LA-based producer, Gryffin has seen his stock rise quite quickly in the past few years. Starting out as an amateur producer, making house remixes of tracks by the likes of John Newman, Ellie Goulding and Lloyd, it wasn't until he picked up the guitar and inserted it into his music that his sound was born.
Since then he has gone on to put out official remixes for Maroon 5, Years & Years and others, while signing to Interscope and play some of the biggest festivals in North America like Coachella and Governors Ball.
In the midst of his extensive Castle In The Sky Bus Tour across the United States with Autograf and Ayokay, we caught Gryffin on the phone in Missoula, Montana to chat about being on the bus, the balancing act of working with various vocalists, being a lifelong Golden State Warriors fan and much more. Get your tickets to the rest of the tour here.
On a bus tour, are you able to get off and see some of the sights, national parks, monuments etc as you traveling across the United States?
Unfortunately not. Today I might be able to because we are going to Minneapolis and we have a day off together, so if there is a park around there, we will go out and hike and check it out. It is kind of rare to be able to explore on an off day. We try and do it as much as possible, but it is hard.
You have plenty of down time on the bus. What do you do get through it?
I am working on music right now on my headphones. I have speakers that I haven’t set up yet. I am going to get some monitors set up in the back of the bus. I just got myself a Nintendo Switch, which I am pretty stoked about. I haven’t gotten a video game system for myself since I was a little kid, so playing some Mario Kart and Zelda.
Who else is on there with you?
Autograf, my whole crew and Aaokay are on the bus with me, which makes it a lot of fun. The Autograf guys and Aaokay are awesome guys, so it’s a fun dynamic having them on board.
Will there be any collaborations between you guys?
We don’t plans to right now, but I am sure it will inevitably happen. We got a bunch of producers on the bus, so it is only a matter of time before we start messing around. We had a very intense start to the tour, so once things get settled down maybe next week, we will start working on stuff for sure.
Almost all of your songs involve a vocal. How often do you have multiple vocals for a song and if so how do you choose which one to use?
It depends. When I do remixes, it is very clear what I am going to do with the vocal. I don’t choose anything there, but with original music, it can definitely change. In terms of vocalist, I will work with an artist and that person right away becomes the singer on the track. Other times I will have sessions with demo singers or singer/songwriters who don’t want to be on the song and then it is up to me and other people involved with the record to find who would be best to sing the song.
Sometimes it takes a while. My next single that will come out in a month or so, it went through a lot of different vocalists trying to best capture the vibe and essence of the song. Usually it has been quick, but the recent songs that are coming out in the next few months took quite a while actually.
How do you not hurt people’s feelings doing that?
It is inevitable that it’s going to happen. There is a reason why I invite them to the studio and work with them on tracks because I see something unique and great about their style and artistry. If it doesn’t work on a certain song, I don’t want to rule anything out for the future. It doesn’t feel good for the artist that doesn’t get selected for the song, but it is still a great experience and it is nice to be able to meet them and hang out with them. I will never rule out working with them in the future.
Your very first remixes for John Newman, Rome and Lloyd were much more club oriented. When did you decide you wanted to add the guitar riff you do?
Daaang, going way back. You did you research. Back then I didn’t really know what the project was going to be. I was just making music because I just liked making music. I didn’t even think it was going to be a career path. I just wanted to put some stuff out and see what people thought.
I think the first song I really clearly first used guitar was a remix for Ellie Goulding “Burn.” I had an epiphany that once that came out and everyone reacted. It was kind of my sound and where I wanted to take it. I wanted it to be fundamentally dancey, but also have a lot of organic, real instruments involved. That was my way of standing out as a producer, to do recordings of the piano and guitar and put them over synthesizers and drum samples that are more electronic. It was that hybrid that really gave me something different than what people were coming out with at the time. I have moved away from making four-on-the-floor house music, but that fundamental philosophy has been constant since then.
Do you plan on expanding your live show?
Right now I have a synthesizer for those sounds, acoustic and electric guitars and a grand piano. Right now I am just focused on making the light show and visuals feel bigger. I have thought about adding members to the show, but as of right now, I don’t think I will go in that direction. I keep it want to keep it centralized like a DJ with a center console and someone mixing, instead of a full band.
How much is planned vs done on the fly?
It is pretty planned at this point. When I am doing DJ stuff, I will still have a guideline of how the DJ show should be best executed. If I am spinning house music and it isn’t working or another genre and it isn’t working, I will definitely go off the book. But with the live show, there is so much that goes into it including time-coding the lights and visuals, when the instruments turn on and off. It is pretty structured, it is just up to me to execute as best I can on any given night. I will have some variation with guitar riffs and piano from show to show.
"Feel Good" is on Illenium’s album and is going to be on your EP. Were there hoops you had to jump through to get that done?
It wasn’t but it can be. There is another upcoming record of mine that is a collaboration, there are label issues. From the get-go with “Feel Good,” Nick and I talked about how it was going to come out. Timing-wise we thought it would be good to come out in the spring and he was already halfway through his album process, but he knew it was going to come out at the end of the year. We knew from the start it was going to be a single first with my label and then it would flip and be released on his album. That was actually pretty easy because Nick is awesome and his team is awesome. Sometimes it can be very difficult, especially when you have competing major labels. It can get kind of dicey.
What is something people might not know about you?
Do they know I am half-Japanese? I am a huge sports fan. I am from the Bay area. I am a big Warriors fan. I am not a fair weather Warriors fan. I had season tickets with my dad when they were winning 15 games a season.
At least they were cheap tickets.
They really were. I would go to the games to see the other team’s best player. I would go to see Derrick Rose when he was good on the Bulls for example.
Then there was the run with Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, Jason Richardson….
Oh man I thought that was going to be highlight of my Warriors fandom to be totally honest. We were the eight seed and beat the number one seed Mavericks. I legitimately thought the Warriors had peaked at that moment. It is pretty insane to me where they have gone from there.
I have a French bulldog at home – GiGi. She’s a little funny one. I don’t think she will be on the bus tour, we already have 12 people on the bus, so having a dog here might not be the smartest thing. I do miss her though.
What else do you have coming up?
The EP is going to be kind of a compilation of old singles I have put out thus far and then two new singles that should be coming out next month. I am just finishing the mixdowns on them right now. Then it will be released as a six-track bundle, which I am really excited about because these two new songs I have been teasing for quite a while now – since Coachella actually. I have had a lot of people ask me about them and I finally feel good enough to release them, which is exciting. I have a couple of new singles I am working out for the top of next year. Next year will be a lot more touring, definitely a lot more international touring, which is cool. I have a big announcement that I will probably make right when this one is finished. A lot of festivals next summer, keep developing and go to Asia for more shows. I am probably going to do another EP next year. I am not sure if an album is in the cards yet.