R.W Grace has continued to be one of Australia’s most interesting performers and in 2015, her profile has only continued to reach more people. I first saw her perform a few years ago supporting Matt Corby, back then she was performing as Grace Woodroofe. Immediately struck by her stage presence, a deep and intense vocal quality and some intricate lyricism, I was surprised I hadn’t heard much about her prior.
The last year or so has seen the artist undergo some creative changes; from Grace Woodroofe, she renamed her artistic moniker Grace and in 2015, we’ve seen her re-emerge as R.W. Grace. Regardless of the name, what has remained the same is this innate desire to be creating captivating and interesting music that has stayed true to her own personal and musical influences and creative drive.
Considering the amount of time that has passed in between that first show I saw and now, being able to finally land some of R.W. Grace’s time was an opportunity I wasn’t taking for granted. November saw Grace link back up with Corby for his short run of shows around the country and following our chat, she and her band were hopping on a plane to follow him to the UK to accompany him on his tour there.
Grace sounds almost breathless as she talks me through this recent tour with Corby but it’s obvious that it’s come from a place of excitement and enthusiasm. Focusing in on the development of her music this year though, particularly with the release of her Love It Need It Miss It Want It EP, the tone changes and you can tell that this is a woman who’s not only excited but also incredibly confident and assertive when it comes to how her creative output is represented.
“I have a very, very strong vision of how I want everything to be,” she says. “[The] sound, look, [to being] very in control of videos and artwork, to represent the music visually as well. It’s been a crazy time. I’m so happy to finally get this EP out.”
The first thing you’ll notice about her new material in particular is the striking visuals that are married to the music. Balancing a strong focus on the music as well as music videos, cover art and even press photography might allow for either to dip in quality but as far as we’ve seen with R.W. Grace, she’s managed to keep a good handle on both.
“Visuals, artwork, poetry are such huge inspiration to me,” Grace says. “When I’m sort of researching stuff and looking into stuff, it revives me. When I first starting thinking about visual directions, I wanted everything to be cohesive; I needed very much to be in control of it and luckily, everyone I worked with agreed with that and were happy to let me run the ship in that respect. It’s really great and it just feels so me. Everything that I’ve worked towards in the last few years and all the art that I’ve studied, I just feel like it’s finally getting its chance to breathe. I think the visuals are so, so important and the music as well, so I love doing that stuff.”
As a live performer, R.W. Grace has continued to flourish. There’s a crisp nature to the delivery of her lyrics but in recent single releases, there’s a notable sense of maturity that’s come through and, as a fan, it’s wonderful to see. She’s not bowed to any popular trend of the minute and regardless of how her musical journey has taken turns over the past few years, that determination has stayed the same. She admits to having grown up and having had her experiences effect the way new music has come together as she talks me through making this new EP.
“I kind of just threw myself into it in the beginning.” she remembers. “I worked with a lot of people, probably ended up writing 20 songs or maybe 30… by that point, I felt that my song writing was its strongest and I had a really clear vision, sonically, of what I wanted it to sound like. I had a backlog of journals, [and I was] drawing from them. I had different themes that I wanted to explore, what I wrote about and then I pulled together work from all my journals and put the pieces together. I had a lot inside of me that was ready to come out and I think it [was] very much a timing thing.”
“The essence of everything is still me no matter what the name is, the style is,” she says. “It’s still the same heart and brain writing those lyrics, so it’s just me growing basically; being older and a lot more experienced. I really feel like I’m ready now for whatever.”
Now she’s been building up a considerable presence for herself on the live stage through this year, Grace comments on how she’s been able to write on the road or even consider taking new ideas down when she’s in the live performing headspace. On how she’s become more comfortable in bringing some pretty personal moments of lyricism to rooms full of strangers at each show, Grace cites some interesting influences who she’s taken some tips from.
“I think that it’s a really important element [honesty] in the songwriters that I love. When I was listening to Elliot Smith and DMA’s in the last couple of years, that’s what really hit me; seeing someone sing so honestly, even to the point of feeling uncomfortable. I thought, ‘That’s what I need to do,’ because so much of my singing is an emotional connection to the lyrics. I feel like that’s almost how I learnt to sing, listening to people sing emotional themes. So it really influenced the way that I sing.”
“I’m trying that,” Grace says of writing while on the road. “I’m really focused on preparing for the shows and exploring new cities. I find that I write better when I’m completely by myself, maybe [for] a few days. I don’t talk to anyone because all these thoughts start forming in my brain and I start naturally deciding to write them down. It’s a lot to do with space for me, actually.”
R.W. Grace’s new EP Love It Need It Miss It Want It is out now!