Gryffin is one of dance music’s most loved artists, which makes sense given his all-star collaborations. The electronic producer/DJ prides himself on making uplifting, emotional records, which aligns perfectly with the way he lives his own life. Hailing from Los Altos in the Bay Area but moving to Venice Beach three years ago, real name Dan Griffith is living out his dream, getting to do what he loves to do on the daily.
Having tied the knot with his girlfriend last April and recently getting a French bulldog, the 31-year-old sees Los Angeles as the perfect hub for his creativity and music. He states, “I’m also right by the water, I can’t complain flying home after a super tough touring schedule and living by the beach in Venice.”
The “Winnebago” producer actually attended USC where he studied engineering — something he admittedly hated. Having excelled in high school (St. Francis in the Bay), college was a whole new ball game as he realized he was no longer the smartest kid in the class. As a break from studying, he would make dance music: producing and learning how to make beats in the library. It wasn’t until he was graduating when artist management teams started hitting him up to remix their songs, one being Maroon 5. Simultaneously, a booking agent reached out to map out a tour for him. He remembers, “I could actually make a living and be able to pay rent pursuing music, it’s not a pipe dream anymore.”
Fast forward to 2019, he’s unleashed standout singles “OMG” featuring Carly Rae Jepsen, “Baggage“ with AlunaGeorge and Gorgon City, “Nobody Compares To You” — the list goes on. Aside from the actual music, it’s his live performances that keeps his ever-growing fanbase coming back for more. Shortly after his two sold-out dates at The Shrine on October 24, Gryffin will unleash his highly-anticipated debut album Gravity.
Gryffin arrived at Coffee Conservatory in Culver City off about one hour of sleep, revealing being up all night in the studio on Skype with a producer from Sweden. Beyond his relentless work ethic, it’s his love and passion for creating feel-good music that solidifies his name in the industry.
Your music encapsulates a lot of EDM and pop. How would you describe your sound?
That’s definitely what it is, I always try to make my music an emotion. I love lyrics and melodies that evoke an emotional reaction out of someone, generally try to keep an uplifting message and theme with music. I grew up loving dance music (when electronic music was really exploding), that’s why I started to produce. But I’ve also loved pop music my whole life. listened to it so much as a kid. Definitely like to toil the line between both worlds.
What inspired your name?
My last name is Gryffith and I‘ve always liked griffins, the mythical creature. It’s half lion, half eagle — I always thought it was a cool messaging for my music.
Why was working with Carly Rae Jepsen one of the funnest experiences for you? Besides the fact she’s a superstar.
She’s awesome, definitely the biggest artist I’ve ever worked with on a song before which was really exciting. She’s the sweetest girl ever. It came together super fast, I’d been sitting on that track for a long time and hit a creative rut. We’re both on the same label, Interscope. On a whim, I said “Hey Janick (president of the label), do you think maybe you can send this song to Carly Rae and see if she digs the vibe?”
Literally the next day, he’s like “her team loves it, she wants to meet you in L.A. next week.” I’m like, “What?” We ended up sitting in the studio. A couple hours into the session, she started tracking the vocals and I was getting goosebumps. I can’t believe my life has gotten to this point where I’m sitting here with Carly, making music. Never would’ve thought that five or six years ago. It was a really fun experience how it happened so fast and how amazing of a person she is. She’s the most positive, uplifting person ever.
You seem to get bigger and bigger. How do you remain true to that original sound fans love you for?
That’s a good question… it’s hard. Once you get known for a sound and style, if you deviate from it, people are like “what’re you doing? This isn’t the Gryffin I know or love.” Sort of pigeon[hol]ing you, you can get creatively put in a box. It’s about still wanting to please fans but also diversifying and push yourself as an artist. It’s actually a hard balance but this album, I’ve been doing a good job with keeping fans happy and giving them what they want and expect — but also trying to push the envelope a bit. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. As an artist, I want to always keep trying to do that for my own peace of mind and for the fans to grow with me too.
What or who inspired “Nobody Compares To You”?
The actual concept behind that song was Katie Pearlman, the singer and writer on the record. She came in and one of her best friends from childhood, their mom passed away. When she was on her deathbed, she told her “I wasn’t the best mom growing up but I wanted to tell you that nobody compares to you.” She relayed that story to Katie and was bawling before I came in. She’s like “I want to write a song called ‘Nobody Compares To You.’” I thought it was insane, loved it so much. We flipped the idea to be a little more applicable to a relationship or a person, not just that specific scenario. Being a true experience, it really enabled Katie to go in, write it, and bring out so much emotion in the record. Definitely one of my favorite records I’ve ever done.
A lot of your lyrics are relatable, talk about always creating something that the fans can resonate.
It’s about trying to draw inspiration when I talk to singers-songwriters about what they want to sing about, it’s coming from a real and genuine place and experience. A lot of the lyrics, you’re able to hook onto them a lot more because they’re really true emotions and what they felt in their life. I always listen for ideas and lyric lines that resonate with me personally and my experiences with my life too, that’s how it’s able to connect with the fans.
Talk about linking with AlunaGeorge on “Baggage.”
She’s so sick. We met at SXSW three years ago when she had that big DJ Snake record, always been a fan of her music. I was a nobody then, met her and did a gig with her. A few years later, I started working on this house record I wrote with Ilsey Juber. On a whim I reached out to Aluna to see if if she digs it. She hit me right back in my DMs like “this is sick, let’s cut this shit!” We put it together in the studio right here in Santa Monica. Within a few hours, I’m like “this is totally the vibe, she nailed it.”
Which is funny because she was seven months pregnant, about to pop. She’s due the end of October, a Halloween baby. She came in wearing this hockey jersey, but I didn’t know. I’m like “oh man, she’s definitely a little bit bigger.” I couldn’t say anything ‘cause I haven’t seen her in a couple years. A week later, she announced she’s pregnant. I told her “you didn’t tell me and made me guess!” She’s like “yeah I’ve been fucking with people.” [chuckles] She’s awesome, she’s the swaggest girl ever.
I love her British accent too.
Exactly, anyone with a cool British accent is automatically cooler.
It baffles me how easy it is for artists to just hit people via DM.
Honestly, everything happens in the DMs. It’s crazy. It’s a real thing, there’s so much communication that goes down in the Twitter and IG DMs.
You went from an early set in 2017 to headlining Sahara Tent at Coachella. What was your reaction to hearing that Weekend 1 was the biggest in attendance?
I was so hyped. Honestly I couldn’t even process it, it happened so fast. If you’re on stage at night, the lights shade out the crowd so you can’t exactly tell how big it was. I watched back on the livestream an hour after and my jaw just dropped. It didn’t end but I didn’t know how far. It was pure adrenaline, that show went by in five minutes. It was the fastest set I’ve ever had.
Do you ever get nervous still?
Definitely. I always get nervous before a show, no matter how big or small. The bigger ones I’ll get more nervous because there’s more pressure. I always get nervous because I always want to do well. It’s a healthy nervous, I’m not having an anxiety attack or anything. I always get the butterflies, I just want to go out there and crush it.
What are you most excited for with the Gravity Tour approaching?
I’m excited to play the album for the first time. Gravity drops on October 10th, the day before The Shrine. At first I was kind of nervous because I wanted to let people digest the album before, but it’s cool to put it out and have the two big shows at The Shrine in L.A. I’ve come to accept it. I’m excited to play a bunch of new music, debut new production, all these crazy stuff. Going to have some guests out for the album, should be fun.
Is it hard to coordinate?
It’s definitely hard because everybody’s got so much shit going on. It’s sometimes hard to bring them in. L.A.’s obviously one of the easier cities to do it in because everyone lives here. But I’ll definitely have some big ones come out.
Favorite song to drop in a set?
Right now, “Tie Me Down” is the song that slays every night. We played Life Is Beautiful on Friday, 15,000 people in the tent and everyone was singing the words. The band, we’re looking at each other like “this is crazy!” That one’s great. “Feel Good” is always a fan favorite, it’s always fun to play. “Bye Bye” is fun. “Nobody Compares To You” is fun to play. “All You Need To Know” is one of the newer ones this year, it’s just growing and growing which is cool to see.
Does your pup travel with you everywhere?
Yeah… not everywhere. But she was at Life Is Beautiful, she’s going to be with us on the bus tour. She doesn’t go international because of customs, you can’t bring the dog. All the big festivals. She had a special Lollapalooza dog pass that allowed her to be on the grounds. I try to bring her as much as possible because it’s the best feeling when the dog’s waiting for you in the green room after a show. It’s a slice of home. I should of brought her today, I thought about it.
You’ve achieved a bunch of accolades in your career. What are some goals for yourself at this point?
This album’s a big milestone for me. I first came up remixing music, now I’m focusing on all my original music. This album is the first body of work I’m putting out there and it’s gonna live forever. If I could win a Grammy someday for a dance recording, that’d be awesome. I’m looking to do more pop production also, not necessarily under the Gryffin name. Been really interested in producing for other artists, for music not necessarily Gryffin music.
That’s interesting, you hear a lot of artists want to focus more on their artistry vs. behind-the-scenes stuff.
I’m still always going to be Gryffin first, but sometimes there’s music I produce that I really like, but I can’t put on my own project because fans wouldn’t be down with it. I’ll sometimes produce hip-hop-leaning stuff, super EDM-sounding stuff that’s a little too electronic almost, or super indie/alternative type music. I love all different kinds of music so it’s fun for me creatively.
Is there someone you’d like to collab with next?
I really want to work with Jamie xx. I’d love to get in with the Disclosure guys. Producer-wise it’s my dream to get in the studio with Calvin Harris, just probe his mind. I’d love to get in with someone like Sam Smith, just an incredible voice. I could go on and on with names.
Gryffin play with Jonas Blue, Bunt (Fri) and Fairlane (Sat) at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, October 11 and Saturday, October 12 at the Shrine.