Grace Davies: The Unveiling of a Pop Star

2022 has been a monumental year for Grace Davies. If it wasn’t for the drastic move from her family home back to the capital to further develop her artistry, or when she treated fans to Roots, a song 5 years in the making and one that’s had a permanent presence in both her career and her fans’ lives, then it was gearing up to release her compelling third EP, It Wasn’t Perfect, But We Tried‘’ that ought to have been the cherry on top of a rather hectic period for the artist.

Two years after becoming an independent, Davies has since locked down a Top 40 single and sold out the prestigious St. Pancras Old Church for her first ever headline show. Without the backing of a label, she’s had the support of fans by her side through every inch of her journey.

‘It Wasn’t Perfect, But We Tried’ sets Davies up for her “big pop star moment”; big audacious choruses, sublime visuals and a bold sense of authenticity. Infused euphoria can be felt through each of its five tracks, of which some date back almost five years. Carefully polished, each song has taken on a new lease of life, now being the perfect moment for their debut.

Her story is more than just inspiring, it’s real. It hasn’t always been highs for Davies upon entering the industry, so now seeing her riding on waves of soaring success feels the utmost deserved. Speaking to Noctis Magazine about her journey so far, please welcome your new favourite pop star…

Hello Grace! You’ve had a whirlwind of a year, how have you been?

It’s been a wild, wild year! A very busy one and also a very tiring one, but also just very fulfilling to have this new EP out there and having something to show for a year of being stuck in producer mode, which was new to me but also very fun.

What has been the biggest change for you in this last year?

I was living at my parents house and I’ve now moved back to London. I lived in the city for four years and moved back during the pandemic, so that I could fund the “artist thing” independently. Because realistically, I couldn’t pay for that and rent at the same time.

It was a big thing for me being able to move back to London. But being here with all the people that I’m meant to be with every day, music wise, is really fun again.

Do you think the move has helped you musically? You had a studio in your parents house, didn’t you?

Yeah, I did and I do miss that, I really do. I’m in a house share now and I don’t have that space that I used to to be able to be creative at three in the morning. My parents didn’t mind but my housemates will!

But it’s also been fun because all of my friendship group are creatives, whether it’s on TikTok, YouTube or being songwriters, we’re all sort of in that creative industry. So I think being here and being around that environment has probably made me feel a bit more included in the creative industry.

You recently played a sold out stint at St Pancras Old Church (a perfect venue for your music – so stunning!) How was the whole experience of performing in a church?

It was so pretty. It was my first ever headline show, which feels really weird because it’s been five years since I was on the telly, and three years since I first released music. But with the pandemic it just never came into fruition. So, to finally be doing a headline show for the first time on EP three was weird, but so, so good. It felt like a reminder that there are people who actually do listen to my music and watch me live.

Earlier in the year you were gearing up to officially release your track “Roots” – how does it feel to finally get the song out there?

Finally after five years, it was petrifying. I did this interview with my manager that never made it into the public eye because we went back to the house I used to live in where I wrote the song and he said to me, “Grace, where’s the joy? Why do you seem so deflated about this song?” and I just burst into tears. I was like, “It’s been four years since people heard it, no one’s gonna care, I’ve missed my moment,” and I was just so, so negative about the whole release. I thought people were expecting it to be this big thing, and the only people that can make it into a big thing are the fans because I don’t have that infrastructure around me of a label to push the song. It was just the fans and I, and so it was really like “power to the people” for the way that it turned out.

I definitely didn’t expect what happened to happen. I always underplay what’s going to happen in the future so that it can be like a nice surprise when it does. But with this one, it genuinely shocked me.

Naturally there was quite an overwhelming reception to the track, it was your first single to chart in the UK!

​​It’s insane. Out of all of my songs this is the one that I’d have wanted it to happen to, for sure. Because it’s the only song I’ve ever released where I wrote it 100% myself. It’s just certification that I can write a decent song that people like.

It was a big, big moment for an artist like me with no financial backing or big team around them to have those kinds of highs within the industry. Like, being able to listen to myself in the Top 40 was just wild.

Your new project, ‘It Wasn’t Perfect, But We Tried’, is beautiful! This is your third EP in three years – how did making this EP differ from the rest?

I wanted to level it up in every kind of aspect of life, especially with the artwork and music videos. It’s such a small thing, but the visual aspect of a body of work really matters a lot. I’ve never really walked away from either of my EPs being like, “I love that artwork, I’m really happy with that CD and the pages and all the photos that are in it” and with this one I wanted that, I wanted to feel like a pop star.

I remember the photoshoot on that day, it was when I was wearing the “Wolves” artwork outfit, I said to my manager, “I feel like a pop star,” and throughout my whole nine years in the industry I’ve never felt like that before. Not that that should matter, but I just wanted to level up in that sense. I feel like I’ve stepped it up a little bit each time I’ve done an EP, or hope I have anyway. I just wanted it to be one big euphoric “I’m here” moment.

You helped produce each track on the EP – how was getting to grips with this? 

I think because I have such a strong vision and I can hear things in my brain, it’s just about sitting there and flicking through sounds and going, “that’s what I can hear!” It’s difficult to get to grips with the new system, but then at the same time I think when you can hear something it just sort of happens. Toby Scott who I produced “Wolves”, “Breathe” and “Supervillain” with, we spent weeks just sitting in his studio in Brighton next to each other at the computer screen and that was such a brilliant process for me.

It was the same sort of thing that I did on the first EP, I went to Sweden and sat with the producer for a couple of weeks. But this time, I just felt way more involved. There’s a song called “Windows & Walls” on the EP which I must have re-recorded the vocal and piano like two or three times because I just couldn’t get it right.

I think producing something yourself is amazing because you get your name above the door, but there’s also this thing where you can’t step back and say it’s finished very easily when you’ve written it, sung it and produced it. You’re way too close to it all and that’s something I really struggled with this year, just knowing when things were right. I was relying on people around me to be like, “Yes, it’s fine! Step away from the computer!”

You started self-producing throughout lockdown, is it something you’re going to continue with?

Yeah, definitely. No one cares about my music as much as I do. I think I always put a massive amount of pressure on myself to make sure that it’s really good and really right. And you can’t always rely on other people to get it as good as you necessarily would. So yeah, I’ve just got to keep chipping away with it and learn more production stuff. Fun!

Tracks like “Breathe” are colossal pop bangers! This is the oldest track from the EP… were the other tracks also dug out and perfected, or were they newly written?

Do you know what? I’ve never written a song for a project, weirdly. I just write songs and then go, “You’ll do and you’ll do.” So that’s probably the difficult part, picking songs from so many different stages of my life in the past five years. “Breathe” was the first song I wrote after The X Factor and it was with the same people I wrote “Wolves” with, which I also sang on the show. 

And so it was like I came out of that experience and then two weeks later I wrote the song and it was about coming off that show and everything that I went through during it. I think taking that feeling and also reapplying it to everything that I’ve been through the past two years, like coming out of a label and being independent and stuff like that, it’s actually quite refreshing. It made me see that song that I wrote five years ago in a very different way.

You hinted at the possibility of signing to a label again so that you can make a proper big album. Tell us more about that…

I don’t want anyone to ever think that the only way you can release an album is if you’re signed to a label. It’s not, I have so many independent friends, Violet Skies, Orla Gartland who’ve done incredible albums independently. And there are other routes, there’s label distribution companies etc. It can be done! I’ve just always wanted to do the big budget music videos and promo and if I’m gonna do an album, I’m gonna do it big. And I might regret saying that one day when I release an album independently. And I may well do that in the future. But yeah, I want to do it properly and if that means signing with a label, then perhaps that’s what will be done.

I’m not signing to anyone at the moment and I’m not putting that pressure on myself because I’ve also really, really enjoyed being independent. But I have done three EPs now and I do believe in trilogies… So I’m putting some sort of pressure on myself. There’s so much I still want to do and like I said, I have loved being independent, but we shall see.

You’ve been independent for two years now, how have you found it?

I mean, it’s hard, don’t get me wrong. I think this year, especially because it’s literally just me and my two managers, who are a couple and have just had a baby a week ago whilst doing this whole EP with me. We came to the end of the ‘I wonder if you wonder’ EP last year, and we were like, “Fuck me, that was hard. We are not doing that again.” And then in January we’re like, “We’re doing it again, but we’re doing it bigger and better!”

You sort of forget how hard it was and then when you apply an extra amount of pressure, but it’s been very rewarding because like I said, it is just the three of us. You sort of sit back and go, “Okay, well, we’ve had a Top 40 track and MTV tweeted that everyone should be listening to our music,” and you just look at all the things that have happened to you independently and go, “We did that, the three of us.” So yeah, it’s fucking hard, but it’s also just so rewarding. And I also have the best fans in the world who are willing to support me in any way that they can.

You’ve no doubt been asked this question plenty now, but what would you like to do next as an artist?

I want to do Christmas stuff! I was doing the ‘I wonder if you wonder’ live performances in November last year at a super churchy Christmassy venue that we were filming in and I was like, you know what, I’m just gonna write a Christmas song and record it. And I did. So we put it on YouTube and it was really beautiful and all the fans loved it and I said to them last year, “I will do this, and you will have it by Christmas 2022.” But obviously, this year has been quite full on and I set myself an impossible mission. So that’s not happened this year. But I really, really want to record that up properly and maybe do some sort of small Christmas EP, just because I can. So that would be nice. And I definitely want to do more live gigs because I got a taste for that in August and as expensive as that is, it was fucking fun and I love performing.

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Words: Jordan White