Evie Kissack speaks to singer/songwriter Isaac Gracie following the announcement of his new music and supporting tour. 

 

The self-titled album, ‘isaac gracie’ released last month on 26 April, features 11 tracks and includes the artist’s recent singles ‘Terrified’ and ‘The Death of You & I’. Displaying a maturity and sensibility that seem to extend beyond the musicians 22 years, the tracks hold a completely poetic quality, with stirring lyrics and emotional meaning. 

How are you?

I’m…I’m here.


…Have you had a long day of interviews?

Yeah, little bit. 


[Laughter] Apart from that, how is your day going? 

It’s going okay…I haven’t eaten though, so…I think the tiredness is seeping into my bones. I definitely feel the shakes coming on. 


Oh bless you! I travelled to Birmingham from Leeds today for four hours on the train and didn’t eat but had four coffees so I’m shaking like a leaf. I think we need some toast or something?

Yeah, some carbohydrates man. We need some carbs. 


You’ll have to get lots of nice food after your interviews.

Well at the minute I’m trying to watch what I’m eating or whatever, I’m being unnecessarily stringent with myself. On account of you know, trying to look DASHING. 


[Laughter] I see!

My body definitely isn’t enjoying it much. 


It’s taking its toll? I feel like you deserve a nice treat at the end of this long day though?

Yeah – and I went for a run earlier. So I’m a mess. 


That’s pretty much the opposite of my lifestyle. 

Well it’s the opposite of mine too! I’m only doing it because I drink so much.


[Laughter] So your debut album, the self-titled ‘isaac gracie’, was released 13 April. How has working on the album been? 

It’s been a really enlightening experience. It’s taken a long time and has involved a lot of personal growth in many respects in the wake of difficulty and creative friction, or whatever. When you’re in the studio – I had never really been in the studio much before I started the process – you learn so much. To finally have it all wrapped up is a strange but pretty magical feeling. 


You announced alongside the release of your album that you’ll be going on another tour – you sold out your last UK tour, is that right? 

Yeah, it was super cool. In winter of last year we went on quite a big tour with like, 36 shows or something, in 40 days. That to me is the dream, I just love being busy and playing shows. If I could play shows all the time I would be happy. My happy place is on the road. The show selling out is such an awesome bonus. To get to that point is great, obviously they are still small shows, but it’s great, you know? I’ve been playing live now for three or four years, when I started off playing shows I would play open mic nights and that kind of thing. So just to be in a position where you rock up to a city you might never have been to before and there’s a whole room of people there to see you – it’s an amazing feeling. It’s why I do it, I guess, for that moment.


Yeah, I bet it’s a really humbling experience. You’re only 22 and have achieved so much – do you think you’ve changed as an artist over the past couple of years?

Yeah to be honest, I think I’ve probably become more neurotic and humble about everything. When I first started I was like, ‘I’m writing songs and playing music and nobody will care but I’m going to carry on because this is me and this is what I like’ and there was some sort of ego claim in it as well, because it was for myself. Whereas now, it doesn’t feel like there’s any ego in it or anything. It’s just like, the music, and the reason people come to the shows – the feeling when they turn up is because it’s theirs, the songs are theirs. I am there to sing the songs, which are hopefully now personal to them. And I can share this personal experience with them. So there is no hard exterior or façade that’s built up in that space it really is a communicative thing where we can share the songs. Also with the band now it’s a lovely thing because it gives me a platform to be able to project that to a broader space. I mean, my attention really, is quite unashamedly to hopefully move people or for people to feel moved. I like to move myself, you know? So I think with the larger sound because of the band…it really helps with that. 


You’ve spoken about your songs being a reflection of particular periods of your life. It must feel great when people take what you’re writing about and apply it to their own experiences?

Well that’s the thing, my intention is that anyone listening to the songs is able to extract emotional poignancy from them and attach that to their own lives. Not even necessarily in a conscious way but if they find sustaining and supportive of their own personal struggles or whatever its great because not all of my songs are about heartache and suffering. I like to also try and lift people up a bit some of the stuff on the record is buoyant and is intended to be so, and I think the live shows encapsulate both of these sides – they capture the emotional weight and struggle but also a sense of reclamation of your own emotions and life. The songs encourage people to be proud of that. 


So this new album should translate really well into the live shows?

Yeah it makes them [the live shows] a whole lot of fun as well. For me the intention was always, even before I got into music professionally, that I always wanted to play with a band. I want to make noise! I don’t want it to be this ‘art exhibition thing’ where you can look at a painting but you cant touch it. I wanted it to be a thing where people still feel that they can move their feet or feel charged in a way that makes the whole experience so tangible. 


Do you find writing songs is a cathartic process for you?

I mean it definitely used to be, because I used to channel a lot of what I was feeling through the music. Whatever came out was some sort of physical representation of that feeling, but truth be told, in years as of late it’s definitely changed. Being in touch with your emotions or be able to have pride in your emotions is a state that…well you cant always expect to be in that space.

With the last few years having had the responsibility of making this record and the responsibility of learning so much - so many new things in the process – it’s like when you start a new job and there’s so much to learn and there’s always friction in the way of learning it. This definitely overwhelmed my connection between my emotions and the song writing process in a way. I mean, I hope it that state will come back, it’s just that I don’t live permanently in that state now and sometimes I’m in touch with it and other times not. 


Yeah as a writer you do sometimes lose that momentum too.

Yeah you lose the buzz man.


[Laughter] Definitely. I’ve heard you’re a huge fan of Jeff Buckley – would you say he’s your main musical inspiration?

Yeah in many respects he is – as far as inspiration is concerned. You take things unconsciously at times. He came into my life at an important time with his electric guitar - I didn’t start playing electric guitar until I was 19 and a large part of that was in relation to Jeff Buckley. Sometimes I think about where my music might have gone…definitely that was a huge inspiration and a large part of why I’m doing what I’m doing now. There’s also Radiohead and Leonard Cohen – and also choir music that I sung when I was younger; that’s really important to me. Underneath everything the choir music serves as a huge inspiration for my melodies and how I sing or whatever. It has definitely informed that. 


It’s interesting to hear how different genres have informed your sound. You have a great taste in music!

[Laughter] Thank you!

 

Download Isaac's debut album here. 

For more information, visit the official Isaac Gracie website. 

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