EDM Unbuttoned EP07: Crywolf
In this weekly series, EDM.com picks the best live acts working in electronic music today. These producers abstain from DJ sets and opt 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 music. Read our pick for this week's best live act below:
Best Live Act of the Week: Crywolf
Enter Crywolf. If you haven't heard of him yet, be prepared to come out a fan by the end of this article. Based in Los Angeles, Crywolf goes by Justin Taylor Phillips when not producing or performing unqiue live sets. Part producer, part vocalist, and part instrumentalist, Crywolf began making waves four years ago with the release of his debut EP Ghosts, which released on Le Castle Vania's Always Never record label imprint in 2013. This first EP foreshadowed many elements that became staples of Crywolf's productions: intricate melodies, instrument incorporation, and original vocals from the man himself.
After the release of Ghosts, Crywolf went on produce a number of EPs that only increased his name recognition. His second EP, Angels, debuted at the #3 spot on the iTunes electronic music chart. His most recent endeavor came in the form of a collaborative EP with fellow producer Ianborg, titled Runaway. This EP took elements from both artists' styles and combined them for a fully-realized effort, comprised of Phillips' harmonic vocals and both of the producers' immaculate drum beats and dubby synths. Over the past few years, Crywolf discovered ways to balance his live elements with his electronic productions, and the result distinguishes him from his more traditional contemporaries.
Most of Crywolf's live shows find the producer using the tried-and-true CDJ setup, but a few special shows took aspects from his instrumental side. During a performance at the Lightning in a Bottle music festival, Crywolf performed a solo routine that found him playing a variety of live instruments. This set also featured live vocals, and Crywolf managed to DJ and mix songs together as he divied his talents across a variety of instruments. This year, he took things to the next level by playing a short set with the band Drift Wood Miracle in Raleigh, North Carolina. This set included performers playing guitar, drums, and vocals from Crywolf himself.
In terms of new recorded music, Crywolf just released an EP composed of acoustic versions of many of his tracks. Taking a page out of acoustic sets from such artists as Above & Beyond, Crywolf's reinterpretations bring the energy down to highlight the various instruments he uses to create his electronic tracks. The first single from the EP, a reimagining of his track "Runaway", sounds straight out of an acoustic band: soft vocals, emotional guitar licks, and rhythmic drumming. Other tracks on the EP include "Angels", "Eyes Half Closed", and "Ribcage." The EP is available for free download below:
The future of Crywolf's live show remains an enigma. Will be stick to playing traditional DJ sets, or will such gigs as the live show with Drift Wood Miracle inspire him to pursue a fully-realized live show? With support from artists such as Skrillex, Ellie Goulding, Adventure Club, and Dada Life, Crywolf's music certainly satisfies an underexplored realm of live electronic music.