Grace Boyfriend Jeans Interview
"It was just a scratchy little demo, and I recorded it on my iPhone in my voice notes. I didn't think much of the song at the time," Grace says of the song "Boyfriend Jeans." It's the kind of track that hits you in the gut " the combination of lyrics, swelling instruments, and Grace's powerful vocals takes you right back to your first heartbreak. But she sent it to her manager anyway, "and he sent it out to about five different major labels in the States. And in a few weeks, before my 18th birthday, I was showcasing for all of these incredible labels."
She's come a long way since then, having recorded the throwback "You Don't Own Me" with the rapper G-Eazy and wrapping up a tour with Leon Bridges in Europe. "It all kind of started from 'Boyfriend Jeans,'" she says. "That was the first real move that broke me into the industry properly." But with the EP Memo already out and a string of singles lined up that feature that amazing voice, there's a lot more coming from the Australian singer and songwriter. We're guessing Steve Jobs had no idea his phone could take someone so far.
Interview with Grace
Teen Vogue: Can you tell us about what inspired "Boyfriend Jeans?"
Grace: It's a really special record for me. Every girl has experienced that stage after a breakup where they struggle through the physical reminders left behind, whether it's old photos, letters, or an old t-shirt. Sometimes letting go is the hardest part " that's what I wrote "Boyfriend Jeans" about. I wanted the video to capture all of the different perspectives and emotions of that. It was so important to me that the video was simple but relatable so girls everywhere could watch, identify, and feel they're not alone.
Teen Vogue: How have people been responding to your music?
Grace: Pretty well so far, I'm still very new at this and I'm still kind of scratching the surface but the people that do and have discovered the music are into it. That's all you can ask for as a new artist.
Teen Vogue: How did you really get started doing music?
Grace: I've always kind of known that I wanted to sing. My family's pretty musical, so ever since I was a little girl, I figured that was what I wanted to do and what I was going to do. I started writing at about 11 or 12, and I signed my first publishing deal at 14, and through my publisher at the time, I met my manager now, but I was still in school and I couldn't really solely focus on music. I was still in Australia at this point, so I started doing sessions and writing a bunch and just went through that whole development phase as an artist, really. I got to the point at 17 and I left school and wanted to take things really seriously and focus more time on the music. I was going back and forth from London but I hadn't been to America yet, and I wanted to take everything to the next level, and kind of break out on my own.
So I was back in Australia, and I wrote "Boyfriend Jeans." It was just a scratchy little demo, and I recorded it on my iPhone in my voice notes and I didn't think much of the song at the time, but I sent it off to my manager and he sent it out to about five different major labels in the states. And in a few weeks, before my 18th birthday, I was showcasing for all of these incredible labels. RCA was the last label we saw and they were the perfect fit and it just felt right. We ended up signing with them and from then, I put out my EP. I'm working on my album now, so it all kind of started from "Boyfriend Jeans." That was the first real move that broke me into the industry properly.
Teen Vogue: What's it like having to be successful at such a young age?
Grace: It's very humbling and I just try to take it day by day and focus on just creating. Music is everything to me and it's what makes me happy and I just try to focus on that and not worry too much about success or trying to calculate how successful it's going to be. I just want to make great music and hope people enjoy it.
Teen Vogue: Can you tell us what the album is going to sound like yet?
Grace: It's still pretty much in the works, we're about halfway through now. But if you've heard the EP, it's similar. In the EP, I'm a bit younger in and it has a more young and fun tone but this album...I guess I'm growing up and I'm kind of finding my feet a little bit more in terms of more serious content and topics so it's a bit heavier content-wise. It's also leaning towards less heavy production, more real music. So I'm excited about the album. I'm still inspired by all the same things. It definitely has the same throwback vibe as the EP, and I still love soul and hip-hop and R&B so all those elements are still there. It's just a little more serious because I'm growing up.
Teen Vogue: are some of your influences?
Grace: I grew up listening to soul " my mom had impeccable taste, so Gladys Knight, Etta James, Aretha Franklin...as a little girl, that's what my mom would listen to and that sort of carried through to now. Even when I create now, that music is very inspiring to me sonically, so I think that definitely contributes to the whole throwback vibe of the EP, and just the vibe I have in general. And hip-hop, you can't escape it right now, and it's at the forefront of culture. The album is a big pot of all the things that I love: pop, soul, R&B, hip hop, fused into one sound and just...spoken by an 18-year-old girl.
Teen Vogue: Have people been telling you that your music is relatable?
Grace: I do get that from from the people who listen to the music. I think that as a young girl and as a creative person, it's my job in a way to be a voice for younger girls and speak on issues that we go through. You want to hear another person. You want to feel like you're not the only one going through that, and that's my job in a weird way, to be able to be that voice for younger girls. It definitely comes through in some songs and it's a really amazing feeling when that happens.
Teen Vogue: What was it like working with G-Eazy?
Grace: It was great, he's super-cool, incredibly talented. We're on the same label so we kind of just ran in the same circles and then we were in the studio one day and we played him "You Don't Own Me" and he loved it, and we asked him if he would jump on it, and he was like, yeah, sure, so it was really cool and he did his bit.
Teen Vogue: How do you navigate the difference between being a professional artist and just being a teenager?
Grace: I think it's very important to find a balance between work and playtime, but days off become few and far the further you get into it, so I try to cherish those moments of downtime and just do regular shit, go to the movies, go shopping, and just be a kid.
Teen Vogue: What movie did you see last?
Grace: The last movie I saw was...I watched that Cinderella movie and I cried like a baby. I was sitting on a plane and I cried like, three times.
Teen Vogue: Do you get to to back to Australia a lot?
Grace: The last time I was out in Australia was June, and I was only out there for a week to do some promo out there, but the last time before then that I was out was Christmas. I think I'm going to be there before the end of the year, so I'm pretty stoked about that, I do miss home a lot so it'll be good to go back.
Teen Vogue: What's your favorite part about home?
Grace: Just stuff with my mom and dad, so it's always really nice to be with them get to do stuff with them. I miss my dog, but my favorite part about Australia and just the sun and the weather and vegemite. [Laughs] But the U.S. is great, too. It's just like a whole little universe in itself and it's so rich in culture and the food is great here and there's so many great things about the States that I couldn't list one, but definitely music as well. You can't avoid the States if you want to try to make a global name for yourself so it's like my second home now.
Teen Vogue: What's coming up for you next?
Grace: I just got off tour with Leon Bridges and we went around Europe and the UK, so I'm not sure if I'll have another chance to go on tour again before the end of the year. At the moment, I'm just looking forward to going to Australia, I have a single coming out in London and the videos are coming out so I'm kind of just focusing on that and the album and focusing on getting the album out before the end of this year or early next year as well. Hopefully next year something will come up. Performing live is everything to me, that's my favorite part of being an artist, so being on the road is definitely something that I love to do.