'Waiting up' with GRYFF | An Interview
It's fair to say that this gent has made an indelible mark on the scene and no more so than with his newest release 'Calypso Drip FM' which came out in September to great critical acclaim.
From Brisbane and with a knack of fast tracking his fans to Miami he sent the scene into a tail spin with his trademark punchy synths and vocals that go down smoother than a long island iced Tea. He topped off an incredible year by signing to one of the scene's foremost Retrowave music labels 'Aztec Records' and what a perfect partnership!
You'd be forgiven for thinking that Gryff is relatively new amongst the masses but he's been plying his sunny trade since approximately 2016. Forged couldn't wait to interview him in a year that's seen him grow to become a real breakout Star..take a look.
Congratulations on all your success so far and your signing to one of the scenes biggest Retrowave labels ‘Aztec Records’! How are you feeling about it all now that you’ve had a chance to process it a little?
Working with Aztec Records has been such a great experience and really awesome for my music, I feel. I’ve always wanted to see Calypso Drip FM on vinyl and we had some talks about it and they helped me realize that and push my music to audiences I would never reach. Now that the dust has settled, I’m just riding the wave of elation and enjoying what people have to say about the album and how it’s affected their daily routines and lives…
You’ve been on the scene since around 2016 how do you think your sound has developed up to now?
I went from doing some indie-pop stuff trying to break out into the scene what was on the charts at the time… and I was really battling with finding where I belong there. When I started looking towards more 80s sounding music, embracing what I loved about the 80s, I found it was so much easier to write music and find a sense of belonging and fans and a scene. I’m glad I did it. I owe a lot to Synthwave.
What would you say is most distinctive about the music you create?
The authenticity of 80s music. I always try to write songs that could’ve come straight off of an 80s movie soundtrack, or some B-side from an artist. I don’t want to make 80s sounding music. I want to write music that sounds like it came from the 80s.
Who where your musical inspirations growing up? Has that changed a little over the years?
Australian dance music, especially 90s/2000s. Savage Garden, Madison Avenue, Empire of the Sun, The Presets, Miami Horror, Cut Copy, Sneaky Sound System. I really got into the 80s stuff around my teenager years like Phil Collins, Joy Division, Genesis, Human League, Duran Duran, Talking Heads, New Order, Tina Turner, Fleetwood Mac… Look I could go on! But I won’t.
You can guess I’m into pretty much everything, it’s all shaped my music. Another big part was video game music; Sonic, Aliens Trilogy, Dance Dance Revolution, Hotline Miami, and most importantly Grand Theft Auto: Vice City which is what the album is basically a love letter to.
Are there any Artists or Bands of the scene you’d love to collaborate with? Who? Why?
Oh so many. So many people I’m not worthy of messaging. Power Glove, Kavinsky, The Midnight, NINA, The Weeknd, FM-84, PYLOT, Ollie Wride… I wish!
I’d like to collaborate with Power Glove, Kavinsky, PYLOT for that dark sound I’m in love with and nowhere near good enough to emulate. NINA, her voice is stunning. The Weeknd is just a powerhouse for the scene and pop music in general. The Midnight, FM-84, Ollie Wride, those guys are just legends, I’d love to watch them write or produce…
In your entire discography what track are you most proud of?
You’re making it way too hard for me. I really love all of these tracks… I think, Jessie. It was my entry into the scene, and the track that’s seemed to have gone the furthest. I built this whole story for it, inspired by Black Mirror’s San Junipero and I think the chorus slaps real hard in it.
What do you reckon has been the most cherished memory of your career to date?
Working with Jordan F. I’ve been such a massive fan of him, and he’s been one of the leaders of the Synthwave scene, especially in Australia. Working on Without You on his latest album Memory Collision was so effortless and easy and fun. Then the music video happened which was great, I got to meet some really talented people for that.
What has been the best advice you’ve been given in life?
If you can do it in 5 minutes, do it now. I think that applies to procrastination though. In terms of a mantra, I’ve always said ‘The harder you work, the luckier you get’… and I’m a little bit spiritual but I think that advice is more-so showing that the harder you persevere, you hope, you work, you grind.. the results will be better and the outcome will be more fruitful.
Calypso Drip FM was hugely well received, how long did it take for you to pull the album together? Where you nervous about how it would be received?
I think some of the songs were from about 2 years before hand, just waiting quietly for the right time to be released. And most of the funkier songs came 4-5 months before the album dropped. So it’s been a while- I’ve had the concept for Calypso Drip and then it eventuated into Calypso Drip FM when I really wanted this whole package of songs like an experience. A driving album, an album to a fake radio station, an album of moments or scenes in a movie that hasn’t been made yet. Working with Yoko Honda on the art was a dream as well, she really brought the album to life. I can’t stop looking at the album art.
And yes- I was incredibly nervous! I was coming off the back of The Midnight’s Monsters and I really self-doubted myself with that release date. I was also away for work so I couldn’t use my socials properly. It was a nightmare… until I flew back home and saw how well it had gone. I didn’t expect it. I didn’t expect people to stream it, let alone by vinyl, cassettes and posters. Getting Bandcamp’s New and Notable was also really exciting.
Tell us about your creative process, how long would it take for you to lay down a track? I suspect it varies?
Absolutely. Some tracks take 4-6 months of work. Others take 1-2. New Religion started off as 2-3 different songs before I really nailed in the chorus and went with the final version. Writing Hollywood View was super fast, I think I had the whole song done in a few weeks.
What is a day off for Gryff like?
I believe in taking care of myself, and a balanced diet and a rigorous exercise routine. In the morning, if my face is a little puffy I’ll put on an ice pack while doing my stomach crunches. I can do a thousand now.
Just kidding. I’ll try and get some exercise in, either weightlifting or cardio. I’m a massive foodie so either it’s breakky, lunch or dinner somewhere nice. I’ll try and listen to a new album or watch a new movie each day to introduce myself to new concepts, chatting with friends in the scene, staying up to date with news around the world.
If I have the time or I’m working on a music project, I’ll nut that out and spend maybe 4-5 straight hours doing that when I’m in the zone. I really love social hangouts, especially the arts, so I love seeing live music, a movie at the cinema (I am a massive cinema nerd). I don’t game much but when I do it’s usually Call of Duty.
What is the one guilty pleasure you cannot live without?
Technology. I do pretty much everything on my iPhone 12 Pro, multimedia, social, promotion, music, video. I just try and balance it with mindfulness as best as I can. It’s hard in 2020, to be informed and mindful.
Favourite 80’s film?
Don’t make me choose. I really love The Thing… Aliens… Terminator… But, I think my all time favourite is Commando. It’s ridiculous, bombastic, absurd and funny when it wants to be, funny when it doesn’t mean to be.
Can you tell us anything about your current and future projects?
Right now? We’re about to release a remix collection for New Religion with XENNON, L.A. Streethawk, Crockett and COLOUR VISION… it’s so nice to have people in the scene wanting to make remixes and all their tracks are rich and bring something different to the table.
I am working on new Gryff stuff as well. The next album could be more cyberpunk, more 70s prog rock… maybe Calypso Drip FM 2 but… it’s too early to know yet, I’m still building the next experience.
Message for your fans?
Thank you to everyone who’s streamed the album, bought it on Bandcamp, bought the vinyl or cassette… It’s really great to know people enjoy the music I make which really is just a hobby/passion for me. But it gives me motivation to make more, and it’s very life affirming to me!
I think music blogs such as Forged in Neon need a shout out as well. There’s a lot to be said about music platforms and internet corners that push independent music forward and support them when their budgets/reach are limited. So yeah, from the bottom of my heart, I really love that.
Feel free to support GRYFF in ways you can. Links below: