Hira Humayun ’17
If you’ve ever stopped by Young Science Library in the past year, chances are you have encountered Anders Griffen, the library’s new Circulation Coordinator. But beyond the stacks of books and the circulation desk, Griffen is an active musician, playing with bands across Massachusetts and New York—and previously, across the country and abroad—as well as with choreographers and dancers. His musical interests span across folk, rock, jazz and modern dance. He has worked on about 40 records and has made appearances on BBC Radio 1 and music festivals like Lollapalooza.
Hailing from Brooklyn, he was surrounded by musical influences from an early age. Both his parents were musicians; his father was a French horn player and his mother, a flute and piccolo player, was the first woman in the wind section at the Metropolitan Opera.
“I was a trumpet player in school growing up,” Griffen said. “[I] then started playing drums just for fun near the end of high school and eventually found a lot of opportunities with them just to be creative around the city.” Having performed live as a trumpet player since age 16 and a drummer since college, Griffen discovered that making a living with music would not only be difficult, but he would also have to do a lot of things he didn’t really want to do. This realization led him to pursue a Masters degree in library science from UCLA, but that didn’t put an end to his music. “I’m still very active, and I perform all the time. I’m always working with different people, so I still get to enjoy it while striving to make something great.”
He made the move to Northampton less than two years ago. “I wanted to get my little boy out of the city before starting school. Having kids in school in the city is challenging,” he said. But the move from New York City to Northampton by no means curbed opportunities for him. Currently playing with at least three different groups, Griffen is able to remain active on the music scene upon his move to the Pioneer Valley.
“It’s taken a little while to meet some of the musicians I’ve been collaborating with since getting here,” he said. “But then somebody posted my name in a comment on Facebook when Winterpills was looking for a trumpet player for their new album which came out this spring.” This word of mouth worked out for Griffen, who has been playing with Winterpills all year to promote the new album, “Love Songs.” Lately, Griffen has also been accompanying dancers, working on jazz projects and generally continuing the search for creative projects. Recently, he’s joined a band called New Mom, fronted by a student at Mount Holyoke.
He remarked that Northampton’s relatively close proximity to New York enables him to go back regularly to perform and stay active in the music scene there, too. “I’ll be there Oct. 1, back in Brooklyn for a little gig. And it’s nice that I can just bounce around and keep playing.”
“It’s just been nice to collaborate with different kinds of artists of all ages,” he said. “I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into so, between the numerous restaurants and artistic opportunities, I don’t feel too much out of my element coming from the city.”
“My most memorable gig since getting here was the CD release show for Winterpills at The Parlor Room back in March; that was really a ton of fun,” he said. “A couple [of] sold out nights and a rare solo acoustic set from Mark Mulcahy. There were a lot of local artists there too, so I met a bunch of people. Yeah it’s just a big celebration, like Christmas in March.”
“Continuing to perform keeps me happy, and I think I’m already coming up on 18 shows this year,” he said. “That’s great since it’s only my second year in town; it’s working out.”