Pierce Marratto is a Promo and Marketing Head, Graphic Designer and Webmaster at Grey Area Productions. Grey Area is a local promotions company known for operating The Rex Theater and bringing a huge variety of artists to our city. Outside Grey Area, Pierce is a talented artist who showcases his work around the city. FoundSound Music sat down with Pierce to talk about his musical history with the Steel City.
1. What are your main responsibilities at Grey Area?
My title is Graphic Designer and Webmaster; this entails doing all kinds of graphic design like posters, calendars, print stuff as well as any web design, like Facebook banners, etc. I also keep all the social media platforms and the website up-to-date. Grey Area is a small company-there's really only four of us- so we all split duties and do production shifts.
2. How did you get started at Grey Area?
That's a pretty long story, so I'll give you the short version! I had been running a company called "Touch Faster" that did a lot of similar things as Grey Area, but also had a media side with photo and video production. In doing those Touch Faster events, I started doing shows at The Rex and through that I got to know Ben and Scott. When the position for graphic designer opened up, we already had a professional and personal relationship, so I jumped on! That was a little over a year ago.
3. So what are the main venues that Grey Area works with?
We completely run The Rex Theater's calendar. Not all the shows are Grey Area shows, but all of them go through us. For smaller shows, we use the Thunderbird Cafe for developmental acts that we are trying to grow on the market. Lately, we've also been working at other venues like Spirit and James St. Gastropub. There are also some plans for a future, larger venue in the works.
4. What kind of artists does Grey Area look for?
Everyone at Grey Area is a music nerd, so we all really listen to everything! I would say we are a boutique promoter and are one of the only promoters in the city that deals with jazz, funk, soul artists. However, we are really open to anything- good music is good music!
5. How did you get involved in the Pittsburgh music scene?
I'm from Pittsburgh, and I started really young. I started playing in bands when I was 14, and played some small kid shows. But I knew right away that this is what I wanted to be doing, and these were the people I wanted to spend my life being around. I moved away for a while to South Florida but I came back around 2009 and fell right back into it. I was always involved on both ends in terms of performing and graphic design. But there came a point that I realized that I wasn't very good at playing music. Whereas I was mediocre at best, everyone else around me was getting really good. So I decided to focus all my energy into what I was really good at- visual art and the other end of the industry.
6. What have been some of your favorite concerts in Pittsburgh?
Let me narrow down to recently just to make it a bit easier on myself. Tama Impala blew me away last year. Turkuaz played at The Rex Theater and they always put on an incredible show. Sufjan Stevens was the closest I've been to being brought to tears by live music: it was earth-shatteringly beautiful.
7. What local bands would you recommend?
This is a tough one because I love a lot of the locals these days plus a lot of them are friends so I don't want to play favorites. That said, I will just stick to some of the newer acts I have been into. Ok...been a big fan of Spacefish and The John Trumaine show on the psychedelic side of things. Also The Clock Reads, The Bleil Brothers, and the various projects that you are involved in (editor's note: Eastend Mile and Dhruva Krishna and The Family Band) are all holding it down on the jam/funk/soul tip. And of course the myriad of bands that are connected to both Ziggy Sawdust and Jeff Betten (Misra Records). There are a lot, but individually and together Ziggy and Jeff are doing great things for the local music community and the bands that work with them seem to be flourishing because of that.
8. What do you think makes the Pittsburgh Music Scene unique?
One of the things the haters have right is that we are a smaller market city- we will never have a warehouse party randomly like you might have in New York City. But what the haters don't understand is that we are a different kind of intimate market. The artists here are all supportive and helpful for each other. In other music scenes, it's cutthroat. Here, there is so much camaraderie among artists. Also, the people who do come out to shows are real fans. They are there to support. But, I really do think we are on the upswing. I think a lot of people moved away but came back, and brought a lot of energy to make things happen.
9. Where do you see the Pittsburgh Music Scene going?
I would love to see it continue on its upward trajectory. If you look at recent music history, I think the best comparison would be Athens, Georgia when R.E.M. was coming up. Smaller, working-class with a lot of people dedicated to it- but eventually it fizzled out. I'm hoping it doesn't fizzle out here. I think Pittsburgh is going through a mini-Renaissance right now, and it's great! Across the board people are opening and doing new things here.
To find out more about Grey Area Productions and their shows, check out: Greyareaprod.com follow them at facebook.com/greyareapgh and @Greyareapgh on both Twitter and Instagram
To find out more about Pierce and his work, check out: Marrattoart.work, follow him at facebook.com/pierce.marratto and @Piercemarratto on both Twitter and Instagram.