Grace Carter is remarkably in touch with her emotions for a 20-year-old, and she is no stranger to strife. Luckily for her and us, she has learned to channel that deluge of emotion into music. This is evident in her latest single “Silhouette,” where Carter demonstrates not only her musical maturity but also her ability to interweave intricate metaphors into her work. Fresh off a tour with Dua Lipa and Dermot Kennedy, Carter is symbolic of a new generation of young artists. She’s not just singing about partying — Carter is going to make you feel something.
Hey Grace! So you were only 15 when you converted your bedroom into a studio. Have you always wanted to be a musician?
Yes I have. Well, not always. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a hairdresser because I had an older friend who I really looked up to, and she was one. But when I was 13, my stepdad got me a guitar and encouraged me to write my first song. I was a very angry child; I was just really frustrated, and I had never found an outlet for it. When I wrote my first song I chilled out. I grew up with a single mom, so I was very confused as a kid. I just couldn’t understand why I was in the situation I was in. The guitar was an olive branch for my stepdad because I had never really had a male in my life, and he’s a musician. That’s how we got really close, and it helped me grow a person.
What was your mom’s reaction like to your music?
She just wanted to encourage it. She saw the turn around in the way I acted when I started writing, so she just encouraged me and is super, super proud. She just sits on the sidelines clapping for me. I think she sees a lot of herself in me.
Is she a musician too?
No, she might wish she was! We were in the church choir together when I was a kid, but she could never really sing.
Where do you get your inspiration for your songs from?
Every song I’ve written is about something that has happened in my life. It’s usually a sad emotion for me, but it’s a lot about my childhood because that’s how I process it and get it all out. That’s why I feel certain that as a 20 year old, a lot of my childhood still really defines who I am. I wouldn’t be the person I am if i hadn’t experienced what I did, so all my songs are really just about my life.
You just were on tour with Dua Lipa & then again with Dermot Kennedy — how was that?
It was amazing. They’re both lovely people and being on the road with them was great. I had never really had the opportunity to sing my songs in front of people before. On Spotify and Youtube you can see the numbers of people listening to your songs, but it’s nothing like seeing people’s reactions.
What were the reactions?
They blew my mind. I wasn’t expecting it. I sang my new song “Silhouette” every night, and every time without me even asking, people would put their phone torches up and even cry.
“They’re definitely stories about my life and stories that have come from an important place in my heart; hopefully people will connect with it and see some of themselves in it.”
What is your relationship with Dua like?
She’s super cool and really inspirational. She works so hard; I hope I can work as hard as she does. You can see that people really relate to her, and it’s because of how hard she works.
Who would your dream collab be?
Alicia Keys. She was the first person that I connected to. I felt something listening to her music that I hadn’t before. She’s just so cool. If I was ever given that opportunity, I would take it in a heartbeat. And she’s had a career, too. She’s been around for a long time, and that’s what I really aspire to have — people still talking about me and listening to me in 20 years.
Yeah, like Drake is #1 on the charts right now, and he’s 32 but been around for ages.
Exactly! I was just recording in Toronto, and seriously they play him non stop there. There’s never a break; it’s just all Drake. I hope where I’m from feels like that about me one day.
In your video for “Silence,” you channel an incredible amount of emotion. How are you able to be so vulnerable in front of a camera?
I don’t even know because I wasn’t meant to cry in that video, but something just happened that day that made me upset. I hated it to start, and I was like, “Can you stop filming me?” Luckily I’m really close with the director, and she was like, “No, just embrace it.” I’ve learned there’s a ton of strength in vulnerability, and people need to see that side of me. I’m 20 years old, and I’m not just singing songs about being in the club, you know? I’m actually a really emotional person, and I’m not always smiling. It was definitely difficult, but I had two of my best friends on the shoot, too. It was draining day, but I’m glad I did it.
You got to work with Mike Dean on the “Ashes” video, who’s also worked with Beyonce and Kanye. What’s it like to work with someone like that?
It was kind of mad to be honest. I’m a huge fan of all of those Kanye albums, so it was such an honor. I couldn’t even believe it. Even just watching him work on my songs and knowing he’s done that on my biggest idols’ songs too was an honor.
What is the story behind your latest song “Silhouette?”
It’s a song I wrote about jealousy. It was this moment where I realized that the person I care about the most in my life didn’t look at me in the same way that I look at them. It was a rude awakening. I used the metaphor of a cigarette because that person smokes, but also because cigarettes aren’t really important in the grand scheme of things. And I was like, “How is that thing more important than I am?” It was just the best way to explain the feeling, and I’m really happy that I wrote it. I’m excited to share it with people.
Your EP is set to come out this Spring — what should fans expect from that release?
A lot of piano and emotional songs, but also some tempo! They’re not all sad and slow. They’re definitely stories about my life and stories that have come from an important place in my heart; hopefully people will connect with it and see some of themselves in it, too.