British singer Griff's having a huge 2021. She's just released her new single, One Foot In Front Of The Other, and it's a taste of what her new mixtape of the same name is set to sound like. It's an optimistic, upbeat track about overcoming the obstacles that life throws at us. Griff wants you to believe in yourself, because it's important to bounce back.
It follows her performance at the BRIT Awards, where she performed Black Hole, and smashed it out of the park. The big stage suits her, and she looks supremely confident, wearing a dress that she made herself. However, speaking to Griff before the performance presents a different picture. As she puts it, "I feel terrified. I can't sleep at night, and I can't believe it's next week. Overall, I'm shitting it, I'm shitting the bed."
It's this tongue-in-cheek wit that's peppered throughout her discography, and especially on Black Hole. It's a track that talks about heartbreak, but rather than wallowing in melancholy, Griff uses humour to soothe the pain. Griff is honest about what's going on in her personal life and doesn't see the need to sugarcoat it. Instead, she'll poke fun at the situation to help soothe the emotional anguish. She says, "We all use humour sometimes to laugh through pain and make it easier to cope, and in this case, easier to get out what you want to say.
"Black Hole's one of those songs where it's happy, sad, and you can take it for whatever you want it to be. If you resonate with those lyrics, as deep and cutting as they are, then that's what I want them to do, but if not, then you can still dance to it and cry to it."
Griff is this year's winner of the Rising Star award at the BRITs, beating out artists like Pa Salieu and Rina Sawayama, and follows in the footsteps of Sam Smith and Adele. It's illustrious company. For Griff, the event holds a special place in her heart, because it is a truly UK-centred event. "It is such a thing to watch the BRIT Awards. It definitely is a very patriotic thing where you watch it and you go, 'There's so much talent that comes out of the UK,' and you feel really proud of that. It's crazy to think that I'm one of those people that are now performing on it, so it's definitely surreal." There's a big chance that Griff might have inspired the next generation of UK pop superstars by being beamed directly into their lounge rooms.
Griff's gearing up to release her new mixtape, One Foot In Front Of The Other, in June, and it's a representation of the music she's been working on recently. While a mixtape might conjure ideas of a genre switch to hip-hop or rap, there's a much simpler reason for it being a mixtape - Griff's a "commitment-phobe". "I definitely couldn't get my head around writing an album right now. That, to me, seemed too scary. The bonus is that it sounds down with the kids. It's cool."
Designing an outfit for the BRIT Awards might seem intimidating for any other artist, but for Griff, it came naturally. She explains, "My eye for visuals and fashion has helped me express my music visually and have that kind of fashion eye on it. But I think they're the same thing. It's the enjoyment of creating things." After our interview, she was heading to the fabric shop to grab something that could be crafted into the dress, and you can check out the results during her performance.
One thing that stands out about Griff is her style, and it's something that's a source of pride. Speaking to her about design, a wide smile breaks out, as she explains how she started styling herself in the music world. Griff recalls, "I started doing these photoshoots and the label would pull in these really expensive stylists and put me in all these super expensive clothes, but we've all seen it where you look at a pop star and they looked like they'd been styled and don't know what they're wearing, and I felt like that and I was like, "This doesn't feel like me." She won the trust of those around her, and she's been styling herself with the help of her sewing machine ever since.
In an age where musicians are more accessible than ever, some are fading back into the shadows. This is where Griff is a bit of an anomaly, because she's pushing to be completely open with her fans. However, to her, this is how the best music is made. "I think the best art and music comes from having a real authentic outpouring of that. When it comes to writing songs, I have to be eloquent, because I think that writes the best songs and the most unique songs.
"When it comes to having relationships with people who listen to my songs, I'm like, "Music's there to be shared and we're supposed to experience it together." I feel so lucky and fortunate to have people that listen to my music and love what they do, so it makes sense to me to then try and have relationships with them, even if it's just a DM here and there or replying to comments."
Like many modern songwriters, Griff's experiences with music are deeply entwined with Taylor Swift's career. Her earliest music memory is being gifted an iPod shuffle with Taylor's 2008 album Fearless on it, which kickstarted her love of music. More recently, Taylor called herself a "huge fan" of Griff and Maisie Peters, after the pair covered Taylor's track Exile as part of Griff's Against The Clock series. In a full circle moment, Taylor sent Griff flowers and a hand-written note to wish her luck for her BRITs performance. Speaking on the BRITs red carpet, Griff says, “In my hotel room, some flowers arrived and the note said something along the lines of, ‘Good luck with your performance, hope I get to say hi. Love from your friend Taylor’. And I’m thinking, ‘I don’t think know any other Taylor…’”
When asked about Taylor's compliment, Griff lights up and the music fan in her leaps out. She'd love for Taylor to come onto the Against The Clock series, so they can perform a classic Taylor track together, either Teardrops On My Guitar or Our Song. However, if Taylor wants to adhere to the rules of the series, she'd love to perform a Dolly Parton track together. Taylor, Griff's waiting for your call - it's time to perform Jolene together.