Growing up as a member of Gen-Z comes with unique challenges. From the pandemic to living online, young people today are experiencing profound struggles, and with those struggles, profound emotions. Few artists have been able to harness and express the feelings of this generation like Valencia Grace. At just 18 years old, the singer-songwriter from Dorset, England, broke into the music industry during the first lockdown, using the time of isolation to focus on growth, healing, and self-expression through music.
Amassing nearly 2.5 million followers on TikTok before even releasing a song, her debut single, titled, “It Was You”, became an instant hit, and she was signed by Ministry of Sound/Columbia records. Influenced by the sounds of Soul, Jazz, and Motown, and inspired by strong female vocalists such as Adele, Amy Winehouse, and Etta James, Grace has found a powerful voice beyond her years. Relying on stunningly raw vocals, heartfelt songwriting, pared-down acoustics, and a rare authenticity, Valencia Grace turns her painful emotions into something beautiful, a process which clearly resonates with her active fanbase.
Following “It Was You”, Grace further explores heartbreak on her latest track, “Goodbye.” Releasing today, May 27th, the single tells the story of a breakdown of a family relationship. Debuting with a feature music video, retro visuals from a handheld film camera, and soft, summery lighting combine with tender vocals and raw honesty that pull at the heartstrings of every listener.
The Untitled Magazine sat down with Valencia Grace to catch up and chat about her background, music career, and new single. Read on for the full interview below.
Tell us about your background? You grew up in Dorset, England? What was it like where you grew up?
I feel like I now have a personality that connects more with faster moving cities like London. However, growing up, I was faced with quite a few trials, and I believe I was able to navigate them better due to the tranquility and stillness of living in Dorset. I never felt too much pressure living there, which is why I believe I was able to start finding myself musically in my own time.
How did you get into singing and songwriting? Did you study music as a child?
I’ve been singing forever. I only started writing prolifically in the first lockdown. I had a lot of time to myself, as you can imagine, and I was in desperate need of an outlet. I had people around me to talk to about what I was going through- however, sometimes that doesn’t always help, and I realized I had to be the one to be there for myself. So I started songwriting to better understand my emotions.
Who would you consider your biggest musical influences and why?
The first time I really felt something with music was when I started listening to Motown. Because of something I had been through, I was scared of a lot of music because it reminded me of certain people. When I listened to Motown, it felt like I owned it because no one else was listening to it. I managed to create this safe and untouchable world around me because it reminded me of no one.
Were your parents into music? Tell us about your family and what the vibe was like at home? Did they encourage your interest in music?
My family never listened to music. However, I guess my Dad saw this young child with loads of energy and thought that music theatre would fit my personality, so I did a lot of that when I was a kid. I was performing on stages all the time. So I owe it to him. I only started listening to music when I first took the bus to school at around 16, because I saw other people doing it.
What challenges have you faced as a young songwriter? Did you feel nervous about being taken seriously when you started a few years ago?
When I initially started writing, it wasn’t to become an artist, it was to save myself. I needed to write so that I felt heard in some way. What’s helped me a lot these few years being an artist is staying true to that. My song catalogue is my public diary. All I’m doing is expressing how I feel in its rawest form, and because I’ve been doing that, I believe I have been taken seriously.
What gave you the confidence to pursue your love of music professionally?
When I first got approached by my manager, it was during a time when I was struggling deeply. He said he believed in me, and saw something in me when I didn’t see anything in myself. I know it’s only words, but it really helped and encouraged me.
I’m also very lucky to have such a supportive father. He’s always given me the confidence to act upon my aspirations. When I told him I wanted to pursue music, he said to do it.
Let’s talk about your debut single “It Was You,” what was the inspiration for the song?
I was lacking closure. I was in a position where I felt my power had been stripped from me. I use writing to help me communicate so, after writing “It Was You,” I was able to take some control back, and have my final say.
I understand it was composed on a piano at your grandmother’s house? Was your grandmother a big inspiration for your music?
Yes, I did write it on a piano at her house. I think everyone around me inspires my music. I can get inspired by the smallest thing. If someone says or does something that sparks a feeling or a thought, my mind immediately goes into writing mode.
Tell us about your new track “Goodbye”? What inspired the heartfelt lyrics? Is the song based on your personal experiences?
“Goodbye” was written when I was experiencing loss. There was someone I held closely in my life who was suffering, and no matter how much I tried to help, I couldn’t. It’s hard to lose someone for what feels like no good reason. However, it was no one’s fault. Our time in each other’s life came to a halt, and that was difficult.
The video is very pared down, with a retro film vibe – tell us about the video and what inspired the look and feel?
Since the song is about loss, which is a topic everyone can resonate with, I didn’t want to pigeonhole the video and make it too specific. I wanted to paint the picture of someone having to move on, but also include the liberating feeling of being shot outside with a blossom tree, representing being set free. So there are positive undertones to the video. Although losing someone is hard, everything happens for a reason.
So you recently relocated to London! How do you like it? Can you share some of your personal favorite things about your new city?
I love it. The best thing about London is how lively it is. There’s always interesting places to discover and cool people to meet. So much goes on, and living here now gives me the opportunity to live a more spontaneous lifestyle. This helps me with my writing since I’m experiencing new things and people.
You often post on Tiktok from your bedroom – How do you find social media helps you connect with your audience?
Social media has such a wide reach. I’ve found that over time, you start to recognize the same people commenting under your posts, and that just shows you how good it is to build communities. Then when that starts, you can really connect, because you feel like you know each other. The banter with fans once you learn their humor is amazing. At the end of the day, we’ve all found ourselves together because we relate to each other in some way. That’s why the connection is so strong. We understand one another.
If you could collaborate with another musician who would it be and why?
I really value Taylor Swift as a songwriter. She’s got such an amazing soul, and to write along side her would give me the opportunity to approach songwriting in a different way. I’d love to understand her process and what inspires her.
What can we look forward to from you in 2022? Any new releases or performances in the works we should look out for?
Always new releases. I’m going to be performing at Barn on the Farm on June 30th, which is really exciting because it’s my first time ever going to a festival.