Each week, OOR Studio reaches out to various artists, musicians, and those with all-around good taste.
SOUND OF THE WEEK PT. 64: GRACE CARTER
Hi Grace, tell me about your first encounter with music.
My mum has always been a big music fan so I grew up listening to all different kinds of music, but the first time something really stood out to me was when my mum played me Nina Simone. I was going through a lot emotionally and it really made me stop in my tracks. I feel like that moment is what inspired me to want to make music myself.
You grew up between West London and Brighton – how did that influence your music?
It influenced my music a lot, I found our move to Brighton very difficult. I didn’t feel like I had much of a place there so that’s where music came in. I had friends growing up but I also found a lot of peace in being on my own and writing about the things I was feeling. As a young mixed race girl growing up in a predominantly white area, there was a lot to process. I’m not sure the actual place inspired my music much but more the context.
In your latest single “Bloodwar,” released last month, you sing “I dreamt you’d adore me, I built pictures in my head,” and in the refrain, “I just wanted your love more…” To whom are these lines addressed?
I originally wrote this as a letter to my estranged father when I was 17 years old, it was something I held on to for a very long time but had performed for years. The song has played an important part of my personal and artistic journey so it felt right to finally put it out.
Your stepfather bought you your first guitar at the age of 13. Now, at 26, over ten years after you first started songwriting, do you write for the same reasons as did your 13 year old self?
Yes, I don’t want to sound cringey but music has always been a form of therapy for me. I was given a guitar at 13 as a tool to help me process my emotions and that has never changed. Sometimes I wish I could just write songs for fun, and sometimes I do, but most of the time it’s because I need to get something off my chest. I love that about music.
How does music help you deal with the ups and downs in your own life? Is it a form of escape?
That’s exactly what it is. I grew up as an only child so I was quite bored a lot of the time but music was the one thing I could do that would allow me to escape for hours on end. I’d sit in my room playing my guitar and 7 hours would’ve passed. I have quite a chaotic head so it’s the moments when I sit down to write when I feel most at peace.
What are some of your favorite songs to perform? Are there any that you find too emotionally challenging to perform?
Recently it’s been ‘Pick Your Tears Up’. I just came off tour and that song was so fun to do every night. The crowd would get so involved but honestly it always changes. There is so much of me in my music I cannot pick one song, I love them all.
When you aren’t singing about heartbreak and the many challenges of life, what makes you happy?
I’m surprisingly a very happy person haha. I love seeing my friends, growing up as an only child meant all my closest friends are basically my siblings so we are all super close and I love spending my time with them.
In the last few months, you have released two new singles, “Bloodwar” and “Pick Your Tears Up.” Both songs, in which converge themes of sisterhood, identity, and empowerment, are hopeful and uplifting. What do these themes mean to you?
Exploring these themes have allowed me to become the person I am today, I’m a young woman just trying to figure out who I am. I don’t think I’ll ever fully know but writing these songs has helped come a little closer to knowing.
Your new EP “A Little Lost, A Little Found” is coming out at the end of July, what can we expect?
It’s my baby, it’s been a while since I put out a body of work and I guess this project gives some insight into what’s been going on. It explores themes of identity, heartbreak, love, loss, family. Music has always been a vehicle for me to be able to process and that’s exactly what this project is. I hope people hear it and at least find a song they see themselves in.
Interview: Milo Schwalbe