It’s easy to see why GRACEY believes in fate. This time last year a vocal operation left the Brighton-born musician unable to talk for three months – let alone sing.
“Before then, I’d become engrossed by the need to feel validated by strangers on the internet,” she explains over the phone. “The operation gave me time to reflect on how stupid that is and spurred me to write this song.”
Fate or not, the resulting Empty Love – which follows the 22-year-old’s UK Top 40 debut Don’t Need Love – is an upfront commentary on the anxiety-inducing nature of social media (all told with the understanding that it can, occasionally, be an empowering place, too).
Featuring Ruel – the Elton John-approved Aussie singer who supported vest-wearing singer Shawn Mendes on tour – it comes complete with a homespun music video which GRACEY (we’re not shouting, that’s just how she styles her name) shot while quarantining in her bedroom.
“I wanted to make it look like I’m getting stalked by the internet,” she explains. “I’m not a tech person – I can barely work Zoom – so I was like, ‘How am I going to manage this?’”
Watch the vid below to find out whether she did or not (spoiler: she did).
10%: Where were you born, where were you raised and where are you now based?
Technically, I was born in London but I moved down to Brighton pretty early on in my life, so grew up there. When I was 19 I moved to London to try and do music.
20%: At what point did you realise you’d be able to do what you love for a living?
I started my career writing for other artists. When I was 16, I was working at this place Xenomania [the seminal pop production company behind Girls Aloud]. Running from school to go and write songs, I was living the dream. I think at that point I was like, “Yeah, I’m going to do this. I’m not going to go to Uni – my teachers can’t stop me.”
30%: What’s a piece of advice that changed your life?
Everything happens for a reason. You can’t force something to happen, you just have to go with life.
40%: What kind of emotions and experiences influence your work?
It’s changed a little bit. When I was writing for other artists it was very much about getting into their headspace. It took me a little while before I wanted to start my own project because I wanted to know exactly who I was and what I wanted to say.
I find music is the one place I can be truly honest. I use it as a venting system to say things that I can’t say to other people because I’m one of those awkward extroverts that’s very happy to be around other people, but when I go into my room I cry. My music tries to come to terms with why I’m like that.
50%: What can you tell us about your next project?
My new single comes out today. My next EP is moving on from my first [Imposter Syndrome] and is me being a lot more honest with myself. After last year I had a vocal surgery that meant I had to stay silent for three months. For someone who since 16 has written songs every day, and used music as a venting system, it was so weird.
60%: Name something you love, something you like, and something you hate.
I love fresh PJs. I like sunbathing, but I don’t love it because I always burn. I hate people that feel the need to drag other people down just because they’re insecure.
70%: Finish the sentence: Dear Diary, today I…
Made the world’s biggest cup of coffee and am drinking it far too quickly during this interview.
80%: What’s the last non-essential item you bought?
I bought pizza dough, which I guess is kind of non-essential because we don’t need to make pizzas but it was really fun.
90%: What did you put on your pizza?
I put a little bit of rocket, a little bit of pepperoni. It was pretty good, actually. My mum’s now like: “We’ll never buy a pre-made pizza ever again”, and I’m like, well, that wasn’t the aim. This was a fun activity and now you’ve made it into a strike.
100%: What’s the most pointless fact you can share?
All guys grow taller than their mums. I don’t know if it’s true but it’s something someone told me and it’s never left my brain. Every time I see a mum and son I always check to see if they follow the rules.
Empty Love (ft. Ruel) is out now on Polydor, would you believe.