There’s a raw and fast paced energy that surrounds New York City that is so captivating and inspiring. The idea that anything could happen. The idea that a city could hold the answers to all your burning questions. And the idea that a city could help you reflect, grieve and grow. Embodying all these traits, Byron Bay singer-songwriter Grace Hughes has embraced the power of her favourite city in her new musical project which is already beginning to make waves. Yorke hears her delivering a pulsating synth-pop sound that dives deep into her vulnerabilities and will you have you feeling al the emotions. Her debut single ‘First Light’ saw her confidently laying out the foundations for this new journey and immediately grab a firm hold of peoples attention. Her new single ‘Wake The City’ hears her diving into a bigger pop production that steers away from the clean-cut sound of ‘First Light’ and gets a little grittier with the production which is exciting to hear.
I recently chatted to Yorke about the sonical evolution of ‘Wake The City’, about embracing her vulnerability on ‘First Light’ and why she has a deep fascination with New York. Check out the chat HERE;
TB: The pop layering of ‘Wake The City’ instantly makes this track feel very bold and commands your attention. So when you started working on this track, where did you want to take the next chapter of your story soncially?
Y: Andy and I wrote the song in its entirety on this beautiful upright piano and then began producing it. Even acoustically, it felt like it needed to build to a climatic point because I think all good stories do. We both knew it needed to be quite engaging and take the listener on a journey. In my opinion it has all the organic and intimate elements that ‘First Light’ did, but pushes it slightly further into a new place.
TB: The production of ‘Wake The City’ has a very cinematic feel to it which will undoubtedly become a soundtrack to some peoples lives. So what would you say is musically the soundtrack to your life?
Y: Oh god this is so hard, it changes constantly! Right now, I’m gonna say right now it is Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’.
TB: You filmed your music video for ‘Wake The City’ in various locations around Brisbane. So what was one of the most memorable or funniest moments from that day of shooting?
Y: Two moments stand out to me. As seen in the video, I had to attempt to ride a skateboard. I’m generally incredibly uncoordinated and steer well away from anything balance related so trying to ride a skateboard for my video was something I never imagined happening. And I didn’t actually know it was happening until about 5 minutes before that scene *laughs*. Judging by my manager laughing at me, I looked pretty ridiculous trying to ride a skateboard… in heels.
The other funny moment was after the shoot. It was 12am and we hadn’t eaten, so my manager and I decided to find some food. The only thing open was a sneaky kebab shop, which I wasn’t too impressed with. Long story short, in the car on the way back, I spilt kebab sauce all over the beautiful red dress I wear in the video. It was like a puddle and smelt so bad! Once again, my manager found it highly amusing.
TB: ’First Light’ is a very emotionally driven song that reflects on the aftermath of a break up and picking up the pieces again. And whilst the lyrics are very raw you have this shiny pop-polish that creates a sense of hope. So what was inspiring you sonically when working on this track?
Y: In all honesty, the song isn’t about a break up. I wrote it about making sure to check in with yourself and your loved ones. To me, it is sort of an acknowledgement that we all struggle through things at different times and to take it easy with each other. I love the way music can make listeners go on such different journeys and relate to it in so many different ways.
Chris Collins and I tried to go into the session without having too many references as we wanted to create something quite fresh. I think at the time I was listening to a lot of Maggie Rogers, Haim and Sasha Sloan. But Maggie Rogers ‘Falling Water’ did play quite an influence I think!
TB: There’s a lyric in ‘First Light’ where you admit “I must confess, I’m a mess right now”. That raw vulnerability is hard to admit to yourself in the first place so on top of sharing it with the world as your first musical offering must have been quite nerve-racking. So how did you come to peace with yourself to share that piece of your heart?
Y: All my favourite music is always the most authentic and raw.
As Yorke, I don’t want to hide anything. You’re right in saying it’s incredibly nerve wracking but, in a weird way, writing songs that are so personal just empowers my desire to share them. They’re so relatable and intimate, so I hope sharing my own vulnerability allows listeners to connect on a deeply emotional level.
TB: You’ve recently played some of her first ever live shows which must have been such a daunting and rewarding experience. So what is one thing you’ve learnt about yourself as an artist from playing these shows?
Y: If I practice enough, I feel confident enough to let myself go and enjoy every second.
TB: Your honesty and vulnerability in your songwriting is already so impressive. So what would you say is your most vulnerable moment as a songwriter so far. Is it something released or unreleased?
Y: The next song I’m planning to release is probably the most vulnerable and hard hitting for me. I think it’s the most relatable too.
TB: With having two songs officially out in the world and seeing how people have reacted to them, where do you see the next chapter of Yorke heading towards musically?
Y: I’ve been so lucky to work with some really amazing people on this project. I’d say expect all the things you love from Yorke tracks and more, but also expect the unexpected too.
TB: Your stage name originates from your love and admiration towards New York. So what is it about that magical city that inspires you creatively?
Y: Everything! From how busy it is, to the way you can spend hours wandering and never got bored and the way central park makes me buzz. I think the main thing I love is that everyone who visits seems to get something vastly different out of the experience, which I think is a really cool concept that I’m trying to explore with my music.
TB: Let’s play a little game of rapid fire questions where I’m going to ask you some questions that you just need to answer with the first thing that comes to mind.
TB: My morning pump up song is…
Y: Changes daily but today was ‘Like I Remember You’ by Vera Blue
TB: Pineapple on pizza is…
TB: The emoji that best describes my new song is…
Y: The red dress dancing lady
TB: This morning I…
Y: Got coffee and went to a writing session
TB: My one thing I can’t tour without is…