2020 was poised to be GRACEY’s year. The British newcomer was due to tour for the first time and had begun releasing a handful of excellent singles. Like most, her plans were put into disarray as the world went into lockdown in March.
At the same time though, she was riding high with her first top 10 hit in her own country with Don’t Need Love. Since, she’s filmed one of quarantine’s best videos and prepped for upcoming releases which are likely to make a big splash given the commercial buzz surrounding her.
The songwriter-turned-artist has crafted a left-centre pop sound that’s simultaneously mind-shifting and immediate. Intrigued by the state of pop right now, she’s seeing how far she can push the formula with stunning results.
We spoke to GRACEY about how she’s coped with the change of course and what she’s got planned once some sort of normality resumes.
It’s a very strange year to be a new artist.
I’ve literally only done one live show and I’m gagging to do more. I was going to go on my first ever headline European tour in May. The year before I couldn’t tour or sing because I had a vocal operation and now this. Someone does not want me performing that’s for sure.
It’s crazy you released a song called Alone In My Room weeks before the world went into lockdown.
Literally. It’s so ridiculous. Originally the title was Gone but then I was alone in my room. Then I went on Twitter and was like, “should I change it?” And they were like “Yeah!” It worked out perfectly.
Have you been in a creative space during quarantine?
I’ve had days where I feel really crazy and I want to write a song and then days when I never want to write again. I feel like I went into survival mode when we went into lockdown and decided I needed to do something otherwise it’s not going to work out for my career. I’ve been finishing songs and working on production. I’ve written some fun songs I’m quite happy at.
As a new artist you can’t afford to take a year off. You have to keep hustling.
Yeah you have to. The labels aren’t going to keep every new artist for another year. That’s what made me go, “I’m going to do the most. I’m going to release my new single and film the video in my room.” I literally have the technical skills of a Grandma.
Well, for someone who is not technologically savvy, you’ve managed to film a video with five cameras and VR. How did you manage that?
You should’ve seen it. I’m really close with the guy who does all my videos and creative. We just FaceTime non-stop. I had him on FaceTime the whole time. Having people around you that can guide you through it and allowing people to guide you which is something I sometimes have trouble doing.
Has this whole period given you an appreciation for the DIY?
Yeah. I do think so. After that video was finished it was the most proud I’ve ever been of anything. My family were in the house watching me bringing huge plants into my room. They were like, “OK”. I was in a flow and I didn’t realise I was staying up for 12 hours filming. I loved it so I’ll definitely think outside the box a bit more.
You also have a song Don’t Need Love high up on the charts in the UK. It must be gratifying to watch that happen?
Yeah, it was such an early single for both me and 220 Kid. We had no inkling it would be number 9 in the charts. It’s disgusting and weird! It’s given me the drive to keep the momentum up. I celebrated watching an episode of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? with a glass of gin and tonic.
The song was released last year and it’s been a slow burn. Was that interesting to watch?
Yeah. We released it 7 months ago. If it had just randomly taken off it would’ve been really overwhelming but it’s been gradual. We’ve been excited from the first play on Radio 1 to now, in the top 10. It’s rare to have two completely new artists too. I had my first Radio 1 interview with Scott Mills and I was shaking, I was so nervous but 220 Kid had done it just the week before so he helped me through.
Your first EP was called Imposter Syndrome. You’ve got a hit now, you’re not an imposter but do you still feel like that given that you’re quarantined and haven’t really been able to see the success in a physical capacity?
That’s exactly it. You’ve nailed it. Being next to…even just a couple of tracks away from Lady Gaga, it’s like, “What is going on?” When I realise it’s real I start freaking out but because it took 7 months it’s not such a shock to the system.
Do you have expectations for you music or are you happy to watch where it goes organically?
I used to do that in the beginning but it’s really unhealthy. Comparison to other people interrupts your artistic flow. I don’t think having this song in the charts will make me want to release the most chart-y song ever. It does scare me but I don’t plan releasing songs much. I’m like, “Enjoy, I like it and now I’m moving on. Bye.”
You’ve collaborated with our pop golden boy Ruel. How did that come together?
He’s such a star. He’s a 10/10. He came over to London last year before my single came out. I worked with him as a songwriter. We got on really well. Our friendship was instant because we have the same humour. We’d written a fun song but he was 16 and he didn’t want to sing about love. He wanted to sing about what he cared about. Social media is obviously something so many young people struggle with. When I wrote Empty Love I immediately thought of Ruel. He’s been so supportive and really lovely through my whole artist journey.
You both appreciate pop in its purest form but you want to twist it as much as you can. Have you always wanted to bend the pop formula?
Yeah, when you write for other people it’s about fitting the songs into boxes. With my project, I wanted to make music that I couldn’t pitch to another artist. That’s how I pick my songs. Does it mean something to me? How can I make it different and weird? When you look at the charts now, as compared to a few years ago, there’s so many different structures and voices. It’s really cool and so exciting.
There are so many voices around now that would have never made it 5 years ago.
It’s so cool to see. I know people bash it but TikTok has given a platform for so many new artists. It’s not about who you know or who you’re friends with, it’s just about whether people vibe with it.
What’s the rest of the year hold for you release-wise?
Yeah, we don’t know. I’m meant to do a show later this year but who knows? I’ve got my next single written and we’re working on that. It’s more in the lane of Don’t Need Love. Up that tempo! And then I want to do a collection of songs.