Griff Talks Writing “Vertigo Vol. 1” and the Special Shoutout from Her 'Fairy Godmother' Taylor Swift (Exclusive)

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“It’s still the most crazy thing in the world,” the English singer-songwriter tells PEOPLE of the shoutout she got from Swift in response to "Vertigo"

Griff has Taylor Swift to thank for her latest viral hit, “Vertigo” — and in more ways than one.

It took the singer (full name Sarah Faith Griffiths) a minute to realize that the cozy cottage in the English countryside she’d rented out to collect her thoughts after a bout of “heavy writer’s block” was the same place where Imogen Heap, the house’s owner, had collaborated with Swift, 33, on 1989’s “Clean.” Upon finding a Polaroid photo of the pair of songwriters — and a Grammy with Heap and the album’s name on it inside the studio — Griffiths, 22, put the pieces together.

“I like to think they blessed the house with really good songwriting energy for me that night,” she tells PEOPLE — and bless the house they did. “Vertigo” earned Griffiths her first Top 100 single on the UK charts, and has provided the foundation for what she calls “phase one” of her debut album.

<p>Warner Records</p> Griff - "Vertigo"

Warner Records

Griff - "Vertigo"

Vertigo Vol. 1, which dropped Friday and featured two new songs, “19th Hour” and “Into the Walls,” is “the first chapter” of a bigger project she says, and it’s a “fragile and heartbroken and insular” one.

“All of these songs are me just trying to keep up with my own emotions and figure out what I’m thinking,” she says of the three-song project. “I feel like I’ve written all of them from a place of feeling a bit upside down and a bit lost, which I think is a natural feeling when you’re a young woman entering adulthood.”

The feeling of vertigo in particular — the inspiration for which she got from the huge spiral staircase in Heap’s cottage — resonated with the British songwriter because she says, “Often when you’re heartbroken, it does feel like you’ve got emotional vertigo.”

"I got to this house and it just had this huge spiral staircase in the middle of it, and I was just talking to my friend about how it kind of gives you vertigo looking at it or being on it. And I think it's funny sometimes that's how inspiration comes — it's in the most mundane things that you talk about.”

<p>Warner Records</p> Griff drops 'Veritgo Vol. 1' including two new songs, "19th Hour" and "Into the Walls"

Warner Records

Griff drops 'Veritgo Vol. 1' including two new songs, "19th Hour" and "Into the Walls"

Related: Everything to Know About Taylor Swift's '1989 (Taylor's Version)'

“19th Hour” is another take at describing the same kind of pain, Griffith says, calling the track “heartbreak in its most desperate form.”

She sings, “When did sorry start to lose its meaning /  Like the color on your faded jeans / When ‘I love you’ starts to lose its power / You only say it on the 19th hour.”

Griffiths says the song explores the point in a relationship “when the words ‘I love you’ become completely meaningless, because there's so much mess between you both, and it's almost said as a last resort and as a bandage to plaster over the mess instead of actually meaning it, and something about that really hurts more.”

The final song on Vertigo Vol. 1, “Into the Walls,” can be pinpointed to a very specific time in Griffith’s life. It’s the first one she wrote of the three tracks, and she says that it reflects a time when she was “launched into quite a lot of exposure” around the time of the 2021 BRIT Awards, where she earned her first major award and performed on national television for the first time.

“I was on Zoom calls planning my BRITs performance,” she shares of the day she started writing the track, which she says is an interesting juxtaposition, given the song is “about completely wanting to disappear and being jealous of the walls because they’re still and stable.”

On it, she sings, “Today I don’t feel like talking, soak me into the walls / And I’ll just watch the world go, I’ll watch it pass on by / Let them walk on by.”

Griffiths, who dropped out of school after signing a record deal at 17, adds: “I think that song has me at my most fragile. It’s just this sense of wanting to watch the world go by and feeling quite numb."

“Vertigo,” which dropped Aug. 31, was Griffiths’ first release of 2023, and came after she’d spent four months as an opening act on tour for Coldplay in Europe.

She says it was a slightly strange experience as there was “no tangible way of knowing how successful” the opening act slot was in terms of broadening her audience, but then, just weeks after wrapping her run on the band’s Music of the Spheres tour, and days after “Vertigo” was released, she scored the ultimate sign of approval on the track — from Swift herself.

<p>Matthew Baker/Getty</p> Griff performs at the All Points East in London on August 28, 23

Matthew Baker/Getty

Griff performs at the All Points East in London on August 28, 23

“It’s still the most crazy thing in the world,” Griffiths says of the attention she’s gotten from the “Anti-Hero” singer, who shouted out “Vertigo” on her Instagram Story in September.

Swift wrote on her Story, “Damn Griff I love this one,” as she shared the single. To say it was a pinch-me moment for Griffiths — who says, “I’m such a Swiftie” — is an understatement.

Related: Taylor Swift Reveals ‘1989 (Taylor’s Version)’ Vault Track Names After Fans Crash Google Solving Puzzles

“Her popping up the other week and posting ‘Vertigo’ is the most crazy thing because it's like — she never posts and she really doesn't have to do that. So it's really kind of her to be so generous with promoting that,” she says. “It's really cool.”

After she saw the post, she recalls thinking first, “What the f---?” and then, “How do I even thank her?”

“We don’t really have a constant point of contact,” Griffith says of her relationship with Swift. “She’s like this fairy godmother that pops up and makes things amazing for me and then I just live in that for the next period. It’s amazing.”

<p>Dave Benett/Getty</p> Griff attends the ELLE Style Awards in London in September 2023

Dave Benett/Getty

Griff attends the ELLE Style Awards in London in September 2023

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The “Walk” singer, who has earned nominations at the 2022 MTV VMAs and the 2021 MTV EMAs, adds that she credits the Grammy winner for influencing her own songwriting, as well as that of so many others.

“I think she's clearly raised a whole new generation of artists and songwriters.”

Other successful female singer-songwriters Griffiths cites as sources of inspiration include Sia and Julia Michaels, whom she admires because “they were songwriters first,” which is what she always imagined she’d be, more so than a pop star.

“I love performing, so I think there was an element of me that probably, deep down, loved parts of what the artist's life looked like, but I'm just so in love with the songwriting process, and I think that was what really gave me confidence,” she says. “Even still, that process is the most sacred part to me.”

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