Los Angeles born and raised, the singer-songwriter Gracie Abrams is unafraid to get in her feelings. Her first full-length album This is what it feels like proves exactly that, as she graces us with raw and intimate lyricism born out of her highly protected journal, touching on subjects that span from coming to terms with the turbulence of leaving adolescence and entering adulthood, complicated love and even more complex self-reflections of her own personal mental health.
Today we talk to her about her collaboration with Pandora for their latest Pandora ME collection, in which she knows what it means to be authentic, carving out a name and identity of her own. We also talk to her about hew upcoming album release, a deeply intimate letter of her own internal struggles bound to pull at our heart strings.
Hi Gracie. How have you been spending your time post touring in Europe and summer festival performances? Have you had any time to decompress?
I have, but that comes in the form of writing more. So I've been writing a tonne and finishing up my album. And really just spending as much time with with my brothers and my parents as I can because I've missed them all year.
This past year, we've seen you join Olivia Rodrigo on her American Sour tour. What was that experience like?
I was so lucky just to be able to be on the road with such a good friend and to watch someone as epic as she is perform every night. It felt like a masterclass in captivating your audience. She's just as much of an angel as you would hope she'd be. She's just the greatest.
I know that you’ve dabbled in music from a young age, learning the drums at 8 or uploading a Phoebe Bridgers cover to Soundcloud at 13, and your first official release was in 2019 with the single Mean It. Since, we have seen multiple single releases, including the latest Block me out, and the release of your first full-length album, This Is What It Feels Like. How would you describe your musical trajectory?
It just evolved with me because I write about my personal experiences. It's funny to look back on songs, even from 6 months ago, and reflect on them, feeling like I'm in a very different place just because – I'm very young and I’m aware of that now. I used to think that I know more than I do. I think being on tour all year, and having so much exposure to the world in a different kind of way, has been very eye opening and helpful for me to step outside of my little bubble that I grew up in. In terms of the way that that manifests sonically and lyrically, I think I'm definitely seeing a shift right now, just in terms of instinctually what I what I lean into with my music. It’s really refreshing for me to feel less stagnant than I used to across the board. I think thematically but also in terms of production and the people that I'm working with, in trusting in the process. It’s been the joy of my life, being able to make the music that I've been making this year, so I'm just excited for it to be out in the world.
Speaking of writing music, you’ve previously described yourself as a “psychotic journaler.” Is journaling a big part of your songwriting process?
It’s a huge part of my ability to process anything ever. It's what I've relied on most heavily since I was such a small child, in terms of dealing with experiences and working through emotions and just figuring everything out. It's where I feel safest and it helps me get some clarity. So in terms of the way it falls into the songwriting process, I think it's often the first step for me, having journaled at all. I bring my journal with me everywhere. I have it on me right now actually. I take it to every session that I have. I fall asleep with it next to my bed. It’s my number one priority often, knowing exactly where my journal physically is. 
It does not leave your sight.
It’s a big part of my life, for sure.
Your latest single, Block me out, feels like an honest, innermost self-reflective letter written to yourself, which seems to contrast your usual creative output, typically addressing a supposed lover or ex-lover or even friend. What made you venture in this new direction? And is this something we can expect to see more from you?
There’s definitely more of that at the minute. It came from a place of struggling internally, dealing with parts of myself that I had not been interested in dealing with before, confronting lots of aspects of my life and my brain that freaked me out for years. It was deeply therapeutic. Making the music that I've been making this whole year, I feel like I have never had a more cathartic experience, in my life ever. A lot of that has to do with collaborators. Aaron Dessner, who is one of the closest people in my life now, who I trust wholeheartedly and who creates environments for artists to completely be themselves and feel safe delving into these tougher subjects.
A lot of the album feels like there are sister songs to Block me out, that maybe sometimes get more explicit than Block me out does. It’s definitely a recurring theme on the album, more introspective, less myself in relationship to other people. Both exist, but it was really helpful for me, selfishly, having the ability to write write these songs, because I personally needed it.
It's great that you've managed to find an environment that encourages that because, for many artists alike, their work is inspired by their own personal lives and experiences. And often art is used as a medium to make sense of the world that surrounds them. I think that rings very true to your artistry, as you've garnered millions of fans who admire and are able to relate to those deeply intimate and vulnerable songs that you make. How do you balance such a personal approach with a very public venture?
I like being transparent. This past year, I've been lucky enough to have more exposure and meet new people along the way. I have also wanted to be quieter in general. This is recent, as of the past, I would say, 4 or 5 months. I've definitely felt quieter internally in a really nice way. I don't think that it's a conscious decision because of the public aspect of my life, it's definitely subconsciously because of that.
But I also do feel so personally connected to the people who listen to my music. I feel like I know them as well as they know me. I have been lucky enough to build this really deeply important relationship, at least to me, over the past few years on social media, and then in person at my shows. I like being straight up with with those people. I like treating the relationship I have with them very similarly to the relationships that I have with my friends in my personal life. I don't feel afraid or embarrassed to be honest about the way that I feel. I think if I let myself shy away from being honest then my music would be far less personal. I would not be able to care about it half as much as I do. I also think they know me well enough that they would probably be able to tell if I was if I was lying about anything. I just feel grateful to them for creating a space that allows me to be myself. And I hope they feel that way with me too.
Speaking of being so open, you’re also very unafraid to be vocal about recent political injustices, taking to your Instagram to state “this is the time for unity, rage, urgency, strength and stamina. Because they’re not just coming for abortion. They’re coming for contraception. They’re coming for gay marriage,” regarding the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn of Roe v. Wade. Do you feel, considering your sizeable platform, you have a duty to speak up on these very issues?
One hundred per cent across the board. There's no excuse to not care and to not be awake to what's going on right now truly everywhere. I have gotten super explicit on my social media before about all of this. Recently, Jennifer Lawrence in her Vogue cover interview, excuse my language, she said “I can't fuck with people who aren't political,” and I completely stand behind that. There's no time anymore to not care. I think especially with Roe being overturned, I just kept thinking of all of the young women at all of my shows, just seeing their faces, it's just impossible to not be horrified and crushed and furious. It's a requirement, I would feel so deeply irresponsible if I said nothing.
It's so admirable because, when I was scrolling through the comments of those posts, I actually saw a lot of negativity. People who are just like, “you're just a singer, you don't have to talk about this stuff,” which I disagree. Do those hate comments faze you in any way?
Never, no, not for a second. If anything, you have to anticipate it. It’s like trolls on the internet over any other bullshit post. People love to try to get reactions out of anyone ever. There's just such a deep degree of misinformation, especially around Roe v. Wade being overturned. All I want to do using my platform is highlight the outrage, highlight the misinformation, and raise the voices of the activists, the healthcare workers who have been on the frontlines for so many years about this specific subject, amplifying their voices because those are the experts. I think that with social media, it is often a black hole of misinformation and especially politically in our time in the United States. There is a culture of misinformation that is generally accepted, especially by young people who don't have the interest to dig deeper for what's real and true. I just think we need to all really shake ourselves by the shoulders because there's no time anymore to be passive towards any of this.
You've recently collaborated with the jewelleryretailer Pandora to be one of the faces of their Pandora ME collection which encourages its wearers to be the truest version of themselves and celebrates being ‘different.' Can you tell us a little bit more about this project?
To be a part of this collective is to be a part of a collection that is reflective of our generation. I feel super honoured to stand beside Barbie Ferreira, Evan Mock and Ella Mai in this campaign, all of whom I admire and have for such a long time. It's the self-expression aspect of jewellery that reminds me of the way that I feel towards writing or getting dressed in the morning. It’s a version of expressing myself, so I feel super honoured to be to be involved here.
What is your favourite piece of the collection?
I personally love the dangle earring. I love that one so much. I actually have it on right now.
Both your songs and the new Pandora Me collection have a very raw and authentic quality to them. What does authenticity mean to you?
I think right now, in a time in my life where I feel like I'm constantly reevaluating myself and my habits and everything around me, it's to recognise how we're ever-evolving. To be authentically me, I'm trying to hold everything very lightly and take everything as it comes and goes day by day. To tie in Pandora Me here, what's so cool about this collection is that you can manipulate the pieces to be different all the time. It's a really nice way to stay ever-evolving. It also just feels kind of classic. I feel very comfortable in this zone, for sure.
Speaking of collaborators, some of your musical inspirations spanned from the 1975 to Tyler the Creator without forgetting, of course, Phoebe Bridgers. What is one artist you would love to collaborate with?
Tame Impala.
Just over a month ago, you took the stage at Lollapalooza in Chicago performing for the very first time and unreleased song part of your upcoming album. What can you tell us about this new album?
I've never felt more myself making music in my life than I have making this album. I think Aaron and I really created its own world. It's daunting and exciting thinking about anyone else having access to it, because we've kept it so isolated this entire year. I truly can count on one hand the number of people I've played even one of the songs on the album for. This album is just so directly like the inside of both of our brains. It feels unexpected for me sometimes listening to it. I just hope that it resonates with everyone else, but I confidently believe that it will because of how much it means to me. Again, touching on my relationship with the people that are kind enough to listen to my music, we know each other so well, part of me thinks that if I love this music as much as I do, which I really really do, that they'll find something in it also. I hope that that's true in the end. It's definitely the most important music I've ever made by a landslide.
Is it ever scary going that personal into your music?
But you know your fans have got your back.
I’m not worried about that part so much. It's interesting to write so candidly about what's actually happening in my life. Forget the people that don't know me, I think more specifically about the people that do know me super well and personally and that have more context about my personal relationships, my relationship to myself. I do think that there are songs that provide the context here. I'm maybe a little bit nervous just because of listening to the album top to finish, which I really hope people do and I know that we operate in a very single-oriented world right now in the music industry. But this album, we made specifically to be an album entirely. I want people to have that full experience. I'm a little nervous for people to know me to that extent. But also I stand behind every single song so entirely and I'm just so proud to have had the opportunity to make this album.
From sold out tours to teaming with industry giants, such as Aaron Dessner, you have already found so much success in your musical career. What are some of your goals you'd like to achieve in the future?
I have some dream venues in mind that I've always, having grown up in Los Angeles, dreamed of playing. Above all else, honestly, having just come off the back of finishing this album, my personal goal is to leave the process of finishing every album that I make for the rest of my career feeling this right about having written the songs that I did. This feeling is so fulfilling, before the album goes out into the world, it’s something that I want to never forget. It’s the most rewarding part of all of this. It’s why I've loved writing my entire life, it is the part that really makes me feel more sane. I feel like I know myself better now because of the fact that I got to make this album. To be lucky enough to work right now in an industry that can feel really loud and overwhelming and scary for someone who leans heavily introverted, I feel so grateful. My goal for the rest of my life is to leave every album feeling this strong about the music and ultimately about myself as a writer.
Just out of curiosity, what venues in LA would you want to play?
I've always wanted to play the Hollywood Bowl, it’s a dream. And I love the Greek. The Fonda, growing up, was my favourite venue and so to play there someday would be a dream come true.
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