Electronic dance music (EDM) is as prominent in mainstream culture as any other genre of music. It influences the media, as well as other genres within the music industry, like hip-hop, country and rock. One particular musician influenced by EDM is Palo Alto native Dan Griffith, otherwise known as EDM artist Gryffin.
Griffith began as a classical pianist, and later made rock music with his friends in high school. As an electrical engineering student at the University of Southern California, Griffith was introduced to the world of electronic music through up-and-coming EDM artists such as Skrillex and Deadmau5.
“They were all making music I’d never heard before,” Griffith said during an interview with the Emerald before his show at WOW Hall on Oct. 4, 2017. “I was so inspired by that and thought maybe I could download a program and mess around and stuff, and make music.”
Griffith began composing EDM by combining his musical background with the heavy set sounds of EDM. After familiarizing himself with the notorious Ableton production kit, Griffith began producing music under the name with a slightly different spelling, Gryffin. It was after producing and creating music under Gryffin that he realized the path he was meant to follow.
“It was like, do I want to take a regular job as an engineer, or do I want to move to New York and do the Gryffin stuff?” Griffith said. “And I went ahead and did that and I haven’t looked back. It’s probably been like — it has been the best decision I’ve ever made.”
Griffith is known for his multi-instrumental performances — something seldom seen at an EDM concert. When he played in Eugene, he began his set with an off-stage guitar riff; shortly after, warm red lights flooded the stage as Griffith appeared while strumming a Gibson Les Paul. As the performance continued, Griffith transitioned between the keyboard and piano. The color of the room changed with the beat as he hammered his sampling percussion pad.
When Griffith originally started releasing EDM, he had never imagined playing a live set. But it dawned on him that his approach to making and recording music could be brought to the stage.
“I realized that I use guitar and piano and drum tracking so much that I’m actually doing the performance in the recording studio,” Griffith said. “When I realized I wanted to start doing shows, I realized I wanted to bring the instruments out and give people a little bit of a different flavor of dance music.”
After finding his niche within EDM, Griffith toured with artists such as Martin Garrix, The Chainsmokers, and Tiësto. Although Griffin’s career has benefited from his multi-instrumental live shows, he admits it can be a challenge carrying around all the instruments while touring. “It’s not like I got a USB with a backpack that I can just plug in and play,” Griffith said.
Despite the extra baggage, the instrument-filled performance allows for Gryffin to make a lasting impact.
“I played Electric Forest and not a lot of people knew what to expect,” he said. “I really think being able to do something that is a little bit different has enabled me to stand out on the touring front.”
He also shared his thoughts on the future of EDM. “Hopefully people are still able to push the envelope in the genre and keep it moving instead of all producing similar stuff because that’s kind of been a trend for a little while, Griffith said.