What is your name?
Hello, I’m Grace Strickland de Souza. Also known as GracieSouz.
What is your genre of music?
I hate putting things in boxes but I’d say my music can be described as alternative, electro-pop. It’s definitely a cross-over of genres blending cinematic sounds with more industrial synthesizers whilst ultimately still being a pop record.
Give us a little bio about you.
I was born and raised in Sheffield and up until this point I’ve mainly been making music with my alt-pop band, KIN. I’ve been lucky enough to release three singles with them so far as well as record music at Abbey Road and Studio 13. I’m also a professional theatre maker and performer and am co- founder of my own theatre collective, Klein Blue. I use these multiple disciplines in all aspects of my music making and self-direct, film and edit all my music videos as well as make my own artwork. It’s nice to have creative freedom despite having to work around the limitations of self-funding my work.
What made you go into music?
I studied Drama at university but had always sung in choirs and attempted to make music in my bedroom as a kid. I’m hoping none of the songs I wrote at 14 years old re-emerge! Even when music took a backseat whilst I was a student, it was still very present but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago when I was approached by my now bandmate, Adam, that it became a professional reality for me. This solo project took fruition during lockdown last year and stemmed from anxieties I had at the time and also my impatient nature which was heightened by the fact I couldn’t see or work regularly with my bandmates. What started out as a few weeks of self-fulfilment and an attempt to finish songs half written years before, became a full-blown EP which I’m incredibly proud of.
Who are your influences?
I’ve definitely taken influence from cinematic film scores, epic choral pieces as well as electronic and pop artists. Artists such as Son Lux, Woodkid, Lauren Auder and Bjork who seamlessly blend their amazing vocals with an atmosphere and energy that hits you right in the chest.
Are you a signed? Not yet… I’m 100% independent, DIY, jack of all trades, do it myself, spend more time doing theadmin side than music.
Your new single ‘Brian Cox’ is set to release, tell us more about the single. It is indeed! Named after the legendary science professor, the single is the first from my debut soloEP, Better In Space. The name was actually a working title that I liked so much it stuck.
What is the meaning behind the single? I was completely inspired by the political and social realities at the time of writing in Summer 2020.The loneliness, fear and anger that was all encompassing and vivid dreams of escaping somewherenew. Space became a fantasy to me with it’s vastness and unknown adventure. It became arecurring motif throughout each song on the EP. In Brian Cox, I wanted to explore these feelingswhilst also maintaining a playfulness in the lyrics. It’s a sad song but there are also glimmers of hope,of allowing yourself to be limitless and as a dreamer you can find happiness and comfort anywhere,even if out of reality.
Who did you work with on the single? It feels pretty scary putting myself out there on my own for the first time and I knew I needed towork with someone who I trusted completely and who would elevate the songs to a level I couldonly imagine on my own. I was incredibly fortunate that my friend and talented electronic producer,Alexander Comana, agreed to work with me. His production on this record has been astounding. Thetracks are mixed and mastered by another good friend, Nicholas Alexander, who has produced songsfor my band in the past and is always amazing to work with.
Describe the track in two words. Ethereal and adventurous.
What was the writing and recording process like? The initial process was very quick, I think because I didn’t have the pressure of it being a plannedrecord. It started as a project for myself which, when it came together, I was happy with and thoughtneeded to be shared . I probably wrote and recorded the demos of the four tracks in about twoweeks in my bedroom. Once I had the concept it just made sense in my head and I found the lyricwriting pretty easy. The hard part was sitting on the tracks for a couple of months before I found thecourage to approach Alex to work on them with me. As a solo artist with a new project I had no wayof gauging if the tracks were any good before that point, not a single person had heard them andthat apprehension took a while to face. The rest of the process was done remotely and Alex becamea full collaborator and co-writer of the music. He would send drafts to me to comment on until wewere both happy and we had one in person session to re-record the vocals. Then they were sent over to Nick who mixed and mastered them remotely too. It is amazing that we have the capacity tomake music this way and aren’t limited because we can’t leave the house or can’t afford a full studioto record in.
We will also see a video for ‘Brian Cox’, what was the creative process like? The video was a lot of fun to make and I knew from the start I wanted it to be less narrative basedand more focused on being an exciting visual to translate the song in a different way. I start all videoconcepts with a moodboard and work my shot list from there. The whole thing was shot on my DSLRwith a tripod and a projector for lighting. It was mainly filmed in my bedroom out of necessity andthe whole budget was whatever the price of a few pots of glitter is on eBay! The beautifulillustrations in the video are by my sister, Ella de Souza. I’m fortunate that I’ve taught myself videoediting over the years and it has saved me a lot of time and money being able to make contentmyself. As an artist just starting out, you find that unless you do things yourself they won’t happen.Self-funding and being proactive in all aspects is a big part, not just the music making side.
Will we see an EP or Album and if so, what can we expect from it? You most definitely will. My full EP, Better In Space, will be out in Spring this year and it was createdas a cyclical, conceptual record with each track a separate chapter of the same book. It’s a magical,expanding journey with motifs of space and themes of isolation, imagination and being a youngwoman who is constantly questioning things around me. It’s definitely a very personal record butone that will hopefully be interesting sonically and resonate with a lot of people.
What else can we expect in Early 2021? After this single release there will be one more from the EP and then the full four tracks in Spring.I’ve also recorded two new singles with my band, KIN, which should be out early this year too. Thisyear is looking to be an exciting one for me!
Where do you see yourself now in 5 Years? I hope to still have an active creative mind and be able to share what’s in it with the happiness anddrive that I have now. I hope this government will have been voted out, lockdown will finally be overand live gigs, venues, festivals will be flourishing. I hope to be on the bill of some of them! Thatwould be nice!
What quote or saying do you always stick by?
I don’t really have a specific quote or saying I just try and live by the rule of being myself, beinghonest, having time for others and being a nice person. I think it should be that simple.
When you are at a gig, what are 5 things you cannot forget? The setlist.Instruments.That there is an audience in front of me.How to sing.The lyrics to my songs.