Arts Interview Music Singapore

Music Is: An Interview with Gryffin

Years ago, Dan Griffith started out his music career just wanting his friends to play it at parties. But today, the artist, better known as Gryffin, has countless hit remixes to his name, a debut album with several chart topping singles, and over 10.7 million monthly listeners on Spotify.

Most recently, Gryffin saw a surprising resurgence in popularity for his single ‘Tie Me Down’, featuring American singer Elley Duhé. Despite being released back in 2018, the single regained streams with a vengeance, and now clocks in at over 158 million streams on Spotify alone. “I have no clue why it’s suddenly spiked in popularity, but it’s crazy to see that it’s gone viral,” says Gryffin over Zoom. “It’s awesome because it’s one of my favourite songs I’ve ever done, and always had confidence in it.”

One imagines however, that it might be partly due to the song’s lyrics, about the relationship between the singer and her lover, and a need for commitment. With the constant isolation (and lack of clubbing), ‘Tie Me Down’ is just one of Gryffin’s many songs that automatically evoke a sense of desire and want for human contact, and the good old days before COVID-19. “I never thought about how my songs have my significance in the COVID-19 period, but for sure, a lot of my music tries to induce a lot of feeling and emotion,” says Gryffin.

“This pandemic period was spent reflecting on a lot of stuff as well, and it’s nice to know people are still listening to my music nowadays, something I appreciate a lot.”

2020 itself has been different for music, with most artists unable to tour due to health and safety reasons, and having to record and produce new work from home instead. “It’s been a very different year and a half,” says Gryffin. “It’s been hard for sure, since I haven’t been able to tour, and that’s made it more difficult to connect with fans, or travel and experience the world like I had wanted to. But I think there’s still a silver lining to it. I’ve been spending a lot of time with my wife and dog, and really been able to sit down and focus on my music everyday, which I haven’t done in maybe 2-3 years straight now.”

The lifeblood of EDM artists is collaborations, something that Gryffin has done successfully, often collaborating with relatively new artists and singers and scoring huge successes across the board with them. “Collaborations come about either because I have a song I’ve already written with people, maybe a demo, and I’ll be networking and looking out for people at festivals or events, before I’d IG message them to see if they want to collaborate,” says Gryffin, on how these collaborations happen. “Or at other times, an artist or producer will reach out to me, send me some stuff and it continues from there.”

“Lately though, I’ve been working a lot with songs from scratch in the studio or over Zoom with the artist. In Gravity alone, if I talked about each song in the album, you’ll find that they all have such a different creative journey from start to finish.”

But Gryffin also reveals that for every single that does get released, there’s probably at least a few more works that never see the light of day, either unfinished or simply unreleased. “I think very few people realise how many songs we work on but never come out,” he says. “There have definitely been times collaborations haven’t been easy, and there’s a lot of songs still sitting in an unreleased, unfinished state. Or maybe I’ve done tracks with artists, and then they have a creative change of heart. And sometimes, it just doesn’t work creatively.

“But whenever I do a collaboration, I do try to work with the artist, get them to feel as comfortable as possible with the produce, and if both sides are genuine and honest about wanting to bring something to the track, then there’s a higher chance of it becoming a good collaboration.”

“I think my wife and some of the people on my team go nuts with some of the songs I don’t release, and they’re like why don’t I just put the song out,” he adds. “But then I tell them it’s not good enough, or not where I want it to be. I’m very critical of the music I make, and I have a certain standard I must have with my releases.”

While that may make Gryffin sound a little strict, he reveals that so much of his music really comes from a place of freedom, where he’s interested in pushing his artistry and just try new things. “I’m always listening to music, and keeping up to stay aware of what’s going on in the scene,” he says. “A lot of my work is inspired by my personal experiences. And there’s always a lot of experimentation where I like to take things in a new direction and pursue and push the music.”

And in these pandemic times, he certainly hasn’t been idle, working hard on producing new material for his sophomore album, following 2019’s Gravity. “For my next album, I’m trying something different,” he says. “It’s not like I’m abandoning my sound; it’s always going to be very melodic, very lyrically-driven, with a strong emotional quality to the music, and that’s not going to change.”

“But I’m pushing myself more on this album, in terms of both my sound and songwriting, and I’m trying to evolve and mature as an artist. It’s going to be more cohesive than Gravity, and I think there’ll be some tracks that are going to surprise people.”

Having achieved so much in just five years of going professional, what exactly spells success for Gryffin? “In terms of the legacy I want to leave behind, I want to be known as an artist who consistently put out quality songwriting and music, who wasn’t afraid to push myself a little bit, tried different genres, and didn’t do the same thing over and over. Someone who was known to evolve his sound and artistry, and of course, for his emotional, melodic house music.”

“I see my career as a series of milestones, like the first single I put out, ‘Heading Home’, that felt good. And then there was ‘Feel Good‘, which earned me my first Gold Record in the USA. And then the first time I played Coachella, and then Gravity, my first full length album,” he says.

“I’m always happy with each milestone I reach, but also always looking to move onwards and upwards. I’m always thinking what else can I do, yes I’m grateful for everything, but how do I do something new, something different, and make it even better than last year, as I reach out for the next thing.”

Listen to Tie Me Down here Follow Gryffin on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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