Griffin Washburn makes the antithesis of goth music. Creating music out of his camper with just a few solar panels, Washburn has been releasing perfect, summer–y, indie–pop songs for the past three years under the name Goth Babe. With an acoustic guitar, folksy vocals, and soft synths, he’s taking the DIY music scene by storm and emerging as a big name in indie pop.
With several successful singles and EPs released, it’s likely we’ll be seeing a full album from him soon—and it sure won’t be one to miss. Street had the opportunity to interview Goth Babe, the artist whose music will be the soundtrack for every season.
34th Street Magazine: To get started, I’m curious where the name Goth Babe comes from?
Griffin Washburn: "Goth Babe" is actually just a song from a band called Surf Curse. I liked that band a lot in college, and I still do, and I was just scrolling through songs of bands, needing a band name and that one just shook me.
Street: How would you describe Goth Babe’s genre or sound to new listeners?
GW: In summary, indie pop music. Very sunny, happy, good driving music.
Street: It reminds me of what I would listen while taking a road trip.
GW: Definitely. It’s all part of a gigantic road trip.
Street: Speaking of road trips, you’re from Tennessee, and you spent some time in New York City, and now you’ve been traveling through the West Coast. How do you feel moving from the East to West Coast has changed your life and music?
GW: The West Coast definitely gives me more sunshine in my life. I was raised in the mountains of Tennessee, and I think that even Los Angeles doesn’t have too many trees. New York City was just lots of concrete and I think the Pacific West, because of all the trees, reminds me of home in Tennessee. It’s more productive and I think it’s a good place for me right now. I think musically, it has given me a more happy tone, it’s made me less angsty. It matures me out and has routed me to have one good collective sound rather than me being uncertain about who I am.
Street: When did you know that you wanted to pursue music as a career?
GW: I didn’t know I wanted to pursue it as a career, until it was my career. Until it was enough to not work a second job or a side job and it was enough to fill up my gas tank and feed my mouth. That was when I was like, "Woah, this is my career." But I think that I was just so in love with music and I would just do it all the time and sacrifice anything else and give up anything else just to make music. I just didn’t even think about it, about getting good at it or making it my career until it was just out of pure obsession and love. I picked up the guitar; I was 16. And I’m 22, I’ve been playing acoustic for awhile, I played in a band in high school, and in college I kept touring, got some band friends, did some band things, and I’m just huge into the DIY scene right now.
Street: I’ve read that you write and self–record all your music. Can you describe what the music making process is like for you? What is your favorite part of the music making process?
GW: Yeah, I make all my music in the back of my truck! I have solar panels and all that good stuff and a battery. Generally, I just lay down some sort of percussion, then throw down some synth over it and I keep layering and layering and layering until I have some sort of universe, and then I start belting in my car. Trying to figure out if I can do something with it. And if I like the song I just play it a gazillion times for the next couple weeks until it’s like, "I should do something with this." If I forget, then I just don’t continue with it.
Street: Is this a statement against how mainstream music is made or is this just what works for you?
GW: More what works for me. More for the fact I don’t have the money to throw at someone to help me record my music all the time. I didn’t have the money growing up to do that, and I didn’t have any reason to do that. I felt like it was tougher to go into a studio and tell someone how I wanted something to sound than trying it myself. Just trying it out myself is way more fun and you're like in your own laboratory creating it. I do like the direction music is taking where people can just do it themselves.
Street: Who are your biggest music inspirations?
GW: Louis Armstrong is one of them. Tame Impala is another one of them. Old jazz music: Billie Holiday and all of the classics. All the indie guys like Mac DeMarco. There’s a lot to take in right now and there’s a lot of directions to go.
Street: What’s your long term goals for Goth Babe?
GW: Keep pushing along. Not sell–out. Keep on making music I want to make. Along the vein of fun, happy summer music and not attempting to just make the top 100. Keep on making honest music. Keep working with awesome people. Keep on chugging along and knocking out more and more shows every year, so more of you guys can see what’s going on and be part of what’s going on, beyond our phones, and Instagram and all that stuff. I think that’s the goal as of right now. Do what I’m doing right now, just on a bigger scale.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Info on his upcoming shows available at https://gothbabe.bandcamp.com/