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Buffalove from Afar: Buffalo roots keep L.A. musician Grabbitz grounded

Bryan McKnight. The Goo Goo Dolls. Rick James. John & Mary.

All of these legendary music acts have one, enduring thing in common: they’re from Buffalo. And one day soon, 24-year-old Nick Chiari hopes to add his name to that list.

[Gallery: Grabbitz and fans in Town Ballroom]

Going by Grabbitz – a stage name from high school that somehow stuck – Chiari currently spends his time in Los Angeles as he works on his music and builds his career. But his strong ties to Buffalo, which include a close and supportive group of family and friends, keep him coming back home for frequent visits.

“I have to stay in touch with my family because they keep me grounded,” Chiari says. “L.A. can be really crazy. And it’s easy to get lost in the craziness. When I come back, I’m surrounded by people I know. The food is amazing. But really, the water is beautiful, it’s peaceful and quiet. I feel like I can go back to Buffalo and get away from all the craziness.”

Chiari grew up in Lancaster and East Aurora, and graduated from Iroquois High School in 2011. He says he was into music throughout his entire childhood and by the time he hit high school, he was already making songs, producing beats, rapping and singing. Still, Chiari decided to give college the old college try. He attended the University at Buffalo for a single semester before deciding to pursue his love of music and give it his full attention.

Grabbitz at 17hz Studios in North Hollywood. (Photo by Zach Frank)

“My parents were supportive of the idea from Day One because they wanted me to do what I loved to do. They just wanted me to give it my best shot and go at it 100 miles per hour. And that’s what I did.”

For the few years after he made music a career choice, Chiari worked different jobs to pay bills and spent the rest of his free time in the studio. When he started getting recognized outside the Buffalo area, things took off.

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Name: Nick Chiari
Age: 24
Current location: Los Angeles
Previous location: Buffalo
Misses most about Buffalo: Family, family, family
Loved most about Los Angeles: The amazing entertainment network

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“I connected with some people who had their finger on the pulse of dance music at the time and they were trying to convince me to move out to L.A.,” he said. “The scene out west was very fruitful at that time, there were a lot of DJs making moves, and it was suggested that I get there and start mingling and networking. I met with a few managers out here and then eventually made the move.”

Grabbitz at Billboard. (Photo by Zach Frank)

Going from Buffalo to Los Angeles was a big change for Chiari, who appreciates Buffalo’s small-town-city feel. But he says he fell right into it. There’s a lot to learn about the music business and making music in general, but the connections he’s made have been invaluable.

His vocals were used on a track called, “Let Go,” by Canadian DJ and producer, Deadmau5. And he produced some music for the popular crime show, “CSI,” after television producer Anthony Zuiker heard his music.

“Working with Zuiker is the most influential experience I’ve had so far in L.A.,” Chiari said. “Just to see how fast-paced and productive him and his team were at getting everything done and how professional they were – it was such a huge learning experience for me because in the future, I see myself doing a lot of different things – performing, creating albums, producing, working in film and television, and possibly even acting.”

Chiari says his “bread and butter” is basic songwriting. He produces the songs on his computer, but every song can be stripped down and played with a guitar. He also composes, raps and sings – a combination influenced by various musical tastes, including grunge rock, classic rock, old school hip-hop and classical music. Chiari’s first full length album, which displays his wide variety of skills and musical stylings, was released in May and is titled, "Things Change."

He’ll be back in Buffalo soon, performing at The Waiting Room on July 28th. While he’s in town, he’ll visit with family and friends, and spend some time in the city he still loves to call home.

“When I’m more established and able, I’d like to give back to Buffalo because I think it’s important for kids to be able to explore music and not feel pigeonholed or that they have to move to L.A. to break out. I want that to happen here. I want to be able to help with that.”

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If you or anyone you know has a story to tell about moving back or to Buffalo, or about moving away, email LynsD21@gmail.com.

Lyndsey D'Arcangelo is a freelance writer. Visit her website at lyndseydarcangelo.com or follow her on Twitter @darcangel21.

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