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.
Millennials — a generation the mainstream media loves to tarnish as entitled, lazy and self-absorbed. But stereotypes like these fail to speak to the extensive research that proves millennials are driven by much more than a desire to capture the perfect selfie — in fact, on the whole, they’re well educated, civic-oriented, progressive and incredibly entrepreneurial. Look no further than 23-year old Cari Fletcher, otherwise known as FLETCHER. A self-described “power pop” artist, she represents the kind of fearlessness, unbridled ambition, self-determination and desire to change the world that has catapulted so many millennials to success. Ever since “War Paint” was included as part of Spotify’s Spotlight on 2016 list — a song she wrote and self-published online while studying at NYU — Fletcher has become a viral sensation. “War Paint” has amassed over 19 million Spotify listens to date, and the video for “Wasted Youth” — from her debut EP, Finding Fletcher — has already racked up 1.3 million views since being released in March 2017. Even more impressive than her level of notoriety is the absence of a major label to credit for her success. Instead, hard work, honesty, and an entrepreneurial approach — and irrefutable talent, of course —
Starley’s path to platinum status has been filled with starts and stops. After years spent trying to launch her career in her hometown of Sydney, Australia, and later in London and the United States, the popstar hopeful grew depressed. Her anxieties heightened. She was ready to quit. But before she decided to shift her focus onto her next passion – fitness – she made one final attempt at music. Telling herself that God works in mysterious ways but to remain faithful in his process, Starley penned the personal salve, “Call on Me”. The song caught the attention of Australia’s Central Station Records. Since then, everything changed for Starley. Central Station’s subsidiary, Tinted Records, released “Call on Me” as her debut single last July. Epic Records re-released the track later in October. To date, the song has peaked at number 70 on the Billboard Hot 100, and its remixed version by Aussie producer Ryan Riback has garnered over 338 million Spotify streams. Starley is currently touring North America for the first time supporting British electronic group Clean Bandit. Georgie got some time with the budding singer to talk about her mainstream ascent, dealing with mental health, and the importance of fitness
Clemens Rehbein and Philipp Dausch first met in the 11th grade, when they started performing together in a jazz quartet known as the Flown Tones. Although the band later disbanded, Rehbein and Dausch stuck together, and the pair went on to experiment with folk, reggae and electronica sound combinations. Eventually, this led to the formation of Milky Chance and the 2014 release of their debut album, Sadnessecary, which later went on to become a multi-platinum success. Now, three and a half years later, Milky Chance is ready to embark on a new adventure with the release of Blossom. The album’s first single, “Cocoon”, continues to climb the charts as the Blossom Tour makes its way across North America. Lead vocalist Rehbein spoke to Georgie about touring, writing and how being close friends with Dausch has benefited the band. G—It’s been about 3 ½ years since the release of Sadnecessary. How has your approach changed between your first and second albums? Clemens Rehbein—I wouldn’t say it’s changed in the way I write songs, but rather how we’ve developed as musicians. The songs are made of the same foundation, but they’re influenced by our experiences on the road and playing on stage. G—Was it