Interview: Sam Grawe [Dwell/Hatchback]

Posted by Jakub

Sam Grawe
Name: Samuel Grawe

Occupations: Editor-in-chief at Dwell Magazine / Musician in Windsurf & Hatchback

So, you started Dwell Magazine in Oct. 2000 but your first full length as Hatchback was put out in Sept. 2008, I have a feeling you’ve had this album in you for awhile now but i’m sure Dwell takes up most of your day?

Right. Being the editor-in-chief of any magazine is time consuming, but with Dwell, I’m also working on our website, our conference, various brand extensions, and so on, so that keeps me fairly busy. Hatchback and Windsurf are what I like to do in my down time—mostly weekends, late nights. Sometimes I wish I could have a little more flexibility, for instance, I could wake up and say, ok, this morning I want to play Rhodes for an hour and then record a drum track, and then I’ll go to work. That would be ideal.

Can you list off 3 of your favorite pieces of furniture and 3 favorite instruments and one of each that you personally own?
This list is pretty arbitrary, it would probably change tomorrow, but here:

Ultima Thule by Tapio Wirkkala, a 30 meter long sculpture of laminated plywood carved to look like a wind-blown glacial ice field made for the Finnish Pavilion of Expo 67.

The Sausage Chair by Nana Ditzel, mmm… sausage.

High Back Alcove Sofa by Erwan and Ronan Bouroullec, this piece has an Empire Strikes Back quality which I admire.

Roland Jupiter 8, they don’t make synths this sexy anymore.

Synthi AKS, I got to play with one of these once, I had no idea what I was doing, but it sure was fun.

Fender Rhodes, the creamy keys. Every song I really dig tends to have some Rhodes on it.

My favorite furniture I own is probably my Bertoia Bird Chair and my favorite instrument is the Korg MS-20

Does Dwell ever feature or use music on any level?
Not really. Every now and then we’ll feature a home where the resident is a musician. I was able to include a rhythm ace drum machine in a caption once.

Who did the Hatchback album cover? Do you feel like the cover best describes your sound and does it seep into a design style that you like as well?

The design firm Non-Format did the cover for my album, and most of the Lo Catalog. They’re really talented graphic designers and certainly great typographers. I had envisioned something a little more handmade originally, and perhaps inspired by folk art from India or Mexico or pornographic sci-fi like Boris Vallejo, but ultimately I really dig what they did.

I think your sound is the future of slower tempo music with depth that can be listened to by a broad crowd, could you share who got you into this type of music? And maybe suggest a few records to ease someone new to your sound into it.
I’m not really sure what style my music is honestly. Maybe I’m not a good marketer, but I tend not to think in genres or that I should make a slower trac or faster trackk. That said, I tend to listen to older albums and soundtracks—I’m usually the last to know about really good new music.

I think Vangelis’ Bladerunner soundtrack continues to have a huge influence one me. The synthesizers on that are so on point, and the songs have a really emotive quality. Its pretty much as genius as it comes. You should also check out the Bilitis soundtrack by Francis Lai and La Planete Sauvage by Alain Goraguer.

Can you go thru for us a busy day that would have you working on both Hatchback and Dwell?
Dwell: 9 am – 7:30 pm Hatchback: 10pm-4am

If I had a best songs of 21st century list going i’d seriously include “Everything Is New”, do you ever share any of the music at the Dwell offices?
Wow. Thanks! Yeah, the designers have all my older jams and keep threatening to release a bootleg one of these days.

What plans do you have for Dwell in 2009? Any style architecture that we should be looking into?
We try not to espouse style per se. We’re more interested in the timeless quality of modern design and the relationship between a building and its context—how does a place influence the architecture and how does architecture influence a place. Right now, green design is coming of age and really becoming mainstream—but the best green ideas are often timeless notions of building that have either been maligned or ignored by trends of the last 100 years, things like solar orientation and natural ventilation. These are things we need to re-learn fast, and couple with emerging technologies. Buildings, not cars or anything else, are the biggest contributor to green house gases and consume roughly 70% of the energy in this country, so its going to be critical that architecture addresses the environment above all else.

As you’re going into your 9th year with Dwell, what directions have you taken the company that you never thought you’d be doing but your glad you did?
Well, when I started as the editorial assistant (a job I found on craigslist in 2000) I never dreamed that 7 years later I’d be the editor-in-chief. I’m really proud of the magazine we make and just want to keep the quality level high and the content interesting while having it be an entertaining read.

Is Hatchback available for a Tycho remix? I’m sure we’d all love to hear that.
I’m up for it. I just might have to take the day off.

Dwell Magazine
Hatchback on Myspace

13 Comments Leave A Comment


Chris Martens says:

February 10, 2009 at 4:55 am

As Shelby stated, this is a great post! DWELL is one of those magazines that I just can’t keep my hands off of, haven’t missed an issue. Great to see that it’s not only a great magazine, but great people behind the pages.


Amy Stoddard says:

February 10, 2009 at 8:05 am

Props to you Sam for not only putting out a consistently great magazine that touches covers everything from architecture to products…but also finding time to use music as your outlet. I look forward to watching your music take off. Do you have a Facebook group? I’ve heard Tycho’s music everywhere from Seoul to Detroit.


empty says:

February 10, 2009 at 8:35 am

thanks for the interview Jakub. i go to Dwell’s blog everytime im online. i especially love the products of the day section, but the whole site is worth checking out if you havent, and of course the magazine as well.

i need to check out Hatchback and Windsurf.


Jakub says:

February 10, 2009 at 10:50 am

Do you think the Ultima Thule by Tapio Wirkkala comes in different colors? like an off white/oatmeal tweed with the inside being rusty orange?


Shane says:

February 10, 2009 at 11:38 am

Fantastic magazine. I should really give in and get a subscription. I tend to think of this magazine as representing living art in form of minimal environment and furniture. You can’t go wrong.

Blade Runner soundtrack – now that is a timeless album! I’m interested in the other albums mentioned. I’ll give ’em a try.

Thanks Jakub and Sam.


Jason says:

February 10, 2009 at 7:15 pm

Great post! Dwell is one of my favorite magazines.

The Jupiter 8 is definitely the sexiest synth ever.


Seb says:

March 18, 2009 at 10:41 pm

Hey Sam — LOVE all your stuff. Steady rotation of Windsurf/Hatch/Sentrall

I alluded to you a couple times in another post (semi rudely as “ol’ dude”… sorry)—-

But anyway …

Curious — what’s the version of that Ryuichi song (Venezia?) from your excellent mix on Dreamchimney???

Also to re-send some braille, I have a friend in Cinci, we both dig your stuff, we were talkin, I think you know this person.

Anyway, thanks a mil for Dwell/TUNES, BOTH RAD!

Hope to cross paths some time.

And Jakub HI again ! You and Sam awesome. Slam dunk. Thanks.


drew kora says:

December 30, 2009 at 4:25 pm

Well, I thought’s I’d scrounge up this old post all these months later. With the new Coastal Brake EP in hand, it’s nice to see that the Hatchback remix finally happened. Sweet.