John Grant performs in The Current studio

John Grant performs in The Current studio
John Grant performs in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
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John Grant performs in The Current studio (full session + interview)
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  • John Grant performs in The Current studio (full session + interview) 29:17
  • John Grant - Is He Strange (Live at The Current) 05:00
  • John Grant - Touch and Go (Live at The Current) 04:59
  • John Grant - Grey Tickles, Black Pressure (Live at The Current) 05:32

John Grant is a fascinating individual even before he starts performing music. In the course of his recent studio session at The Current, Grant spoke with host Mac Wilson about hanging out with Elton John (and about seeing Elton John's extensive photography collection), about the habits of the common snipe (including saying its name in razor-sharp Icelandic) and about the concept of masculinity in the United States.

"My albums are about what strength means in America; what it means to be a man; what it means to be a strong man; what it means to be a real man," Grant explains. "Because I believe, I have this on my record somewhere, I believe that strength often seems to be tied together with fear. If I'm feared, then I'm strong and successful. That seems to be an ongoing theme in American politics and in the American idea of masculinity. But that's not the whole picture, and so I want to look at that."

It's a theme Grant explores deeply in his song "Touch and Go," which is about Chelsea Manning. "I'm fascinated by people who go through these unbelievable experiences and aren't completely crushed by them and survive them, and figure out a way to thrive in spite of them," Grant says. "To survive something like transitioning to a female from a male in prison — I mean, that's something that I haven't dealt with. I don't know what it's like to feel that way, but I'm pretty sure that doing it in prison is probably not the most comfortable surroundings to go through such a transition. I'm just taking my hat off to her because I'm fascinated by that type of strength."

The song comes from Grant's latest album, Love Is Magic. Grant concludes his session with the song, "Grey Tickles, Black Pressure," a title that Grant, a polyglot, explained during his 2015 studio session is a literal-translation mashup for Icelandic and Turkish expressions that signify "midlife-crisis nightmare."

Grant performs Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Fine Line in Minneapolis. Use the audio player above to listen to the complete studio session with John Grant.

Songs Performed


"Is He Strange"
"Touch and Go"
"Grey Tickles, Black Pressure"
The first two songs are from John Grant's 2018 album, Love Is Magic; the third song is the title track from Grant's 2015 release. Both are available on Bella Union / Partisan Records.

External Link

John Grant - official site

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5 Photos

  • John Grant performs in The Current studio
    John Grant performs in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • John Grant performs in The Current studio
    John Grant performs in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • John Grant performs in The Current studio
    John Grant performs in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • John Grant performs in The Current studio
    Chris Pemberton (left) and John Grant performing in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • John Grant performs in The Current studio
    Chris Pemberton performs with John Grant in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)

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