Rising star Griff talks redefining DIY, taking success one step at a time

Illustration of rising pop artist and singer-songwriter, Griff.
Armaan Mumtaz/Senior Staff

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Winning the Brit Rising Star Award in 2021 and preparing to open for Ed Sheeran’s upcoming stadium tour, Sarah Faith Griffiths, known as Griff, is certainly on fire.

In an interview with The Daily Californian, the young artist reflected on her success in the last year and enthusiastically looked to the final remaining leg of her first U.S. tour.

“I hope that people really come in and be encouraged and uplifted and moved by the music,” Griffiths said. “If that’s what people take away, then we’ve done what we set out to do.”

The 21 year old calls in wearing a vintage university jumper, likely one picked up from a thrift store on tour — a novelty for the British-based artist accustomed to London’s charity shops. Griff herself is a rare find, as she brims with artistry in all arenas. 

Since the start of her career, Griffiths writes, sings and produces the totality of her tracks, using Logic software on her brother’s laptop. Most of the tracks from her June 2021 mixtape One Foot in Front of the Other blossomed from her makeshift studio — otherwise known as her childhood bedroom — in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire in England. Her tracks stitch together vertical stacking with harmonies and plenty of vocal chopping, showcasing the raw revelry of her natural tone.

“I’m not a very technically trained producer. I actually find it hard to make things sound shiny and big,” Griffiths said. “I’m good at being a bit s— and trying to make something that feels a bit rough and ready.”

Griffiths has since traded her plastic keyboard and Taylor-Swift-signed guitar for time with hangouts with the heartbreak artist herself and first-rate bandmates. Another spatial shift comes with her songwriting, as Griffiths’s tour interrupted her typical process of capturing melodies and lyrics while driving around her sleepy hometown. 

“I’ve never had to write kind of on the go,” Griffiths said. “I don’t know if I’m good at it either… (But) we’re kind of in an industry now where the demand for music is still there. I know that I’m someone who needs to shut away and take space for a long time.” 

Along with her own tour, Griffiths gears up for sharing the stage in arena venues alongside Sheeran. This might force new music to the backburner because Griffiths hopes to continue producing music on her own watch, in her own way. 

“When I look at my calendar this year, I’m like, I don’t know when the music’s gonna come … I’m kind of terrified. But I try not to think about it and trust your talent and hope it comes,” Griffiths said. “I get why artists suddenly got big, and then other people started writing their songs. And that’s something that I’m really trying to fight and like, still trying to retain control over.”

Last December, Griff went viral on TikTok for showing her mum the two BRIT awards she had been nominated for; her mum’s relatively muted reaction to this great success hit home in the comments for many children of Asian immigrants. Considering Griff’s long time away from home, her parents are surprisingly not keyed into her every move.

“I don’t know how much they know about what I’m doing to be honest,” Griffiths said. “I think I strategically kept it that way from (when I was) very young. I realized that if I tell my parents as little as possible, then they don’t breathe down your neck.”

Besides providing a personal look into the artist’s family life, Griff also tactfully uses the video-sharing platform for outside-of-the-studio recordings and to share about recent releases. However, the singer doesn’t look too fondly on TikTok.

“I kind of hate having to be a content creator on it … you have to just churn out so much,” Griffiths said. “As a musician now, a lot more of my brain is occupied thinking about content than music or art.”

Despite her slight distaste for TikTok, Griffiths does utilize the platform to share the creative process behind her engaging music videos, in which she steps in as a seamstress to make her reputable sculpturally eclectic looks. Studying textiles for her A-levels (British two-year qualification courses) now manifests in eyelet ringed slip dresses that wow audiences at the BRIT Awards.

“I made a dress for my music video ‘Good Stuff,’ ” Griffiths recalled. “Everyone was like, ‘What the f— is that dress?’ But I still love it.”

Enveloped in blue tulle, Griffith’s controversial couture is much like her entry into the music world: bold and unapologetic. But with escalating acclaim comes looming intimidation, with the potential of falling flat so soon. Speaking of her fear of her own fame, Griffiths tries to take her career day by day.

“I try not to think about it all too much. And I’m trying to just enjoy it,” Griffiths said. “Just do what I love to do. And hopefully that’s enough.”

Contact Francesca Hodges at [email protected]. Tweet her at @fh0dges.