Prodigious might be a loaded word, but it’s a reasonable one to invoke when it comes to London-born singer-songwriter Sarah Griffiths, otherwise known as Griff. At 10 years old she wrote her first song, although she admits this innate ability lead her to shun grades and “the more disciplined side” of music in order to cultivate her own sound. “My earliest memories of music are from going to church each week – that was when I first fell in love with it and also where I discovered that music can be so much more than just a song on the radio; people can use it in a really powerful way.”
As an artist, the auto-biographical nature of Griff’s lyrics is one of the aspects that makes her work so compelling. “The message changes based on what I’m going through, but I always aim to make my music feel honest and uplifting,” she says. Clearly, it’s a winning formula: this year Griff earned a nomination for the illustrious Ivor Novello Rising Star Award – no mean feat for an artist yet to release her debut album. Of course, to guarantee success in the industry, performing is an integral part of the puzzle, and something Griff relishes: “It’s a different level of adrenaline.” It’s been almost a year since she celebrated a career milestone of epic proportions: her first headline show at London’s Hoxton Hall. “When you look out at the audience and hear them singing your songs back to you, there’s a tangible sense that people are actually listening to your music,” she says.
Like the rest of us, Griff’s day-to-day is looking more than a little different this year, with performances at festivals and a European tour being cancelled as a result of the pandemic. Griff admits she struggled at the start of lockdown. “I put loads of pressure on myself to be super productive. I was like, ‘I need to write my next five albums’. Needless to say, that didn’t happen.” However, she says this year has been eye-opening in ways that extend far beyond work. Growing up in the quiet village of Kings Langley, just north of London, Griff felt “completely disconnected” from her Jamaican and Chinese heritage as a teenager – “I was the only person of color in my friendship group, and often in my entire school year” – and she’s determined to make up for lost time. “With the Black Lives Matter movement erupting recently, it led me to reflect and see how much I have disregarded my roots in order to fit in. Now I’m at a point in my life where I’m ready to embark on a journey of self-discovery, which is exciting.”
Fresh off the release of her latest single, Say It Again, the soon-to-be sensation – and discerning dresser – chatted to PORTER about FW20’s biggest fashion trends and how she’ll be styling them this season…
“Working in the music industry has allowed me to be a little more extravagant with my style. When you’re performing or on photoshoots you kind of become a character; being Griff allows me to have a bit more fun with the clothes I wear. I love oversized dresses – they’re so playful; I’m a huge fan of Molly Goddard – her work is incredible. I’d style a voluminous yellow piece, for example, with casual shoes, socks and sandals or chunky boots, just to make sure it doesn’t feel too Disney princess.”
A great outfit can be totally empowering, but, on the flipside, I’m never in a worse mood than when I’m wearing something that just isn’t right”
“I’m really drawn to dramatic silhouettes and I love statement shoulders – they just make a look feel so over the top, in the best possible way. The over-sized proportions also make this amazing piece feel a bit like armor. I’m a big believer in mood-enhancing power of fashion. A great outfit can be totally empowering, but, on the flipside, I’m never in a worse mood than when I’m wearing something that just isn’t right. Clothes are like a second skin; they have to represent you authentically.”
I don’t really like to categorize clothes. Why not wear the most fabulous thing you own on a trip to the corner shop?”
CONCEAL AND REVEAL
“The thing I love most about this outfit is that the top is sexy but in a totally unpredictable way. It’s interesting to expose unexpected parts of the body; the side cut-outs are super interesting and atypical. I wouldn’t limit this look to a night out – I don’t really like to categorize clothes. Why not wear the most fabulous thing you own on a trip to the corner shop? It’s because I’m so experimental with my style that my signature ponytail actually came about. I knew when I was starting out that I wanted to make something about my personal style consistent to help establish me as an artist.”
Of course, accessories are another way to make a super-casual outfit feel put together”
“Layering is one of the things I love most about winter dressing; when it comes to summer there’s so much less to play with! A statement coat is an easy way to inject some personality into your look; I’m still working on building my collection, but I’ve got a mix of styles in there already, including leather jackets, varsity jackets and trench coats. Of course, accessories are another way to make a super-casual outfit feel put together. I have a pearl necklace I wear every day and also loads of ear piercings; I like to mix and match earrings and add charms to them. I love shoes but I’m hopeless when it comes to heels. I want to feel comfortable in what I wear so I’m all about flat shoes. Loafers are my all-time favorite – I have too many pairs to count.”
I’ve always had a strong sense of myself. When it came to defining my aesthetic, I was adamant that I didn’t want to look like every other pop girl”
RETURN OF THE LADY
“I’ve always been interested in fashion, but I downplayed it for quite a long time because I just thought it was something every teenage girl had an interest in. I’ve always had a strong sense of myself. When it came to defining my aesthetic, I was adamant that I didn’t want to look like every other pop girl. It was really important to me that my style was different; essentially, I didn’t want to wear a crop top, camo pants and fish-net tights. I like to indulge in more ladylike pieces from time to time. They can be extremely formal but if you pair them with edgy accessories or go for a less pristine beauty look you can put an entirely different spin on them.”
I like to indulge in more ladylike pieces from time to time. They can be extremely formal but you can pair them with edgy accessories”
Griff’s new single, Love is a Compass, is the official soundtrack of Disney’s festive ‘From Our Family to Yours’ campaign, celebrating 40 years of Make-A-Wish® – the charity which grants life-changing wishes to children around the world.
For every download of the single from an official digital service provider before December 31, 2020, 100% of the proceeds from the retail price will be donated to Make-A-Wish® International, which will distribute funds to its affiliates in other countries to help grant wishes.
For terms and conditions, please visit thewaltdisneycompany.eu/fromourfamilytoyours