An Exclusive with Griff: The Next Face of British Pop
“I quite like writing songs where it doesn’t restrict love to being just romantic”
With quarantine still upon us—and the longest lockdown in the world—we turn to music and the arts to satiate the longing we feel for what was. Uplifting singles that speak of togetherness, albeit from a distance, like 1,000,000 X Better by an upcoming 19-year-old Chinese-Jamaican artist does just that.
The collaboration single between young multi-hyphenate (and as I learned, big Swiftie) Griff and Wonder’s December 2019 cover stars HONNE is a timely release, though unintentional. Griff shares, “HONNE DM’d me back in December saying they loved my music.” She adds, “I was already a huge fan, so we got together a couple of weeks later. We ended up writing 1,000,000 X Better about having that one person in your life that can make you feel better. And like, despite having a bad week, a period of low mental health or whatever we struggle with day to day, there’s always that one person in your life that can make your troubles drop away as soon as you’re around them.”
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In an exclusive one-on-one (via Zoom, of course), we learned that Griff wrote the poignant anthem with a best friend in mind. After all, she pens songs for her generation highlighting essential topics like mental health and body positivity. We get to know more about the next face of British Pop—beyond her signature bubble ponytail— and her thoughts on creativity in quarantine, her dream K-Pop collaboration and Taylor Swift.
Wonder: Did you have anybody in mind when you were writing 1,000,000 X Better? A best friend, a parent or a partner perhaps?
Griff: I think I probably had a best friend in mind, yeah. I quite like writing songs where it doesn’t restrict love to being just romantic, so when I wrote that one, it’s about anyone in your life who can pick you up without even saying much, but just by being around you.
W: With the song as a sort of response for “a period of low mental health days,” what tangible steps do you take to help you overcome your own, especially in 2020?
G: Sometimes, you just have to not fight those days and let them happen. I think that’s the best thing in lockdown—when you’re having a bad day, you can’t fight it. You just have to accept it because you’re in lockdown, and everybody’s going through the same thing. There are [also] simple things like FaceTiming friends, going for a drive and, for me, praying about it. Let it come and let it go.
W: Have you been more creative in quarantine or because of everything happening, quite the opposite, and you feel paralyzed?
G: It’s been a bit of both, actually. When quarantine first came to the UK, I was quite excited because I was, like, I could be by myself and write songs. It came to it and I just wasn’t inspired at all to write songs, and I just felt like it was just me in this space plunking on some notes and not making anything good. I think it’s made me creative in different ways and not necessarily musically creative, like, how do I stay creative on social media or how do I create a music video in my bedroom with no camera crew? I’ve definitely been creative in new ways, if that makes sense.
W: Since October is Beauty Month, and I feel like you have such a unique take on it, what are beauty products you feel like you can’t live without?
G: You know what, I’m not loyal yet to certain products, but I can’t live without a winged eyeliner. What I use is just a Rimmel one! During quarantine, my skin got so bad. I never had a skincare routine before this and all my girlfriends were like, “Sarah, how can you not have a [skincare] routine?” They started recommending me products. So far, I’ve started using The Ordinary to wash and an acid to tone with and the Body Shop also—that’s been really good.
W: Any dream collaboration in the near future?
G: I always get asked this and I never know what to say; it changes every single day. You know what, HONNE was a bit of a dream collaboration so that’s one ticked off. I would love to collab with some artists in the K-Pop world actually; I’m not as delved into it as I should be. From the UK, everyone knows BTS, everyone knows BLACKPINK. I’d love to, like, be in that world a little bit more.
W: I thought you were going to say Taylor Swift! I am a die-hard Swiftie, and I saw in an interview that the first album you loved was Fearless. What’s your favorite album and what’s your favorite song from Folklore?
G: I do love Taylor Swift! My guitar has Taylor Swift on it! My favorite album has to be Fearless because it was just the first one I’ve ever discovered, however technically, the best album might be 1989. There [are] too many good ones [from Folklore], I switch every week. I think, at the moment, I’m either loving Betty or Last Great American Dynasty.
W: And last question, what would you tell people, especially from your generation, experiencing anxiety in lockdown because they feel like their dreams are put on hold?
G: I’d say everyone’s in the same boat so you don’t have to be disheartened and, you know, if your dreams are on a standstill, so [are] the whole world’s, so it’s fine. Things have a way of happening at the right time, so just take this time to stop and connect with family, figure out what’s important. Next year, life will resume as normal.
The future may look bleak in the meantime but we’re holding out for better, brighter days.
Stream 1,000,000 X Better on Spotify.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver