Best Live Acts Series: GRiZ
In this new weekly series, EDM.com picks the best live acts working in electronic music today. These producers abstain from DJ sets, opting to use live and electronic instrumentation to give their performances a more grounded sound. From the saxophones heard by GRiZ and Big Gigantic to the rock-inspired sets from The Prodigy, this series explores all types of live electronic musicians. Read our pick for this week's best live act below:
Best Live Act of the Week: GRiZ
Photo credit: GRiZ
GRiZ represents one of the quintessential live musicians in electronic music. Hailing from Michigan, Grant Kwiecinski, or commonly known as GRiZ, grew up influenced by funk bands. He learned how to play the saxophone in elementary school, and continued to play the instrument through middle and high school. This influence crossed over into his own music production, which was debuted to the world with his free album End of the World Party in 2011. From the onset, GRiZ forged a unique sound that is simultaneously glitchy, funky beats juxtaposed with the smooth sounds from a saxophone.
As his fanbase grew, he provided opening support for artists such as Bassnectar, Gramatik and Big Gigantic. These artists inspired GRiZ to further incorporate live elements into his sets, and he began to play a saxophone live during his shows. This saxophone playing remains a staple of GRiZ concerts to this day. During his performances, GRiZ is armed to the teeth with controllers and DJing equipment. This type of setup is common among many EDM producers, but GRiZ brings the live element into play with his saxophone.
GRiZ sticks to the Andreas Eastman 52nd Street alto saxophone for his live shows. The reeds he uses for the instrument are the Vandorens, but he also uses V10s reeds. While he cues up the tracks to play and mix live, GRiZ performs the sax portions of the tracks in their entirety each time he performs. This live playing gives him wiggle room for improvisation and jamming, something not normally associated with live electronic music.
The GRiZ live show gains more instrument when paired with Gramatik for their GRiZMatik shows, in which Gramatik's Eric Mendelson plays live guitar. The GRiZMatik show raises to a new level when Big Gigantic joins the fun, creating Big GRiZMatik. Big Gigantic members Dominic Lalli and Jeremy Salken play the sax and drums respectively, and their addition makes a fully-fledged electronic band.
The new GRiZ album, Say it Loud, is set to be released March 2015. The album also launches a new tour in the coming months, and the tour will make its way to Red Rocks for GRiZ's first-ever headlining performance at the venue. Prepare to see and hear a lot more of GRiZ's unique blend of funky electronic music and live instrumentation over years to come.
Cover photo credit: Jake Lloyd