 different sets, you can sometimes expect to flop; but it popped off and it was awesome.
When I saw you opening for Boregore at AURA, I did notice you wanted to make that connection you mentioned between the DJ and their audience. You have a lack of ego, and seem to be very casual with the crowd. Tell me more about the ways you connect with the crowd.
Honestly, I’ve never been shy when I’m performing; I’m normally introverted, but on stage, I’m extremely aggressive, I — can I swear?
Yeah, I don’t give a fuck; same with the duality of the Pineapple. On stage, I’m aggressive “let’s get turnt” you know, rowdy. One of the ways I’ve developed it is having fun. I’ll never spin records I don’t want to spin, unless someone pays me stupid amounts of money, then by all means.
I’ll never spin any records I don’t have fun listening to, or like, getting rowdy over. People can see that, and stage presence is super important to me. There’s certain artists who have good music, but their performance is way sub-par. First and foremost, I want to put a good performance on. What’s the difference between putting on Spotify and listening to my music, paying me, if I’m not going to do that? Unless I’m there to enhance my music, then there should be no reason to pay me or come out. It makes people more comfortable and engaged being in the crowd. If they see me on stage losing it and doing dumb shit, then they are going to be comfortable doing that.
Tell us about your Contact EP; this seems like a big release for you. What makes this different from your past releases?
I think [by] going through the adolescence and “puberty” of my music career, I realized I could make records that resonate with people. There’s been more hype behind this release than any of my other releases. It was super cool to see, and even random people have been blowing me up about it. What’s also different, is the mixing and engineering is better [while] the composition is sound, in my opinion.
[Tryb turns on “Up For The Gang” featuring J’Glory from the Contact EP]
This one is my favorite from the EP because it has interesting flow and the rapper on it who I went to school with, we never collaborated. I had written the drop and breakdown on my laptop speakers and said “Hey, you should really hop on this, it’ll be really tight.” I didn’t even use headphones or anything, I sent it to him, and he was able to kill it, while I do the second verse. I like it because it sounds super aggressive and eerie, rather than the happy-go-lucky music of past Tryb.
This is like Trap for grown-ups.
I was afraid when I used “Trap” around you because it can either have a very positive or negative connotation, depending on the artist. I think your sound does have trap elements, but it doesn’t carry the “college-kid” stereotype/aesthetic of Trap.
Exactly. Do you mind if I show you some unreleased shit? This is the kind of direction where Tryb is going to go in, hot off the presses. This is one of my favorite jammers; it’s more avant garde, and I’ve played with different tempos not normally played out. This is me getting more in-touch with the songwriting aspect of it and using my vocals; the vocal-processing on this is my favorite. I’m super excited about it.
[Tryb proceeds to play a dark, bass-heavy slow-jam with Tryb on vocals ]
This is at 50 BPM, which is almost unheard of. It has a Ghostemane-sort of vibe.
Yeah, brooding is a good word.
This is going to test the faith of your fans.
I played it out on the Contact Tour and it got a really good response.
A lot of your sound is known for these uppity, bright synths that get you pumped, but holy crap, this gives me chills. It’s a very dark direction, and a total 180 from your current work.
It’s very dark. Without sounding crazy, you know how you have forces of good and evil, shit like that? I wrote this about the forces of evil that are trying to take over my life and fuck up my shit. It has a spiritual connotation, if you will, and I’m glad I have an outlet to put that out there. Luckily, I got a jammer out of it, so I’m happy. I wanted it to be provocative, like, “Oh shit!”
People are going to think you’re the devil! You took them on this happy joyride, and here’s…this! However, moving away from the music and on to your life, you’re wearing a fedora right now. Tell us about how this… style came about: is this a promo stunt, a life choice, what the hell is going on here?
Two months ago I was like, “whatever, I want to post something on Facebook,” so I said, “if this gets 1,000 likes, I will wear a fedora for a month.” It got 200-230, until two months after it was posted, my friend Jeff Underdown commented on it and brought it in front of everyone’s feeds. Everyone started liking it and went almost viral, where random people I didn’t even know [interacted with the post]. It was right before [my set] at Goldrush, so I thought, “I don’t want to play my first festival in..a fedora?”
To be honest, you look like you hang out at The Handlebar. You look “trendy,” but at the same time, it’s a fedora..?
Totally. I just got a haircut and donated my hair two days ago, and I don’t know how it looks now —
Anyways, I digress, it got 1,000 likes, and I had this plan: “when my EP gets released, I’m going to change the status to have the link to my EP, and I’m going to do the same thing where I’m going to bump it with my interaction.” No one had understood what I had done [chuckles].
I noticed before you created a personal Instagram account, it’s obvious on your social media that your family and home are important to you. You’re not like a lot of DJs where there’s a cold disconnect; there’s a lot of DJs and producers out there who you don’t know if they are approachable or not, yet you are very open with your life on Facebook. Tell us about your space studio/apartment.
When we moved from our last apartment, we wanted to have a smaller space — we are minimalistic, it’s a two-bedroom, and we converted one of the bedrooms into a studio. What I love about it, is that the space is home-base. I love going out for walks, the park is right down there, I can work all day, and still have my family space. A lot of people trip about what [material goods] they want, but this is a humble apartment; it’s not very special, while the area we are in is decent, but even if I popped off with a decent amount of money, I would still want a small space. Even in my studio — I could have so much more shit right now with all my gear, but honestly, all I need is my laptop and headphones.
You do a lot with a little.
Exactly! I take that approach 100%. I have enough material to make a Grammy award-winning tune, the operator is the only thing that needs work.
Tell me about your family: how did you meet your wife, and start your family?
I’m originally from Spring Lake, Michigan. My wife is actually my backdoor neighbor from when I was thirteen, we were on a field trip, and she was my friend’s cousin, so I saw her, and was like “damn, she’s beautiful;” we were thirteen, so I was probably like, “[high-pitched voice] wow she’s cute” and like, whatever. But I will always remember that moment in my mind until I die.
Nothing happened for ten years, we hung out, didn’t date, and my friend group asked, “are you gonna date Theresa?” I was like, “No, she’s loud and obnoxious, why would I do that [chuckles]. There is absolutely no way this would work out between us.” In junior year of college, we both came back home and started hanging out. Neither of us were dating anyone, and I thought, “wow, she’s really cool and I can see this working.” We hung out the entire summer, and she was going to study abroad for one semester in Austria, and I just started DJing. We asked ourselves, “is this really prudent?”
We did long distance until we graduated, and it takes a lot of fucking work. I was not responsible at the time, but I had a streak of responsibility, and I was like, “no we shouldn’t do this, this would be super stupid.” We didn’t talk for a week, and then I hit her up, “Hey, let’s hang out.” We walked around the neighborhood, talked, and I said “If you’re still down to do this, we should totally just do it.” That’s how I asked her out.
We did long distance, graduated college, got married, moved out here across the nation without living together, and now we have a kid. It’s crazy.
Are you spiritual at all? I’ve low-key noticed there’s a few symbols around here.
I got confirmed in the Catholic Church this Sunday. I grew up Protestant, didn’t really practice anything, and then I became more spiritual, did Yoga, etc., and I just got confirmed on Sunday. [I had] tried three times in my life, but it didn’t work out. My faith is never something I would bring up with somebody, since the nature of organized religion has hurt so many different people. The reason why I do music is to reach people who wouldn’t necessarily be able to be reached. I don’t usually ever talk about it, unless someone asks.
I practiced Yoga for a solid year and I think that helped me out. It enhanced my Catholic faith, if you will. As long as you live a good life and do more good than evil, I know for me, that Christ plays a huge part in it. It may not play a part in, let’s say you, or someone else’s life, but it’s up to you to figure out where you lie spiritually. [Humans] are spiritual beings, and there’s so much we don’t understand about our reality.
Thanks for sitting down with me and letting us get an in-depth view of “At Home with Tryb.” Is there anything you would like fans to know about you that they don’t know already?
I would say, never lose the kid inside you. Don’t settle for what other people tell you. Our entire economic, social structure is based upon preconceived notions about what an individual needs to be: and fuck that! All it is, is “the man” trying to put you down and make you a [commodity] than an actual person. Each person has a calling to be the best version of themselves; you can spend so much time worrying about what your parents say, what your teachers say, whatever. Fucking Einstein, he was trash at school; you know? If he didn’t branch off and do that shit, then we would be out of Einstein. To be your full self, love yourself and be confident. No matter what you’re going through, your skills, or the dumb shit you’ve done, you deserve love and deserve to be loved, to be the best person you can possibly be.
For more Tryb, check out his website.