genre-defying Grace Sanders is an unstoppable music machine, her newest release is an A/B side duology release called ‘anymore’ and ‘nothing’, and comes as a refreshing insight into an artist’s desire to pursue originality with their release strategy. Read along to hear more about Grace’s journey as an artist, and check out the latest release!
You’ve just come out with the two-track pack ‘anymore’ and ‘nothing’, what made you want to release these tracks as a package deal?
We both love when artists give their listeners more in a package than a traditional release- like tierra whack did this with her last record and we both thought it was a really fun and fresh way to give your fans a bit more to contemplate. Both songs deal with frustration with reality and a preoccupation with the way you wish things were, so I think it was also an interesting way to tell that story as they tackle those feelings so differently in terms of how they sound. ‘Anymore’ feels like spitting the dummy; addressing that exasperation and hurt, and ‘Nothing’ follows by feeling much more introspective and realising ultimately being attached to expectations will always lead to disappointment.
That polarisation comes through beautifully. ‘anymore’ has such a great drive to it, what are you communicating with the production choices?
I said to Zeke I wanted it to feel like you’re in a grimy underground warehouse rave that is also on fire. I wanted lots of banging and clangs and driving percussive elements mixed in with a lot of real universal alarm sirens. Ezekiel is such an excellent producer in his ability to translate abstract themes like that, and we had wanted to dip into dance music for a long time so we thought we’d go hard with this one. A lot of his references come from artists like Soulwax and LCD that we’d been listening to a lot, and I think you can hear it weaving the path between some rock influences and classic edm.
You can definitely hear those high-intensity rock influences come through in the production. ‘nothing’ puts you in a bit of a trance after the energy of ‘anymore’, what does this represent for you?
You know when a child has a temper tantrum, and they cry and scream and then there is that lull afterwards where they’ve exhausted themselves from the outburst and they’re ready to sleep? That is what we were going for… you’ve sort of danced and cried all those feelings out so ‘Nothing’ comes in with this quieter, dronier, hypnotic quality to it that allows the introspective thoughts to illuminate where all those feelings were coming from.
I really love that analogy! Was that something that came retrospectively, or did you go into the 2-single project with that kind of duality in mind?
Thank you! It came retroactively when we decided that would be an interesting way to release the music, but I think any body of work often has those parallels and thematic thread lines. I love exploring duality in my work so I think that falls into place subconsciously even when I don’t mean it to.
Tell me a little bit about how you got started doing music!
Just started writing when I was a kid and never stopped. Ezekiel and I started working together on GUMS about 18months ago and that has taken the music in a really interesting and fun direction.
Was there an overall message you were hoping to communicate with your 2021 EP ‘GUMS’?
I think a lot of my work has an underlying message of hope and growth, but in the case of GUMS it felt like a new offering or artistic rebirth where I had collected the best representations of my experiences and put them together. The themes of that record were much broader than the EP we are making at the moment because it was from a less condensed time period so the overall message probably felt more like an introduction to mine and Zeke’s work together.
Was working together an easy process or did it take some time getting used to it?
For us, working together fell into place really easily, which hadn’t really happened for either of us before. The first time we met properly was a studio session for a song called Green and I was going through Zeke’s book collection and there were so many overlapping interests we clicked straight away. I think every new under taking requires a readjustment period though! Every project is different.
‘CALLING MY MOTHER’ has such a great vibe to it, the chords are just so lush, what was the development like for this song?
It came together really smoothly and quickly- that song basically wrote itself. I’d had it in my repertoire for a long time, and knew I wanted it to feel like a 90s RnB jam with flutes and looped drums and lush BVs and Zeke knew how to make it happen. We referenced artists like Ari Lennox, Solange, Nas and Amy Winehouse and it kind of just fell together- especially once we had the verse from Adrian Dzvuke.
Solange came to mind actually when I heard this song, that sort of experimental-adjacent production style is so interesting to listen to
Thankyou, what a compliment! I’m glad you could hear that. We were channeling her arrangements in the backing vocals mostly.
How do you choose what are going to be the singles in an EP of strong contenders? Do you have much of a music-business formulaic cap on, or more of a winging it approach?
It’s not winging it or trying to be formulaic, I do everything based off concepts and the story I want to tell. That for me is the best way to guide those choices. I think you know intuitively what needs to be there and what is an accurate representation of the work you’re representing. ‘Anymore’ was a good opener for this record because it is dark, driving and intense and that is how this new EP feels. The first single is like a taste test and while not all the songs are that heavy, I wanted to communicate this body of work came from a specific experience and we wanted to test ourselves and try something new.
Let’s head back to your very first release; the 2017 track ’Impress Me’ is wildly different from the new stuff! What was the process of musical evolution like for you over the last few years?
I think the evolution comes from liking and finding different things, meeting different people, and becoming more confident and assertive in my own choices. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do at that stage so I was just experimenting and having fun with different sounds. I feel like through that process I’ve found my voice more artistically and have a clearer vision around what I want to explore with my work. Meeting Zeke obviously helped hugely too because he has pushed and helped me a lot to realise that vision, and we have more similar tastes and references than anyone I ever worked with before so it feels more cohesive now I think.
Your ‘sound’ as an artist can change so much over time, do you think your most recent releases reflect where you want to settle, or do you see yourself exploring new realms in the future?
I think your ‘sound’ naturally evolves as your perspectives and experiences change as a person. I wouldn’t say I’m ever actively trying to find a ‘new sound’ but I think life is fluid and over time you are drawn to different things for different reasons and that influences how you express yourself artistically. As long as I’m listening to new records and becoming inspired by new things I don’t think it would be possible to settle on making one kind of music.
Do you feel like your approach to song writing has changed much since those first releases?
Yes, largely because I work in a duo format with Ezekiel now where we are much more collaborative and democratic with what we release and how we make choices. My approach to songwriting is also always kind of different for different songs and tackling different topics. At the moment, I write a lot of poems with no melody or chords and just sit with the words.
Do you feel much pressure to be a certain kind of person in the music industry?
I’m not sure what the industry would want me to be so I don’t think so. The coolest and best people I’ve met are the ones who are kind, honest, and unapologetically themselves, so that’s what I’m aspiring to embody.
And in an industry that an often feel a little isolating, surrounding yourself with genuine people is something super vital for longevity!
Yeah exactly. It can be really hard to be yourself, and to live by the values you most want to represent especially when you’re under pressure to be entertaining or mysterious or cool or whatever. Being around people you admire can make embodying the best version of yourself a lot easier.
Do you think it’s better to cater to the interests of the mainstream, or do what you want to do, even if it means possibly siphoning your success?
There’s probably a mix of both that’s the best thing to do in terms of financial and critical success, but I don’t think being that calculating works very often- or even if it does, at what cost? I think the thing to do is just make art that is authentic and makes you feel something. Sometimes things that are mainstream are super cool, being popular doesn’t automatically eradicate artistic credibility in my opinion.
It’s hard to stand beside something you’re not all that proud of
Yeah straight up. That being said, I would be equally proud of pop music as experimental music. If you like it, that’s it.
What is a lyric you are super proud of writing?
The lyrics for ‘nothing’ are some of my favourites. I like things that are visually descriptive, honest and specific.
Probably my favourite verse in that song is:
‘Everything’s a shadow of what you want
It imitates you move
But the colours gone
Always in 2D
And never how you’d seen
When you’d dreamed it
Only a silhouette’
Suuuper visual stuff there, it can be hard to balance poetic-sounding words, and phrases that actually make sense, but I think you’ve cracked the code there! I also think the word ‘2D’ is perfect in an electornicy track
Thank you! I like slinging in more casual terminology in poetry. It makes it feel authentic and modern without trying too hard. Frank ocean does it really well.
If you could give your listeners instructions on the best way to experience your music, what would they be?
The theme Zeke and I discussed for this record was actually ‘going on a night walk’ because that was how I wrote almost all the songs; walking alone at night during winter. My long term relationship had ended and it was like all I could do was walk for hours by myself because being at home reminded me of that heartbreak. So for the current release…put in your headphones at dusk and walk alone through urban streets.
Do you feel like you’re able to have that experience with this recent release, or does it feel a little at arms length now that it’s come out?
How I experience my own music is always changing depending on the day really. It definitely is more at arms length now, but I can still access that feeling if I’m in the right frame of mind.
What are you hoping people walk away with when they listen to your music?
A hook stuck in their head.. or a feeling they’ve been looking for.
What is next for your music and project?
Like I said, Zeke and I have a record on the way so more releases coming out with that and hopefully more tours. We have been on tour with Great Gable over east and it has inspired us to do more shows and get everything happening. Hopefully people will like the music and you’ll hear from us again soon!
You can find Grace Sanders on Spotify, and connect with them on Instagram