Superstar in waiting, Griff is someone who knows exactly who they are and is striking out on her own and forging a path to pop stardom on her own terms.
Self-assured and bursting with confidence, Griff feels like she has been primed for success for years, but in fact, has only been doing this making music lark for a year. What a year she has had so far, though, with three diverse bangers under her belt with many more waiting in the wings. The thing that really sets her apart is her desire to subvert convention and shake things up a little.
“When I got signed we were putting the creative together, and they realised I was quite particular about how I wanted everything to be,” she laughs. “The pop girl market is so saturated, and there’s a lot of sameness in it, so it was super important for me to have the visuals look like nothing else and feel like nothing else. The sound had to be minimal or do something different to what every other pop girl is doing. That’s the running theme I’m trying to achieve with everything.”
There’s no doubt Griff is striking in every way. From her music which combines the exuberant boldness of big-ticket pop with the inventiveness and idiosyncrasies of minimal electronic production, to the strong visual aesthetic she is cultivating, Griff is an all-encompassing package. “I’ve always had a love of clothes and making stuff,” she explains. “I just love making things, whether it’s songs or visuals. That’s the thread that runs through all my work. I’m quite a perfectionist when it comes to that.”
You can see her creative streak in full effect on the string of singles and videos she has already released their year to ever-increasing acclaim – from the tender heartbreaker of ‘Good Stuff’, to latest track ‘Say It Again’s’ effortless cool featuring a lockdown-filmed video set on a fantastical seafront with some of the best choreography you’re likely to see all year.
“I managed to make a video during lockdown,” she says explaining the ways creative artists have tried to make the best of this most rubbish of years. “That in itself was a whole new thing. I think it’s nice realising that you can get stuff done by yourselves. It’s shown everyone that sometimes all the big budgets and having a million people on set just isn’t necessary. I made my video just me at home, and I feel like it’s one of my favourites.”
Writing everything herself in her bedroom just outside London, surrounded by her big family of mum, dad, two brothers and the foster kids that her parents look after, Griff makes bedroom pop on a maximalist scale. Her love of music and entry into performing and songwriting came from her formative experiences as a child experiencing the joy of music. “I was raised in church, and that had a huge impact,” she says.
“Every Saturday, you have incredible live music. You watch how music is used as a way of people connecting and finding an emotional purpose. That was a huge influence. From an early age, my parents gave my brothers music lessons, so I was like, I want that too. It was kind of wasted on me though as my mum tried to do the whole Asian mum do-your-grades thing and as soon as realised I could play chords and play Taylor Swift songs I was like, I don’t need to do all this classical training, I can write songs! All I need are these chords, and I’ve got it.”
That independent streak was forged then, and it feels like Griff hasn’t looked back. As she became more and more proficient the desire to write her own songs and express herself lyrically came to the fore. At their core, her songs contain an emotional resonance that anyone can connect with. “I like heartbreak songs, not that I’ve really experienced a romantic heartbreak,” she laughs. “I just tap into every relationship I have in my life whether it’s with myself or my own thoughts, but most of the time it’s friendships or seeing what other people close to me are going through. I try to write something that’s universal to everyone and that everyone can relate to.”
The importance of relationships, whether romantic or the valuable bond of friendship and family, are common themes in Griff’s music as best represented on her most successful song yet, ‘Good Stuff’. “‘Good Stuff’ was the first song I released and that has done the best,” she says of her thrilling 2020. “It’s incredible. I felt really nervous about releasing that one because it’s a ballad and people might be like oh it’s a bit too normal and not enough outside of the box, but it feels like it has performed really well because people do just love a classic sad song. It means loads to me, and even though it’s a heartbreak song I wrote it from a place of thinking about my family and how foster kids come and go in and out of our house, they become like family and then you don’t see them. It’s a story about how every time someone leaves your life, you’re left with the best memories. and it makes you miss them way more.”
No matter how emotional her songs might be Griff always tempers the sadness with a precious glint of joy to offer hope and positivity. “I try to build some sense of uplifting feelings. Even if it’s the saddest song, I’ll pair it with really major chords and make it sound happy,” she says positively. “There’s something about uplifting major-sounding pop that makes me feel good. I love it. I hope when I play live people get an uplifting sensation by coming to my live show.”
Ah yes, playing live. Nobody knows when that might be right now but be sure you want to attend a Griff show asap when gigs return. For now, though, the path is clear and simple. “An album will definitely come, and it will come at the right time, but right now my head is like let’s release singles until the end of the year and maybe do another EP and figure it out,” she explains. “When you pour that much into a body of work you want it to be received by the most amount of people, so I want to do it when it feels like there’s a real demand for it. At the moment, people are still figuring out who I am and discovering my music.” Somehow we get the feeling that it won’t be too long before almost everyone in the whole world will have discovered Griff and she’ll have everything figured out quite nicely.”
Taken from the October issue of Dork.
Words: Martyn Young