Since parting ways with Kidz Bop back in 2016, 18-year-old music prodigy Grant Knoche has established a thriving solo career for himself and has even managed to develop his own sound – one vastly different to that of Kidz Bop.
Before ever getting into singing, Grant was actually a dancer. Starting at just seven years old, he took dance classes of every style you can think of – jazz, tap, ballet, hip-hop, lyrical, contemporary, the list goes on. As a dancer, he performed and competed across his hometown, Dallas, and even participated in a national competition hosted in New York City.
Dancing is what ultimately sparked Grant’s love for music because he would listen to it all the time – practically every time he danced. “I fell in love with lyrical music, like really slow songs and ballads that incorporate a lot of piano,” he explains.
Through YouTube, Grant learned how to play the piano and eventually grew an interest in singing. Since day one, his single greatest musical influence has been Adele. “[Adele] was the artist that really got me into wanting to make music,” he admits. “She was the one artist I would sing many, many songs of.” (Grant still has a couple of old Adele covers up on his YouTube channel, if you want to check them out.)
During his three years with Kidz Bop, Grant shot several music videos and commercials and recorded twelve albums – nine of which made it to the Billboard Hot 100 chart. When he was just 11 years old, he went on his first tour ever, during which he performed 162 shows in 48 different states.
“To be performing in front of 10,000 people at that age was such a valuable and amazing experience,” Grant notes, one that was unknowingly setting him up for the subsequent transition into his solo career. “Learning how to be on stage and talk to a crowd and those kinds of basics was extremely beneficial,” he adds.
Grant also came out of Kidz Bop with three years of production experience under his belt, since he started learning during his first year with the group. “It was pretty cool because one of the other kids also got into production around the same time as me, and we ended up working together and pushing each other to get better,” he shares. “Sort of like a healthy competition.”
One thing Grant was not able to accomplish with Kidz Bop, however, was discovering his sound. Since all he did was cover radio hits, he never really had the chance or means to experiment with his sound. As is the case with most musicians, this was the biggest challenge Grant had to face going into his solo career.
In 2017, Grant released his first song “Downpour,” followed by “Unfair” in 2018. But things really started to pick up in 2019 with “Emotions,” the first song he wrote and produced entirely himself.
“For years before I put out ‘Emotions,’ I was always writing, always producing, always trying to figure out what songs I wanted to put out. I would listen to demos and was always like, ‘I don’t feel like this fits me exactly, and I just wanna make something that fits me.’”
At the same time, Grant was still getting used to working with other producers and had to grow comfortable enough to express exactly what he wanted. “It’s hard because you gotta get used to saying, ‘I don’t like this,’ or ‘I do like this,’ and be an open book with what you want, which was not easy so easy to get used to,” he says.
Today, Grant could not possibly exhibit more confidence in his artistry. “I’ve really gotten a grip on what I want to sound like, which is cool, and I’m excited about that,” he remarks.
As a young musician who writes and produces most of his music himself, Grant has been greatly inspired by fellow teen artists Billie Eilish and her brother FINNEAS. “It’s cool to see other people grow up doing the same thing as you and having success because it feels more possible that it can happen for you,” he points out.
Over the past year, Grant put out six consecutive singles, leading up to the August release of his debut EP Color Me Blue. The nine-track EP includes three brand new tracks plus all of his releases since “Emotions,” including “AS IT SHOULD,” “PAPER HOUSE,” and my personal favorite, “DIAL TONE.”
The EP also includes Grant’s most-streamed song, “DON’T MAKE ME MAKE YOU CRY,” an emotional pop ballad about a close friend who developed feelings for Grant. “That song was basically saying, ‘Don’t tell me you like me because I don’t wanna let you down by telling you I just wanna be friends. I don’t wanna make you cry,’” he reveals.
“If you’re friends with someone and you move onto having an actual relationship, I don’t feel like you can ever really go back to being friends. You can’t undo the things you go through, and she’s just a really important person as a friend in my life.”
“DON’T MAKE ME MAKE YOU CRY” is undoubtedly Grant’s most meaningful track to date, and one that marked a milestone in his artistic career. “Right after my dad listened to it for the first time, he was like, ‘I know who that’s about,’ and that was a pretty cool moment because I could see the progress of my writing and that I’m getting more and more vulnerable with it,” Grant says.
Something you probably do not know about Grant is that he is also an actor. Following in the footsteps of his older brother – who used to be on Barney and did several Smucker’s commercials as a child – Grant has been a natural in front of the camera since he was around six years old.
“I did a lot of commercials and that kind of stuff, and then started getting into more of the acting side of it, which has been really good,” Grant explains.
Grant has been up for some pretty big shows, including West Side Story, and he was even flown out to New York City for a one-on-one audition with Steven Spielberg. His dad tells us “he’s got a bunch of shows right down to the final,” none of which he can name, “and he’s actually up for another big one again that’s been delayed, so we’ll see what happens.”