“I would consider what I do as electro-soul or future funk, in the sense that it’s soul and funk music with EDM culture and sound giving it the energy of dubstep, but in a hip-hop tempo.” -Grant Kwiecinski aka GRiZ.
What the sax-wielding tour de force defined in this interview from 2013 (KLSU’S SaintParty) is a sound that can be heard shaking the main stages of Summer Camp, Bonnaroo, Mysteryland and Suwannee’s Hulaween a little bit more every year.
Setting itself apart from dubstep maximalists like Excision or Rusko, or even electronic hip-hop mainstays Pretty Lights and Gramatik, is a genre greater than a sum of its parts. Imagine Parliament’s “Mothership Connection” shot through hyperspace with George Clinton playing bass over buzzing synths and thundering subwoofers and you’re close!
Below are the artists that we think are elevating this sound from a cheeky Soundbutt moniker to a full-fledged movement in electronic music.
Manic Focus~Chicago, IL
Manic Focus is the spacey project of John “JMac” McCarten. An avid collaborator and remixer of other artists within the scene, Manic Focus has earned his keep, recently opening for Pretty Lights in Chicago. His four full-length albums span blues, bass music, and hip-hop while remaining thoroughly unique.
Exmag~ New York City, NY
Short for Extraordinary Magnitude, Exmag is nothing short of a supergroup. Featuring Gramatik’s guitarist Eric Mendelson, SuperNicer, Mike Iannatto, and frequently mastered by Gramatik himself, the collective specializes in tasty guitar leads and forward-thinking funk music.
Ehren River Wright refuses to be lumped into being just another saxophone-playing electronic artist, and his tunes are proving it. With innovative beats, glitchy spunk, and just the right amount of brass virtuosity, SoDown has made a name for himself in Colorado’s bass music mecca.
Breakout trio Sunsquabi have quickly risen to be one of the most respectable names in the electronic/jam scene, their name gracing many festival billings in the last year. Their sound is smooth, crunchy, and above all funky. Keep an eye out for these guys.
The Funk Hunters~Vancouver, Canada
This guide couldn’t be complete without the aptly named Funk Hunters. The Canadian duo have played Shambhala’s Fractal Forest for seven years running, playing classic funk and hip-hop songs with a wonky twist.
The Floozies~Lawrence, KS
Brothers Matt and Mark Hill have taken the EDM scene by storm with their stylish, bass-heavy songs and humor as The Floozies. Their sound is bizarre, dynamic, and above all infectious, it’s impossible to stand still during their live shows. Go ahead, give it a shot.
Russ Liquid~New Orleans, LA
Russell Scott is a wildcard. With two stellar albums and more features within the future funk community than perhaps any other, he is a patron saint of the sound. Playing a number of instruments, but chiefly trumpet, Russ Liquid bends genres and melts faces.
You knew it had to end with Griz. The twenty-five year-old Detroit native just put out a career-defining album, headlined Red Rocks, and announced his first New Years’ Eve show with Papadosio, G Jones, and Freddy Todd in the course of about a month. His label All Good Records comprises most of the artists in this guide. His rallying cry of “show love, spread love” has become a ubiquitious festival salute.
It’s safe to say Grant has a good thing going, but the foundation of all these elements are in his music, which sounds approximately like riding a top-down Cadillac on Mars with The Meters’ horn section in the backseat. These are triumphant, exuberant, low-end cosmic grooves that paved the way for all the artists on this list.