Interview: With GRYFF

GRYFF is a synthwave artist taking the lead for this up and coming genre, in Brisbane. Gryff describes himself as a ‘multi-talented artist who is like sipping the perfect cocktail – it’s refreshing, it goes down smooth but still packs a punch.’ And I believe this sums up his music perfectly.  For those of you who, like me before getting to know GRYFF” don’t know what synthwave is, it is a form of electronic music with a heavy influence on 80’s music that started to grow in popularity in early 2010’s.

We got to learn a bit more about GRYFF over the weekend and he told us about his music career, hinted a bit about his upcoming album, including a potential music video and told us about his monthly synthwave event ‘Miami Sunset’.

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Photography by: Mark Owen 

How’d you get into music? Have you always done it?

Growing up, music had always been a big part of my life. Well, my dad used to play me music a lot and I just think that I have a really strong affinity to music. I was always playing musical instruments, trying to play as many as I could, picking up instruments that I didn’t even know how to play and trying them. Yeah, so I think I have just always had that attraction to music. I have always been playing and always loved performing.

Now you have a very specific genre of music – what inspires you? And could you give us more details about your genre?

Oh Absolutely! I guess I started doing more ‘Synth Pop’ kind of stuff with a Miami feel to it very heavily inspired by lots of 80’s bands such a Phil Collins, INXS and Michael Jackson to name a few. I pretty much just listened to a lot of 80’s music and discovered that’s what I want to do.

Also, when I was growing up, I played a lot of GTA Vice Cityand for some reason I really dubbed that sort of look and feel – I wasn’t even alive then, but I love that kind  of music so that really opened up that decade of music for me.

I guess now there’s this new genre that just coming up, well it’s still rising, its big in America and the UK at the moment. It’s called synthwave and I’ve been playing a lot of that and making a lot of that kind of music. I think that’s been my biggest success at the moment, doing the synthwave stuff. Yeah, because its new, people are keen for new stuff – when you’re kinda break in to it all… Yeah exactly, the community of it is mostly online because I guess nowadays you can do music online and share your working tracks up, so you can get feedback straight away. But yeah, the online community for synthwave is really good.

What is creative process for making your music?

I have two main ways that I can do it. The first is if I want to sit down and make music I will just sit at my work station with my keyboards and microphones and stuff and just sort of play what comes to mind or just start playing something eightyish and just building up from that. Sometimes I’ll work for 8 hours and decided that it sounds like trash but then sometimes I’ll get a really catchy riff in the first 30 minutes then I’ll just build on that. And the other way is if I’m a little bit stuck I’ll just go and listen to music that I really love. At the moment I really like listening to M83 or Miami Horror and I’ll just get some ideas, not copy them but definitely be inspired and try and build on that.

On your social media you’ve been promoting Miami Sunset – tell us more about that?

Some friends and I wanted to do a gig together, that was like 3 months ago, and I contacted some venues about doing some standard gigs with a headline and opening acts. Then I thought there’s a guy in Melbourne whose name is Cristian, and he runs Laser Highway, which is a synthwave live music event based in Melbourne that is held once a month. So, I went to that a performed there at the start of the year. And it was awesome because all the people who showed up were all huge fans of the Synth genre. So yeah really good crowds and really good support so I kinda just want to do that back in Brisbane as I know there’s a big crowed for it in Brisbane. I then went on Reddit and asked does anyone want a synthwave event in Brisbane and there was a really positive response, so I turned this normal event into a synthwave event. It’s been really cool ever since. So, I just keep an eye out for any synth artist, synth DJ’s or live music act who fall within the category.  I don’t mind about how many followers they have as long as they are passionate about I’m more than happy to have them involved. (Keep this in mind you synthwave performers out there!). The venue TomCat in the Valley has been really cool for this event as it really suits this genre, it feels very ‘Blade Runner’ – lots of graffiti on the wall and doesn’t take itself too seriously.

When’s the next Miami Sunset Event?

Saturday November 17th– Our headliner is an 18-year-old Synth artist, Absinth3, and he is from the UK. He released his first single when was 16 and has had heaps and heaps of streams and views so he I quite big. Now that he Is back here I super pumped to have him on as he is at the forefront of the synthwave scene. Yeah really excited about that.

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You can check out GRYFF’s instagram to found out more and keep up to date with Miami Sunset – @gryffsynth !

You’re releasing an album soon. What was that like in the terms of creative process and producing it?

It changes so much. Every now and again I keep coming to new inspiration theme and I’ll want to do something else or it will change. I have put this album off for so long but I feel like I have it ready to go now. I used to just do it all at my studio in my house I would write all my tracks, record them then I would take them to an actual music studio. I have worked with Matt Gio and Sam Ford (from Perth) and Andrew Threlfo (from the Gold Coast) so I have worked with a bunch of cool guys, really really cool producers, who get it and are really invested in the project. So that’s been really good and have worked on a bunch of tracks with them. But now because of the synth scene I have had a lot of support in terms of feedback and producing tips that I’ve done a few of the tracks just at home and they sound pretty good. I released ‘Jessie’ and that was recorded at home and stuff like that. So that’s sort of where it’s at, at the moment. I’m working on another two tracks and then it should be all good to go. I’m very excited about it.

When are you planning on releasing it?

I think it should be done by the end of the year, but I don’t want to release it in December – there is too much happening. So, I will probably release it in February.

A bit off topic, but when I was listening to your music I fell in love with your album art. Who does it and what inspires it?

It depends which art you’re talking about. Some of them I did myself and other have been by other people.

History – [Gryff’s first single released in 2014] I did the History one. It is a completely different vibe from me now, it is more indie-pop. (first image below)

Jessie – [Jessie Gryff’s newest single released in October] The artwork was done by an artist called Grace Casas. And she is a 3D artist. All of it is done in 3D then she renders it and it takes ages. But I really love what she did. (second image below)

All Night – Done by a Japanese Artist Yoko Honda, she’s amazing. She has lots of awesome stuff. Lots of throwback stuff. She has even worked with Nike and MTV. I love her stuff. I think I was waiting for months because she is really busy but finally got the go ahead and got art back from her which was really awesome. (third image below)

In the terms of how they are created I will give them a mood board or some guidelines. For example, with Jessie I wanted something digital and in regards to cover of All-Night it includes a few elements from the Album cover done by Yoko Hond, which I haven’t released yet. But the album cover is awesome. It has a Lamborghini, cocktails, the black panther, palm trees and a swimming pool. I wanted all of these elements and she nailed it perfectly.

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If someone was listening to your music for the first-time what song would you want them to listen to, that gives the clearest insight into you and your music?

I’d definitely give them Jessie or All Night. Yeah I’d say one of those two.

If you could tell yourself anything at the start of your music journey what would it be?

Don’t write music for the aim of getting on the radio.  I guess when I first started out I had the ideas that if I don’t get my music on the Triple J or on mainstream radio then there’s no point. But I guess nowadays there’s so many other avenues with the internet such as Soundcloud, Band camp, Spotify, Apple music, YouTube and stuff like that. There are so many other artists that didn’t rely on radio to be famous and put their music on those other avenues.

Also, I would tell myself, production wise, that less is more. I always had the issue of always putting so much stuff in my songs, thinking “oh that sounds cool and so does that, oh I’ll put some reverb on that” but then it would just sound gross. When I took my tracks to Matt Gio, in Perth, he worked on History and my first EP Feel the Night and guess he just showed me that less is more and that the less you have on the screen the more refined you can make each individual track. By refining every note in every single track it makes for better listening. I guess in the 70s and 80’s there was only a limited number of tracks that could use so they had to make sure every sound really good because they couldn’t hide it under anything else.

What’s the future looking like for you?

The biggest prospect is writing a lot more Synth Wave/ Synth Pop music. I think there’s about seven collaborations at the moment, which is really cool. I’ve got collab’s with synthwave artists including Norway artist Moonraccoon, Absith3 and vocals for a few other people. In the terms of the future I will definitely keep performing live, keeping running Miami Sunset to get more people involved and I want to take it further. I’m already seeing each show getting bigger so I definitely want to get some bigger name artists and move to a bigger venue. Release my album, so do an album launch and possible a national tour. Release these collaborations. Then yeah see what happens from there. Oh, that reminds me.I’m working on a music video with a production company called Stranger Films – based in Brisbane. The guys are really cool and are really invested in the project. What song are you doing it for? At this stage we think its going to be a new one called Voyager and that one is super 80’s so that’ll be pretty cool. I believe we are going to film it at the Gold Coast, lots of neon’s and the beach and stuff like that.

There is a lot to keep your eye out for and make sure you keep up to date with Gryff. We look forward to attending Miami Sunset very soon.

Keep Up With GRYFF:

Instagram: @gryffsynth

Facebook: @gryffmusic

Youtube: Gryff


Triple J Unearthed: Gryff

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