Artist On The Rise: A Conversation With GRACE
We recently sat down and caught up with Grace, an Australian singer/songwriter (RCA Records) who's tackling her presence in America head-on. Bringing sounds of soul, Motown, R&B and a little bit of hip-hop, this young woman is definitely on the rise - working with talents like G-Eazy and Quincy Jones, going viral on the Top 10 Spotify charts, peaking #1 on the ARIA Singles chart, and performing on The Today Show in July 2015.
At such a young age, Grace has a magnificently impressive presence in the industry. We had to know more..
How did music influence you growing up?
I came from a really musical family. My brother sings as well and my grandparents were singers back in their day. Conrad is about nine years older than me; when I was a kid he was in studios and starting to play gigs already, so I was just sort of born into it. My mom had really great taste in music - she used to play a lot of soul and Motown, and that’s what I grew up listening to. I fell in love with it at a super early age and I just felt like everybody did that because my whole family was in music.
Did you know you wanted to pursue music at a young age?
Yeah, I started singing as soon as I could talk or form notes. There was never really a plan B. I was always aware that it was what I was good at. I picked up a little bit of keys just by being around people and YouTube tutorials and such, but I never got lessons or anything. Mostly just singing.
Do you think it was easier or more difficult to pursue a presence in Australia or America? What has the experience been like?
I’m still working on the presence in America. In terms of Australia, I think we’re always going to be more present there – it’s easy to embrace where you came from the most. It is my home country, so when they see a young girl doing well they're always going to embrace it. I am very grateful that they took to it as much as they did. I definitely didn’t expect it, though. We just released music and waited to see what it does and whether people are going to like it or not.
What has it been like working with Quincy Jones? Congratulations.
It was amazing. He’s so down to Earth and super cool; I was just amazed the whole time because he’s Quincy Jones! He’s someone I’ve aspired to be like and I’ve always looked up to him. It was amazing to be able to work with him and hear his stories and wisdom. He was very essential in making the record what it is - very hands-on and made sure all the iconic elements were there. We couldn’t come even close to what it sounds like now without him.
What is the inspiration behind the MEMO EP?
It’s a collection of songs that I wrote from 16 years old to now – really all about the “growing up” phase. I just started to take music seriously, I just signed my deal and I started to focus more and spend more time in the studio. I had to put together an actual piece of work. There’s a song called Boyfriend Jeans that I wrote in my bedroom in Brisbane, and there’s also songs I wrote in the studio. It’s a collection between that two-year period; being young, messing up, having a crush on someone, making stupid decisions, not listening to your parents... Boyfriend Jeans is the song that signed me to RCA. I just left school, had lots of time on my hands and I was bored everyday. Something happened and I called one of my friends over and we had a girls therapy session. We ended up creating Boyfriend Jeans recorded as a crappy demo with Apple headphones and Garage Band. I sent it off to my manager and he liked it! He then sent the demo off to like, 5 different labels and within a couple weeks, I was in America showcasing it for them. We met RCA last and it just felt right. That’s why I kept it raw – people fell in love with a scratchy demo and I wanted everyone to hear it how everybody else heard it first. There’s a special quality when you record something in a special moment in time. It's been hard to recreate it for the actual radio version.
Which song off MEMO resonates with you the most?
Boyfriend Jeans is the track with the most story behind it on the whole MEMO EP, but I resonate with all the tracks. It’s a combo of everything I love about music. It has a hip-hop element, it's soul, it's Motown, it feels old but is young still. I’m really proud of that. But Boyfriend Jeans definitely has a special place.
What do you want fans to take away from your EP?
Whatever they wish. Jam out to it. It's fun and young because it's not serious, heavy content. It doesn’t talk about issues or topics that are hard to digest. It's just fun and feel good. Enjoy the music.
How does it feel to get such great attention from fans and media outlets all over the world?
Very surreal. It's cool and nice to know that other people like and enjoy what I’m doing. I still can’t quite believe it.
How has your success in the industry effected your relationship with your brother?
It's amazing to have someone that’s so close to you go through the same thing at the same time. It's very rare – we could call each other up whenever and be like “what should I do?” or “I’m doing this today!” or “I haven’t slept in 24 hours, when's the last time YOU had a day off?” It’s really cool. When I was younger, I used to go to him with ideas and he used to help me in that area. We definitely vibe off of each other and we’ve written together before and will probably do so in the future. We did a collab a few months ago, but I don’t know if it’ll ever see the light of day.. When I was playing shows in Brisbane, I would always pull him up or he would pull me up for a couple songs. Hopefully he has a big tour one day and he’ll be able to bring me out to do a couple songs together, or vice versa.
What message would you like to give young girls, being a woman in the music industry?
Express yourself freely. Be who you are and own that.
Who are some iconic leaders in the past that have really resonated with you?
I’ve always found Tina Turner very inspiring. She went through all of that struggle, but she was so strong and able to create something so beautiful out of a really messed up situation. I’ve always found her story so inspiring.