We spoke to Gryffin before one of his last shows of the Whole Heart Tour. The New York City based multi-instrumentalist shared his approach to music and previewed what to expect in the future.
P&W: Your single “Heading Home” was released in January and it hit #1 on Spotify Global earlier this year. What is it about your music that sets you apart from others, especially in the electronic scene?
Gryffin: One thing is that I try to create an organic feel in the music. Within electronic dance music a lot of the drum sounds and bass sounds I use are all very synthesizer-computer based but I definitely make a point to use organic instruments like the piano and guitar, which I’ll usually play into my music directly from the piano or a guitar. I think that’s an emotion that people can’t really put their finger on that differentiates my music. I try to maintain an organic, analog sound and create music that’s a little more emotionally charged.
P&W: I definitely hear that in your music and especially with the songs that you choose to remix. Your choices are not the stereotypical songs we as listeners are expecting to hear remixed- CHVRCHES “Clearest Blue” and BANKS’ “Beggin For Thread.” How do you go about choosing which songs to remix? Do the artists approach you?
Gryffin: It’s a mix of choosing and being approached. Sometimes I get asked by artists I really admire to remix their music and other times it’s being proactive and asking. I actually sought out that BANKS remix because I love the song so much. I was really digging BANKS as an artist and what she was putting out at the time so I proactively went after that one. Other ones like Tove Lo’s “Talking Body” I was asked. It depends but a lot of what I look for in terms of remixing is who the artist is and what place they’re coming from as artists and the music and vibe they have and really focus on the song. If it’s a song I really resonate with on a personal level then I’m really excited to get in there and work.
P&W: Keeping with remixes, you’ve also recently released a remix package for your song “Whole Heart.” The song itself is a little different sonically from past work. What influenced the construction of that song and its overall message?
Gryffin: It is a bit of a different sound for me in terms of tempo and vibe. When writing that song I knew it was different at the time and felt a very personal connection to it lyrically and the message of the song really stuck with me. Having Bipolar Sunshine in the song was a really exciting thing for me because I had done a remix for him a year and a half prior and we’ve been trying to work on a song together ever since then. I felt like he was a really great addition to the song. A lot of it was about the messaging and the song itself meant a lot to me on a personal level. I want to keep my sound for the most part familiar, but want to push myself to come up with different styles and different vibes and evolve and continue to grow as an artist.
P&W: I’m also a big fan of your Flight Logs. The Diplo & Friends one was amazing and The Spring Equinox Mix is a favorite. Will you be releasing any new Flight Logs any time soon?
Gryffin: Yeah definitely. I like to do them every once in a while. I’ll definitely continue the series and I’m not done with it by any means but right now I’m sort of focusing on new music, whether it’s originals or remixes, and when I’ve gotten to a good place with them I’ll maybe start working on a flight log and tease some up-coming music in it.
P&W: You just hinted that new music is coming. Are there any new singles in the line that we should be aware of.
Gryffin: Yes, I don’t know if I can talk about them specifically; like what artists I’m working with, but I’m working very hard on new music. While I’m on the road it’s a little difficult, but I have a few songs that are already finished and ready to go, which I’m excited about. I’m starting to get back into some remixes as well. Once I roll off this tour I’m basically going to lock myself in the studio and come out with some new music this winter. Things will definitely start picking up on the release front in a month or two.
P&W: We love new music so that’s always good to hear. Switching gears to your live performances. I saw you at Ultra, you have insane energy, there’s a live instrument component – How do you go about crafting your set? And really how many instruments do you play?
Gryffin: When I’m doing the live stuff I’m switching between a effects drum pad, piano keys or synthesizer and a guitar. So three different instruments on stage and that’s pretty much the extent of what I play, though I can play a bass guitar, but I don’t bring that on stage with me. A lot of thought goes into the live show. A lot of work behind the scenes to put the set together and figure out what instruments I should be playing over certain parts of the tracks to really emphasize that instrument and the live nature of the music. It’s been challenging to put this together and I’m continuing to evolve it. Ultra was around the first Heading Home Tour. The Whole Heart Tour this fall is an advancement of the set from what it was in the spring in terms of new music and stylistically what the set feels like now. I’m just trying to make it better and better each time I go out there.
P&W: Yeah we’re looking forward to the set on Friday at Irving Plaza. Really interested to see how it’s evolved since the spring. One last question for you because we are Pancakes & Whiskey – what’s your favorite kind of pancakes and what’s your whiskey of choice?
Gryffin: I really like blueberry pancakes. I’ve actually been dying – are you based in New York?
P&W: Yes I am.
Gryffin: Have you been to a place, I think Clinton Street?
P&W: Yes. Clinton Street Baking Co. One of my absolute favorites.
Gryffin: Don’t they have awesome pancakes?
P&W: Yes, they’re insane. They also have this amazing cheddar scrambled egg thing on a biscuit with a tomato jam on top. I’m always in a what-to-choose quandary when I go.
Gryffin: Wow! I’m gonna have to try and go tomorrow. But yeah, I love a good blueberry pancake as long as it has the blueberry sauce on it. I’m all about that. And then for whiskey, I really like Four Roses.
P&W: Single barrel?
Gryffin: Yeah, I like that a lot. Someone gifted it to me for my birthday a couple years ago and I’ve been liking it ever since.
P&W: It’s a good one.
Check out the Whole Heart remix (this one is by BRAVVO): https://open.spotify.
Article: Alx Bear