Music

Grace Carter Is Giving a Voice to the Voiceless

by Mathias Rosenzweig
12.08.2017
The "Silence" singer opens up to L'Officiel about vulnerability, finding her voice, and her new single — out today.

Considering the depth of her debut single “Silence,” one would be shocked to know Grace Carter is only 20-years-old. The British singer-songwriter’s inherent talent has, in a matter of months, garnered her over nine million streams and spots touring along titans like Dua Lipa and Dermot Kennedy. Her ability to sing about strength with meticulous fragility summons a hauntingly wistful sentiment — something that’s left her newfound fan base begging for new material. Fortunately for them, today marks the release of her new single “Ashes,” a trap-infused ballad that packs a slightly harder sonic punch than her debut. We spoke to the Brighton’s most promising new talent about what she's been through and where she's headed.

Read the interview and listen to "Ashes" below.

 

"Ashes"

You started music more as a hobby, and now it’s become your profession. How did this all kick off? 

I grew up in London until I was nine, and I always sang as a kid. I loved singing. Then, when I was 13, my mum and my step-dad got together, and he’s a musician. He had released music in the past, and I had grown up with a lot of discomfort. I had a single mum, and I had a lot of pent-up frustration and anger. He gave me a guitar when I was 13 and encouraged me to write my first song. From then on, I kind of got addicted to it. Every day after school, all my friends would go out and chill out in the park, but I’d run home and sit and write songs on Photo Booth on my MacBook.

 

Where are those videos now? 

I gave my old MacBook to my god sister and there’s like, 250 videos of me with my braces singing, playing guitar, and writing songs. Sometimes people will send them to me and it’s awful [laughs]. When I was 13, I fell in love with songwriting and being able to put how I felt into words. I had a real release for things I felt as a kid. I did it through school, and then when I was 16 I decided to go to music college. Over time, it became very clear that that’s what I wanted to do with my time and with my life — write songs, sing them to people, share things I’ve been through, and hope people connect to them. It’s all progressed very naturally. It’s helped me grow as a person and get through things, so I thought people could relate. I thought very deeply about everything as a child, so it clicked with me.

 

You brought up being angry as a kid and the various emotions that teenagers go through — that everyone goes through. Do you find music to be therapeutic? 

Yeah, a lot of people don’t have the ability to put feelings into words. When you do, it’s something that should be celebrated completely. As a songwriter, in my mind, I can potentially be the voice people don’t have for themselves. That’s what I hope for. I could write a song about something that’s happened in my life that’s really affected me, but write it in a way where my mum, my cousins, and my mum’s best friend can listen to it and be like, “Ah, shit. I feel that too. That’s exactly how I feel.” Not everyone has the ability to really understand what it is they’re feeling.

People view musicians just as audio artists, but there are always visuals involved as well. How do you approach imagery with your music?

It’s definitely a new experience for me. I’ve been a songwriter and a singer since I was young, but it’s so exciting to put what I’m feeling into a visual. A lot of the videos I want to do and have done have been me on my own. That’s the place I’m in when I’m writing my songs, that’s the way I feel when I’m writing the songs. A lot of the time, it’s because I feel lonely, and I want to express that with the visuals. With “Silence” and the video for that, the song is so, so important to me. I wrote it about a year ago, and I wanted to really express that idea of feeling alone, since it was just me that whole year. The video brought it to life so much more. When you watch the video, and see me so in touch with my emotions, really letting go, really being vulnerable, it takes it to another level. 

 

You have a lot of people who are now listening to your music. Does having this audience make you feel more vulnerable? 

Yeah, for sure. There’s definitely some songs that I will always keep to myself. But a lot of the time, for me, when I put a song out and I feel very vulnerable, I hope that people relate to it. That in itself makes me feel better about how I feel. I realize that I’m not the only one who feels that, and the same for the people who are listening. I think it is very vulnerable, but the best music is very vulnerable. You can cry to it in your bedroom — it’s emotion. Emotion in songs is so important for people to really connect. 

How have those connections manifested?

When I released my first song, I hadn’t done a live show or anything like that, so a lot of it was over social media. People were sending me DMs saying they’d been through a breakup and it really helped them, that I said what they needed to say. That made me smile. That’s what music should do—it should uplift people. Then, I had the honor of going on tour with Dua Lipa and Dermot Kennedy, and that was absolutely amazing. I could get on stage and say what I wanted to say, and people were there listening and connecting. People were coming up to me after the show saying how much they loved it, how they wanted me to put out the rest of the music, how they felt it. It was very inspirational. I write songs for myself, but it’s nice to know that people appreciate them.

 

Circling back to songwriting, what subject do you gravitate towards? Is there a certain relationship or moment in your life you draw a lot of inspiration from?

My childhood has been very inspirational to my songwriting. I’d say most of my songwriting is about the same relationship. I think wherever I’m at in my life, I’ll always go back to that. Experiences are always there, and you can always draw on experiences creatively. I think my childhood will always impact my writing because it’s the most I’ve felt in my life. I think that’s what allows me to put my all into my songs. I’ve experienced so much.

In terms of turning the songs that you’ve written and recorded into a live performance, how do you bring those songs to life?

For the last few years, I’ve been in the studio constantly. I love it, but I also love stepping out of that safe space. I work with the same people constantly, and the people I write with are my friends. In my first show in September with Dermot Kennedy, it made me realize that the stage is the most incredible place. I love being in the studio, but it allowed me to see people’s faces and reactions to one set, and see people smile. It brought it all together. When you put songs on the internet, you know people are listening but you don’t know who those people are. You can go after the show and sit with people and have a chat. Being in a room and connecting with people is why I do what I do. It’s amazing to connect with people over what you do as an artist. 

 

It sounds like a magical experience. 

Yeah, it’s crazy because I’ve written these songs on my own or with friends, in their horrible little studio, and then I’m able to play them on stage with some amazing artists and have their fans listen to them. It’s insane and surreal.

 

We’re almost at the end of 2017. It’s a little cheesy, but do you have any plans for 2018? Any New Year’s Resolutions? 

I’ve been working on music this part of the year, and I’ve gotten the opportunity to work with one of my favorite producers Mike B, and we did “Ashes” together that comes out this week. I’m so excited to put more music out. For the moment, I’ve got one song out, and I’ve gotten great reactions. I just want to give people more, show more of me as a person. Show more of the stories I’m trying to tell. For 2018, I want to put new music out, tour more, because I love touring, and grow as a human being. It’s exciting not to know what’s going to happen. I’m excited to see what happens. 

 

It’s good to be surprised—to not know exactly what’s going to happen.

Exactly. It’s exciting to know you’re on the road to somewhere, but you don’t know what it is yet. 

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