Grace Davies: “I know who I am now”

From the ups and downs of X-Factor to now re-emerging herself as one to watch, Grace Davies cements her sound with her upcoming EP, i wonder if you wonder.

Realising music was the one after listening to Adele's 21, the 24-year-old independent singer-songwriter followed her passion with a series of covers on YouTube to coming runner up on hit show X Factor back in 2017. Whilst influenced by the old-school discography of her parents as she grew up, Davies is now surrounded by the pop stars of the future and roots to be part of the pack as she continues to wow her newest and devoted fans.

Though being signed to Syco Music straight after the show and tapping through a genre of sounds with a series of singles and her debut EP Friends with the Tragic - Davies believes she is now in her element with her latest music. With the label shutting down mid-2020, Davies swam straight into the deep end and ventured through the works of 'toothbrush' & 'used to you' that's leading to her next project. As she's totally on board with her music described as "dream-pop", Davies finds herself around like-minded artists and appreciates the journey she has experienced.

Whilst she has months packed ahead of her before the end of 2021, we caught up with hit sensation Grace Davies about the works of her audition track 'roots', all things i wonder if you wonder, live music and everything happens for a reason.

Hey hey, how have you been? And what has the past week been like for you since the release of your latest single, 'Roots'?

This has been the most incredible, stressful, but mind-blowing week. Completely unexpected! I hadn’t even thought about topping the iTunes chart, never mind getting into the UK Big Top 40 before I released it, so I’m completely overwhelmed and still processing it! It’s been amazing though.

Being your X-Factor audition track and now released as part of your upcoming sophomore EP, i wonder if you wonder. How much does this track mean to you, and being a fan favourite, is it yours as well?

Do you know what? I think because I’ve lived with this song for so many years and heard it so many times, it obviously went so far and wide on the show that I got quite bored of it! I wasn’t overly buzzing about it all - I was more petrified than anything as it felt like there were such high expectations from fans for this song, and I just wanted to have got it right (production etc.). I do think that’s a telling sign of how much it means to me - this song kicked off my career, so it was an important one to not f*** up. Now I can relax a bit more as I’ve fallen back in love with it since its release.

Talking about your latest EP and marking a new era, could you tell us a little more about the inspirations and influences behind the project?

Someone described the new tunes as “dream pop” recently, which I’m totally on board with, and I realised that a lot of the references I had for production fall into that category too. I’m obsessed with reverb and just making things sound & feel like a huge explosion of emotions, so you really feel a release. ‘Animal’ by Troye Sivan was a huge inspiration for ‘Used To You, and ‘Grow’ by Frances has always been one of my favourite songs - actually a huge inspo when I wrote ‘Roots’, so it was great to write ‘I Met A Boy Online’ and ‘Somebody’ with her and have her produce them too. I love that you can really hear her iconic BVs in those songs and that they have a piece of her sound in there. I love Robyn & Dagny, and I feel like I have a little piece of them in ‘Toothbrush’.

What do you hope listeners will gain from the stories told on the EP?

The EP goes through the cycle of a relationship from start to finish. From wanting to find someone (Somebody) to finding someone (IMABO) to falling in love (Roots) to realising there’s infidelity (Testosterone) to losing that person and wanting them back even though they’re bad for you (Used To You) to finally realising you need to get over them and going through the difficulties of having to move on (Toothbrush).

The title ‘i wonder if you wonder’ is quite literal: I’m writing songs about a boy who probably doesn’t think twice about me… I wonder if you ever wonder about me as much as I do you.

Working with multiple producers across the board and now routing independently, how long did it take for the project to come together, and how would you describe the creative process of the EP?

I started working on it in September last year. As soon as my label shut down, I was like “right, let’s get to it”, and I started producing ‘I Met A Boy Online’, which was initially supposed to come out as a stand-alone single in October 2020 alongside 'Iris'. I pushed it to January and decided to make it part of an EP. I really enjoyed making this EP because I did it independently. I had all of the creative control and was able to choose every song because, *I* loved it and made those songs sound exactly how I wanted them to, which meant me getting involved with production too. I LOVED getting real strings on 'Somebody' & 'Roots' and hearing 'Toothbrush' turn into the huge banger it is now. It’s an amazing process to watch your babies have a glow up but also was stressful at times. 'Roots' was the hardest one because it mattered so much to get it right. I think we did 15 mixes in total, went to master, went back to mix. It was mental, and we were all so fed up of hearing it by the time it was finished.

With several singles, EPs, and tours under your belt, how would you say your sound has evolved throughout your career to this point?

I know who I am now. I think I’ve tried out a few different sounds, all of which I love and enjoy equally, but I think this EP has cemented my sound for me. I’m more honest than ever with my lyrics, I used to disguise a lot of things behind metaphors, and now I’m quite literal with the way I word things. It’s been fun to see that develop.

Looking back at your musical career, when did you know music was your passion, and what do you remember as the first type of music you were exposed to as a kid?

I have very early memories of listening to Rocky Music, Bryan Ferry, Simply Red, Lighthouse Family etc. in the car with my parents. But I think it was my Mum’s love for The Beautiful South that made me look at songs differently and hear them for their stories. People like Adele and Emeli Sande were a big part of my teenage years, and that’s what made me want to be a songwriter. I was about 14 when Adele’s 21 came out, and I remember being like “yep, this is what I want to do… I want what she has”

With multiple experiences and millions of streams to boast, what would you tell your younger self?

Everything’s smoke and mirrors so don’t believe what you see at face value. No one cares about your shit as much as you, so carry on caring, and you’ll never not love your art. Everything happens for a reason, so keep going, don’t give up.

Currently up and down preparing for live shows, what have you missed about performing, and what can fans expect?

I’ve missed hearing a crowd sing my songs back to me so much and just meeting fans. 9/10 of my released songs had never been performed live until a month ago (lockdown babies), so that’s been really special. You can definitely expect to get extra sad together and scream the lyrics through the pain - but that’s what makes it fun.

Finally, what can we expect from you for the rest of this year and the next?

EP is out next month, so one more song and we’re done for this year. I've been planning some headline shows, which is going to be super fun and working on new tunes, so it’s non-stop here!

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