Since joining Sigma Phi Delta (SPD), a professional science, technology, engineering and math fraternity, Griffin Evans – also known by his stage name DJ Griff.ith – has made his mark on the party scene at JMU and in Harrisonburg and Washington. , CC
While he’s always been a fan of electronic dance music (EDM), Evans made the decision last fall to seriously pursue his hobby.
“I think it’s a little nerve-wracking to be in front of people,” Evans said. “[I] I started liking it and kept doing it and it was crazy. I’ve only been doing this for eight months, but it’s been a hell of a journey.
Evans’ roommate Kyle LaCanna said he often cooked dinner and heard the up-and-coming DJ “messing around on our speakerphone and just trying to have fun.”
Abby Lambert (’21) befriended Evans through Greek life during her freshman year and said she was a strong supporter of his musical endeavours. She said she attends nearly all of his shows in Harrisonburg and travels with him to his frequent performances in Washington, DC.
Since Lambert and Evans have a long history, she said, she has a first-hand account of Evans’ work ethic and how he rose to popularity as a DJ.
“I feel like his social skills really surpassed him compared to his friends,” Lambert said. “Griffin really has the ability to connect with people so he can really push himself.”
An example of Evans’ networking abilities and enthusiasm for practicing his craft is his residency at Dukes Bar & Grill in downtown Harrisonburg. Evans said he went to Dukes last November and met some DJs performing there, where he got an opening offer for one of them on a trial basis.
However, Evans said his first gig at Dukes didn’t go as he planned.
“You have to plug in a USB and then it loads all the music – it didn’t work,” Evans said. “I had a backup, but my backup was pretty much just a YouTube video… I actually wasn’t doing anything, but people loved it.”
A balancing act
Evans said JMU alumnus and fellow DJ Derek Attardi (’17), also known as Deerock, played a big role in his decision to take his interest in EDM to the next level. . Evans has followed Attardi on social media and joined the Discord community of seasoned DJs, where Attardi shares his experiences and tips for beginners. Evans said he learned a lot from Attardi, calling him an inspiring “mentor” as he “follows in his footsteps”.
Attardi claimed that they worked on each other and shared tips for their industry.
“It’s not like a one-way train. It’s more of a two-way street where I help him and give him advice and then he’s also like, “Hey, you should do this.” It’s a great idea,” Attardi said. “That’s why I love working with Griffin, because he was able to give incredible advice.”
Evans also credited Attardi with helping build connections in Washington, D.C., and booking gigs in the district. In his spare time, Evans makes frequent trips to the nation’s capital to perform, and he said managing his time between his studies and his career is a balancing act.
“My grades aren’t as good as they usually would be, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make,” Evans said. “I always pass, which is good… GPA gets hurt a bit, but I’m okay with taking that hit.”
Evans opened up about the stress of it all and said he sometimes struggles with stage fright. However, as a member of Greek Life, he said he performed for many sororities and fraternities at parties, as well as fundraising events. This, in addition to his residency at Dukes, he said, allowed him to gain more experience and overcome his fears.
“I’m getting used to it a lot more… Like, I’m going to mess up too,” Evans added. “Just laugh it off and carry on.”
Evans said that practice and mindset also led him to book other high-profile shows, like Relay for Life and the University Program Board’s April 16 spring concert, titled Purple Reign.
“Relay for Life was really stressful, I guess, just because…it was my first time performing on stage, not in a basement or something,” Evans said. “I think it really helped me prepare [for] Purple Reign, but I would say Relay for Life was probably my favorite, but also the most nerve-wracking gig of the moment.
Evans said he hopes to return to these events when they happen next year as he continues to work with Greek life. Although he said he thought the party culture at JMU might be “a little too much”, Evans acknowledged that it was good for business.
More and more
LaCanna said he was impressed with the DJ’s drive and commitment to pursuing his goals and added that “it was kind of crazy” how quickly Evans’ presence grew.
“People are always welcoming him to new fellowships or new events… [They’re] always like, ‘Oh, yeah, we’ll give you a chance,'” LaCanna said.
Evans mentioned a recent time when his neighbors recognized him on the internet and asked to take a picture with him – a first occurrence that Evans said left him “flattered” but also “pissed off”.
At the same time, Evans said he had received negative feedback, but added: “Not everyone is going to like what you do. It’s very good. I’m just trying to laugh with it and d ‘go.
Lambert said she was excited about Evans’ future ventures as a DJ. She said she hoped to see him hit the stage at big shows and festivals with all the bells and whistles that come with a higher profile. Lambert also said Evans was one to defy the negative stereotype of pursuing an artistic hobby.
“He’s just kind of like, ‘I’m going to prove you wrong. I’m going to show you that I can do it,'” Lambert said. .”
Attardi echoed Lambert’s sentiments and said he believed if Evans continued on his current trajectory, he had the potential to “outperform me in a tremendous way.”
Although Evans said he doesn’t know what the future holds, he is open to any opportunity that comes his way.
“I would like to do [DJing] a career,” Evans said. “I feel very lucky from where I am already.”
Contact Michael Russo and Avery Goodstine at [email protected] To learn more about the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the Culture Bureau on Twitter and Instagram @Breeze_Culture.