TBA attended Arise Music Festival in Colorado just a few short weekends ago. While there, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Jillian Grutta and Ahmad JP Sawalmeh–the duo that makes up soul-pop group GG ^ Lee–and asked them about their musical backgrounds and inspiration. Check out the interview below.

What inspires you to make music?
Jillian Grutta: I tend to find inspiration in listening to other artists. I’ve been immersed in the pop and R&B spheres for most of my life, so that definitely plays a role in the music I create.

How did you come together to form GG ^ Lee?
Ahmad JP Sawalmeh: We had mutual friends in a band called A show In Pictures at CU Denver. I saw Jillian playing one night at Dazzle, a venue in Denver, and I knew I wanted to work with her. I went up to her after the show and the rest was history.

JG: I’ve been performing solo since the age of 12, and I truly thought that was the right path for me. I’m proud of how far GG^Lee has come and I’m looking forward to the things we’re going to do together in the future.

How do you feel about playing here at the ARISE festival?
JG: It’s really exciting to join a community of people who are here for different reasons beyond just being at a festival. Sometimes I feel like an alien when I’m in the city—people don’t know how to be free. But being here, connected to so many earth roots, really challenges me. It’s like being a tree with lots of branches, reaching into different genres much more than putting yourself into a single place. There are so many powerful things people can do when they come together and we are so thankful to be here!

AS: The amount of work and intention in this festival is amazing, from all of the pre-production put into it to the final execution. It isn’t just about music here, people are coming together and using their power to do something so much greater.

Can you tell me more about your collaboration technique?
AS: We work together in the same ways that a lot of people work together—we begin by putting our main intentions on the table. By doing that, our music has more focus and direction.

How would you describe your music to others?
JG: I would say electronic soul-pop, inspired by indigenous culture and combined with an influx of tribal melodies and instruments.

What do you want people to take away from your music when they hear it?
JG: We want people to take away the memory of being moved. Music is protection—a way to make people feel safe and to spread love and bring people together.

Denver’s Dryer Plug Studios will be releasing GG ^ Lee’s next album in early fall. Follow them on Instagram at @yoitsgglee