Spotlight On: Derrick Griffin, Saxophonist
Updated: Jul 11, 2018
By fusing classic sounds into contemporary music, Derrick proves saxophone is both timely and timeless. Hear his playlist of the music that inspires him.
Saxophone may not be your typical instrument in hip-hop, or mainstream pop for that matter. But through his covers of contemporary songs by Drake, SZA and more artists, Derrick Griffin proves saxophone isn’t just a colorful component, but a dynamic enhancement of the live music experience.
Growing up with smooth jazz around the house, Derrick became accustomed to the sounds of Grover Washington and Richard Elliot from a young age. Since picking up the saxophone in fourth grade, Derrick has gone from playing in big bands to recently becoming a freelance saxophonist, giving him the freedom to explore his craft and try out new sounds and collaborations.
As someone who loves contemporary music just as much as the classics, Derrick finds unique ways to integrate his instrument into what’s current, giving a fresh twist on modern music. His pop covers of songs under the name "DgSax" rack up hundreds of views on Instagram, adding new flavors to rap and hip-hop in unexpected ways.
Derrick says being a saxophone player is like adding “different colors” to music—there are always layers and dimensions to explore. He strives to be a "complementary figure" to a recording, live show, or any musical event that brings people together in a positive setting. As a hip-hop head, he looks to artists like Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and Joey Bada$$, who use real instruments to enrich live music.
After opening for Wyclef Jean’s recent Chicago tour with his band the Bomba, Derrick has anything but a quiet summer in store. This month is the “REBXL KICKOFF TOUR” for Chai Tulani and the Bomba. After playing a couple shows in Boston and New York, he will return home to perform at the Taste of Chicago with emerging local artist, NDPNDNT. Follow along with his tour experiences and the newest DgSax covers on Instagram!
Get to know Derrick below and check out his custom playlist here and on Spotify:
What do you love about the local artist community?
I love the originality that I have been able to be surrounded amongst. There is so much talent everywhere I go and that is what motivates you to want to be better.
Favorite TV Show?
"Power" on Starz. I cannot wait for next season!
Honestly, I am not a huge cocktail person. I prefer something such as Apple Crown Royal or Cîroc.
Favorite Chicago artist
Favorite spot in Chicago?
I love Nini's Deli. Juany who is the store manager is such a light of positivity for the city of Chicago. Everybody needs to meet this guy. He does more than just run a business.
Spotlight On" is a weekly series highlighting Chicago creatives with a twist. We share a slice of their stories and what they love, hoping to inspire and connect.