GRAACE has always had a natural ability to share her emotions so vulnerably and genuinely. She captured our hearts with the intimate storytelling behind ‘Last Night’ in 2018, and since then has experimented with and grown her soundscape while discovering who she truly wants to be as an artist. With the release of her second EP ‘Self Preservation’, she’s opened her most vulnerable chapter yet.
Scored around beautiful pianos, intimate guitar riffs, and honest unravelings, she provides an introspective body of work that explores grief, loss, and all of the in-between moments she’s experienced to-date. Reclaiming her artistry, this is an EP that feels genuine and raw to its core. There are no cheap thrills, and instead it’s a heavy listen from start to finish. But behind all the emotional intensity is a catharsis, a strength, and a confidence in the woman she has become through all of the pain.
I recently chatted to GRAACE about the lyrical and emotional heaviness behind her new EP ‘Self Preservation’, reflected on the personal growth she’s had since her debut EP ‘Self Sabotage’, and explored the creative process behind songs like ‘Unhappy’, ‘Selfish’ and ‘American Pie Reruns’. Check it out BELOW;
THOMAS BLEACH: ‘Self Preservation’ is undoubtedly your most introspective body of work yet with the honest lyricism highlighting an eagerness to be ultimately vulnerable with listeners. It is quite a shift from your debut EP ‘Self Sabotage’ and the experimental singles that followed. So what song was the turning point for you that when you wrote it you realised this was where your sound, and this new EP, needed to head towards?
GRAACE: I’d definitely say ‘American Pie Reruns’. When I wrote that song I didn’t have the body of work together yet, I just had a few of the songs I knew I liked. I had the idea of the EP in my head, but I knew it wasn’t done yet. I actually had a conversation with Mallrat and she was like, “if you don’t have the name for the EP yet in your head then it’s not done”. Literally the next day I wrote ‘American Pie Reruns’ on this writing camp we were on, and one of the lyrics in it is “self preservation”, and that was definitely the turning point in my head. I knew this song wasn’t going to be a single and it was going to sit somewhere in the middle, but it was going to sum up everything I wanted the EP to be about.
TB: There is a nice parallel there between the titles of ‘Self Sabotage’ and ‘Self Preservation’. Do you think you are looking after yourself more openly now than the way you were in 2018?
G: Yeah, definitely! With ‘Self Sabotage’ and the singles I released after, I was kinda just throwing out songs and going willy nilly because I didn’t know what the project was and I didn’t know who I was. I think that kinda comes with the name being GRAACE and me going “Who the fuck am I? I’m just going to put out what I want”. I think this is the first time I’ve really put a lot of thought into something I’ve put out.
TB: There is a lyrical heaviness to this EP as you deal with the emotions surrounding grief, loss, and all of the in-between moments. Have you found a catharsis in explicitly revealing these sides of you? And what have you done to set those boundaries to protect your emotions?
G: I’d say it is still quite difficult for me to constantly have to relive that feeling. But I think therapy has been a big thing for me to be able to have that outlet, and take care of myself in a safe space, and be more open and not tap into that feeling every single time I’m talking about it. It’s been difficult as well to talk about ‘Self Sabotage’ all the time because that was such a difficult time mentally for me in my life. Everything was so chaotic, so I’m really over having to relive that. So by putting this EP I’m just so excited to put a little bow on ‘Self Sabotage’ and ‘Self Preservation’, and then never have to relive it again. I’m like, everyone can have a little treat, and I’m just not going to talk about it *laughs*.
TB: ‘Unhappy’ unravels the thoughts of hoping your ex was unhappy without you, and would break up with their new partner and return to you. It’s a very relatable sentiment that hits quite deeply. Can you explain the creative process behind this track?
G: I was talking about this to my friend yesterday! It is just so hard to see your ex completely thriving, and you’re like “fuck! Why!”. It’s something I think will always be there when you see someone doing really well without you, and you just wish they would step in dog shit that day. I’m just annoyed with it. But I think in writing this song I realised that I really do love this person, and we don’t speak anymore, but I really do want them to be happy. But I also want them to be unhappy without me, because why would you be happy without me *laughs*.
TB: Have you ever thought that it could be perceived the other way too? I think about it all the time that I probably look like I’m thriving and super happy without my exes, but really inside I’m unhappy and struggling, but they probably think I’m doing so well.
G: That is true! There have been moments where I’ve looked back at videos, or concerts I’ve done and I’m like “wow, she looks like a bad bitch”. I don’t feel like it’s me, but they probably see those videos and go “fuck, she’s doing good”.
TB: ‘Selfish’ goes a little deeper in those feelings and highlights a selfish pattern of behaviour. You contrast the emotion with a softness that then translates into a rock inspired breakdown. What was it about that personal breakthrough specifically that felt angsty and a little rebellious?
G: I think that was the song on the EP that came together the fastest. It came after having really bad artists block. During the pandemic I was really struggling to write as I just had no inspiration, but then I went through a break-up. I was sitting in my bedroom with candles lit around me, and I was drinking a bottle of champagne and thinking “fuck this shit”. I think the symbolism of that little angsty breakdown is the feeling after a break-up where you are like “I know you’re not right for me, but I miss you so much, and I’m so angry at how things panned out”. I also just wanted my drummer to be able to go hard on the drums when we perform live.
TB: When you are having those moments, what are your go-to comfort scents with candles?
G: Ooooh, I would say I love a good vanilla! But recently I’ve been loving the smell of this candle that smells like men’s cologne. Maybe I’m just lonely *laughs*. But I also love scents that smell like Christmas. Cinnamon ones that make you feel like you’re inside a gingerbread house are so nice when you’re in a bath.
TB: ‘Half Awake’ and ‘American Pie Reruns’ are songs that hear you explicitly talking about the passing of your dad for the first time. What was the biggest thing you learnt about your grief process by writing these songs?
G: I’ve written a lot of songs about him before that I’ve just kept to myself. Because music has been such a big outlet to me emotionally, and has replaced therapy for so long, I’ve held onto them because I thought they were too personal and crossing the line. But then I really got into listening to Phoebe Bridgers and songs like ‘Funeral’ where it helped me so much that I realised it would be such a waste of a song to not put it out because I was scared. I thought it was about time that I crossed that line. I get a lot of messages on my Instagram whenever I post about my dad and grief, so I thought it was about time to give somebody else what I’ve been given with other people writing songs like that.
TB: They are both such delicate songs. Did you find yourself recording many different versions to get them to where they are now, or did you try to find a naturalism?
G: I’ve kinda gone through different stages with each song where I’ve gone back to re-record vocals from the day I recorded the demos, and I just found myself going back to the demo vocals. There’s just something about recording the vocals on the day you write the song that for me personally brings out this different tone and energy in my voice that I can’t recreate because I’m not in the same headspace.
TB: Were these songs all the demo vocals?
G; I want to say that pretty much every one of them are demo vocals besides ‘Selfish’ as I wrote that alone in my room and recorded it on voice memos.
TB: Let’s play a quick game of rapid fire questions about the album. Are you ready?
G: Cool, yeah!
TB: The emoji that best describes ‘Self Preservation’ is…
G: The little sad face, that could be cute, but it’s definitely sad too.
TB: The song that nearly didn’t make the EP was…
TB: The song I’m most excited to perform live would be…
TB: The lyric that hits me extra deep in the chest still is…
G: “And I hope that you’re unhappy because that’s easier to carry than the thought of what we could have been”
If your friends haven’t heard of me yet, the first song I would play them off the EP would be…
‘Self Preservation’ is out now!