Australian singer-songwriter Gretta Ray is bringing her own trend to the world of music as she shares her reflection of her retreat, the approach to her latest project and overcoming challenges.
From her latest EP, 'Here and Now' to her latest release, 'Duology 1: Bigger Than Me & Readymade', Gretta has shared stages with Mumford & Sons and Lianne La Havas to taking the past year in her stride and is ready to embrace the future.
Firstly, congratulations on your first release of 2021 - how has the first few months been like and what's next for you?
Thank you so much! The first few months of 2021 have been great and an interesting adjustment, getting back into the swing of things after an unexpectedly quiet 2020. In terms of what’s next, the plan is to keep the ball rolling by releasing new music and finding as many ways as I can to share these new songs with my audience.
You have specifically called this release 'Duology 1: Bigger Than Me & Readymade' - what's the reason behind the two singles being together, and can we expect a follow up of this kind of approach?
I paired those two songs together for the first Duology because they are both about my relationship with creativity. 'Bigger Than Me' is a very bold, public display of affection towards creativity and art in general, whereas 'Readymade' is much more about my one-on-one relationship with the creative force and how much I value that.
As we talk about the approach of both tracks, what were the main influences that affected you the most and did you always follow the same theme throughout or were there any changes to the process?
When writing 'Bigger Than Me', I was predominately inspired by the excitement of working with other creatives - that rewarding, communal sense of creating something. I was also feeling very inspired by a book by Elizabeth Gilbert called Big Magic and Maggie Roger’s debut record 'Heard It In A Past Life'. I wrote 'Readymade' after recognising how much I valued nurturing my private relationship with creativity; at the time, I was spending my nights alone in an apartment filled with instruments. I felt very much like it was just me and the music at the end of each day, and that concept was the main source of inspiration for that song.
Looking back at the first time you made a pursuit into the music industry. Did you always see at a young age that you wanted to be a singer?
Definitely, I don’t recall a time where I wanted to do anything else but this. As a kid, I took every opportunity when it came to performing in front of an audience. I wrote songs as consistently as ever from the age of seven and became obsessed from about nine onwards with the idea of being a performer for my full-time job. I’m very grateful to be where I am now.
From your debut EP 'Elsewhere' back in 2016 to 'Here and Now' in 2018, you had quite the retreat between then till 2020. What was that experience like and, what did you learn from distancing yourself and honing your sound?
Ha, yes, it definitely was quite the retreat! But I had a lot to learn and obviously still do. When my song ‘Drive’ came out, and people started to tune into my music, I didn’t really know what I was doing or what direction I wanted to go in sonically. All I knew was that I wanted to sing for people. But having taken the time to work on my craft in order to become a stronger songwriter from working with lots of other, more experienced writers. It was the best thing that I could have done for myself and my artist project.
Whilst you have experienced the journeys of producing an EP and a collection of Duologies, can fans expect a new project down the line and is there any secrets you could spill?
For now, I’m pouring all my energy into the Duology Collection. I’m so pleased to be releasing my new music in this way. It provides me with an opportunity to tell the stories behind my new songs in-depth, and storytelling is one of my favourite things to do. In terms of a new project and secrets to spill - you’ll have to wait and see.
On the other hand, you have supported the likes of Lianne La Havas and Mumford & Sons in the past. How excited are you about performing live and, what is the one thing you miss about it?
I’m so keen to finally perform live again! The main thing that I miss about playing shows is having the opportunity to meet people that spend their time listening to my music. It means I can thank them in person for their support and get to know them. I really value those interactions, and when my live shows eventually return, I know I’ll be particularly happy to have that element back.
In terms of the pandemic, how have you coped with the restrictions of Australia, and how have you overcome in continuing to become a better artist?
We were very fortunate here in Australia - we managed to contain the virus pretty successfully and didn’t have many cases in comparison to the rest of the world. However, I live in Melbourne, and our state had a second wave that caused us to be in the strictest level of lockdown for four months straight. During that time, I wrote more music, cherished my one hour walks a day, built a lot of my creative team over Zoom - people that I would eventually work with in person when the restrictions were lifted, and the campaign started, and I spent a lot of time with my little sister. So, that time had its pros for sure! I made a lot of time to focus on my creative self outside of my artist project, and I think that ultimately assisted in bettering myself as a creative - preparing me for this time.
As we have all experienced different lives throughout the past year, what advice would you give to an artist who's breaking into music?
I would give them the same advice, pandemic or not. Allow yourself the time to figure out how you’re comfortable with presenting your artist project to an audience. Who do you want to draw in? What kind of music do you love to make/perform the most? How far do you want to take this? I think it can be very easy to get swept up in the whirlwind of social media. Platforms put a lot of pressure on being an authentic artist but simultaneously encourage you to produce an insane amount of content for your fan base, which to me can quickly feel inauthentic. Amidst all of that, trust that your belief in your music will be the thing that carries the project.
Finally, what's next for Gretta Ray?
Duology Two is next up for me! I’m looking forward to this next chapter of the journey.