Dan Griffith, better known as Gryffin, is an American musician, DJ and producer. Rising to fame after remixing tracks including Years & Years’ ‘Desire’ and Maroon 5’s ‘Animals’, over the years Gryffin has made a name for himself in the industry with his own brand of dance music.
Last year, Gryffin unveiled his debut album Gravity, which reached number one on the US Top Dance/Electronic Albums. The album, which included the likes of ‘OMG’ featuring Carly Rae Jepsen, ‘Baggage’ with Gorgon City and AlunaGeorge, and ‘Hurt People’ featuring Aloe Blacc, was supported by a huge US tour.
Now, bringing a little joy to his fans during the current lockdown period, Gryffin has just released his latest track ‘Hold You Tonight’ featuring country music star Chris Lane. The track is a gorgeous offering which is dedicated to the Gryffin’s wife, and shows his versatility as an artist.
We caught up with Gryffin on the phone to discuss ‘Hold You Tonight’, his forthcoming album, his Gravity concert movie and more.
Hey Gryffin! How is life in lockdown treating you at the moment?
It’s alright, I mean it’s definitely different. I live here in Los Angeles, in Venice Beach which is not the worst place to be stuck in so I can’t complain too much. It’s definitely a pretty strange world that we’re living in right now.
In the middle of all the craziness, you have just released a new single called ‘Hold You Tonight’ with Chris Lane which is dedicated to your wife and was released on your second anniversary. What can you tell us about the song and how it came about?
It’s a song that I’ve been working on pretty much since the beginning of the most recent US tour that I did last fall. I’ve worked with these writer/producers before, we did a record with Carly Rae Jepsen last year which came out on the album. They started sending over this pretty basic idea and we were just passing it back and forth virtually and writing it on Skype and what not.
It was kind of like an acoustic ballad type record and I always felt like ‘oh man, this feels really close to how I feel about my relationship with my wife Stephanie’. That was always in the back of my mind when working on it. We ended up getting close to the finished product, at least on the song itself, and then we sent it to the Big Loud team which manages Chris Lane and he ended up loving the song. He was just getting married to his wife coincidentally and he rewrote some things and added his uniqueness and flavour to the record, and I was like ‘wow, this could actually work as a country record’. He brought so much newness to the track.
Over on the bus I was writing the song and producing it over time and we were then just waiting for the right time to release it. We decided around spring time which ended up working perfectly as I got married two years ago in April so the timing of it all aligned. It was six, maybe eight months in the making but I’m really happy with how it came out and I’m just really proud of the record.
It’s had a really good reception so far and it’s nice to see you channel a country vibe. Your sound is very versatile so how did you decide to venture into country music this time around?
Admittedly, I didn’t grow up consuming country music. I’m from Northern California but my wife is from Atlanta and went to school in the south so she loves country music and has been listening to it all her life. Like I said earlier, with this song we just tried to write a beautiful record at the end of day that meant a lot to me personally. Once Chris got his ears on it and really sang it with his accent and country style delivery, it really changed my perspective on what the song could be.
I felt like it was a cool way to keep my sound intact, but try and push myself artistically to try and work in a country space with Chris. It actually felt pretty natural the whole way. Once he sent his vocals over, I went back to the studio and started recording and re-recording a lot of acoustic guitars. We used a slide guitar which is commonly used in country, and all of a sudden it started shaping up into this cool piece of music. But it really wasn’t until Chris sang on it that it opened my eyes to what it could be.
What was it like working with Chris?
It was awesome! He’s a really cool dude. We’ve basically just been passing the record back and forth virtually for two or three months, and we still haven’t met in person which is crazy as we were supposed to do that as the record was coming out but obviously the virus hit which kinda changed everybody’s plans. We’re similarly aged, we’re both married, have dogs and are family people, so we actually have a lot in common even though we’re from totally different genres of music. It’s been a really cool experience working with him and he’s actually already one of my closest friends now in terms of artists I’ve worked on records with so it’s been really cool getting to know him.
Obviously ‘Hold You Tonight’ has a special meaning to you, but do you have a favourite lyric from the track?
That’s a good question. I think it’s more of the opening verse of the song as it’s what I wrote, whilst the second verse is from Chris’ perspective on his relationship. It’s the hook as well, but I don’t know if I have a favourite lyric – it’s more the whole vibe which is meaningful to me, and just the warmth of the record. The warmth and emotions from this record is how I feel about Steph.
You said during a Twitter Q&A that ‘Hold You Tonight’ is more of a standalone single and probably won’t be on the second album. In terms of your next album, what kind of genres and themes can we expect this time around?
I am in the middle of it right now so I guess the reason why ‘Hold You Tonight’ wouldn’t be a part of it is because I’m still formulating what I want the total vision to be so I’m just making all kinds of music right now and seeing what sort of vision starts to take form. On this album I am trying to push myself creatively and work outside of just the dance music genre.
Country was an exciting thing for me as I pushed myself out of my comfort zone so I wanna do more of that on this album. I’d love to work with more international artists as I’d really like this album to have more of a global worldly sound. I’ve been doing a lot of experimentation with that. I’m really excited with how some of the new music is sounding but it’s still in development right now and I’m just working away at home now that I’m not touring.
Is there a particular genre that you’d like to venture into in the future that you’ve yet to touch upon?
I’ve been really fascinated with K-Pop and J-Pop actually so I’ve been sort of experimenting with that kind of music at the moment. Also with the afrobeat kind of sound as well. I’m just in a very creative space right now where I’m just trying to push myself out of my comfort zone as much as I can and if I’ve gone too far then maybe I’ll reel it back in but I’m just trying to see what I can do which feels like an evolution for me as an artist. It’s actually pretty exciting, but it’s all in development right now. Ask me again in two or three months and I’ll have a better answer for you!
You did that you’d like to work with some international artists, who’s on your wishlist for your next collaboration?
On the K-Pop side, obviously BTS and also Blackpink who are also on Interscope which is cool. In terms of just artists in general, I could rattle off so many names but someone like Lorde would be incredible, or even on the producer side, Jamie XX is one of my favourite producers of all time. Those would be wishlist dream collabs. I’ll leave it there because I could probably go on for a long time as there’s so many artists I’d love to work with.
You did actually tease a collaboration with John Martin recently during your recent Digital Mirage set. What can you tell us about that?
It’s a song that we wrote in early February, right as all the stuff was happening in the world. I’ve always been a fan of John Martin on his records with Swedish House Mafia and what not. When that music was coming out, I was in university and discovering dance music really for the first time and that’s what inspired me to try and make my own music. We had a session super late at night in Los Angeles and started jamming on the acoustic guitar and coming up with the hook.
I thought that we were just going to work together for a few hours and then that’d be it but with that first session we ended up working throughout the night. We went home and scheduled a session for the next day and ended up working for three straight nights to finish the record. I’m really proud of it and super excited to be able to work with him and put this out. I don’t have an exact release date for it but it’s coming really soon. Working with his camp has been super incredible. His voice just gives me goosebumps every time I hear it so yeah, I’m really excited about this one.
You’ve been entertaining fans during lockdown with a Digital Mirage set. Do you have any plans for more virtual sets?
Yeah I do! This weekend we’re debuting a short film of one of my performances from last fall in Los Angeles, which will be a Gravity live show which I’m excited to stream for the fans. In terms of a live stream though, I am going to do one, I’m just trying to find a cool location that’s also social distancing safe and what not. Hopefully within the next few weeks!
Talking about your concert movie, for anyone who’s yet to go to one of your shows, what can they expect from this concert experience?
They can expect basically an album show. It’s myself and two other band mates who essentially play a lot of the music from my first album and a lot of live edits that you can’t hear online, it’s only at the shows that you can hear them so that’s cool to be able to share those with all the fans for the first time. You can expect really good production – in terms of the visuals and lighting, it’s this VA rig that we toured on all fall and I’m just really proud of the story that is told visually throughout the concert.
For people who haven’t seen me live, I don’t just DJ on stage, I like to perform the music live. I play the piano, guitar, synths, and some drum stuff. I really try to make a live electronic show feel like a bit of departure and more unique than just a DJ set. I’m really excited for people to see this, particularly internationally, as I’ve never performed this version of the show in Europe so I’m excited for people to be able to stream it at least and watch it in video form.
You kinda rose to fame doing remixes of songs by artists including Tove Lo, Maroon 5 and Years & Years. How does it feel to now have other artists remixing your tracks?
It’s awesome, it’s such a great feeling. Back then, it was such an honour to remix those artists and being able to have relationships with them because of those remixes was so exciting. Now, to be on the other end of it is equally as cool and hard to believe sometimes. Even when I was releasing those remixes back in the day, I never thought it’d be an artist project. I was kinda just doing them for fun because I didn’t want to study in college and I was just making music.
Now I’m making music that other people are remixing, and I feel super grateful to be at that point in my career. I also make sure to message all those remixers who put in the time and work to remix my music and tell them how much I appreciate them because I know what it’s like to be on the other end of it.
What piece of advice would you give to an artist who is just starting out in their career?
I would say to focus on what you want to be as an artist – what you want your sound to be, what you want to say as an artist in terms of the emotional quality of a record, or the lyrical quality. Just try and find out what it is, as an artist, that you want to say to the world.
With that, at least in terms of dance music producers, definitely try and come up with some uniqueness to your music and your sound that can make it stand out. There’s a lot of noise right now with music, it’s not a bad thing as it’s great that people can put out music but there are a lot of artists that are hard to find and discover. It’s really important right now to be unique and have something a little different about you for people to grab onto.
Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to artists, even on DMs or seeing people at a show and having a little disk or USB drive to play your music on. You never know what can happen. I feel like a lot of my earlier stuff with the remixes happened because I wasn’t afraid to put my music out there and wasn’t afraid of sending people ideas that I’d been working on.
During your career, you’ve toured the world, collaborated with some really big artists and more. What would you say has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?
Oh man, I mean it’s hard to pick a most memorable but I feel as if I almost look at it in milestones. For example when I did the Years & Years remix and that appeared in a movie and I got to sit there in a theatre at the premiere and watch that happen with the cast and crew, that was a big thing at that point in my career. Releasing my first ever original piece of music was a big milestone for me, getting to play Coachella for the first time, putting out my first album Gravity was also a huge moment for me. I feel like every 6-12 months there’s a new milestone that happens and I kinda look at it like that.
Talking about particular milestones, what would you like to achieve next in your career?
Good question, I mean I’d like to do a lot more international touring. Obviously right now it’s tough to say that because we don’t really know what’s going to happen in the next year or two, but as much as I love US touring and I want to continue to do that, I love travelling and being in other countries. It’s really inspiring to me to meet people from different countries and cultures. It’s really inspiring as an artist as it helps me creatively to be around the world. I’d like to do more of that. Musically, again I want to go more global with my sound and I guess just keep trying to progress as an artist. That would be my biggest thing.
‘Hold You Tonight’ is available to download and stream now.