After some time touring the world in support of some of the biggest names around, Griff is back with new material and big ambitions.
Words: Ali Shutler.
Photos: Frances Beach.
Griff has released her first new single of 2023 after a short and sweet festival run that was made up of a single show supporting Haim at London’s All Points East. Speaking to Dork backstage, she admits she’s nervous about releasing ‘Vertigo’ because touring and sharing music still feel like separate muscles. “It’s been a minute,” she grins. “But I’m excited; it feels like people like it.”
She describes the song as a “sad, heartbreak” track, and it explores the feeling of not being enough for someone. “When someone leaves your life, you spend a lot of time asking if it was your fault. This song lists all those reasons why it could be, but it’s also about trying to reassure yourself that there was nothing you could have done to make it better. With the way it crescendos, I’ve always heard it as a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.”
“There’s a darkness to ‘Vertigo’ that maybe I haven’t tapped into as much before. It’s still major, but there’s something quite dark and moody about it too,” says Griff, with this next set of music following a similar mood. “It’s the start of a new season for me, for sure. I’ve been writing a lot and trying to figure out what’s right for me. We’ll start with ‘Vertigo’ and see where we end up. We’re going to be walking through it together, bit by bit.”
‘Vertigo’ was written after Griff returned home from a three-month stint on the road, supporting Dua Lipa on her Future Nostalgia arena tour. “Mentally, I was quite upside down, and subconsciously, that must have fed into the lyrics,” says Griff. Taking herself to Imogen Heap’s countryside home studio, Griff says the song just tumbled out of her. “I was in a real rut with writer’s block, but when I wrote this, it suddenly felt like I had something to grab onto for the next phase of music.”
“There’s a darkness to ‘Vertigo'”Griff
Griff may be nervous in the days leading up to ‘Vertigo”s release, but she spent the summer testing it out in stadiums as she joined Coldplay on their Music Of The Spheres tour. “It could have been very hit or miss, but it was good,” she laughs. “I also think it was a good time to try it out because you don’t have a lot to lose when you’re the support act. If you do a rubbish job, it’s fine because people aren’t there to see you. It was nice to get a feel for the song though and see how it would exist live.” She went on to say that hearing it in a stadium setting “felt right. It felt good. It feels like a big song.”
‘Vertigo’ is the first track Griff has released all year and is the first proper taste of new music since her 2021 debut mixtape ‘One Foot In Front Of The Other’. She tells Dork it’s been “terrifying” figuring out where she wanted to go after a string of early successes, which included her mixtape charting at Number 4 in the Official Albums Chart and picking up the BRIT Award for Rising Star. “It’s kinda amazing that I’ve managed to stretch out the mixtape this long. It’s insane I haven’t released an album yet, but even saying the words ‘debut album’… there’s this feeling that it needs to be really great.”
Griff goes on to say that there wasn’t much to lose, releasing music during lockdown at the start of her career. “It was a case of ‘let’s put stuff out and see how it goes’.” But things went really well. “Now it’s album time, and I really want it to feel like a whole world for fans to tap into. It’s taken a little longer to think through, but hopefully, it’s worth it.”
Right now, Griff is in the final stages of planning her debut album, with the next few months revolving around mixing and mastering tracks, going through the visuals and trying to make the whole project feel like a complete world. “Hopefully, there’ll be some shows as well,” she adds with a grin.
But it’s been a long journey to get to this point. “I had no idea what I wanted for the debut, especially because I’ve never written an album before,” she admits. “I was sitting there, asking myself, ‘How you even start? Do you need a concept?’ but I tried to do it in the least pressured way and just wrote as much music as possible. You then discover the lines running through the music.”
“I want to always be as honest as possible in my songs because that’s what makes the best music, but I don’t think I ever feel totally confident,” she continues. “Every time you enter the studio, you’re asking how the hell you write a song and questioning if you know what you’re doing. It’s the same with playing shows. It’s what makes it all still feel really exciting, though,” she adds.
“Now it’s album time, and I really want it to feel like a whole world for fans to tap into”Griff
Griff doesn’t want to give too much away about the record, especially because it’s still not finished, but she describes the vibe as “moody but euphoric at the same time.”
Going into this new era, Griff wants to represent a “space in music that’s honest, that’s beautiful, and that feels like a community. I also want to represent being proudly pop, and hopefully, this music can give people a soundtrack to their lives.”
She says it’s been easy to remain a proud pop star because she adores that style of music. “I stand on the shoulders of a lot of other amazing pop people. It’s so easy to be proudly pop when someone like Taylor Swift is absolutely killing it at the moment. Pop used to be a dirty word, but now it’s not.”
The biggest change between this new era of music and what’s come before is the amount of touring Griff has done. She emerged from lockdown a star and had to quickly adapt to playing big venues. She looks very comfortable onstage at All Points East. Griff says that seeing her music connect to fans in real-time has subconsciously affected the type of music she makes, “but I don’t want to overthink it; it’s better when music just comes out.”
“The new music does sound fuller,” she continues. “When you’re playing those big shows, you do want to hear lots of people singing along. You want to hear the biggest, most euphoric songs ever.” ■
Griff’s new single ‘Vertigo’ is out now.