One Man Dance Party: Grand Rapids livetronica artist eRoy explores musical boundaries on new EP

When he’s not schooling other DJs in West Michigan’s expansive electronic music scene, rising artist eRoy — aka Evan Roy — schools students in his English classes at Union High School.

A first-year teacher, Roy, 25, knows all about burning the candle at both ends. Between grading midterms and creating mixes, his double life has him exhausted. But rather than rest and relax during his summer vacation, he plans to rage on by dropping his latest EP, Sleep Without Dreams, at an exclusive show at The Mint.

“Words cannot describe how excited I am,” Roy said. “The show has been a work in progress for several months now and I am elated that it’s all set in stone. It is literally a dream come true.”

Last fall, Roy hit one of his first major career milestones when he performed in The Intersection’s main room as the opening act for pioneering livetronica duo EOTO. The gig put him in front of the largest crowd he’d ever performed for, and opened up new opportunities for him to play all over the Grand Rapids area.

He officially launched his eRoy project in August 2016 with the release of his first EP, Progress. Now known for playing bass, guitar and other instruments onstage while cutting up mixes live, eRoy started slamming the keys on his older brother’s piano when he was just five years old. He hasn’t stopped learning since.

“I picked up the saxophone in fifth grade band, and played alto and tenor throughout all of my secondary education,” Roy said. “When I was 14, I took what I knew from learning piano and saxophone to teach myself to play guitar. Now, I have a never-ending drive to learn any instrument I can get my hands on.”

Describing his sound as a collage of several different sub-genres of electronic music threaded together with live instrumentation, Roy takes influence from electronic artists like Griz, Sunsquabi, STS9, Flying Lotus, Bassnectar, Manic Focus, RJD2, Girl Talk, Opiuo and more. He also looks to legends like Parliament Funkadelic, The String Cheese Incident, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Sublime and others for inspiration.

“I’d say two things separate me (from) the majority of other electronic music artists,” Roy said. “One is that I incorporate as many live instruments into my recorded music and performances as I can. The other is that I do not stick to one genre or vibe throughout a set. I haven’t found very many artists that will play funk, trap, house, dubstep and future bass all in the same set. I like to keep the crowd guessing and hope to open the minds of people who claim to only like one specific sub-genre of electronic music. I’m not trying to hit a niche or fill a mold — I like what I like, and I’ll play what I like!”

His latest EP encompasses his far-reaching sound. The five-song set has been in the works for almost two years, with Roy recording everything on his own at home. The EP will feature guest appearances from GR artist El Brandino, as well as Roy’s brother, who adds live organ to the mix.

“I taught a poetry unit in my 11th grade English class,” Roy said about the origin of the EP’s title. “We read a poem by William Cullen Bryant titled Thanatopsis, which was about the inevitability of death. I had my students write their own version of the poem and wanted them to start their poems with a simile, ‘Death is like (blank).’ For the beginning of the example poem, I wrote, ‘Death is like sleep without dreams.’ I liked how it sounded and felt like it matched the atmosphere of the title track, so that’s what I named it!”

For now, eRoy is amped and ready to take his summer next level. Look for his Sleep Without Dreams EP online, or catch him at the Sweetgrass and Sage Burn Transformational Festival on July 1-2, or the Future Dream Festival on Sept. 7-9.


Sleep Without Dreams EP Release
wsg. Pause., Super Future, sandose, Gyp$y, Saylin

The Mint (inside The Intersection)
133 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids
July 27, 8 p.m., $10 (616) 451-8232