Evolution is a very important aspect of any artists career and when we reflect on a creative journey it is very interesting to see how timing and self-discovery plays a major part of this. The kid the world was first introduced to in 2010 through YouTube is not the artist that Greyson Chance has now become. After leaving the spotlight to re-find himself and to go to college, Chance rediscovered the fire that was always inside of him but was needing to be reignited again.
After the release of his EP ‘Somewhere Over My Head’ he was left a little jaded and burned by how disappointing the reaction was, so at age 18 he left Los Angeles feeling defeated and unhappy.
“I was done with music. I really thought it was a pretty offical retirement. I remember telling my friends that I thought I wouldn’t go back at all but they didn’t seem convinced. He foolishly laughs before confessing, “In my head I knew I would still play and write but I thought it would be on a much smaller scale. Probably playing small venues in Oklahoma with a cigar in one hand and a glass of whiskey in the other”.
But even if he didn’t believe it, he was always born for a bigger stage. It wasn’t until four months into attending college that he touched a piano again and began to write music without the pressure of people telling him what to write or that he needed to deliver a song within a particular timeframe. It’s because that he removed himself from that environment that he was finally able to write about things that made him happy. “When I decided to start writing an album I decided that I wasn’t going to be the artist I used to be. I was going to do it on my own terms and do what made me happy. And that’s exactly what we’ve done with this album”.
The biggest difference from where he was as an artist and where he is now is that this is the first time he’s really doing everything on his own terms, not just in music but in all forms of his life. “For a long time I sought a lot of validation from others whether it be my management team or label where I would write a song and look to them to ask if they liked it or if it was good enough. And I didn’t do that for this album. I really made music that I wanted to put on and that I wanted to write” he admits.
8 years after the release of his debut album, his sophomore record ‘portraits’ will finally be unleashed into the world on March 15 and hears him heading towards a very vocal heavy indie-pop sound that the promotional singles ‘Low’ and ‘shut up’ vividly introduced. To coincide with the release he’s embarking on a massive North America headlining tour, where he will be debuting these songs to crowds and celebrating his artistic evolution. Calling me from rehearsals for the tour which he leaves for tomorrow, he admits that he’s finding it really hard to play songs written in a heartbreak state like ‘white roses’ compared to the romantic energy of ‘shut up’ which is beginning to scare him. But it shouldn’t come by much of a surprise to him as this whole new record lays in a very vulnerable state of heartbreak and self-discovery. Reflecting on the process he admits that this record is more like a journal than anything else. If anyone wanted to know what he went through in 2018 then they just need to put on this record and listen to the journey in it’s rawest form.
A couple years earlier Greyson came out as gay through a moving Instagram post where he confessed that he spent his time reflecting on his self worth and was finally proud of who he was. But for a long time leading up to that post he wasn’t sure how he was going to do it, so he just told himself to wait and find the right moment. After all, he was out to his family and close friends so he had a liberating escape with them but was just unsure how to come out into the spotlight as he lacked the confidence to fully embrace himself and didn’t want to become a headline or exploitation of the “Hi, I’m gay, buy my new single” category. He really wanted it to be authentic. A year after leaving Los Angeles he received a message on Twitter from a fan in Arkansas which is very similar to where he’s from in Oklahoma. He detailed a lot of things in the message that Chance related to but at the end he said “I know you’re not gay but I really just want to say that your music inspires me” and it was in that moment that he decided he needed to find the strength within himself to come out publicly.
Everyone’s coming out story is uniquely different but one thing that isn’t often talked about is what happens next. What happens after everyone knows? Do things really get easier? And do you automatically feel a sigh of relief? And In my personal case, I didn’t. I also came out when I was 19 and I struggled with how to restart and move on with my life because I had no clue what to do next as there was no handbook available on how to be gay. You have to kinda work it out on your own and that’s a really confronting thing when you don’t know any other LGBTQI+ identifying people or had a very minimal education growing up about the community. For Greyson he struggled less with the process of post self-discovery but struggled more with the expectations that were now set for him as he was out. His friends would always make fun of him as he has never really seen an episode of Rupual’s Drag Race and didn’t like going to clubs. Instead he likes to listen to The Strokes and smoke cigarettes. “That’s my vibe” he confesses. “My transition period was more about finding people that not only understood my sexuality but actually understood who I was as a person”. It’s so important to really embrace who you are in every aspect and respect, and he did that throughout his process.
‘portraits’ hears him openly discussing the changes that occurred in his life and realisations he had throughout his own experience over the past couple of years but the most vulnerable topic on the record actually recounts an incident that only happened in May last year. “I had been seeing a guy for close to 10 months and I really thought we were going to get married. I thought he was the guy. But one day he sort of pulled me aside and told me he no longer wanted to be with me. Not to be super melodramatic but I had never been in love like that before and I had never felt heartbreak like that before. It was a really dark time for me, I really struggled with it” he candidly reflects. And heartbreak is no easy thing to overcome so finding the light is always something that we should celebrate and embrace with one another. “I wasn’t treating myself right and when I came out of it in time to write this record I really wanted to channel that experience and write down all the things I wanted to say to him. I know so many people have done that before me but I felt a sense of victory by coming through the other side and ‘white roses’ really sums up that heartbreak for me”. And he wants to be as transparent and honest as possible throughout this next chapter. He doesn’t want to hold back to his listeners or to himself and just wants to live an authentic life full of reflection and honesty.
As we start to say goodbye to each other I question him what he would go back to say to that old version of himself who played ‘Paparazzi’ on the Ellen Show in front of millions of people in 2010. And he simply replies “I would say put your foot down more. And to be honest I’m still learning that lesson”. But after the sentimental moment his cheeky laugh broke through the phone, “I would also say to not pick up that Marlboro (A brand of cigarettes) when it was offered to me because it has fucking ruined my life”. And that’s the charming thing about him, he’s so candidly honest and is no longer afraid of allowing people into that part of his life.
After all, evolution is something we all go through and the more people we are honest and non-filtered with then the higher peaks we can all reach in our future.
You can pre-order ‘portraits’ HERE; https://greysonchance.lnk.to/portraits
North American Tour Dates
March 1 – Gramercy Theatre, New York
March 2 – The Drake Hotel, Toronto *SOLD OUT*
March 3 – The Drake Hotel, Toronto
March 9 – The Vanguard, Tulsa
March 10 – Three Links, Dallas
March 15 – Cafe Du Nord, San Francisco
March 16 – The Roxy, Los Angeles
March 21 – Hard Rock Cafe, Pittsburgh
March 22 – Foundry At Fillmore, Philadelphia
March 23 – Sonia, Boston
April 5 – Lincoln Hall, Chicago
April 7 – Lost Lake, Denver
July 11 – Neumos, Seattle
July 12 – Fox Cabaret, Vancouver