Taking a well-known song and transforming it into something new is an artform. It’s all about finding a new perspective and connecting with the lyrics deeply and authentically, and that is exactly what Grace Amos has done with the Foo Fighters classic ‘Everlong’.
Working closely with Darren Percival and Bill Risby, the Sydney based singer-songwriter has pulled together a beautifully raw version of the song, which is almost unrecognisable. It doesn’t even feel like a Foo Fighters song anymore, and instead feels like a Grace Amos track that compliments the previously released original singles ‘DECIDE’ and ‘Listen Real Closely’.
I recently chatted to Grace Amos about her poignant cover of Foo Fighters’ ‘Everlong’, the important lyrics of queer acceptance in her recent single ‘Decide’, and discussed how excited she is to perform at Valleyways in September. Check it out BELOW;
THOMAS BLEACH: You recently released a beautiful and poignant cover of Foo Fighters’ track ‘Everlong’. When you stripped it back to this very raw piano and strings arrangement and played with your perspective, what did you discover about the lyrics that maybe you hadn’t heard when listening to the song originally?
GRACE AMOS: Last year I started doing vocal work with the amazing Darren Percival in my final year of high school. As school was coming to an end, Darren came to me with the Everlong concept and I immediately found a connection to the lyrics.
Dave Grohl wrote ‘If everything could ever feel this real forever’, at a time in his life when things were shifting. Singing those lyrics in this stripped back version made perfect sense to me, as things in my life were also significantly shifting. I also didn’t know there was a beautiful love song hidden in there, and the arrangement we came up with allows you to really hear the lyrics.
TB: How many versions of this cover did you work through to get it to where it is now? Did you play with any different tempos for it?
GA: Darren had a clear idea about what he wanted it to sound like so there really weren’t many versions. Accompanist Bill Risby created the sublime piano arrangement in that tempo, and keyboardist Adam Sofo built the lush, abundant orchestral landscape to wrap around my vocals. I’m very lucky to have had those people involved.
TB: There is something magical about taking a rock, hip-hop, or dance track and stripping it back completely to a piano and strings arrangement. Are there any other songs that you’ve deconstructed personally to find new perspective?
GA: I agree! It is quite magical to draw inspiration from a song and then make it your own. My Instagram is full of stripped back piano and guitar covers from artists such as Panic! At The Disco, Katy Perry, and JET to name a few. It’s the lyrics that the listener connects with, so it’s nice to be able to make the lyrics the focus so they can be heard above the noise. I did some collaborative work with Chris Cester from JET a few years ago and I particularly loved a stripped back version I did of ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’.
TB: Your most recent single ‘DECIDE’ is a beautiful and compelling reflection of a queer woman trying to figure herself out with the pressure of society heavily impacting her own experience. Can you explain the creative process behind this track?
GA: All of the lyrics for my original songs come from the world I see around me, either my own experiences or the things happening to people around me. I wrote DECIDE because I wanted to share with the world that it’s ok to be confused about relationships when you are young.
TB: “I’m way too young to figure out what’s been holding me down. I hope for one more night I don’t have to decide” is a heartbreaking and honest reflection of the emotions surrounding coming out. Where does that take you mentally and physically when you hear it back now?
GA: Those lyrics are definitely the heart of the song and convey the message I wanted people to hear. It definitely takes me back to specific moments in time and conversations with people who were experiencing these confusing feelings and emotions. It’s a happy reflection for me now, because those lyrics help to normalise those emotions.
TB: It’s only been recently that we’ve seen queer stories highlighted through country music, and it’s something that we still don’t see that often. So how important was this song for you to write and for it to have a country leaning production.
GA: I wanted to write a song that was a bridge from my first single, that still had country elements, but is moving towards a new sound that you will hear in my music ahead. ‘DECIDE’ became my choice for the next single and it had a sound that I hoped would transcend genres.
There are topics that are unfortunately still taboo in mainstream country music, especially when sung by a woman. But it’s changing with songs like ‘Follow Your Arrow’ by Kacey Musgraves and more artists that are changing the rules!
TB: From releasing ‘Listen Real Closely’ in 2020 to where you are at now musically, what is the biggest thing you’ve learnt about yourself and your artistry?
GA: It’s all about being authentic. It’s the most important thing to me. I have to write songs that I believe in. An audience wants to know about the person singing the song and how they are connected to the lyrics. That’s the kind of music I want to put out to the world. And then when I can perform the songs live, that’s when some really special moments can happen.
TB: You are performing at Valleyways Festival in September which boasts a huge and exciting line up. What is one of your favourite festival performances you’ve ever seen?
GA: I cannot wait to perform at Valleyways in front of my home crowd with my full band, doing an all originals set!! To be sharing the stage with the Rubens, Skegss, Middle Kids and more is a dream.
Ziggy Alberts blew me away last year at the Winter Wine Festival, for which I was lucky enough to have been on the bill. I wasn’t ready for how moving his performance would be. His connection to his fans was surreal to witness. And he’s such a lovely guy.
TB: Let’s play a quick game of rapid fire questions. Are you ready?
GA: Fire away!
TB: The emoji that best describes my new single ‘DECIDE’ is…
GA: The bowing head pondering.
TB: A song I wish I wrote would be…
GA: ‘Doomsday’ by Lizzie McAlpine
TB: The colour of my toothbrush at the moment is…
GA: Lime green!
TB: If I could have any superpower it would be to…
GA: I would love to be able to time travel! How cool, right? The things you could do would be endless! I would love to go back and fix up the stuff I’ve messed up along the way, like when I have forgotten lyrics at a gig!
TB: Pineapple on pizza is…
GA: Amazing with lots of cheese, ham, oregano and olives!!!
‘Everlong’ + ‘Decide’ is out now!