EDM found its way into the Denver music scene not through external interlopers, but homegrown artists whose mixes and tracks range from intricate compositions to funky chaos.
With a drastic increase in the number of local EDM festivals and venues, there’s no denying this genre’s place in the Centennial State.
Check Out These Artists
From Pretty Lights to Big Gigantic, Colorado’s EDM scene is thriving. Not all of the artists mentioned in this story got their start in Colorado; however, all of them either now call Colorado home or have touched the state in a remarkable way.
Hailing from Fort Collins, Derek Vincent Smith rose to the top of the local EDM world with an array of interlacing mixes that beam you to the past and future all at once. His EDM persona, Pretty Lights, is known for selling out local venues, including Red Rocks, as well as its synonymous festival in Telluride.
Originally started in 2006 with two members, Breathe Carolina now tours with its lead member, David Schmitt, and a live backing band. With a sound that at times balances extremes like melodic beats and hardcore screaming, there’s no other band quite like Breathe Carolina. The act’s music has somewhat mellowed since bandmate Kyle Even’s departure in 2013, but it still invites raucous energy.
Chicago-born and San Francisco-raised, Nicholas Miller (a.k.a. Illenium) became inspired to devote himself to his musical craft after a show at Red Rocks in 2012. Since then, he’s released two EPs and three studio albums. On the back of his most recent release, Ascend, Illenium now finds himself on a thirty-city North American tour, mixing his unique, electronically-backed singer/songwriter-esque singles.
Despite his reputation as a performer whose live shows push the boundaries of what electronic music can do with live instrumentation, Dabin initially found fame online; his mixes have been played millions of times across all of his streaming platforms. Dabin’s most recent album, Wild Youth, also brought his first headlining tour and further recognition in the melodic bass subgenre.
Said the Sky
A musician from before he hit double digits, Trevor Christensen, professionally known as Said the Sky, began taking piano lessons when he was eight years old. He later blossomed as an electronic dance artist, releasing singles throughout the mid-2010s, and eventually dropping his first album, Wide Eyed, in 2018 to rave reviews. Christensen brings technical craftsmanship to his often emotional work, which mixes sunny melodies with evocative basslines.
Before you try to look up “energy” in the dictionary, you should probably put the book away and play GRiZ’s latest album, Ride Waves. Playing a genre he calls “future funk,” GRiZ, known offstage as Grant Kwiecinski, brings the dynamite to his live shows, which feature his patented mix of soul, funk, electronic and live saxophone. Whatever you call his multi-hyphenated genre, you’ll find yourself getting up and dancing when he performs at local venues.
With its home base in Boulder, Big Gigantic deserves praise for its role in Colorado’s EDM scene. Its beats mix funk, jazz, hip-hop and electronica, and its Rowdy Town festival supports local artists year after year.
Where to Find Them
EDM’s burgeoning place in Denver’s music scene brings with it an increase in the number of festivals catering to fans of the genre. The Global Dance Festival began at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre but recently moved to Broncos Stadium at Mile High to provide space for growing attendance numbers.
Combining the ultimate party scenario of a New Year’s Eve bash and EDM performance space, Decadence proved to be a big hit in 2018. With a vast lineup, including many of the homegrown artists listed above, it’s hard for the year to end (or begin) poorly at Decadence.
While the Global Dance Festival changed locations, that shouldn’t discount the importance of Red Rocks to local musicians. An outdoor venue chiseled out of a rock, Red Rocks holds more than a hundred concerts throughout the year.
Colorado Music Hall of Fame
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