In the heart of the East Coast, Reggaelar People was born. Their reggae, rock and hip-hop infused sound has been influenced by icons like Dirty Heads, Sublime, and Pepper.
But what sets them apart isn’t just their genre-blending magic—it’s their genuine spirit, their skill of storytelling, and their ability to narrate the highs and lows of life through lyrics that cut deep and make you nod your head in recognition. Their songs echo the universal experiences of joy, heartbreak, and everything in between all to a perfect reggae beat. Their music is both an invitation to dance and a reminder that even in life’s toughest moments, there’s always room for celebration.
Meet the regular guys behind the music—headlined by the charismatic brothers Brandon and Justin Gratta, whose harmonies resonate with sibling synergy; Garrett Grube on drums, infusing the rhythm with pulse-pounding energy; and Vinny Dragonette on keyboard, adding layers of melodic richness.
We sat down with Reggaelar People to discuss their new EP and dive deeper into this rising act in the rock-reggae scene.
What is the inspiration behind the new album “Two Tides”? Tell us where it was recorded, who produced it, and what inspired you.
How do we put together a record where all of our personalities shine out in the music, and nobody feels like their voice isn’t taken into consideration? The answer was Two Tides. We knew that it was going to be the first real extended listening of our band. We had all really started to hone our crafts individually, and wanted to put a little bit of ourselves and that growth into all the tracks. We also wanted to show some range from the happy pop of “Smoke Rings” to the darker, hard rock breakdowns of “Siren”. The name of the EP was born out of this same idea. Just like life and like the songs we made, they represent highs and lows and ebbs and flows.
Two Tides was a journey for us. It pretty much came together between Andre Lloyd’s BG Studio in Brooklyn, our aunt’s living room in Deposit, NY, which we turned into a makeshift studio, and in Pittsburgh at Very Tight Studios with the very talented Matt Very. We were fortunate enough to produce “Bonfire” with Andre Lloyd, who had worked on HIRIE’s Mood Swing, after spitting out our verses impromptu for him during a chance meeting at a concert. We had an incredible experience at BG Studios. The remaining tracks were produced during a week out in Pittsburgh at Very Tight Productions. Matt made sure to channel in all of the influences we look up to in the studio.
Tell us where you think Reggaelar People fit into the current reggae scene (or maybe they don’t fit in at all)?
We’d like to think Reggaelar People fits right into the current scene of touring bands. We strive to give a great live show, like Pepper, but we experiment with dual lead vocals and hip-hop reggae combinations, like the Dirty Heads. We want to be authentically us while keeping that respect and love for reggae music and anyone who loves reggae. Lyrically, we feel we differ a little bit in that we try to tell stories in our songs, paint detailed pictures, and write about every walk of life. We want to make the listener have a great time, but remind them that it’s okay to feel all of the different feelings. Happy songs are great, but not everyone is happy all of the time. If you’re feeling down, we have songs that you may relate more to in that moment of time. We just want to keep growing and developing our own distinct sound that fits nicely between all of the artists that inspired us. If that sounds like something you’d be into, give us a listen!
Reggaelar People are from the East Coast, but have a sound that is similar to a lot of artists on the West Coast. How did being from the East Coast influence Reggaelar People’s sound and how is the East Coast scene different from the rest of the country?
In terms of the East Coast, that comes out in our desire to meld genres and tempos like Passafire, and our ability to really rock out and go more punk, like Ballyhoo!. We strive to stay true to our surroundings and upbringing while also fusing that with the genre we really love. We’ve been fans of the West Coast greats for years now and it comes out heavily in our sound, but we do have cold, rainy days and harsh winters here that are sometimes expressed in our sound. Sometimes, it can be grimy, dirty, and depressing, but in that there is still a lot of life and beauty. I think our East Coast side really comes out lyrically and even more so in our live shows. You may listen to a track of ours and think Cali, but once you see us you feel New York. One thing we can say is the same all around though is the sense of community. From the day we set out on this journey, we’ve gotten so much genuine love and support from Reggae Rock fans as well as other artists on the scene, like Dale & the ZDubs. We love how welcoming it is.
Reggaelar People sound infuses rock, hip-hop and reggae into one sound. How did you seamlessly combine all those different styles and make it so cohesive?
I will say, it wasn’t always seamless. We’ve definitely had songs we had to throw out because the tempo changes were too clunky. What really helped was sitting with ourselves and our instruments, and finding out the way to use those to express ourselves. It’s just a mix of everything we all listened to growing up really. The first song we wrote as a band, “Shawty Left Me”, just naturally came out as hip-hop. Usually we have some rhythm and spit something out over it. Sometimes it ends up being a rap verse or two. Sometimes It’s just singing a nice little tune. The most important thing for us has been not trying to force anything. Instead of going into music thinking we absolutely need this song to be hip hop or reggae or rock, we just follow the creative energy and it takes us where we need to be. It’s all about listening to each other and trying to make sure one of our musical voices is harmonious with the entire band. Luckily in our case, that’s often just how it happens.
Reggaelar People feature brothers Brandon and Justin Gratta. How does the dynamic of being in a band change with your brother? Has that made this easier or harder for you guys being on the road with family?
J+B: Brother dynamics can be difficult, but we grew up very closely together our whole lives. We spent more time getting along than not. Sure we had fights, but we got most of the bad blood out as kids sharing a room. We’re almost always united in our goals for the direction of the band and our music. We also both need to work full-time jobs on top of being in the band. It’s full-time work on top of full-time work, but the thing that makes it easier is that there’s someone always there to share all the joy, tribulations, and the workload with from step one: that unequivocally won’t change, and is one of the best parts of the whole process. We lift each other up and motivate the other when it gets tough. We think it’s also led to a fun dynamic of having a band with co-leads. It’s really nice to come up with an intricate part or cover a difficult song and say “okay, can you sing here instead of me so I can focus on getting this down right?” It leads to both of us having a more enjoyable time performing!
Family with us has honestly been a blessing. Because there’s two Grattas in the band, we have an even stronger support system that extends beyond us brothers. Aunts, uncles, parents, cousins…they cheer and dance and love being there and being a part of the shows. They brought our instruments to shows so we didn’t have to drag them on the trains. They even filled a lot of empty rooms when we first started playing. It’s a level of support we’ve been really lucky to have. They do represent us on some level as our relatives though, so with drinks flowing and excitement high, we just have to remind them sometimes to not get too out of hand.
Garrett: Being in the band feels like being an honorary Gratta.
Vinny joked: My brother likes that I’m in a band but he’s not in it so who even cares?
Tell us what’s next for Reggaelar People in 2024.
Reggaelar People have already agreed to keep playing and making music until all the folks who currently love to see us play live and are waiting for our music are joined by folks all over the world. We already have loyal fans and friends in Pittsburgh, New Jersey and all over New York (you all know who you are!) and listeners around the world, who we’re determined to meet some day. It’s four guys who love what they do, and know that being on the stage with each other and playing for people is the only thing that feels right for us. The folks who come to our shows have a few things they say almost unanimously, and that is that we have something special to offer and that we have the most fun folks have seen a band have onstage. We are willing to do anything to ensure we can do that for the rest of our lives and 2024 is the year that we’ll continue to level up to make it a reality. We’re going to play as many shows as we can, with as many festivals in the lineup as possible, with the best artists (undiscovered or otherwise). We also have new music in the works and ambitions to collaborate with a few of our favorite artists. And call us crazy, but we’re ready to get signed and cross even more state lines. And we want our fans to feel like they’re on that journey with us, because they are. It’s about offering something in our music for people to hang onto and think “hey, I’m going through that too, why aren’t we talking about it?” In a world that is consistently making less and less sense, Reggaelar People have decided that it’s about all of us growing and coming together through music.