GRACE ON HER DEBUT ALBUM ‘FMA’ AND STAYING TRUE TO HERSELF

Grace Photographed for The Untitled Magazine by Indira Cesarine
Grace – Photographed by Indira Cesarine for The Untitled Magazine

“I think that when someone stands up for something or has something that they believe in or when people have their own opinions or attitudes about the world we live in and everything that goes on inside it, that it’s a great thing.” -Grace

Grace may have an older brother in the music industry, Conrad Sewell, but she certainly doesn’t live in anyone’s shadow. The up-and-coming singer/songwriter released her now platinum debut record, FMA, earlier this summer and has been going nonstop ever since. The album’s unapologetic motto, “Forgive My Attitude,” is a tongue-in-cheek call to stick to your guns and rings especially true in today’s culture as more and more young women find their own voices. With self-affirming anthems like “Hell of A Girl,” “Hope You Understand,” and a hit remake of Leslie Gore’s 1962 feminist classic “You Don’t Own Me,” Grace is poised to be the reigning songstress of the next generation of empowered females who know what they want and aren’t afraid to go out and get it.

The Untitled Magazine’s editor-in-chief, Indira Cesarine, caught up with Grace to chat about her new album, words of wisdom, and future plans. Check out the full interview below. Make sure to watch out for announcements of Grace’s upcoming tour and catch her guest starring on NCIS!

Grace Photographed for The Untitled Magazine by Indira Cesarine

Grace wears a an embroidered shirt by SASS & BIDE.


IC: This is probably a really obvious question, but why do you only go by your first name?

G: My last name is Sewell, and a lot of people mispronounce it, they call it “see-well” and it’s tricky to spell. I always liked the idea of going by my first name, I thought that Grace had a ring to it and was memorable and that it would catch on. We toyed around and tried to make up a whole new name but we just came to the conclusion that it wasn’t me, I didn’t need like a crazy stage name or anything we just wanted to run with the most simple option so Grace was it.

IC: You grew up in Brisbane, Australia. What it was like to grow up there and how did you get started in music?

G: I started writing when I was ten or eleven, but I have been singing for as long as I can remember. I was fascinated by anything creative. My brother was a singer and my grandparents were singers, so it was already in the family. My mum was one of those women who was always painting or writing stories, she was super creative, so it felt very natural for me to pursue something like that. I started taking it more seriously as I got older and I wanted to write my own music. Through writing my own music I signed a publishing deal and then I met my manager when I was fourteen. I was also in school full-time so I could only take it so seriously. Once I left school I was like, “Alright I need to go to the states because there’s a lot more opportunity out there.” I picked up everything and moved there and kept writing. Within a few months of being there I started showcasing for labels. RCA was one of the people I saw and I was lucky enough to join them and that’s how it all started.

Grace Photographed for The Untitled Magazine by Indira Cesarine

Grace wears a denim shirt by ASHISH and silver stud ring by ERICKSON BEAMON.

IC: Who were your biggest musical influences growing up?

G: My mum used to play a lot of soul, I grew up listening to a lot of Etta James.

IC: You’re only nineteen now, when did you have your first big live performance?

G: I think that the first big show I got to do was at the O2 Arena in the UK last winter, which holds like 20,000 people. That was crazy! It’s O2, so there’s a lot of history behind it, it’s very iconic. That was my first proper arena.

 

IC: Did you study music or are you self-taught?

G: I tried to study music in school but it was very theory-based and I didn’t click with it. I always had a natural ear, but when it came to connecting the dots and physically saying oh that’s a C sharp or a B flat, I never got that far. I think I’m too impatient. Most of it was just learning from what I listened to, learning from the people around me, and what I was inspired by.

Grace Photographed for The Untitled Magazine by Indira Cesarine

Grace wears a jacket by TOPSHOP, a shirt by H&M, a rhinestone ring by JOANNA LAURA CONSTANTINE, and gunmetal ring by NOIR.

IC: Tell me about your track “You Don’t Own Me,” it really blew up on the charts. You did that with G-Eazy and Quincy Jones produced it. What was your inspiration for that track?

G: Quincy did the original in 1962 with Leslie Gore and he wanted to remake it but hadn’t found the right fit yet. He had heard my voice through my management who had worked with him on a couple of other projects so he was like “Just take a stab at it.” He filled me in on the backstory of the song which is that Leslie did it when she was seventeen in the middle of a feminist movement so it was a big deal for a young woman to come out and talk about something that people didn’t really talk about at the time. Immediately I was super on-board and wanted to jump in and get involved because I think as a young woman in the industry it’s a very important and strong message. Everything about the song is timeless so my job was very easy, we just had to tweak it and put some elements in that made it fresh and young so people my age and younger than me could connect to it. It took us a couple of months to get to a place where everyone was happy with it. Then I met G-Eazy and I’d been a fan of his and what he did in the past so I played him the record and he loved it and wanted to jump on it. It happened very organically and just fell into place. Leslie unfortunately passed away in February so we figured we had to put this out now. The week that it came out, it was out as a tribute.

IC: Your debut album just released in July, can you tell me about the title FMA I understand that it means “Forgive my attitude?”

G: “Forgive my attitude” is a lyric in one of the songs on the record, “Hope You Understand” which is one of my favorites off it. When it came to the point where we were like “Okay we gotta name this thing,” I wanted it to be something that when people heard it they would think “Oh yeah that’s Grace” and that totally resonates with the music. I’ve always been very passionate and that’s something that I’ve personally always celebrated. I think that when someone stands up for something or has something that they believe in or when people have their own opinions or attitudes about the world we live in and everything that goes on inside it, that it’s a great thing. I love it when I find that in people. So that’s what FMA is, it’s like “I wanna do me and have my own opinions and my own attitude, I may not always fit your mold or what you think I should be but at the end of the day, I don’t really care.” You shouldn’t go through life trying to impress people or try to live for other people and what they think you should do. So “forgive my attitude” is a sarcastic, cheeky apology for being who you are!

Grace Photographed for The Untitled Magazine by Indira Cesarine

Grace wears a silver leather jacket by ELECTRIC LOVE ARMY and a black sleeveless shirt by SHAHISTA LALANI.

IC: Tell me about some of your favorite songs on the album?

G: “Hope You Understand” is definitely a favorite just because it feels good. It has this old school vibe, it still feels young but it does very much have that throwback vibe. I love “Church on Sunday” just because it’s funny, it makes me laugh, the lyrics in it are really funny. I think “From You” and “How to Love Me” are my favorite slower, mid tempo, songs.

IC: What about “Hell of a Girl”?

G: I wanted whatever followed “You Don’t Own Me” to still be in that same strong and fierce lane. It’s about a breakup but it’s not just like “Poor me, I’m angry and I’m upset.” It’s more like “Things are gonna get better and I’m moving on to a bigger and brighter future. I’m gonna be okay with or without you.” It’s about a breakup but it’s like “Karma is gonna come back around and I’m gonna be good.”

IC: Your brother is also a musician, did you guys ever perform together?

G: When we were younger and played small pubs and restaurants in Australia he would pull me up during his set or I would pull him up during mine. We did a show together with iHeart a few months ago as well. It wasn’t a sibling thing but they just picked both of us and we did separate sets. I went first and then he went after me, that was the most recent thing we did together.

Grace Photographed for The Untitled Magazine by Indira Cesarine

Grace wears a silver leather jacket by ELECTRIC LOVE ARMY and a black sleeveless shirt by SHAHISTA LALANI.

IC: Do you think that you might work together and collaborate on something in the future?

G: Absolutely. Conrad has been a massive influence on me and a big part of the reason that I got into music in the first place. We always write together. As a young kid it’s kind of a big dream to have but when you have someone in your family that’s already chasing it and playing shows and writing with people and collaborating, it makes the dream not seem so far away. He’s a big reason that I was inspired to get involved in music in the first place. We always try to collaborate. We’re super close, we see each other every week or so and we talk to each other every day. We’ll definitely do something in the future.

IC: Who would you consider your favorite musician right now?

G: I’m really feeling Chance The Rapper at the moment and I think that Kehlani is really dope. Alessia Cara is really sick. There’s a whole movement of young female singers at the moment that have this particular attitude of not really caring what anyone thinks and just doing them. I really respect that and appreciate that.

IC: What do we have to look forward to from you? Are you planning a tour?

G: I’m putting together a tour right now. I’m hopefully going get to do some dates in the UK and then some in the states. It’s all in the works!


Interview by Indira Cesarine for The Untitled Magazine
Photography by Indira Cesarine
Fashion Editor Indira Cesarine
Additional Styling: Jessica Bobince
Hair & Makeup by Megan Laloux

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