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|Also known as||Glenn Mikkelson|
|Born||4 October 1957|
|Origin||Auckland, New Zealand|
|Genres||Synthpop, new wave, ambient, electronic|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, bass|
|Associated acts||The Human Instinct, Screemer, Hans Zimmer, Yukihiro Takahashi, Ultravox, Gary Numan, Kate Bush, Lindsay Kemp|
Zaine Griff (born 4 October 1957 in Auckland, New Zealand) is a singer-songwriter who was part of the English new wave and new romantics scene of the early 1980s. Raised in New Zealand, he moved to England in the 1970s, where he continued with his artistic and musical career, becoming a solo artist. He worked with Lindsay Kemp, in arts, and The Human Instinct, The Kinks, David Bowie, Kate Bush, Gary Numan and Hans Zimmer, in music.
Brought up in New Zealand and Tahiti by his Danish parents, Griff learned to play guitar at an early age.
Aged 16, he joined rock band The Human Instinct as their bassist, taking the stage name of Glenn Mikkelson. During his time with the band, they recorded two albums: The Hustler (1974) and Peg Leg - which was recorded in 1975 but not released until 2002. Despite his youth, Griff (now known as Mikkelson) wrote seven songs for these albums and was lead vocalist on five.
In 1975, he left The Human Instinct and moved to London, England, to continue his musical career. There he became the vocalist and bassist of a band called Baby Face and began studying mime and movement alongside Kate Bush, Adam Darius and Lindsay Kemp. At the time, he joined Kemp's production of Flowers, a play written by Jean Genet, but quit when the company went on tour to Australia, as he wanted to stay in London to continue with music.
After leaving the Kemp company, Griff joined a band called Screemer, with whom he released two singles: "Interplanetary Twist", in 1976, and "In The City", in 1977. Griff also played bass guitar with The Kinks on their album, Misfits.
In 1979 Griff started his solo career, using various musicians for his band, including future film music composer Hans Zimmer, and Ultravox drummer Warren Cann. He released two albums, Ashes and Diamonds (recorded in 1979, released in 1980) and Figvres (1982). Ashes and Diamonds was produced by Tony Visconti. On both albums, Zimmer played keyboards and worked the computers. On the album Figvres, Zimmer's influence was more present in the musical arrangements of the songs. For Zimmer, the album "Figvres" was an inspiration for his later work in making soundtracks for films. Zimmer is now a well-known film music composer, who made soundtracks for over 110 well-known films.
During the sessions for his first solo-album Griff worked with David Bowie. As recalled by Griff himself - in an April 2013 interview on New Zealand radio - producer Tony Visconti had just returned from working with David Bowie in Berlin, when they started to record Griff's album in autumn 1979. During the sessions Bowie walked in, saw Griff recording and asked him and his band to record three new versions of his songs. One of them was the acoustic "Space Oddity" (1979 version), the other one a totally different version of "Panic in Detroit" which was later added to Bowie's next album Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) (and years later again to Heathen). Tony Visconti has confirmed he brought Bowie and Griff together in the studio. The songs were also produced by Tony Visconti and intended for use in a new year's eve TV-show in 1979. In the end, only the new (acoustic) "Space Oddity" was broadcast and also released as B-side of the maxi-single "Moon of Alabama". The meeting of Bowie and Griff is also described in David Bowie: An Illustrated Record by Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray. In the book Bowie is quoted, telling he was amazed to see the resemblance between him and Griff when they first met.
On the second album Figvres, Kate Bush sang backing vocals for the song "Flowers", which was dedicated to the pair's mime and dance teacher Lindsay Kemp. Also, Yukihiro Takahashi, of Japanese electronic band YMO, joined the musicians. The single "Tonight" peaked at #54 in the UK Singles Chart in February 1980, whilst "Ashes and Diamonds" reached #68 in the same listing in June that year.
In 1982, Griff had an art exhibition in Ebury Galley, London, to which the London artist Mark Wardel also contributed work, inspired by Griff's music. In 1983 Griff was involved in Hans Zimmer and Warren Cann's Helden Project. Griff sang on six of the songs on the recorded album Spies. The album, however, was never released. Only the single "Holding On" - a duet of Griff and singer Linda Allan - was released on ZiCa Records.
In 1984, Griff returned to New Zealand, where he became the owner of a jazz club in Auckland. He has produced several artists and has written newer songs in more recent times. In January 2010, Griff started to record his third album Child Who Wants The Moon, which was released in August 2011. Griff's first two albums Ashes and Diamonds and Figvres were re-released both on CD and on iTunes in June 2012. In November 2012 they were released in a special Japanese release with bonus songs.
In 2011 Griff returned to live music. After a series of live concerts in his homeland New Zealand, he returned to the London stage in October 2012, when he was a guest in Toyah's live show "Resurrection" in O2 Islington. In September 2014, Griff did two live concerts in Tokyo, Japan.
In April 2013, Griff released his fourth album The Visitor in Auckland, produced by Eddie Rayner of Split Enz. Later that year, Griff found a box of old studio demo recordings he thought were long lost. They were recorded in London between 1978 and 1983, and consisted of three early versions of songs he re-recorded years later for his album Figvres. There were also nine songs which were unknown until they were released. In an Auckland studio, he had the tapes repaired and the demos remastered before he released them as his fifth album Immersed in May 2014. In January 2016 Griff released his sixth solo album Mood Swings, which has a more European sound that reminds his early eighties albums.
A new and special rerelease with extra songs, photo's and information is prepared for Griff's early albums Ashes and Diamonds and Figvres
With The Human Instinct:
- The Hustler (Zodiac, 1974)
- Peg Leg (recorded 1975, released 2002)
- Interplanetary Twist (Bell, 1976)
- In The City (Arista, August 1977)
As solo artist:
- Tonight - single (Automatic, February 1980)
- Ashes and Diamonds - single (Automatic, May 1980)
- Run - single (Automatic, August 1980)
- Ashes and Diamonds - album (Automatic, October 1980, rerelease ZG Music Ltd, June 2012)
- Figvres - single (Polydor, July 1982)
- Flowers - single (Polydor, September 1982)
- Figvres - album (Polydor, October 1982, rerelease ZG Music Ltd, June 2012)
- Swing - single (Polydor, October 1983)
- Child Who Wants the Moon - album (ZG Music Ltd, August 2011)
- The Visitor - album (ZG Music Ltd, April 2013)
- Abjure - EP, 4 songs (ZG Music Ltd, April 2013)
- Immersed - album (ZG Music Ltd/Ode Records, May 2014)
- Mood Swings - album (ZG Music Ltd/Ode Records, January 2016)
With Helden (as guest vocalist):
- Holding On - single (1983)
- Spies - album, vocals on 6 songs (unreleased)
With Yukihiro Takahashi:
- This Strange Obsession on What? Me Worry? album
With Gary Numan:
- The Secret on the album, Berserker (1984)