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GRAACE On Pain, Loss, Lucid Dreaming & Finding Her Way to Self Preservation

While most of us have spent the last few years feeling stuck, GRAACE has had a complete transformation. The pop star has separated the GRAACE we see now with the GRAACE who brought us her debut EP, Self-Sabotage. Working through her feelings of hatred to find acceptance, pain to find calmness and depression to find hope, GRAACE has come full circle with her latest project, Self Preservation.

MF: GRAACE it’s so nice to be speaking with you! Your debut was Self Sabotage and now here you are with Self Preservation. What’s changed in the years between projects?

G: Well, I think most importantly when I wrote Self Sabotage, that was definitely a point in my life where a lot happened very, very quickly and my mindset as a twenty-year-old was just kind of go, go, go. It felt chaotic, you know everything in my life – relationship, friendships, it was all quite chaotic, which made for a beautiful EP! (Laughs) I love Self Sabotage! But sometimes I just get so drained because I have to keep hearing these songs from when I was in a very horrible mental state.

I just haven’t felt right the last few years, so I’ve really been working on myself, growing, and figuring out who I am. When Self Preservation came into the lyric, I was writing for a song called ‘American Pie Reruns’, and I thought oh, it’s all come full circle. I realised I was finally okay with letting all the stuff go and move forward.

MF: Is it fair to say then that you’ve drawn a line between the old and new you?

G: I would say mentally I had to, because it is quite draining to feel like you have to constantly keep going back into that mindset. Especially when you have a song like ‘Last Night’ go so well and it’s what everyone wants to hear and I’m constantly having to sing that, and I’m like fuck, that was not a good time for me! So, I feel like having this new music out is going to be really good for me – and the people that listen to my music, to have new stuff to sing and we can kind of grow together in that.

MF: I’ve heard Daniel Johns recently say something similar – that everyone of course wants to always hear early Silverchair stuff but that for him it’s almost a trigger to a really painful time that he has to revisit over and over…

G: Yeah! I feel definitely like ‘Last Night’ is one of those songs. I do really love it though because that was the first song coming off the back of ‘Numb’ which was like, my own song. I don’t know, I do really love it. But it is draining to always think of what it was about and constantly having to relive that year. But now, I won’t think of ‘Last Night’ the same because with this new music I feel like I would have moved on.

MF: I feel like I can hear a few influences in this new GRAACE chapter! Who have you been inspired by?

G: No, that’s awesome, I want to know who you hear! (laughs)

MF: I hear Billie, I hear Phoebe, I hear Julia, I hear Olivia! All great company to be keeping!

(laughs)

G: (laughs) That’s so good. I’ve been listening to a lot of women. I think for a while there I was listening to a lot of R’n’B melodies, I’ve always really admired that. But I’ve been listening to a lot of Phoebe Bridges, she’s definitely influenced me, and she’s literally the best human on this planet like, ugh! ‘Funeral’ was my most listened to song in 2018 on Spotify so…

MF: I can’t really comment because I think mine was Stars Are Blind.

G: (laughs) I think we were in very different mindsets!

MF: What does self-preservation mean to you?

G: Allowing yourself to grow. I think it’s something you need to learn in order to get by. I think constantly kicking yourself and bringing yourself down is a growing thing in young people where it’s like, I’m just going to constantly bash myself and talk shit about myself and feel bad about myself all the time. I was definitely in that mindset, and then I realised dude, life is so short. I can’t just sit here and think I’m literally the worst person on the planet. I’m not in jail, I’m not a murderer. I’ve made mistakes but we all make mistakes. So Self Preservation was about coming to terms with letting things go so I can move on and have a good life.

MF: Do you still do that to yourself sometimes?

G: Oh yeah. I still struggle with it. But I think a lot of people do and it’s nice to know you’re not alone. Having dark thoughts, it’s not fun. I think as well, I’ve somehow manifested a lot of stuff through music. I’ve heard other artists talk about this as well where you put something in a song and then that kind of comes to life? When I released Self-Sabotage all this shit just happened, so now I’m hoping the universe can do me like, a little favour. If I put Self-Preservation out there, then good shit might happen! I’m ready for the new chapter universe!

MF: A theme throughout the EP is loss. I’m so sorry for the loss of your father ten years ago. You haven’t seemed to put it obviously in your music yet, so why was now the time to do that?

G: It’s been the most personal thing to happen to me behind the scenes of my music, and also a big reason as to why I’m able to write music because it’s been therapy for me to help me deal with losing him. Music was really my only outlet. But I knew I couldn’t just constantly be singing about my dad, so I never released any of those things. I kind of just kept them to myself, and I felt like they were just for me, which was really beautiful. But I think going through the pandemic, you realise everyone goes through so much and it felt like the right time to give people that had been through loss as well an outlet. Because I know that when I listen to a song, even if it’s a sad song, it makes me feel so nice. Like crying, just crying to a song that I know I relate to is really beautiful. So, I felt like it was the right time.

MF: You’ve spoken a little bit about the lucid dreaming you’ve experienced in the last ten years. It’s something I know nothing about, and I’d love to ask you what your earliest memories of that were?

G: I remember doing it when I was younger. Like in primary school if I had a crush on somebody, I could manifest in my dream that we kissed like, this is sick. But I think the most memorable experience was very soon after my dad passed away. I want to say it was the night of but also when you lose someone it’s just a big blur. But I remember a very specific image of this big elevator and I was like running to this elevator and I was trying to catch it because I wanted to say goodbye.

And just as I got there he was like, I’m so sorry, it’s too late. And after that, I would sleep a lot. It’s something that I do even now when I get into depressive episodes. So, I was sleeping a lot at the time, and I kind of just built this town that I can visit sometimes? I can’t always control it and it’s faded as I’ve gotten older. But I’d built this whole town that I could talk to my dad in. You know I’d be singing, and he’d be sitting in the crowd. It’s really odd because I knew that he was dead in the dream, and he knew he was dead, but it was like let’s just have this time together again.

MF: Another loss that your lyrics allude to is that of a relationship. My favourite song on the EP is ‘Unhappy’, it really struck a chord with me. The idea of being happy for someone you love, even when they don’t want you is something that… I’m working on (laughs) but in the song, you seem to have it nailed! Can you really do that? Watch someone you love, be happy without you?

G: I can think of one specific beautiful human that I can. Now. But not for a long time. It’s only been very, very recently that I’ve been able to revisit that and be like, you fucking deserve to be happy. You’re an incredible person. But for a long time, I was upset that I’d lost him, so I was like no, fuck you, I don’t want you to be happy! (Laughs) I don’t know, it’s hard. I’m still navigating it. There are a lot of other people I’ve seen doing really well and I’m like, ah fuck (laughs).

MF: Yeah, I was hoping that you’d be like, yeah babe I’ve nailed it and I was going to ask, howww?!!! (laughs)

G: Yeah no, sorry! Still working it out (laughs)

MF: Okay. I’ll keep looking for those answers! Is that almost the most selfless form of love, when you can go, this situation makes me unhappy, but I’m still glad you’re happy?

G: I think it’s a really beautiful thing to learn, definitely. It’s just yeah, I’m still working on it.

MF: So, have you been sitting on some of these tracks for a while now?

G: Yeah… I go back and forth on my favourites; I think ‘Unhappy’ might be my favourite? It’s the oldest song on the EP, I’ve been sitting on that since 2019? I think that whole experience of writing it with my two friends and being able to talk about this cray story and how I still loved this person so much, and to be able to put all that into one song yeah… I think it’s my favourite. It’s the oldest but, I think it’s ready. It’s perfect. I love it.

MF: I love it too. Does the person you wrote it about know it’s about them?

G: Nooo.. We don’t speak. I don’t even know if he’ll care to listen to the EP.

MF: I’m sure he will.

G: Well, actually! I will say that the person it’s about doesn’t have blue eyes, and I say they have blue eyes in the song. He actually has green eyes, and I’ve only ever dated one person with green eyes so…

MF: Well now he’s going to know!

G: Yeah, shit (laughs)

MF: It’s been a tough couple of years in the music biz, so if things go better this year what’s on the bucket list?

G: Well! Hayden James is playing Coachella in April! Five million fingers crossed because he’s invited me to go and perform ‘Numb’ with him. It’s been a long time in the making, and he’s such a hard worker so for his sake I really, really hope it goes ahead. And for my own selfish sake, I wanna play fucking Coachella!

‘Self Preservation’, the new E.P by GRAACE, is out now.

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