Dance

20 Questions With Gryffin: The Producer on New Single & Leaving 'Unhappy' Day Job to Make Music

Gryffin
Ashley Osborne

Gryffin

It's been hard to feel safe lately, with the global pandemic raging on and on. The comforts we took for granted -- a night out dancing, a long morning at your favorite coffee shop, touching your face -- feel long ago and far away. You need a hug. I need a hug. We all need a hug.

Gryffin is here today to give us one, in sonic form and from a proper distance. With acoustic guitar inflections, a soaring melody from vocalist Audrey Mika and Gryffin's signature anthemic builds and drops, the producer's new single "Safe With Me" washes over you like a warm embrace, with its uplifting spirit making you legitimately feel a little bit better in just three minutes and 37 seconds.

The artist born Daniel Griffith has spent the last few months in Palm Springs, Calif., creating his own sense of safety by hanging with his wife and dog, enjoying the time to relax not usually afforded him while on the road and making the new music he's going to play for everybody when we can once again all convene.

"I cannot," Griffith says, "wait for that to happen again."

In the meantime, the producer here talks about taking influence from Sublime, quitting his career in engineering to pursue music and where and with whom he feels safest.

1. Where are you in the world right now, and what's the setting like?

I’m out in Palm Springs right now for the winter. It’s very peaceful, quiet, and beautiful, which is a great vibe for me as I finish up all this new music I’ve been working on.

2. What is the first album or piece of music you bought for yourself, and what was the medium?

One of the first albums I remember buying was Sublime's self titled LP. "Santeria" was one of my favorite songs as a child and the first song I learned to play on the guitar, and the first guitar solo I remember learning.

3. What did your parents do for a living when you were a kid, and what do they think of what you do for a living now?

My father was a Product Engineer in the Bay Area for decades, and my mother worked in HR. They were terrified of me pursuing music at first, but gave me the blessing to go for it once they understood how passionate I was about it.

4. What was the first song you ever made?

I used to write a lot of acoustic guitar driven songs in high school and college, but my first Gryffin release was an unofficial house remix for John Newman.

5. If you had to recommend one album for someone looking to get into electronic music, what would you give them?

Daft Punk's Discovery. It’s an incredible body of work top to bottom, and was incredibly influential and paved the way for so much electronic music in the future.

6. What’s the first thing you bought for yourself when you started making money as an artist?

A new MacBook Pro so I could produce music without my old computer crashing and freezing constantly. It was amazing.

7. What’s the last song you listened to?

Glass Animals' "Heat Waves." I really have enjoyed their new album.

8. What’s one song you wish you had produced?

M83's "Midnight City." Still one of my all-time favorite records.

9. What's the first electronic music show that really blew your mind?

Swedish House Mafia - One Last Tour. I remember seeing them at Bill Graham in San Francisco and being absolutely mesmerized by the production and theatrical feeling of the show. It made me realize for the first time that a DJ/electronic music artist really could be an arena level act.

10. What’s distinctive about the place you grew up, and how did it shape you?

I grew up in a suburb of San Francisco. It was actually a very neighborly, safe place to grow up. I still keep in touch with a lot of my childhood friends, who I still depend on for their honesty of my music and trust.

11. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

I feel like I’m mostly an introvert, but when I’m on stage I become an extrovert. I like being involved in conversations, but I enjoy listening to other people’s opinions and thoughts before sharing my own a lot of the time.

12. What's your go-to karaoke song?

Toto's "Africa." Such a timeless record that I feel everybody remembers the minute the opening riff kicks in.

13. You studied electrical engineering at USC. Does anything you learned on the topic apply to what you do now as a producer?

To be honest, probably not. But I do think that studying electrical engineering taught me how to work hard and recognize that a good work ethic goes a long way towards becoming successful at something.

14. Your new track is called "Safe With Me." When, where and with whom do you feel safest?

I feel safest with my wife Steph and dog Gigi when we are lying on the couch relaxing back at home.

15. What does success for new music look like in a moment when you can't play it out at shows?

Great question. I guess nowadays you can look at streaming success as a metric for a successful musical release, but I think more importantly, it’s just about being proud of your own work and feeling fulfilled as an artist when you release music.

16. What's been the hardest part of being off the road during this time? The best part?

The hardest part is not being able to connect with fans, and feel that energy with live shows. The best part is getting to spend extra time with my wife and dog. Also, I had been touring and grinding pretty hard the past few years, so it’s been nice giving my body a bit of a break.

17. What songs/albums have helped you get through quarantine?

I really have been enjoying the Glass Animals' Dreamland album.

18. What's the first song you're going to play during your first set back?

It’s hard to say, I think it depends on when the first shows do happen. Either one of the upcoming/unreleased records or a fan favorite like ‘Nobody Compares to You’ or ‘All You Need to Know’ to bring that initial excitement and rush back to the live show experience. I cannot wait for that to happen again.

19. What's one thing you'd like your fans to know about you?

That one of the best decisions of my life was to walk away from my engineering job and career to pursue my true passion and love for music. I was two weeks into training for my job, and I was so unhappy and knew this wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. Leaving that to pursue the Gryffin project was one of the best things I ever did in my life.

20. One piece of advice you'd give to your younger self?

To not worry so much!