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Gracie Abrams Is Finally Coming Into Her Own
The singer-songwriter discusses new music, self-expression and being a part of Pandora ME’s newest campaign.
by : Heather Taylor-Singh- Oct 4th, 2022
Gracie Abrams isn’t an expert in astrology, but everyone tells her that her Scorpio rising placement is extremely accurate. Within a few minutes of talking to the Los-Angeles based singer, this sentiment reigns true. Abrams, 23, is a Virgo Sun and Leo Moon, if you were curious. What Abrams is undoubtedly an expert in, is songwriting. Her debut EP, minor, was released in summer 2020, and was met with social media success. Last year, she released her second EP, This Is What It Feels Like, featuring tracks like “Feels Like” and “Rockland,” the latter of which marked the start of her collaboration with The National’s Aaron Dessner, who she predominantly worked with on her upcoming debut album, which has yet to be announced. Abrams’ two projects have proved that she’s able to create an authentically vast world and pen lyrics that feel open and honest. Her music covers topics like fragmented relationships, anxiety and insecurity, which feel deeply relatable. Abrams’ ability to express herself through music seemingly comes with much ease.
Her distinct self-expression has also extended into her fashion sense. One glance at Abrams’ Instagram shows that she has classic style. Today, she’s wearing a cardigan, jeans and loafers. “I lean boyish often,” she says of her everyday look. “[But] when I want to present with more obvious femininity, I really love [the] 90s. I love slip skirts, slip dresses. I really love natural colours.” Abrams is also one of the newest faces of Pandora ME’s campaign, which aims to inspire people to embrace the art of authenticity throughout their classic, adaptable pieces. Alongside Barbie Ferreira, Evan Mock and Ella Mai, Abrams continues her journey as a storyteller through the brand. We chatted with Abrams about her upcoming debut album, her love of touring and the importance of self-expression in its many forms.
This new collection focuses a lot on self expression and individuality. What does that mean to you as a musician?
It means everything to me as a musician— and as a person, first and foremost. I feel lucky to have grown up in a time where self expression and personal identity is celebrated more and more every day. I feel super honoured and lucky to be a part of a collection and and a campaign that really does highlight and celebrate that, especially among my friends who are were also part of this campaign—Barbie and Evan and Ella, I’ve looked up to each of them and the way that they express themselves in their individual lanes, but also just stylistically. They’re so rad, so to be a part of anything that they’re associated with is super cool for me.This collection really chooses to amplify the different ways in which every day we can express ourselves and lean into that.
Your music always sounds so emotional and authentic. I remember the first time I heard “minor”—the song—and I was so in awe. What inspires your songwriting?
Every single micro detail that I shouldn’t be overlooking. I write about whatever is going on in my life—it’s an obvious answer.I love music more than anything, but writing was like my first love. I’m definitely an obsessive journaler. So my songs are kind of just direct pulls from whatever’s going on [in my life.] But recently, it’s gotten far more introspective. I used to write as a reaction to other people, and I still do sometimes, but I’ve definitely been turning inward in a way that has forced me to confront different aspects of my life that I used to be less comfortable thinking about. My new music is a reflection of that.
How has your sound evolved since your debut EP, minor, in 2020?
I’m currently finishing my debut album. [This is] actually weird cosmic timing, [but] the last day that I personally touched, it was on my birthday. It was a weirdly emotional thing to listen back to it, top to bottom and really hear the evolution. It’s super evident to me, the ways in which I’ve taken more risks here, but also just gotten a bit quieter internally, which is what I’ve felt I needed the past couple of years. I really just hope [the new music] speaks for itself in terms of that evolution that you asked about. But I love it more than anything, and it does scare me a little bit.
As your sound has shifted, I’m sure your fashion sense has, too. How would you describe your style today versus when you were younger?
I’m just more physically comfortable in my own skin. I feel generally more comfortable doing whatever I want in terms of clothes. Growing up in a time with social media, there’s so much overexposure to everything, which can be deeply overwhelming [but] also super informative and incredible. I look back at pictures of myself [to see] what I was wearing, you know, four years ago in college and [thinking] ‘God like God, what was I wearing?’ I definitely tried to fit into different boxes or different personalities through fashion, which is cool. But right now, I feel so myself in whatever I’m putting on day-to-day that like I’m not I’m not overthinking much. I’m a real minimalist when it comes to fashion, and this collection with Pandora gives you the opportunity to keep it super simple and stripped down, but also dress it up, [which is] where I’m at personally right now— some days I want to do less, and some days I want to do more.
Do you find that how you dress and the sound of your music are interconnected?
I think recently, aesthetically. The music that I made this year and the kind of clothes that I lean towards makes sense, I guess, but it’s not something that’s conscious. Everything except the writing and the producing of a song is still something that comes to me less naturally. I actually think that’s really lucky and cool, because it lets the writing be the priority, and then everything else kind of falls around it. It’s a funny thing to connect all the dots.
You said you recently finished your debut album—what can fans expect from it?
I took more risks subconsciously. Aaron Dessner [and I] made the whole record together. It feels incredibly effortless, when we work together— stuff just pours out. It’s the luckiest [experience]in the world, and he’s one of the most important people in my life. I truly trust him with my life and I’m grateful to him for creating an environment where artists can be as honest and vulnerable with themselves as they are. This album is really its own world. I hope people take the time to listen to it top to bottom, because our goal was to create a really strong album. It’s tough because people sometimes lose patience and we kind of operate [in a] fast fashion way of thinking where videos are two seconds long and it’s a very single-oriented [music] industry right now. As a fan of music my whole life and as someone who loves narrative and storytelling as much as I do, I’ve always been deeply appreciative of full albums that hit on different subjects, thematically, different lanes, sonically, but are cohesive and belong together. That’s what we really aimed to do here, so that’s what you can expect from this album. I stand behind it so entirely, and I loved making it every single second I got to with Aaron. It was such a joy, and really hard sometimes emotionally, but also so deeply important.
How would you describe your relationship with fans?
Deeply personal. They have made my life so much fuller. My relationship with them on social media, before I ever got to tour, was something that I cared about so deeply. But then there was a whole other layer [with touring] which feels like the most important one now. When I was touring, for six months consecutively out of this year, for the first time ever, there were days that were so exhausting, and really hard— I felt homesick. But the second I was on stage, and in the same room as all these people, it’s like nothing else was on my mind anymore. I’m sure it sounds so cliche, but to have actually felt that is something that I could have never predicted was even possible. I owe them so much in terms of the stamina that they’ve given me and my love for touring. I get to spend an hour and a half hanging out with them and getting to connect in a new way with my own words and my music and I really do feel heard and seen. I feel so lucky to know them.
Would you say touring is one of your favourite parts about being a musician?
Yes, which I never could have guessed. Before I was signed to a label, before I put my first song out, [the idea of] playing in front of anyone was so terrifying to me. So to now love it as much as I do, is crazy. [Touring] is deeply important to my quality of life. The ability to be in the same room as these people who I really truly love so much and just appreciate so deeply. I’m lucky that this is a lane in my career right now that I get to be with them. It’s one of the best parts of my whole life, not just music.
Will you be touring again soon?
When do you feel like your most authentic self?
[After finishing] the album a week ago, I felt so myself. I felt so myself in a way that I hadn’t ever before in music. Having built this relationship with Aaron and working at the [Long Pond Studio], which is in the middle of nowhere. I feel so present [and] authentically me there every single time and I just hope to keep that going as long as I possibly can.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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