RADAR Artist Griff Is Bringing Songwriting and Soul to British Pop and Beyond

There’s a new face coming to take the crown of British pop royalty. At least, that’s what critics say about singer-songwriter Griff. She’s the winner of the BRITs 2021 Rising Star Award and one of the newest additions to RADAR, Spotify’s emerging artist program that spotlights rising talent from around the globe. Griff is the first creator to join RADAR with the support of two markets. 

“Griff has an innate sense of herself as an artist—being a multifaceted talent in writing, producing, and performing her own work—paired with an indelible aesthetic that is 100% her own. This has marked her out as one to watch not just in the U.K., but also internationally,” shares Sulinna Ong, Head of Music at Spotify U.K. and Ireland. “It’s just one of many reasons we’ve created a bespoke proposition for her in the U.K. and the U.S., which will entail promoting her in multiple markets simultaneously.”

Back before Griff was receiving awards, selling out tour dates, and seeing her music streamed over 126 million times on Spotify, the 20-year-old was a curious preteen experimenting with beats and melodies on her brother’s audio production software. Her first music releases came while she was still in school, featuring rousing melodies and poignant lyrics about self-love and overcoming anxiety.  She’s since been added to over 287 Spotify editorial playlists and over 1.6 million user-generated playlists on Spotify, with her audience growing at an exponential rate off the back of singles like “Black Hole” and “Good Stuff.”

Drawing inspiration from artists like Whitney Houston and Stevie Wonder, Griff’s music is a soulful combination of clever songwriting and crisp harmonies. Griff skillfully juxtaposes honest and insightful lyrics with uplifting beats. 

For the Record chatted with Griff to learn more about the struggles of finding inspiration over the past year and the excitement of the long career that lies ahead of her. 

What are you looking forward to most as Spotify’s latest RADAR artist?

Getting famous! Jokes, I mean, I just feel very excited that more people are going to discover my music and hopefully they’ll like it.

You’ve talked about your Jamaican and Chinese heritage being something that caused you to feel different from your peers while growing up. How is that experience reflected in your music? Nowadays, do your roots impact your music or sound?

My dad played a lot of Black music around the house growing up. So hopefully that sense of soul and emotion that you hear in artists like Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, and Mary J. Blige still exists in my songs. I think overall, though, having a mixed heritage in a very white area has made me used to being different, and perhaps more confident in trying new things, pushing boundaries, and standing out.

You’ve said that songwriting is your first love, before being an artist. What draws you to that part of the creative process?

I think that 90% of the time, songwriting is the most frustrating thing, and 10% of the time, it’s the most euphoric, satisfactory thing because you feel like you’ve cracked the code. So I think I’m addicted to that feeling of creating something out of nothing and feeling proud of writing something that feels both unique and true to me.

This past year presented many unprecedented challenges. How has it changed the way you approach your music? Did it bring about new types of inspiration?

It was hard to stay inspired, to be honest. Suddenly, I was just staring at the same four white walls every day and didn’t know what I wanted to say or put out into the world. I definitely had to dig a little deeper and find inspiration in new ways. I started listening to a lot of older music, like Whitney, Michael Jackson, and ABBA. I had to really reflect and have a lot of conversations with myself to find lyrical inspiration. I also had to trust that some days I was gonna write really sh*t songs, but the good stuff always comes eventually.

You’re also a part of Spotify’s EQUAL Global Music program, which fosters equity for women in the music industry. What advice do you have for female artists who are just starting out in the business and are working hard to break through?

I would say this: Try your best to know who you want to be and what you want, because if you don’t, other people so easily will. And also, look at what everyone else is doing, and do the opposite or do something different, because that will hopefully make you stand out against the rest.

Earlier this year you won the BRITs Rising Star award, and you recently released a new single. What’s next for you?

I’m excited to release this mixtape, which is coming out on June 18. I feel really proud that most of this mixtape has been written and produced 100% by me in my bedroom, and hopefully that means the songs are intimate and authentic to me. I’m also excited to get back into shows. I’ve never really gotten into the rhythm of touring; I did one show and then COVID-19 hit, so I’m excited to meet all the people who have started listening to my music in the past year.

Listen to Griff’s latest tracks below, and keep an eye out for her mixtape, One Foot in Front of the Other, releasing June 18.