Christian Mochizuki aka Graves is a producer that you shouldn’t be sleeping on. The Hawaiian native made a breakthrough in the music industry when working for Kanye. His hard and dedicated work as a sound engineer put a Grammy on his shelf, but that wasn’t enough. Christian went on a solo ride and ever since has never stopped surprising his fans. His dark and grimy bass sounds skillfully mixed with rap and hip-hop beats create a very unique experience for his listeners. His desire to create something that would be remembered for years to come curated the moniker he know uses, Gaves.
We caught up with Christian before the show on his tour and chatted about his career before and after Ye, his relationship with music, respect for RL Grime and favorite Vine.
Have a listen to our interview, or read it down below.
So we always start our interview with a simple and basic question about your name. So why did you choose the name graves?
Graves? It actually came from kind of a darker place, it is we are graves. So we are graves as in kind of like humanity and it was just that I felt like we’re all just kind of a waste of space.
That’s how it came from. We are graves. Yeah.
That is very interesting.
And then I bumped down to graves.
Can you describe your relationship with music? How did it all start for you?
Music? I mean my entire life I’ve been just a big fan of music. I listened to a lot of it, my dad listened to a lot of rock music, Guns N’ Roses, I grew up on that. I liked Michael Jackson as a kid and I started playing in punk bands and I did that whole scene. I played in rock bands and then I went to engineering school, came back home to Hawaii and started working with Kanye. I did that. I worked for Ye for a little bit. And then when he got married to Kim is when I went off and did my own project.
Where did you go to school?
In Arizona. It was just for audio engineering.
Oh Wow. Interesting. So your music is a wide mixture of different genres going from future bass to hip hop. How would you describe your current sound?
I brought it all back to my roots. Now it’s back to a lot of rock music, a lot of hip hop, obviously I grew up with a lot of that as well. A lot of rock though. Everything goes back down to like when I was in rock bands and going to see shows for the first time and wanting to give kids that same feeling.
Is there a genre that you haven’t tried yet but wanted to?
Oh, probably country music. I love it. I love country music. People like dog on country music a lot that are in our electronic lane or in hip hop or rap or whatever. But I think there is a lot of great songwriting in there. And I love Nashville and there’s so many talented producers out there and songwriters that I want to go and work with.
Wow. That’s amazing. So you mentioned that you worked for Kanye. When working for him how and when did you realize that you want to be a producer?
Oh, it never really came about that way. We’re just working on music for Kanye. I was an engineer for him. And then the guy who actually taught Kanye how to produce, taught me how to produce, taught me how to make beats. And then it kinda just like snowballed from there. So I never really thought about it. I was kind of just doing it. I never really thought like, oh, I want to be this music producer. It was kinda like we’re just all working music together and I didn’t really know it was like producing, we’re just making music.
I know that you won a Grammy, so how did it feel to win a Grammy and is it a goal for you as an Edm producer as well?
For sure. I definitely want to go back and get another Grammy with my name on it, like for the Graves project for sure under whatever genre we decided to move into later. yeah, yeah, definitely to go back and get another Grammy.
Nice. Well, I really hope it happens.
All right. Did you find it hard to transition from behind the scenes to a literally on stage performance?
Oh yeah. Yes and no. I mean, before I did this, I was in rock bands before this. It’s very similar. We go out and play shows, you got three or four of your other friends on stage. So it’s a little easier I guess. And it’s live music, so it’s like you can kind of fuck up and do whatever, but I don’t know. It’s cool.
I know that Baauer and Diplo have a big influence on your music. Would you want to collaborate with them in the future?
For sure. Me and Harry Bauer been going back and forth on records for a long time and we just never finished anything. We’re definitely going to finish something this year for sure.
Yeah. And Diplo is the G, he’s the OG, he’s one of the forefathers of all the shit we do, you know, combining all the different genres together and making it something cool for the fucking kids to digest, you know? Yeah, of course it’d be great to work with all them. Yeah I actually worked with Diplo on a couple of records. Just nothing ever came out.
What is your favorite producer that you worked with?
My favorite producer outside of the Ye? Outside of Kanye? Probably Henry RL. Yeah. He’s one of the best producers I know. And you know, one of the best ears I’ve got to say, he’s got such a really refined ear on what’s good and what’s bad and yeah.
Speaking of him, how did you guys come about the latest track?
Oh Man. Yeah, so the demo had fired up. I was working on it for a little bit and he heard it and he wanted to work on it. So I sent it over and it was literally like less than a day, he got back with it and was like, let’s fucking send it. And I was like, Bro, it’s going to be sent. And that was it. That was kinda it. And then yeah, it was pretty quick from the point where we finished the record to the point where we started playing it out and then shortly after, I mean, yeah, it just got released I think last week. So yeah, it’s been good. People loved the record .
Oh yeah, it’s amazing.
Yeah. Thank you. Yeah.
Is there a track that is special to you that you produced?
I mean I feel like writing music is like… that question is similar to what’s your favorite tattoo, you know what I mean? Like tattoos on you and music to me is very similar. They are timestamps of where you are in your life, you know, as a producer. And when we write a song, we’re writing a record and it’s like a audio, a sonic reflection of how, where we are at mentally. You know, with our lives. And that’s kind of the same thing for me. Like with tattoos. When I get tattoos I don’t get anything with a significant meaning, but the meaning of the tattoos, just kind of like this is a timestamp on for your life and your growth. You’re going to remember everything from this little section based off of this, you know?
Yeah. So for me, that’s how I kind of look at music. So they’re all special and I don’t want to sit there and point one that’s more special than the others because it’s all just different times of your life.
Gotcha. So speaking about that, you said that your graves was very dark? Has it changed since then?
Yeah, for sure. I’m definitely just like a lot of people out there, you know, still dealing with depression and everyone does though, you know, like even the happiest people. They’re all, everyone deals with some sort of like form of depression or like social anxiety or something like that. You know, everyone has their demons that they’re fighting with and battling with at all times. So, you know? I feel like I’m in a better head space now, but you know, the demons never leave and I think everyone can agree on that.
Absolutely. When you’re writing music, do you ever have like, Aha moments?
For sure. There’s definitely a lot of those. Those are good moments to have.
Do they happen in funny places?
Most of the time it’s just in my apartment when I’m writing and I have a good moment. I like to be at home when I write nowadays. I write a lot on the road or in studios with other people. But yeah, most of my big Aha moments are at home. I feel like it’s because I’m more comfortable. I can just like eat a bowl of cereal if I want and then sit at the computer with the bowl of cereal, whereas like if I’m working in a big session with big producers or other artists and songwriters, you can’t just do whatever you want. And I feel like it’s a different type of energy for sure.
Do you still live in Hawaii?
I still live in Hawaii. Born, raised, will forever live there. That’s my hometown.
Does it have an impact on your music?
It actually does not. That’s what I kind of like about it. It’s kind of nice. I’m out 3000 miles away from pretty much… any other nearest city is about 3000 miles away from us. And it’s nice. It’s like I’m influenced just by what’s going on in my own head. And that’s kind of nice to not have the background noise, the static behind you of people trying to influence you or what they think is right you know? And I feel like in LA, I love being in LA for writing songs with other people, but I feel like you’re so influenced by everyone around you there. And then a lot of the major cities, you know, you’re very influenced by what’s around you. So that’s why being in Hawaii, I mean we only really have Hawaiian music and reggae music. That’s kinda the big thing out there. So I’m not making that for the graves project. I do produce a lot of reggae bands though. I produce this one. I produce the Green, for Rebelution, I don’t know if you guys heard of them. They’re pretty big. Yeah. I think those are the two… and J Boog. Those are the three big reggae artists that I produce for.
Are there any up and coming artists that you follow?
Up and coming artists? Man, there’s so many nowadays, especially with the Internet, it’s like there is just so many, they’re everywhere, you know? I really like all the kids in Vancouver. That’s where my brother, Nathan, is from. (Ekali) he’s the leader of the pack. He’s the mob boss and all the kids under him are fucking sick, their great, there’s like Cozway, Juelz, tails. And RL loves all of them as well. I think a bunch of them did remixes on his package. The remix package for Nova.
So after this tour, what’s next in the works for Graves?
Oh, we’re just releasing tons of music this year. We’re going fucking absolutely ape shit with music. We’re just working tons of music. I think we’re just playing a bunch of festivals and then probably close up the year with the, probably another tour at some point. But yeah, just a lot of music for sure.
Is there a festival that you haven’t played yet, but it’s like you’re a bucket festival?
Definitely ‘Chella for sure. Coachella’s definitely been bucket list. That and I guess Lollapalooza. I played there once with Floss, but it was like a Floss set. But that was crazy. It was me, Floss, Chance the Rapper and Post Malone. That was a pretty crazy thing we did. Yeah, that was really crazy. That was probably the most amount of bodies I’ve ever seen in front of me in my life. That was a lot of people. Yeah.
So I’ve got one more question for you. Do you watch vines?
I do watch some vines.
All right. So this is an important question. So what is your favorite vine of all time?
I mean for me the most iconic is gotta be any shit that Getter did. The “Suh Dude?”. Okay, so did the “Suh Dude?” came from a vine? Or was it from YouTube?
It was Vine.
That to me is incredible. That turned Getter overnight into a fucking like huge celebrity. I feel like, you know, like kids to this day still are like “Suh Dude?”, you know? It’s like Getter destroyed that in my opinion. That’s crazy that he did that from vine. What’s your favorite one?
“Zach Stop.” Zach was kicking too much and he got in trouble. There is this dude he is just like kicking like this *imitates the kicking motion* and his friends are like: Zach stop. You’re going to get in trouble! and next thing you know the cops are having him in cuffs.
Yeah. That’s like the funniest shit ever.
I need to see this!
We even googled many years after to see what happened to Zach and no one knows it.
That’s so funny! I guess that was a pretty viral vine?
It’s so stupid. It’s just amazing. And “Welcome to Chili’s.” It’s iconic too, or like, “it’s Wednesday My Dudes,” stupid shit like that.
It’s funny though, right? Simple shit but so funny.
Thank you so much. That was amazing.