Unsurprisingly, the 2020 Disney Christmas advert successfully pulls at the heartstrings, telling the moving tale of a grandmother’s sweet relationship with her granddaughter.
The short film is full of heartwarming nostalgia, opening with a young girl called Lola receiving a Mickey Mouse toy from her father, which she then shares with her granddaughter 80 years later.
What makes the advert even more emotional is the music it is set to – a stunning rendition of the song Love Is A Compass, a charity single written by songwriting and production team Parkwild and released in aid of the charity Make-A-Wish.
The song is performed by up-and-coming star Griff, who, at 19 years old, can barely believe that her voice is featured in a Disney Christmas campaign.
‘It still feels very surreal,’ Griff tells Metro.co.uk. ‘In this industry, things almost happen and sometimes fall through. When I was recording it in the studio, even then I was still trying to keep a level of cynicism and just be like, ‘We’ll see until it’s out.’ And now it’s actually happening.’
While Griff takes great pride in performing songs she has written herself, in the case of the Disney Christmas advert, she believes it ‘felt so right’ for this particular song to feature in the campaign, as it ‘feels so optimistic and happy that it’s such a perfect fit’.
‘I think it just speaks into togetherness and family, and that’s obviously all the themes that we’re craving this year for Christmas,’ she said.
Griff, born Sarah Griffiths, grew up in Kings Langley, which she described as a ‘very small, quintessential village just outside of London’. The singer explained that being a part of one of the only families of colour in her area, raised by a Chinese mother and a Jamaican father, made her feel ‘really used to sticking out like a sore thumb’, which is one of the reasons why she ‘threw herself into music’.
‘Becoming comfortable with being unique… I think that’s now something that I strive after in everything that I do,’ Griff said, ‘I never wanted to feel the same as everyone else. Every song I write and visual that I put out, I hope it stands on its own and is in its own lane.’
Despite still being in her teens, Griff has spent years honing her craft. Some of her earliest memories of music are from being in church as a young girl, where she said she ‘fell in love with music’.
When she was around 10 years old, she began teaching herself how to use audio production software Logic, which her father had bought for her brother. And so from a very young age, Griff developed the skills to not only sing and write her own music, but to also record her own songs.
‘Over the years I ended up collecting a bunch of demos, and a few of those are some of the best songs I’ve ever released,’ she said, adding that some people were ‘really shocked’ to come across a girl who was producing music at such a young age.
‘It was never something that I realised was shocking,’ she remarked. ‘I just kind of did it. And then I signed [a record deal] when I was 17. I still had a year of school to finish, so I finished my A-Levels. And here I am.’
Griff describes her music as ‘honest, uplifting pop’, explaining that she chooses to write songs based on personal experiences and relationships. One of her sources of inspiration is her family, who have fostered children in their household throughout her life.
‘I had to find inspirations from things that weren’t love and heartbreak because I’d actually just never experienced that, so it just didn’t really feel authentic to write about. I think we hear enough love songs on the radio to be able to imitate that, but for me, I had to draw inspiration from other things,’ Griff said.
The singer explained that while some of her music might sound like it’s about ‘love and heartbreak’, this is down to the interpretation of her listeners. As an example, while people may think her song Good Stuff is about a break-up, it’s actually about the foster children who have stayed at her family’s home.
‘I’ve got one song that’s actually about how the foster kids that we had, how every time they leave our lives, you remember all the best memories. So that obviously sounds like a heartbreak song, but it’s not actually about that,’ she said.
Griff’s musical inspirations stretch far and wide. Having been introduced to R&B by her father at a young age, the musician was drawn to ‘a lot of gospel and Christian music’, in addition to artists including Stevie Wonder and Mary J Blige. Later on, the singer ‘fell in love’ with Taylor Swift’s repertoire, while also finding herself influenced by Lorde, Banks and Haim.
Having been nominated for the Ivor Novello Rising Star Award earlier this year, Griff hopes to ‘release better songs, perform to bigger crowds and continue to put out honest music’ in the next few years, expressing her wish for a collaboration with the Weeknd in future.
She added that while she feels ‘very fortunate’ to have been busy in recent months, given the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the creative industry, not being able to perform live has ‘definitely taken a hit’ on her.
‘In this time, I’ve realised that my job is no longer as solely about songwriting as I would have wanted it to be,’ Griff said. ‘It’s almost more about being an influencer and being on social media all the time. Some days that’s horrible and I hate it, but then you realise that is just the time and you have to kind of adapt. People are finding ways to be more creative and I think it’s actually quite incredible.’
Credit: Original article published here.