Entertainment

Taylor Swift and Kendall Jenner Are Obsessed With Griff—Soon You Will Be Too

Whenever I’m in a music rut, my solution has always been to look to the Brit Awards—the British version of the Grammys, but inexplicably cooler, given the inherent edge that comes with simply being born on the other side of the pond. In particular, the Brits’ rising star award has become the crystal ball that marks the musicians we’ll be listening to for years to come. Little known artists like Adele, Florence and the Machine, Ellie Goulding, Jessie J, and Sam Smith all won the award when they were first starting out. And now Griff, the 20-year-old from a tiny London suburb, joins their rank.

Celebs like Taylor Swift and Kendall Jenner have openly shared their love for Griff’s debut EP, One Foot in Front of the Other, featuring seven tight emotional tracks set to upbeat pop beats worthy of playing on repeat. Born to a Jamaican father and a Chinese mother, Griff is a fully self-taught musician. “I think it was a very Asian mentality from my mom, where it was like, ‘You go to school to be academic and get good grades. You don’t go to school to be creative,’” she says over Zoom, taking a break from recording in a London studio. “I never formally studied music at all.” Instead, Griff, who was born Sarah Griffiths, spent her free time getting her musical sea legs on her own. “We had musical instruments at home, so when I wasn’t in school, I would sing and write all the time.”

The importance of academics was certainly instilled in Griff, who kept record execs on their toes for a full year, choosing to finish her studies rather than sign a shiny record deal—something nearly unheard of in today’s world of TikTok insta-fame. Get to know the artist who sews her own clothes, learned to tightrope on the fly, loves a winged eyeliner, and most importantly, was well worth the wait.

Glamour: What was your process like to land your record deal with Warner Records?

Griff: I was in school, studying economics, geography, and textiles, and I started to write music in my spare time. After a full day of school, I would travel to London to meet random producers and anyone that would want to work with me for a writing session. I was doing that hustle for a year or so, and as soon as I started working with other producers, my music started to get around a bit. My manager says there was one day where his phone was blowing up because my song “Paradise” was all over SoundCloud. That day, that song went around to all of the labels and publishers, and I was like, “I don’t know what’s going on.” I didn’t know what a publishing or record deal was at the time, but Warner was one of those labels that were really, really excited about my music. But I held out for ages because I had one year of school left. Warner called my manager every day for a year and was like, “Is she ready yet? We’re still here.” I ended up signing during the middle of my exams and took the year to finish my A-levels and get good grades. I released “Mirror Talk,” my first single, two weeks after my last exam.

That’s quite the graduation present! How did you celebrate?

I actually kind of didn’t. It was very low-key. I didn’t like talking about my music in school, so I was trying to keep it very undercover. I don’t know if it’s just the pessimist in me, but I think I knew that just because you sign a deal, it doesn’t mean anything. The work begins at that point.

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