grace ives made a major impression with her fervent and undeniably fun debut album of synth-injected dance pop ‘2nd.’ released via dots per inch music earlier this year, the collection of tracks are decidedly intimate yet anthemic, danceable yet evocative. the rising songwriter and producer will support pixx in zone one at elsewhere on 4/27
Was there a specific event in your life that gave you the sense of newfound clarity and freedom you sing about on “Mirror”? If so, what can you tell us about it?
I wrote “Mirror” during a really hard week. My cat at the time (Proto) was really sick with FIP. He was so young and sweet and I was spending so much of my time crying over his sickness, so mad that I couldn’t fix him. When I wrote Mirror, I was watching him sleep in the window, and I could feel myself swinging between sadness and this sort of freeing feeling that life was out of my control. When I read the lyrics of Mirror, I laugh because I can kind of see myself going through the stages of grief in my writing.
We noticed you like to challenge conventions when it comes to song length; most of the tracks on your new album clock in at about 2 minutes, and the songs on your “RINGTONES!!” project are even shorter. Why do you tend to favor concise songs?
The ringtone project was a test I gave myself to see if I could convert some song ideas I had into 45 second ringtones. I personally don’t love when pop songs are 4 minutes long. Maybe it’s because I can’t sit still and do one thing for that long. For me, a 5 minute pop song can be kind of exhausting to listen to. I think my songs are so short because I get really overwhelmed easily when it comes to hearing the same sounds over and over. Usually when I’m writing a song, after about an hour of writing and hearing what I’m working on played back repeatedly I just have to walk away. I also never want to write a bridge just for the sake of making the song longer. I just want to write a song that people will want to listen to more than once.
How did you first develop an interest in producing? Do you also enjoy producing for other artists?
I love doing everything myself. I think it’s a fun challenge for one person to be responsible for every sound / part in a song. I’m pretty generous and good at sharing usually, but when it comes to music I’ve never wanted anyone else to touch what I’m working on. I haven’t done much work producing for other musicians. I’ve helped friends with scoring videos, which I LOVE to do. I often have song ideas that I think would be better suited for other artists, but I’ve yet to actually collaborate with other musicians.
What does your songwriting process look like and how has it evolved since you began releasing music in 2016?
My song writing process usually starts with a melody idea that comes to me out of nowhere. I record the melody idea on my phone and then later go back to it on my little Casio to try and work out a song structure. Then I go to the 505 to try and make a beat for the song idea, and I work from there. This is kind of the only way I know how work other than just sitting down at my 505 and writing something completely from scratch. I think I’ll always work this way as long as melodies continue to pop into my head.
You’ve played an impressive amount of shows over the years. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned on the road?
I went on a crazy long road trip / tour across America with my friend and fellow Dots Per Inch musician, Jack Whitescarver. We didn’t play many shows, but learned so many lessons. I learned it’s important to make friends with the sound person, but I also learned how to be prepared to do my own sound when the show you’re playing just provides an amp and a mic. I think the most important thing I learned after playing so many shows was to not stress about it. After you play even just two shows back to back you realize that it’s really not a big deal and it’s 100 times more fun when you’re not thinking about how you’re going to be perceived by an audience. I also learned that the best tacos in America are in LA, and that Appleton, Wisconsin knows how to have a good time.
What’s next for you? Can we expect to hear new music soon?
Yes, lots more music to come. It feels like everything kind of takes forever in the music world. There’s a big delay between writing a song and putting it out for people to listen to. I’m always coming up with ideas for songs, now I just have to sit down and get them all out of me. I’ll definitely have new music in the fall, and will be playing lots of shows until then. Maybe I’ll go on tour in the fall. Who knows!
Interview by Charlotte Freitag