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.
Allie X began with a vision: of a blank slate. The multimedia electronic pop artist chose the letter “X” to signify infinite possibility – an attempt to strip herself of any pre-existing identity. Yet she feels the presence of multiple versions of herself: good ones, bad ones, and everything in between. “I think I’ve always had this self-awareness of the bad parts of myself,” she reflects. “I remember feeling as a kid like I hadn’t suffered enough, which is kind of a strange feeling. And then I remember in middle school feeling like I wasn’t being nice enough to people.” Her self-awareness has only expanded with age: “As I’ve gotten older, sometimes I just feel like I’m watching myself from somewhere else and think, ‘Who is this person?… Who am I, and is it good or bad?’” Unsure of who she is, anything does seem possible. The cover of Allie X’s latest album and full-length debut, CollXtion II, features her literally reassembling herself, slotting cubed pieces of her shin back into her leg. The visual perfectly captures what The Story of X, the name she has given the narrative that arches across all of her creative output as Allie
In her role as Valerie Brown on Riverdale, Hayley Law is one of the show’s most charismatic characters, standing confidently behind the keyboards as one fourth of Josie and the Pussycats. In real life, outside of acting, Law is a burgeoning recording artist who makes playful pop and soul-inflected music under the stage name Hayleau (pronounced Halo). In November of last year she dropped her first self-titled EP, and since then the 24-year-old, who’s based in Vancouver, has been working on her sophomore release in between filming two huge Netflix series. We spoke with Law about being Hayleau, her creative catharsis, and of coarse, Riverdale. G—You’ve had an impressive start to 2017. How has your life changed in the last year? HL—It’s changed a lot. A year ago I was working at a job that I hated, serving at a breakfast restaurant. Now I get to do something that I have been working so hard to do, every day. I’m so thankful I don’t have to do what I was doing to get to where I am now. G—Parallel to your role as Valerie on Riverdale you have a blossoming music career. Could you tell us a bit about your
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 —