Since our interview for Notion 86 in winter 2019, pop singer-songwriter and producer, Griff, has come a long way. She's dropped a stream of singles, including the hit "Good Stuff", and is racking up millions of streams. Watch this space...

Growing up in Kings Langley (not to be mistaken for Kings Landing), a wildly middle-class village outside Watford, Griff has quietly been keeping her music career on the down low. Surrounded by a soulful, gospel, church orientated family, she’d split her time between school, studio sessions, and homework. In fact, having finished her A-Levels, the now 18-year-old went as far as to tell people she was taking a gap year. In reality, her secret might not stay that way for long, since she’s on track to be the next big thing. 

 

Griff makes her own clothes and taught herself the music production basics using her brother’s computer and YouTube tutorials to lay down harmonies. She describes her sound as “quite major” with honest and relatable lyrics, and wrote the basis for her debut single, “Mirror Talk”, in about an hour, playing with the idea of talking to yourself. The name Griff is lifted from her actual full name — Sarah Griffiths — because “Sarah Griffiths isn’t that glamorous, I sound like I have a mortgage and 4 kids, it’s very corporate.” 

Griff for Notion 86
  • Jewellery Amy Rodriguez
  • Long sleeve top Stylist's own
  • Corset top Rokit Originals
  • Cycling shorts House of Holland x Speedo
  • Sheer black trousers Stylist's own
  • Shoes Vetements
Griff for Notion 86
  • Jewellery Amy Rodriguez
  • Dress Poster Girl

Do you have any early memories of realising you loved music?

My cousin gave me an iPod shuffle or something and it had one of Taylor Swift’s first albums on it. I must have been like eight. That was the first pop music, even though it was kinda country, that I was really like ‘oh, I really like this’ for some reason. It was a good time. 

When was the last time you cried?

Oh gosh, you know I actually haven’t cried in a while but I used to just cry all the time over nothing, nothing deep! Like you missed your train — cry. Can’t find my phone — cry. Or it’s just a build up of things and then it all comes out. The last big cry I had was in school, end of A levels, Textiles. I just couldn’t compose myself so went into my friend’s car, missed a lesson to sit in her car, and I couldn’t drive at this point so I didn’t really realise that if you play music in the car you’re gonna drain the battery. So I drained the battery crying in her car. 

When you’re writing songs is it a cathartic release?

No, it’s frustrating. Actually 95% of it is. It’s like anything creative. It’s tedious and stressful because you’re like ‘I can’t figure it out and it doesn’t sound right’ or ‘ahh I can’t find the lyric’, and then eventually, somehow it comes together. Then you get that 5% of real sound satisfaction and then you go through that whole torture all over again just for that! 

Have you been to China?

My mum actually grew up in Vietnam. We went back to Vietnam. It was good, living in England where I grew up is super quintessential British white suburbia. Which is all I know, so obviously I love it, and I guess I am a bit of a white girl at heart. I’ve always visually stood out, I look completely different to all CG the other girls in my friendship group at school. So it’s probably made me used to stand out and finding a security in that in a way. Growing up in white suburbia and being half-Chinese half-Jamaican, if you speak to most mixed raced people they will probably all say that you’re never quite in either. If I’m with my Chinese relatives I realise I’m actually really Western. I don’t know much of my Jamaican side.

Griff for Notion 86
  • Jewellery Amy Rodriguez
  • Jacket Ingorokva
Griff for Notion 86
  • Jewellery Amy Rodriguez
  • Long sleeve top Stylist's own
  • Corset top Rokit Originals

Is there music you remember your parents playing when you were growing up?

My dad played a lot of soul music, so maybe not what you’d first associate with Jamaican culture, but it’s still that black association of like a lot of soul, R&B and a lot of gospel. Then my mum, she would now and then play Chinese artists, who I could not tell you — I don’t know if that’s influenced me or not but I do think the R&B and gospel side has. Even though it is pop music I write, I think it’s there. 

Do you ever want to explore your heritage more through music?

Definitely. It naturally will, that narrative of my life will write itself. Every time I go to write a song I’m always trying to find something good to say, when it feels like there’s a song there it will come. 

What are you most looking forward to now you’re not studying? 

This music that everyone is hearing now, that we’ve been releasing, has been there for a while. We spent so long while I was in school developing the sound and it’s almost like you’re back to the drawing board again, but with visuals and building a team around that. 

Watch the music video for Griff’s latest single “Say It Again” below:

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