Credit: Grace Gillespie
Learn more about me
Credit: Grace Gillespie
Grace Gillespie is a London-based artist and producer originally from Devon, who spent much of 2017 touring as part of 4AD’s Pixx. Her early demo of ‘Restoration’ saw her tipped to Q Magazine by Newton Faulkner and brought her to the attention of Kaleidoscope, who are set to work with her to produce her first solo releases in 2018. Her sound takes influences from the folk, psych and dream-pop traditions, providing a backdrop to her intriguing vocal melodies, shifting harmonies and introspective lyricism.
"I grew up in Devon not far from the sea. Music was a big part of my life from very early on - I was lucky enough to attend a primary school where music was high on the agenda. I started studying piano very early, then sax and then drums for a year or so - but abandoned that pretty quickly.. too noisy for a tiny village.
My parents have always listened to a lot of music - Dad has a fairly glorious record collection. I think we still have my favourite tapes lying around somewhere. I loved Aretha and Elvis early on. We had a tape where Elvis started laughing half way through 'Are you Lonesome Tonight' - I loved it! I hope we still have it...
When I was a little older it became all about Dylan really, though I still never considered writing any songs, that didn't occur to be until a lot later. I also listened to a lot of Stones, Hendrix, Peter Green, Neil Young, Nick Drake, Al Greene, The Beach Boys... more Aretha... I still listen to all these artists very regularly. I flipped my first car listening to the Beach Boys, though it was neither their fault or mine!
I quit all music in secondary school. I guess there are a lot of other things to think about. I still fiddled about on the piano at home, but nothing serious. We had an ancient classical guitar that Mum bought for £20 off a neighbor that I started to try to play sometimes. Then my parents bought me a Crafter after my A-levels and I took that with me to Liverpool where I had a place to study English Lit.
It was then that I started seriously learning guitar, mainly fingerpicking, by learning early Dylan tunes and lots of Tallest Man on Earth. I wrote my first songs in the summer after my final year. Restoration and Everything (Nothing) were amongst these first tracks. I wasn't overly impressed with my degree, though I did get to read some interesting stuff and the nature of an English course leaves plenty of time for other things - so that was good.
I left Devon pretty swiftly after that to live in London where I started song-writing with a fierce intent. I have no idea why. I think once you start writing it breaks down all sorts of barriers and you see the great empty space of terrifying possibility that you have laid out for yourself. I was prolific from the beginning, I have over a hundred songs I believe, though I have forgotten how to play most. I think it was this realisation - that I was never going to be able to remember all of them - that drove me to learn how to record.
I was working at a bar in South London and so decided to study sound engineering at a school in Clapham. It was the first time I had been surrounded by other musical people and was definitely a big game-changer for me. I bought Logic, pestered my teachers to give me a quick overview of the recording/mixing process and started laying down some tracks. Obviously I had to endlessly revise the process and learn all the detail. I still know relatively little, but I am not a perfectionist and at the time I was overjoyed with my noisy, clunky little collection of demos.
At this point I also started gigging around London. I played open-mics and small shows in pubs or tiny venues. It was fun at first and I met a lot of people, but it became increasingly frustrating as I was unable to reproduce the sound and instrumentation I was recording. I kept at it anyhow, I think I knew, and I still know, that I have a lot of catching up to do.
I recorded my first EP Seventh Wave myself in the mix room at school. I didn't like having to run wires round to the live room and then having to dash between the two, so I just set up in there. It's an EP of demos really but it was helpful in grabbing a few people's attention. I recorded a couple of takes of each song and then chose my favourite. Not really production, per se, but a good starting point.
I carried on gigging and handing out my shabby EP for another year or so. I carried on recording and writing - a lot. I started incorporating electric guitar and keys – having finally remembered that piano is by far my most natural instrument.
I eventually got a 'proper' job in 2016 and decided that music was a fairly hopeless cause. I would carry on but in a much more part-time sense. Within a week of this I had been contacted by Kaleidoscope (who are now my management and label) and also from Hannah Rodgers AKA PIXX, who asked my to come and tour with her doing keys and BVs for a year or so. So I quit my new job to start rehearsing in preparation for a 7 week EU tour supporting Austra with PIXX.
That was 2017 - a busy year in all regards. Two EU tours, three UK Tours, countless UK and EU festivals, many many recording and mixing sessions, photoshoots, video-shoots... And now the preparation for the official release of my debut single 'Restoration' on March 2nd 2018."