22 apr 2024

Who is Griff, the pop star acclaimed by Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa?

Numéro met Griff, the young British pop star acclaimed by Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa. She is presenting the second opus of her conceptual series Vertigo, promoted by Taylor Swift on social media. It includes the tracks Miss Me Too and Cycles, co-produced with Mura Masa.

Griff, the British pop star praised by Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa


If she were to produce her sound as one paints on a canvas, the 23-year-old singer would go for a deep, rich turquoise that matches the somehow dark and broken dimension of her music. For all that, Sarah Faith Griffiths, aka Griff, wants to compose luminous, “inspiring songs filled with emotion that speak of the human heart and human condition.” Citing Whitney Houston, Tina Turner, Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa as her main inspirations, she could see herself starring in a colorful film by Wes Anderson if she had the chance. After the release of her EP The Mirror Talk EP in 2019 and her album One Foot In Front Of The Other in 2021, the British singer has recently presented the second opus of her concept series Vertigo, promoted by Taylor Swift on social media. It features tracks such as Miss Me Too and Cycles, co-produced with Mura Masa. Numéro met Griff, as she made a stop in Paris for a high profile concert at the Machine du Moulin Rouge.


Interview with singer Griff


Numéro: What did you see through your bedroom window as a child?
Griff: I used to live in the countryside, in a very green village of about 5,000 people. My family house was a former social home, not very spacious, but with access to a small patio. I could see an alleyway, then a pub, which was often overcrowded. Let’s just say that I used to fall asleep to the sound of drunken Brits shouting…


Are you nostalgic when reminiscing of those times?

Yes, a little. What I remember most is that I was the only girl. Having my own bedroom was a very important step for me. But I eventually ended up missing my brothers shortly after I got my own space…


Was it difficult to grow up in a village like yours as a young, mixed-race girl?

Yes… It was really difficult. I used to live in a small village composed largely of older, middle-class people. That predominantly white population was all I knew growing up. Looking back, I realize it was pretty intense after all. But I always knew our family was different. Truth is, the mix of cultures was strange too. You rarely come across a Chinese woman and a Jamaican man together. I always felt a bit at odds with the rest of the world. It took me quite a few years to turn that difference into strength. Most mixed-race children will probably tell you the same thing. There’s this discourse about richness, but at the end of the day, we don’t feel like we belong to either of our parents’ cultures – neither one, nor the other, nor both at the same time. I didn’t feel Chinese enough to be Chinese, or black enough to be really black. And clearly, I wasn’t white enough to fit in at all. So I floated in an in-between.

Being an artist is unnatural. We ask people to love us on a daily basis.” Griff


What would you have preferred?

To be white… I think. I really wanted my hair to blow in the wind. I wanted my bangs to be straight. It wasn’t until I was in my late teens that I finally started to accept my bangs, and to accept myself too. As a matter of fact, it happened when I started doing music and realized that my compositions made me who I was – a unique person. Childhood is a pretty tough time when you think about it.


Is your music the result of your biculturalism?

My father certainly laid the foundations. He was in love with soul and R’n’B music, from Michael Jackson to Stevie Wonder. I grew up listening to him singing in a home full of audio equipment. As for my mother, she came to the UK ready to sacrifice everything for a new life. She passed on her perseverance to me. My love for music is intrinsically linked to my passion for fashion photographs. I’m not referring to the technical aspect here. When I was sixteen, I used to spend hours looking at grandiose fashion images. They used to be an escape for me. However, I never really visualized myself in these images. I just liked the idea of being able to build a surreal world.


Do you have a good relationship with your sadness?

Yes, I’m used to being sad, and I’m very comfortable with that emotion. I’m not afraid of loneliness either. I’m so used to being alone, you know. As for social media, I think I could delete them anytime. When you consider that my job involves performing in front of people, it’s kind of funny. Social anxiety is a word commonly used by Gen Z. Personally, I’ve never really asked myself whether I was anxious or not, simply because my parents didn’t raise me that way, to fully express my emotions. Being an artist is unnatural. We ask people to love us on a daily basis. Of course, some artists end up losing ground…

A lot of things scare me in the music industry.” Griff


Regarding your music, do you really think you have created something different from other artists?
I try not to think about it too much. I just write songs that move me and that feel authentic and sincere. I hope that means that my stories are slightly different from other artists. I’m a self-taught producer, so my approach is certainly a little more different, a little more raw. To me, a good pop song tackles a universal feeling through an original angle. So I always try to think of something that hasn’t been said before…


I hear that you are a big fan of Taylor Swift. The latter even promoted your music on social media. What do you like about her?
She was the first pop artist I really discovered, because I listened to her music a lot… When I was eight, my cousin gave me an iPod with Taylor Swift’s album Fearless (2008) on it. I immediately fell for it. Now she’s running an empire. It’s unbelievable! I simply wanted to become a songwriter when I first discovered this profession. I didn’t really care what happened to my songs. My heart was in the studio. I never thought I’d have to become a businesswoman.


Does the music industry scare you?

Yes, a lot of things scare me in the music industry. Sometimes it just seems like a distraction. I fear that we miss out on developing real talents and giving opportunities to people with real stories. Sometimes we just throw money at music videos that are shot in fifteen seconds. That’s insane! This aspect scares the hell out of me…


The track Pillow in my Arms” by Griff is available now.


Traduction Emma Naroumbo Armaing