Piercing the hype for an honest conversation with the soulful newcomer...

It’s a late afternoon in mid-May when Grace Carter’s chirpy voice emerges on the crackling telephone line. As she recounts having been in the studio earlier that day with long-time collaborator Mike Kintish after a brief hiatus of sorts, she sounds scintillatingly self-assured for an artist many have come to know through her vulnerability and doleful songwriting. “People are always shocked at how happy I am,” she tells me. 

With her soulful, fervent even, vocals on pop-leaning piano-led production, Brighton-raised Grace is ushering in the new school of super emotive, raw songwriting, underpinned by her strong vibrato reminiscent of late-’90s, early-’00s songstresses like Lauryn Hill and Alicia Keys.

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There are more than a handful of interviews out there now that re-hash the very personal, very poignant narrative that permeates a lot of the music that Grace has released to date. Today she’s as open as ever in a way that is truly admirable and engaging.

Now 22, she describes how her musical career began after her step-father gave her a guitar and challenged her to write a song in a week as an outlet for the frustration and anger her 13-year-old self was then battling due to the heartbreak she was experiencing coming to terms with why her father had left her. Fast-forward a few years and curiously Grace tells of how she first managed herself as her musical career started to burgeon.

“At the beginning all it was to me was an outlet and I wanted to get things off my chest and that was my way of doing it,” she says. “I managed myself the first two years and signed my publishing deal just me and my lawyer and just wanted to learn everything about who I wanted to be as an artist.”

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Grace doesn’t hide much about herself it seems, and so it’s no surprise that her songs and her story have resonated with so many across the UK and elsewhere. “I think the people that gravitate to my music are people that are looking for a voice, looking for someone to sing their pain, sing their problems, sing their happiness - sing what they’re feeling,” she notes, “and I just want my debut album to be that for so many people. Just something they can listen to and feel that they’re not alone.”

Pressed on the journey she faced to complete her debut, Grace responds: “What’s so powerful about this album-making process, I’ve never really spoke about this before, but the two people I make all my music with, one is my boyfriend and one is his brother, and we do everything together, and for me that’s what makes it so easy for me to talk about my feelings. I will never forget the making of my first album because I made it with my two best friends.”

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With her latest single, ‘Don’t Hurt Like It Used To’, Grace takes us out of her comfort zone. Whilst the song is incredibly emotional, the accompanying visuals see Grace expressing herself through dance, troupe in tow.

“I always want to challenge myself and I always want to try something new, just for myself,” she says of the experience. “But dancing was never a natural thing for me. I’m really not that coordinated. I’m 5’ 10” and really tall and I don’t know how to use my limbs, so I was just like, ‘Fuck it, I want to give it a go!’”

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“I think for me and my music I tell stories and through my other videos I’ve really told stories and I’ve really opened up and shared a big part of my life, and this one I just wanted to get a group of girls together and dance together and feel empowered and feel lifted. It wasn’t as deep a video as all the rest of my videos are.”

Allowing herself some respite from emotional depths, Grace lightens the mood with a departing piece of advice, clueing me up on the key ingredient of her Sunday roasts: “Amazing roast potatoes,” she reveals. “Crispy roast potatoes make a good roast and I’ve got the right recipe, I’ve got it down. I mean I could tell you, but I’d have to kill you.”

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Words: Laura Arawolo

Photography: Charlie Cummings 

Fashion: Justin Hamilton

Hair: Issac Poleon

MUA: Giselle Ali

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