To say that Australian-born artist Grace Sewell – known simply as ‘Grace’ – has had a busy year would only be telling part of her story. Widely known for her smash remake of Leslie Gore’s feminist classic, “You Don’t Own Me”, she’s been active in writing and performing music since the age of 14.
Raised in a family of performers, the 19-year-old descends from grandparents who once served as openers for the Bee Gees, and grew up with an older brother – Conrad Sewell – who’s had his own massive success in music with a number one hit in 2015. Speaking to Grace over the phone, she also fondly describes her mother’s role in her creative upbringing. “My mom was always very artsy – always painting, or writing books – and that rubbed off on me. I’ve always loved music and she had really great taste in music. So, I was always around soul music growing up, listening to artists like Etta James, Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin.”
Just five years after beginning her own artistic endeavors, Grace landed in a studio recording with legendary producer, Quincy Jones. Jones, who first heard her music through a management connection, signed on and suggested that they work together on the very song he produced with Gore in 1963. So, what was it like to work with him?
“Quincy is a perfectionist. There was that fine line of keeping it classic and keeping all those iconic moments from the original, but also being able to let another producer come in – Parker [Ighile] – to help create a fresh sound and take on it. Quincy was the key element in making sure it was still done in a tasteful way.”
Ighile, with whom she’d recorded her 2015 EP, Memo, furthered the fresh take on the song by connecting her with G-Eazy. A fan of his work, Grace describes clicking with G immediately following a joint listen of the track. He was into it and asked to write a verse. “It was kind of a cool juxtaposition to have a male rapper on what essentially is a female empowerment record. And, I knew he’d bring in a different audience, because he’d add a hip hop element.”
Following Gore’s passing in February 2015, Jones encouraged Grace to release the by-then minted track as a tribute to the late performer. When asked if she felt any pressure or responsibility to carry the song’s message to a new generation of young women, Grace replies, “Not pressure, really. For me, the biggest thing when talking to young women and youth in general is: don’t set limitations to your goals and what you want out of life.”
The discussion takes us back to her family, and the impact her brother’s success has had on her own endeavors. “He was already playing shows, and in the studio, and writing his own stuff. And, I was like, ‘This isn’t that far away. I can get there. My brother – somebody I’m so close to – is already living it and doing it.’ It was a massive encouragement to have him around and guide me in the right direction. I was never scared because it never seemed that far away.”
“You Don’t Own Me” continues to carry momentum following a key placement in one of the summer’s most-discussed blockbusters, Suicide Squad. With the acclaimed release of her debut album, FMA, in July, the rest of 2016 will see the performer out promoting it. “The music is out now, so I just want people to hear it! We’re gonna get out and play as many shows as we can.”
For full feature and additional photos visit our digital issue (issue 7) here.
A few years ago, Danielle McTaggart was ready to throw in the towel on her music career. Now she and her husband, Drew, make up the powerhouse duo known as Dear Rouge and have two full-length albums and a Juno to their name. Known for their hook-driven tracks—and being “the nicest couple in Canadian music”—Dear Rouge just dropped their sophomore LP, Phases. The record recounts a season of emotional extremes for the couple, including winning the 2016 Juno for Breakthrough Group of the Year, and losing a loved one. We caught up with Danielle over the phone to talk about finding joy in music again, and the personal and public significance of Phases. G—On your website, you describe your style as “sinewy, hook-driven indie rock”. Where did that particular style evolve from? DM—I was always very into hook-y music with beautiful melodies. I grew up listening to The Carpenters and they have beautiful melodic parts, but I also always loved harder music and really rock-driven music. Bands like Metric or Yeah Yeah Yeahs or St. Vincent were hugely motivating for me, and I loved that these frontwomen were powerhouses. They’re very confident and trying to push the boundaries while
What do you get when you combine the start of a worldwide tour and the release of a highly-anticipated album on the same day? Ask Lord Huron’s founder and frontman, Ben Schneider, and he’ll say a pretty damn exciting journey ahead. The band’s third album, Vide Noir, released April 20, is already receiving accolades for its raw, lyrical storytelling from songs like “Wait by the River” and “When the Night is Over”. To engage fans at a deeper level, the band plans on creating immersive experiences that elevate the album’s narratives. Lord Huron’s tour includes a stop at Toronto’s Sony Centre on July 25, and at Osheaga in Montreal on August 4. Schneider spoke to us about his love of storytelling, Raymond Chandler influences, and what it was like working with Flaming Lips’ producer David Fridmann. G—You grew up in Michigan. Is that where your interest in music began? BS—There was always music on at our house, and I remember imagining the people the songs were about. The storytelling of songs is what’s always captured me most. As time went on, I was able to convince my parents to let me play bass in the orchestra, which led to me
Morgan Saint was born into a creative life. Upon growing up in Mattituck, NY with a family of musicians on her mother’s side and parents who worked in interior design, Saint graduated from Parsons School of Design in Manhattan, where she has lived for the past six years. With a major in illustration and a focus on photography and graphic design, Saint has executed a clear vision of her musical artistry. In 2017, at the age of 23, Saint released her debut EP, 17 Hero, on Epic Records. She is a storyteller at heart, combining all of her talents to reveal her narrative as truthfully as possible, one vignette at a time, as seen in all three of the EP’s videos, “Glass House”, “You”, and “Just Friends”. She co-produced each glossy, beautifully choreographed, and high-definition clip with Nathan Crooker, but the lyrics are all hers. They come from personal places yet are vague enough to be relatable. Her electronic pop is lo-fi, but you’ll most likely find yourself snapping your fingers to it. As Saint prepared for a sold-out show supporting Missio in Austin, Texas, Georgie connected with her to discuss coming into her own as a songwriter and