Alistair Griffin Biography
Last updated: 07/09/2012
For the past four years, the York based singer-songwriter Alistair Griffin has had new songs burning a hole in his pocket, waiting for an opportunity. Then it came, thanks to Just Drive, a song which sound-tracked the BBC’s Formula 1 montage at the end of the 2010 season.
It struck a major chord with viewers who wanted to know who had written and performed the song. And with Twitter fingers and a cunning online campaign pointing to Alistair, Chris Evans declared himself a major fan and played it on his BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show the morning after he heard it. It got people talking about Alistair again. As a result of this great support and very little in the way of other promotion, the single charted in the Top 40.
“Just Drive is about the freedom of the road, pushing yourself to the limit and personally, it was a revelation of what I could do”
Just Drive is the single and Albion Sky the album which will now open doors for Alistair.
An unlikely star of reality television, Alistair first grabbed the public’s attention in 2003, when he appeared on the second series of the BBC’s Fame Academy series. As Alistair says “…that was a long time ago – since then I’ve learned about the realities of the music industry, fame itself and what‘s important to me as an artist and songwriter. I think Albion Sky reflects on the past but is musically very much about the future.”
At the centre of every track on Albion Sky is Alistair’s clear ability to write deeply heartfelt songs with a lyrical prowess that remains packed full of emotion.
Take Silent Suicide for example, an album standout which Alistair describes as “one of the darker songs on the album written at a time when I felt utterly lost. In the past I might have held back, but this time its raw and totally honest. I think listening to Leonard Cohen had a lot to do with writing this song”
Albion Sky is underpinned by intricate melodies, soaring choruses and a direct lyrical approach. Future single Blinding Lights, for example, breezes in on a towering keyboard riff, driving guitars and a hugely memorable chorus. Another album highlight is the powerful track Chemistry. Written with Beyonce writer/producer Brian Howes, it’s the wild card of the album, and an out and out catchy, feel good pop song.
Alistair is clearly inspired by a number of different artists and genres, both classic and contemporary. Its rare to find someone who combines the lyrical influence of Leonard Cohen with big choruses to rival the likes of Brandon Flowers and Noel Gallagher. But that’s what he does and that’s what makes him unique. It is therefore no surprise that Alistair’s songwriting talents have caught the ear of many other performers who have covered a variety of his tracks across the globe, with artists as diverse as Robin Gibb and Cascada performing his songs.
Alistair says of his songwriting style, “It’s unashamed heart on the sleeve music that makes no apology. It’s musically about capturing a moment and putting the listener in it” Take for instance the romantic and stirring Blown Away. It is painfully reflective but deals suitably and subtly with feelings of loss and laying to rest the ghosts of the past.
In contrast, lyrically, the simplicity and beauty of the album’s title song, Albion Sky (written with Shed Seven’s Paul Banks) is equally impressive. Working together in the band Albion it marked a period of creative rebirth and reintroduction for both songwriters.
Working with award winning producer and former Psychedelic Fur, Ed Buller encouraged Alistair to dig deep musically. Ed’s CV is particularly impressive, and his appearance in the production chair was a natural progression for Alistair and the album. Best known for his work with Suede, Pulp, White Lies and The Courteeners, Ed’s approach accentuated Alistair’s assets. As Alistair suggests: “Ed’s like a musical scientist, working with him was inspiring and allowed me to take the songs in different direction, we stripped things back and brought out the rawness of the tracks”
Alistair’s musical cannon is extensive. He is a hugely in demand musical comedy writer having contributed on a number of occasions to Radio 4’s The Now Show. “It’s pretty unusual for a musician, but it’s a massively challenging and rewarding process for me.” Alistair’s way with words could be put down to the 3 years spent at York St. Johns University studying English Literature, during which time he honed his skills as a musician, busking on the streets of York!
An equally unusual pursuit for a musician, Alistair is also an expert in making lemon curd and regularly enters his produce into competitions and shows in Yorkshire. An avid sports fan, Alistair also channeled his musical talents to create hugely successful viral hit in the form of his tribute to former Middlesbrough FC striker Mark Viduka, sung to the tune of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’. The track received extensive media coverage across tabloids, broadsheets and sports pages the country over.
Albion Sky is a brutally honest and revealing musical document which clearly conveys an artist who is comfortable in his own skin. An artist ready to take risks, with renewed self confidence and focus.