In the heart of a milky way ubiquitous with rising pop sensations, Sarah Faith Griffiths, better known simply as Griff, has a star that’s beginning to shine a little brighter. Perhaps it’s the signature hair puffs that swing down her back like a pendulum, or maybe the straight-off-the-runway outfits that are oft handmade by Griff herself, maybe it’s the big voice. Most likely, however, it’s her headstrong conviction to run the show, hounding an identity of self-assuredness that settles itself deep in the crevices of her tantalizingly-honest music.
Regardless, Griff has wandered onto centre stage, propelled by a sincere interest in building her own sound. An interest that began, secretly, while still in school uniform. Travelling from the humble outskirts of Watford to work with producers in London, it wasn’t until the airing of her single ‘Mirror Talk’ on BBC Radio, that those around became aware of her pursuit. Now, with a debut EP making its rounds, as well as a signing to Warner Records, ticked off the list, Griff continues to make headway through the utilization of her youthful observation, ‘1,000,000 X Better’, her latest release with English duo HONNE, an exemplar.
Just in time to catch her before going supernova, we crossed paths with Griff to talk industry-trades and her current thought-processes after being discovered on the tail-end of high school.
You were still in high school when you began searching for collaborations with producers, what spurred you to do this so young?
Well, I worked by myself a lot, but I was just discovering how to song write and what my sound was, so there was so much still to learn from getting in the studio with other more established writers and producers. And when I was just starting, I needed to get my name out there and working with different producers felt like the best way to do that.
You kept your music-making a secret from many of your school friends. How did you manage to keep it a secret for so long, and why did you?
It wasn’t hard to keep it a secret, I just really didn’t like talking about it. I think I knew it was going to take a long time to achieve anything in music, so it just felt premature to talk about. I like the idea of people finding out about my music, not because I’ve told them, but because my work is becoming more known if that makes sense.
It must have been exciting when you were signed! What was your thought process when this happened? Did you have any reservations?
I had no idea what a record deal was and how they worked. You hear the horror stories of how big bad major labels ruin artists and all sorts so I definitely had reservations [laughs]. But it was such a huge opportunity and the guys at the label were so excited about what I was doing, so it felt right. When I signed it felt like my ‘get out of going to university card’, which was also a relief.
Did your writing process change once you started collaborating with other people rather than writing in solitude?
Yeah, when I write by myself the process is quite long. Especially because I’m the one producing and doing melodies and finding lyrics when I’m alone. Whereas, when I’m with other people, I feel like I can focus on the song a lot more and let the producers worry about the track. But I feel like collaborating with others inspires me to work by myself, so I’ll always do both.
You’re credited on Hailee Steinfeld’s track ‘I Love You’s’. Do you have a different process between writing for yourself and writing for other people?
Not really, the goal is always just to make the song the best it can be. I guess maybe the only difference is the lyrics don’t have to be so personal to me as I’m telling someone else’s story instead of mine.
Your songs have been praised for their introspective, analytical and honest lyricism, an attribute that seems to surprise people due to your age. Do you think there’s generally an air of surprise around age or even being a female in music?
Yeah, I have this weird complex in my head where I hate my birthday cos it feels like the older I get the less impressive my talent gets. There’s always a lot of surprise around me being a girl and producing my own songs. It’s quite rare to find female producers, but that needs to change and I think it is changing.
You told Vogue “Growing up everyone around me was white, middle class and I didn’t like looking different to everyone else”. I can definitely relate. Do you think being different to “the norm” has played into your art – both with your music and style?
Definitely, I think it made me comfortable with standing out. And now with everything I put out, I always try and make it feel unique and fresh, and hopefully make it feel like something that hasn’t been done before.
Is exploring your heritage in your music something you’d be interested in doing?
I’d for sure be up for it. I need to travel to Vietnam and Jamaica and get in touch with my roots more and hopefully, it will naturally inspire what I write.
You’re an artist who ‘runs her own show’, from your music to your styling, and even though you’re still so young you seem to have a really strong grip on the direction of your brand, are the decisions you make purposeful or is it something that comes naturally to you?
It has kind of just happened. It was never an intentional thing but I think I’m quite a control freak so that’s why I end up doing everything myself. I think also I just like making things, whether it be songs or clothes or video ideas. So it’s fun for me to be involved in it all.
You’ve emerged into a world with a long list of talented female pop artists, sometimes it seems easy to slip into a generic mould other people create for you, how do you stay so unique?
I don’t know, just try and do what everyone else isn’t doing? And hopefully, that means what I do stands out a little bit. I don’t know if that’s working or not but I’m trying haha.
And, as you become more acquainted with the music industry, how do you think your processes will change, or what direction can you see your music going?
Honestly, I have no idea. My music will of course evolve but hopefully, I just continue to make music that I love and that other people love too.
Follow Griff here for more, and check out her latest release ‘Say It Again’ below.