Combining pop, folk, and electronics into a global sound all their own, Grizfolk are an ensemble formed by a pair of Swedish producers and a singer/songwriter from Florida who came together to pursue a fresh musical vision. The group's songs merged the polish of contemporary pop and dance music with the more organic, acoustic tinged sound of modern-day folk and contemporary singer/songwriter material, and they earned considerable commercial success with their first full-length album, 2016's Waking Up the Giants. A variety of personal and creative challenges led to Grizfolk making some changes to their musical approach, and the 2019 album Rarest of Birds eased back on the electronic elements in their arrangements in favor of more acoustic instruments and an increasingly organic production.
Adam Roth, the group's vocalist and guitarist, left his native Florida to seek a career in music in Los Angeles, and by 2011 he was gigging regularly in a band called La Vie featuring drummer Bill Delia. On the side, Roth was working with a music production house, helping to write and arrange material on commission, and there he met Fredrik Eriksson, a producer from Sweden who had recently pulled up stakes and moved to Southern California. Roth and Eriksson soon teamed up to write songs for a project, and discovered they were musically simpatico. Eriksson introduced Roth to Sebastian Fritze, a fellow Swede making music in America, and in 2013 the three joined forces to form a band that would combine Roth's love of Americana with Eriksson and Fritze's savvy with electronic pop. The group was originally called Griz Adams (after Grizzly Adams, a rugged outdoorsman in a popular American television series in the '70s), but in time the name was shortened to Grizfolk. Expanding to a quintet with the addition of Brendan Willing James on guitar and vocals, and Roth's old bandmate Bill Delia on drums, Grizfolk landed their first break when the song "Vagabonds," featuring a guest appearance by Nikola Bedingfield, began getting airplay in the Los Angeles market after being released as part of a digital-only EP, Indian Summer. Soon Virgin Records signed the group to a deal; Grizfolk's first single for Virgin, "The Struggle," appeared in December 2013, and a four-song EP, From the Spark, followed in March 2014. Grizfolk also got a major career boost when their song "Way Back When" was used as part of the soundtrack to the hit animated film Mr. Peabody and Sherman.
Preceded by the single "Troublemaker," Grizfolk delivered their full-length debut, Waking Up the Giants, in January 2016, which spawned two major hits, the title cut (which was played more than 12 million times on major streaming services) and "Bob Marley" (which was played over 29 million times). An EP featuring remixes of four of the album's tracks followed shortly thereafter. In March 2018, Grizfolk dropped the singles "Endless Summer" and "Spoonful." Despite the group's success, not all was well in Grizfolk; Brendan Willing James dropped out, and several of the remaining members wrestled with a variety of personal challenges, including romantic breakups and excessive drinking. As the musicians adopted healthier and more positive lifestyles, Grizfolk's music evolved, and their second full-length album, 2019's Rarest of Birds, found them embracing an approach that de-emphasized some of the electronic aspects of their sound and showed a greater reliance on organic sounds and acoustic instruments. ~ Mark Deming