GRAE: In Conversation
“I find social media can be quite hard when you’re an artist. We don’t always identify as content creators,” GRAE on making music in the social media age
GRAE is the Toronto-based singer leading the way for Gen Z alt-pop artists. And, after releasing her aptly-named debut single, ‘New Girl’ just three years ago, she’s ready to drop an album.
Due for release on April 15th, GRAE’s debut record ‘Whiplash’ will swirl through ‘80s new wave, dream-pop and alternative sounds, taking time to question love and succumb to the reality that we all have to grow up eventually. And, on ‘Whiplash’, those coming of age themes are nowhere as apparent as on new single ‘Boxes’.
Released today (March 30th), ‘Boxes’ errs on the rockier side, showing GRAE in a grown-up and self-assured light. Speaking of the single, GRAE says, “The idea for ‘Boxes’ came about when I looked around my room one day and realized I wanted to tear down all the posters I’ve had on my walls since I can remember. That was a significant moment because I always thought I’d be that girl wearing a band t-shirt with posters covering her walls forever. But I needed a change. I thought about how I’m ‘not that kid anymore,’ and I wanted to mature in my style and ‘grow up.’ I felt super nostalgic as I went through my band T’s and started clearing out my space. I decided to write about the process of coming to terms with what it means to be an ‘adult,’ and the result of that is ‘Boxes.'”
To mark the release of ‘Boxes’ and gear up for GRAE’s first full-length project, the ‘Slow Down’ singer sat down with Chapter Z to about everything from TikTok to letting go of love.
In Conversation With GRAE
Hi GRAE – thanks for taking the time to speak with us today!
Hey, thank you for having me! Happy to be speaking with you!
Let’s start right back at the beginning. Can you tell us how you started out in music? Where did your love for songwriting come from?
I’ve had an interest in music my whole life. My Dad bought me my first guitar from a pawn shop when I was around the age of ten; I started writing songs in this journal I had, I’d perform at school assemblies, talent shows, anywhere I could. When asked what I wanted to ‘be’ when I grew up, I’d say a singer. I had a lot of motivation and was determined to make it happen. Initially, I gained my love of songwriting from artists like Corinne Bailey Rae, Norah Jones, but an artist by the name of Rodriguez inspired me greatly. I noticed his song lyrics were like poetry, and I began to write songs inspired by that; I appreciate the imagery in his lyrics and how they tell a story.
Fast Forward to now, and you’ve recently released the single ‘Forget You’, which is lifted from your upcoming debut album ‘Whiplash’. Can you give us the lowdown on the Track?
‘Forget You’ was written about this relationship/person I romanticized. I thought I’d never get over them but realized I had to in order to move on with my life and get back to a healthy place mentally. Writing the song was my goodbye to that person and time in my life. It helped me get out the emotions I needed to and was very therapeutic to write.
And, how does ‘Forget You’ compare sonically and thematically to the rest of ‘Whiplash’?
‘Forget You’ is one of the more emotional tracks on the album. Most of the songs are about relationships I was in and confused about; ‘Forget You’ ties in with that theme and flows well with the rest of the songs.
Today (March 30th), you’re releasing ‘Boxes’, which is the next single from the record. It’s the first song on ‘Whiplash’. Why did you decide to have this track kick the album off?
‘Boxes’ is my favourite track off the album. It stands out from the rest of the songs and is the one I’m most excited to have out there. It’s about letting go of the past and coming to terms with growing up. I love how it sounds. It captures the more ‘rock’ sound I’m influenced by, which is cool. Since it sounds different from what people are used to hearing from me, having it start the album is a surprise. I have to keep things interesting, you know? haha.
When people hear Whiplash for the first time, how do you hope it makes them feel? What emotions do you want to evoke?
Good question! The album, primarily, is about relationships. There’s likely a song for any listener, whether they are in love; or going through a breakup. They can probably find whatever they’re looking for while listening to ‘Whiplash.’ I hope it generates whatever emotional response is appropriate for them!
Nowadays, you have quite a sizeable social media presence, particularly on TikTok. How do you view social media as a Gen Z music artist?
In all honesty, I find social media can be quite hard when you’re an artist. We don’t always identify as content creators. I’m a singer, musician, performer, writer, but when it comes to Tiktok, Instagram, etc. creating content for these apps isn’t necessarily my strong suit. I’ve only been making music professionally for the past three years, two of which have been during the pandemic. So with that being said, social media has helped me significantly to get my music out there in a way I never would’ve been able to.
Although some days I don’t feel I’m the best at making content and may not feel up to it, I have been grateful enough to build a following of people who genuinely enjoy, appreciate and listen to the art I create, which is all I could ask for really. It can bring many life-changing opportunities, especially for an independent artist like myself, so I try to use it to my advantage and see the good in it.
This is your very first full-length project. How are you feeling about the release? Is it a careful balance between excitement and nerves?
I’m excited. Honestly, it’s all the good vibes over here. I’m proud of this music and can’t wait for it to be out. Since I was that ten-year-old girl writing songs in her journal, I’ve wanted to create an album. It’s a dream come true!
What else can your fans expect from you in 2022?
Shows shows and more shows! I want to perform this album as much as I possibly can!