Exclusive: Griff dishes on her new single, her signature style and her biracial background
Sarah Faith Griffiths (or, Griff, as she's known to friends and fans) has had a whirlwind of a year. She debuted just under a year ago with her single 'Mirror Talk', and it's only been onwards and upwards from there. If her pipes don't have you hooked, her look sure will—her signature style is a breath of fresh air with her penchant for DIY high fashion and impossible hair.
Apart from that, there's something special about her in that Griff is a one-woman show—writing, producing, and performing everything herself. She's a rare gem in a traditionally patriarchal industry that hardly sees women in control. To top it all off, her mixed Chinese-Jamaican background sets her apart from the rest; her complex and diverse cultural identity translates beautifully into her art, both through her music and her fashion. Essentially, she is exactly what the industry has been waiting for.
Never mind that she's only just completed her A-levels; the 19-year-old has hit it big and she's showing no signs of letting up with her new single, Forgive Myself. Lucky for us, we had the pleasure of her company the other day, where we had a little chatter and challenge.
Watch Griff attempt (and triumph) our 'Seven looks in 7 minutes' style challenge and read our exclusive interview below!
You've gone straight from Sixth Form to the music industry! How did your parents react to you pursuing music full-time?
“My dad definitely wanted me to go to university. I was expecting my mum to as well (being the strict Asian mum she is) but she was actually more chill about it. I think signing a record deal helped them realise I was serious about it (and that I actually maybe had a shot at this).”
When did you decide that music was what you wanted to do?
“I've always written and sung and I knew it was something I loved to do, but I was never sure I would actually be able to have it as a career cause I knew the chances of making it were so slim. So, I went to Sixth Form thinking I was probably going to go to university and study afterwards. It was only when I signed my deal that I realised that actually it was gonna become a full time thing for me.”
How would you describe your music?
“I would describe it as minimal, uplifting, emotional... pop? I don't know if that's a good description. (laughs)”
You have a very unique biracial background being half-Jamaican and half-Chinese–how has this impacted the music you make and the art you produce?
“Yeah, it has definitely impacted me. My dad is Jamaican, and he played a lot of gospel and R&B when I was growing up, so that influenced my early music taste.
“I think that because I also grew up in a predominantly white area, I was used to looking different and having a very unconventional background to all the other kids, coming from a slightly different home. So, over the years I've become used to being different and I've tried to apply that to making music and creating a new and distinctive sound for myself.”
Has your background influenced your choices in fashion in any respect?
“Hmm, I don't know. Like I said, I was used to standing out as a kid, because I grew up in an area where everyone else was white. I think it's allowed me to be more comfortable with looking different and being bolder, fashion-wise.”
You have to talk about *the hair*–it's kind of your signature style. How did you manage to put that lovely lengthy bobbly ponytail together?
“I knew I wanted to have a signature hairstyle because it's good to have a recognisable look when no one knows who I am. So, I found some references for the hairstyle on Pinterest and tried it out with a hairstylist at my first ever photoshoot, and it's kinda stuck ever since. Let's just say it takes a lot of extensions—I'll have to do a tutorial one day.”
Can you tell us more about the new track Forgive Myself? What's the backstory behind the narrative of the lyrics?
“I wrote this about how we can all find ourselves trusting in the wrong people or relationships. In hindsight, I've always looked back and been quite hard on myself for being so trusting. It's stopped me from trusting and opening up again, but really—in order to heal and move on, I needed to forgive myself for making those mistakes.”
What is your process in songwriting—music or lyrics first?
“It changes all the time. I think it's most productive when I have a concept or lyric first. It's usually the first line of the chorus that I roughly have in my head, then I'll start trying to build a beat around that idea, and then come up with the rest of melodies and lyrics after that.”
Can you give us a little insight into the production of Forgive Myself? How did you create the sound?
“From what I remember, I started with the basic chords in the chorus and brought in the horns after (I love how uplifting horn sections can sound), then bought in the drums last.”
Obviously, releasing music at a time like this means you'll have to get creative with the marketing. Do you have any plans for a virtual tour of some sort?
“I'm definitely gonna do another virtual show for sure. I really miss performing, so keep your eyes peeled for that!”
This interview has been edited for clarity.