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‘Wild’ turn: Grieves steps out of comfort zone for latest album

Benjamin Laub stepped out of his comfort zone on his latest project.

It was a learning experience – both personal and professional.

The 33-year-old hip-hop artist is better-known by his stage name Grieves.

For the better part of 2015, after touring for months, he retreated to Stockholm to begin working on new music.

The result of the yearlong process is his new album, “Running Wild.”

And it was quite a journey.

“I didn’t want to stay there the whole time,” he says in a recent interview. “I did about seven or eight trips throughout the whole year. I was building tracks so that towards the end of the process we would have something.”

The Seattle-based musician says “Running Wild” took him out of his comfort zone.

His previous four albums were within his comfort zone of being home.

Being in Stockholm, Laub was able to challenge himself with writing and communication.

“Here I was in this country where I don’t speak the language,” he says. “When you go out to party with people, they forget they are speaking Swedish. I was left out. That forced me to spend time with the music and with myself. It pushed me into new places.”

Laub worked with Swedish producer Chords.

“He’s such a progressive dude,” he says. “He’d work on a beat and would push me out of my boundaries.”

In his 10 years in the music industry, Laub had never been isolated while working on an album.

“I’d be at my studio at home, and I would be on my phone and getting texts. They were all petty distractions,” he says. “When I was in Stockholm, I didn’t add an international plan to my phone. I would listen to some crazy Swedish jazz records. It got me back to the music, and I looked at it from a different perspective. That’s why there are some weird songs. I’m a weird dude.”

Laub also learned that he’s uber-insecure about his music.

“I make a certain kind of music,” he says. “When I do step out of that box and seeing people react to that, it’s scary for me. It has to happen. I can’t be afraid. I’d rather be scared than unhappy. Being scared means that it’s a new thing for me. It’s all been uncharted territory for me.”