Just months after finishing her high school exams, 18-year-old pop newcomer Griff has released her debut project The Mirror Talk EP. She may be young but Griff has an incredibly astute vision as to how she wants her music to sound and what she wants it to look like.
Her music is unashamedly pop but it’s minimal allowing plenty of room for her songwriting and personality to shine through. From the bare-boned brilliance of Mirror Talk to the optimistic euphoria of Paradise, she’s creating music that's rich with melody and full of analytical storytelling far beyond her years.
The 5-track EP features two songs entirely self-produced and written by Griff while her current videos are largely her vision, featuring clothes that she’s made and designed herself. It’s an incredibly DIY approach that shows she knows exactly who she wants to be as an artist.
Speaking to Griff over the phone from London just two hours before her EP drops into the world, she presents as a determined and ambitious new artist. Citing Lorde as an inspiration she possesses the same ability to write ear-worms that are also full of personality that can’t be replicated.
How are you feeling about the EP?
I’m feeling good. I feel like it’s been a long time coming for a lot of these songs to come out so it’s nice to finally put them out and have a body of work.
Yeah, I read some of the songs have been in the works for three years?
Yeah, Moments is definitely three years old and Paradise is two-and-a-half years old.
Are you just finishing?
I finished this summer. It’s been a while now. I took my exams around July time and then it was literally like a week later that we pushed go and released Mirror Talk.
How does it feel to complete school and know there’s a really exciting project you have coming up?
It was frustrating and it was tiring. I was writing a lot while I was studying obviously and I knew that I was going to pursue music so it felt like I was taking the exams for nothing but I still did it. It’s a relief to be done.
Is it more gratifying to finish the exams and then release your debut EP within months?
Yeah for sure. Mirror Talk felt like the end of school girl Sarah and me becoming Griff, I guess.
Given your age, it’s almost unbelievable how much you’re doing. Two songs on the EP are entirely self-produced, you’re making your own clothes and a lot of the creative decisions. How do you even begin to teach yourself all this?
I think I just must have a lot of DIY in me. I’m quite impatient too and quite a control freak so that’s probably how it happened. With the producing, I had Logic and all the software at home and if I didn’t have a lot to do then I ended up writing and recording. With all the creative decisions, I didn’t intentionally decide to be my stylist and direct my videos but I’ve realised I’m a control freak and I’ve got a lot of ideas. It’s been fun. With the clothes, I studied textiles in school so it made sense to do that.
Your team must have a lot of confidence in you to give you all that control.
I think I’ve always been like, “If it’s not good, obviously we can get a stylist,” but obviously the confirmation from my time around me gives me more confidence. Then I want to show them the next song or the next video. It’s been fun. It’s been a good process of actually backing myself and learning to trust my gut.
When you’re surrounded by people you can bounce ideas of each other and there’s a process of critique but when it’s just you writing and producing there isn’t any of that. Is it scary to take it outside of your space and show it to other people?
It is. I send the song to my manager which feels safe and then we play it to a few more people and get a bigger reaction. Then you realise it’s a good song. There are so many song that I write that are completely shit and they’ll never make it out but the ones that do...it’s great.
I read you wrote your first song at 12. Could it ever see the light of day?
Absolutely not. No chance. If I dug it up I’d probably cringe throughout the whole thing.
Can you remember what it was about?
Yeah, it was called Target. I can’t believe I remember this. It’s awful saying it out loud. It was about being in school and the school girls being mean. It’s like, “you made me your target.”
It’s so age appropriate. You could sell it to a child star or something. On the other end of the spectrum, is there a song on there that you’re particularly in love with?
I think Sound Of Your Voice at the moment. I don’t know if it’s just because it’s the newest one and I’ve heard all the others hundreds of times. I do really love that one. It’s really fresh.
What struck me about your music the first time I heard Mirror Talk is that it’s so minimal. There are so many tools available to you these days that it’s easy to overproduce but you haven’t. Was that a conscious decision?
I think it became a conscious decision. It actually probably originated from Paradise which was just a rough demo that the producer Danny hadn’t finished. The minimal sound carried from then on. It works really well. It helps me because I still don’t feel like I’m a comfortable producer so it’s actually okay to just have a few plucks and some percussion.
It sounds like you’re excited about learning more.
Oh gosh, I still feel like a baby in all of it. I’ve got a lot to learn production-wise, creative-wise.
That’s cool to have that ambition. Is there any other artists trajectory that you’ve been inspired by?
I think I would say that I love Lorde because when she came out it felt like her voice was so fresh. Obviously, Lorde is so bold and she created this world that was really pop and mainstream but she also had her own identity. People really fell in love with who she was.
From watching your videos, It feels like you have cohesive thoughts on what you want to do visually. Have you started thinking about the live shows?
We’ve been having these discussions. What I’ve realised is that I have all these ideas that need to be scaled back because practically and financially it’s impossible. In my head, we’re going to have me flying across the ceiling but I think I’ve had to realise what’s important in terms of what the stage is gonna look like. We’ll dress it up and continue the Griff branding theme on the stage but it’s also a good reminder that it’s about the music.
It already seems like you’ve got the Griff branding together. Are you already thinking about merch because there are pieces in the videos that your fans would love?
Yeah. It’s unintentionally become a brand and a bit of a thing. We’re going to have to replicate a lot of the stuff in the visuals at the moment. I’ve got a show at the end of the month and I’d love to do pocket mirrors because of Mirror Talk. We’re thinking.
Are you an ambitious person? Are you always thinking to the next stage?
I’m definitely thinking 10 steps ahead. With the EP out, it feels like I’ve already written so many songs since then. I’m definitely always naturally thinking ahead.