23-year-old Californian singer-songwriter Gracie Abrams dreams up melancholic songs for the bottle-fed Gen Z Euphoria. We met the one who counts Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo among her fans in Paris, in the premises of her record company, while an audience of groupies in oversized hoodies and colored hair awaited her outside.
The video (Official Audio) of “Difficult” (2022) by Gracie Abrams
In France, the sweet name of Gracie Abrams is still little known. Yet her biggest fans are famous as artists such as Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Phoebe Bridgers, Lorde and Post Malone follow her on Instagram, rave about her or support her publicly. Olivia Rodrigo even cited the songwriting of Gracie Abrams (whom she chose to provide her first parts) as an influence behind her hit Driver License (2021), which has 410 million views on Youtube. It must be said that the young 23-year-old Californian singer-songwriter – who has been publishing music since 2019 – has enough talent and authenticity to walk in the footsteps of the queens of intimate pop. Those who knew how, like Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish, to dissect the traumas and doubts of the generation Euphoria. And to account for this vaporous melancholy and this confusion of feelings inherent in adolescence.
Gracie Abrams’ debut album, This Is What It Feels Like (2021) indeed unveiled a touching and refined bedroom pop, seeming to be directly inspired by events experienced during the teenage years. We could discover the moods of the author, her anxiety and the pangs of incommunicability through words that do not apologize. “My songs are 110% about things that happened to me. I pay great attention to microscopic details. I can write a piece about a one-minute interaction with someone I barely know“, admits Gracie Abrams, when we meet her in the premises of her record company, in Paris.
Even if the artist from Los Angeles has for parents the director JJ. Abrams (Star Wars, star trek, Lost, A.k.a) and producer Katie McGrath, figure of the feminist movement Time’s Up, she knows nothing about the turpitudes of Gen Z, the disappointed friendships and the feeling of broken heart. One of his ballads is called I Miss You, I’m Sorry (2020), another one hard to sleep (2021) or even Painkillers (2021). And we can hear her sing, like an acerbic teen movie heroine: “Count all the people who hate me / I don’t know if I’ll be alright” on the piece OK (2021). When she’s not breaking the listener’s heart with the tongue-in-cheek formula “I’m happy when I’m sad” on its title The Bottom (2021).
The video for “Mess It Up” (2021) by Gracie Abrams
Only a few years after starting the drums at the age of 8, she began to compose songs bittersweet and vulnerable drawing his words directly from his diary. The young woman close to the house of Chanel also has a multitude of notebooks today, some of which were offered to her by her fans (nicknamed the Gracelanders) who are waiting for her in front of the office of her record company, on the day of our interview. “I collect them. As soon as I travel, I buy some. I am constantly in time to write, wherever I am. Writing is a very cathartic spontaneous introspective gesture for me.”
But once the often sad lyrics of her songs were written, Gracie Abrams never touched them again.. “I think that not editing my texts once they have been put on paper comes from the desire to testify to the most honest and pure feelings possible. And I hope I never get to that point where I think too much about my words and what I reveal about myself because what I write is now something public. Besides, on my next album, I’m so explicit, in detail and frank that I risk getting angry with some people who will recognize themselves (laughs). I leave nothing to the imagination, which makes me somewhat nervous… But I still can’t wait for others to hear it. You’ll know me much better after hearing this record.”
The video for “Feels Like” (2021) by Gracie Abrams
If his next album should surprise his fans because of a more rock twist, Gracie Abrams however proudly claims the label of “bedroom pop” because she always composes on the piano or the guitar in this room of the house with a particular aura. And that she literally writes her lyrics lying down or sitting on her bed. When you ask the songwriter what feeds her, apart from life experiences – she admits to having fallen for the latest album by DIY indie rock musician Alex G, listening to a lot of classical music lately and dreaming of collaborating with the band electronic psychedelic Tame Impala. But his musical influences have remained the same for years.
Gracie Abrams loves Simon & Garfunkel band, Elvis Costello, Bon Iver, Radiohead, Elliott Smith, the fairy Kate Bush or even James Blake. She adds : “JI’m working with Aaron Dessner of American indie rock band The National on my second album. And it was with him that I made the piece Difficult, just out. It was a dream for me as I have loved his music for a decade now. I started listening to The National when I was 12. We have already recorded songs together for my last album, including some in the forest. But today he has become one of the most important people in my life. He knows the inside of my brain better than I know myself.“
But the young doll-faced artist may love “old things” and adore folk priestess Joni Mitchell (her absolute idol of which she has all the biographies and whose photos she framed in her room), she remains a young woman of her time. Very sensitive to mental health issues (she admits to seeing a therapist) and to what is happening in the world, she is one of the personalities (with Clairo, Lorde and Olivia Rodrigo) who signed a petition published in the New York Times last May denouncing the decision of the American Supreme Court leaving the States free to prohibit abortion (the Roe vs. Wade decision). And in July 2022, she released limited edition t-shirts, the profits of which were intended for the American association National Network of Abortion Funds, working to increase access to abortion among the poor. Because for Gracie Abrams, even more than saying what is on her heart, art and notoriety serve to help those who are less well born than her and to make the world a little sweeter… image of a ‘chamber pop’ verse.
Difficult (2022) by Gracie Abrams, available on all platforms.
The video for “Stay” (2020) by Gracie Abrams
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Gracie Abrams, the rising star of bedroom pop dubbed by Billie Eilish and Taylor Swift
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