On the Road With Goth Babe

Indie musician Griff Washburn talks about his home (a camper truck in the Pacific Northwest), his modeling career (with Calvin Klein), and his latest album (Mt. Hood)
September 5, 2019Words by Ryan SappPhotos by Goth Babe

Griff Washburn—better known by his stage name Goth Babe—is who we turn to for mellow and fuzzy tunes. He lives the life we daydream about—living out his camper truck up in the Pacific Northwest, always surfing, climbing, and writing music—and his style reflects this vagabond, sun-soaked adventure. We caught up with him just after the release of his newest EP, Mt. Hood.

Griff Washburn lives in a camper truck in the Pacific Northwest

Give me a crash course on Goth Babe. I know you’re from Tennessee, but how did you get into music? What did that journey look like for you? 

Yeah, I did. I grew up in Memphis. It’s kind of a strange place to break into music and be a full-time musician. Then, I ended up doing a year of college at a school an hour south of Nashville, but since I kept driving almost every day to Nashville, I decided to drop out and pursue music from there. Eventually, I moved to Brooklyn but didn’t really get my music career going again until I moved out to LA. 

[Modeling] did not pay the bills, but I’m glad because I wouldn’t have chased the guitar if it did.

Goth Babe in Concert

Was it hard chasing the New York music scene in Brooklyn?

You know, I kind of gave up on that when I was in Brooklyn. Someone hit me up on Instagram and offered me a modeling gig, so I took them up on it. I did a shoot for Calvin Klein, and they flew me around. So I was like, “Oh, I’m gonna try the model thing,” which I'm really glad it didn’t work out. I got booted from the shoot—which was awesome because where I'm sitting now is better.  

That's funny. I mean, hey, whatever pays the bills, right?

Yeah, that’s right. I mean, it did not pay the bills, but I’m glad for that because I wouldn’t have chased the guitar if it did.

You live in a camper truck, so you’re literally on the road. What was the catalyst for choosing this lifestyle? 

Oh, man. I was living in Brooklyn in 2016 and I just like really hated working from the minute I got up, and then getting home and just going to bed. Then a bunch of professional surfers came to Brooklyn to promote one of their movies, and I remember looking at them and thinking, “They can do whatever they want, and they have sponsorships and they can make money while roaming about.” Long story short, I put a few pieces together and decided to move to L.A, make a cot in the back of my old Ford Explorer, and live out of that while pursuing music. 

Long story short, I put a few pieces together and decided to move to L.A, make a cot in the back of my old Ford Explorer, and live out of that while pursuing music. 

Goth Babe in his camper truck

Sounds a little easier said than done, how did you scrape together the cash to make this happen while making a name for yourself in the music industry?

Well, I walked dogs to make extra money, but if you lower your standard of living, you can kind of do whatever you want. Like get rid of that luxury apartment, fancy car, and all the unnecessary stuff, and you can do whatever you want. When the music began to take off, I was like, “Whoa, I don’t have to walk dogs anymore.” It kept gaining momentum, and I was able to make some upgrades.

So I got a truck, and a camper and built it out with solar power, and added a wood-burning stove. It looks like a cabin, so we call it “The Lodge.” Then I adopted my dog, Sadie, from a rough situation. And I hadn’t seen anything north of San Francisco, so I decided to just kick up and leave for the Pacific Northwest. 

And you’re still up there, right? 

Yeah, we just stuck around and bought a small plot of land (all grass with a little gate) in Oregon where I can park the truck and have a home base for a little while. I have a little garden and a shed for my motorcycles, and a place to park my truck when I’m in town. It’s like a stationary home, but I can back out, you know?

It’s awesome. It’s like endless inspiration. I don’t have any excuses to have writer’s block.

So other than pursuing music, what do you do with that freedom?

Whenever I want, I can go down to the beach or East Oregon—anywhere the truck will take me. I love to surf and climb and ride dirt bikes. And I love working on my motorcycles. Tuning up my bikes and doing transmission work is strangely really peaceful.

Goth Babe with his dog

How does this lifestyle affect your creative process? It’s certainly different from recording in your college dorm room and living in Brooklyn. 

It’s awesome. It’s like endless inspiration. I don’t have any excuses to have writer’s block because, if I’m writing a song on my little piece of land in Portland with my truck and just can’t get inspiration there, I can just back the truck out and go to the coast or go to the mountains and crack the windows, and there’s a perfect place to write music.

If you’re always on the road, how do you record your music? 

Since the truck is my home, I record everything from the camper. Really wherever I am in the country, I can record. With the solar power running the “studio,” a mini keyboard, a MacBook, and an interface, and a microphone, I’m able to make music anywhere. 

Why don’t you tell us about your latest EP, Mt. Hood? 

Yeah, Mt. Hood was one of the first places I visited when I came to Oregon, and though it’s a very popular place, it somehow feels untouched. It’s a very special place that just gives you this feeling of home—almost a motherly-feeling. Mt. Hood is where I spend a lot of my time during the writing process in general, so this latest EP is an homage to that area and its natural beauty. The next series of EPs are going to be based on other beautiful areas either in America or overseas—look out for a new EP to be released every season or so.

>>Next: On the Road With Kevin Morby


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