Sounding Board: Hey Grace, So I pretty much have had your singles “Restoration” and “Everything (Nothing)” on repeat, since I recently discovered them. Could you tell me a little bit of background behind the tracks?
Grace Gillespie: Hello! Glad to hear you like the tunes. These first two that I’m releasing are amongst the first songs I ever wrote. I had only just learnt to play guitar (piano is my first instrument) and also only just begun song-writing, so it was all very new to me. They came to me very naturally – I hadn’t even begun to think about structure or anything like that. I had tuned my guitar to open D and was just fiddling away and the words came into my head.
Sounding Board: That’s great that it was free flowing experience creating the tracks, was one song more difficult to write compared to the other?
Grace: Not at all, they both flew into my head and onto the page within an hour I would say. “Restoration”, I was sitting in my room in freezing London and Everything (Nothing) I was sitting in the cold but glorious sunshine on the back doorstep to my parent’s house in Devon. The freezing conditions gave both of them an urgency to be complete… So, I could go and find somewhere warmer to hang out. At this point I had this weird belief that my songs needed to be finished (at least lyrically) in the same moment that they came into my head.
Sounding Board: Your songs possess a layer of honest emotion and are pretty heartfelt, but still have a kind of hopefulness to them, what do think that originates from?
Grace: I am quite a pessimist – I like dark humor, that sort of thing. I see it as honesty. I think dark self-deprecating humor is just a very British coping mechanism we have acquired in order to survive social situations. My songs are hopeful because there is some buried optimism under there – we all have it somewhere, in order to function. We grump around feeling helpless and hopeless (well I do) but actually all know that we can make a difference to our own and other’s lives very easily.
Sounding Board: Yeah, I see what you mean, and I can definitely be that way too. What artists do you find yourself continually revisiting at the moment?
Grace: Umm… Neil Young, Aretha Franklin, Mild High Club, Andy Shauf and there’s this HOMESHAKE song I am really obsessed with at the moment.
Sounding Board: Nice! I’m a big fan of Andy Shauf and I’ve been listening to HOMESHAKE’s tracks “Call Me Up” from Fresh Air and “Real Love” from Midnight Snack a lot recently. Everyone recognizes London as such a dynamic, diverse music hub, has it impacted your development as an artist in any ways you weren’t expecting?
Grace: Being in London heavily impacted my song-writing, in terms of subject matter and state of mind. I’m not that comfortable in London and being uncomfortable is key in song-writing. I don’t think this was unexpected though, I knew that city life was going to be weird for me. I would prefer to be surrounded by fields and beaches, but then I would miss the London pubs – gotta love the London pubs.
On a different note, touring with PIXX last year exposed me to a lot of great music, which definitely had an impact on what I was doing in terms of writing and production. Again, I can’t exactly say this was unexpected.
Sounding Board: I was in London a couple years ago and is something special about a good London pub! Yeah that definitely happens, when you’re around other creative people, approaches they use would rub on off you. When people listen to your music, what do you want them to take away from it?
Grace: I would like them to listen to the lyrics. So many people I meet say that they love the tunes but wouldn’t know about the lyrics as they never listen to lyrics…. I find this pretty weird as other than the words there is really very little to these songs. I don’t know what I want them to take away from it. I think I would prefer if people just used it as an excuse to make a good coffee, sit still for 4 mins and just listen and see what happens. We all do too much at any one time – I’m as bad as anyone else.
Sounding Board: Oh yeah, that’s something I could be better about too! I think a lot of people focus on the whole experience of the song rather than specially listen to the lyrics. The production of a track can elevate the whole track, but when you take that away- It’s just the verses that are left and are what really matter.
What are your plans for this year, anything people should be on the lookout for?
Grace: There will be more music released this year for sure. I am actually very excited about the next release, it is one of my personal favorites in terms of how the recording came out. Other than that, I’m just writing loads and getting back in the studio to record. These are the priorities at the moment. Maybe some live shows, who knows…!
“Restorations” is out officially March 2nd, but you can check out this song and “Everything (Nothing)” here