On January 23, our Program Director, Kenny DuMez, got the chance to sit down for a quick chat with Gracie and Rachel after opening for songwriter Julien Baker at Breklee’s Red Room in Boston. Gracie and Rachel have cemented themselves into a unique area within pop music by combining orchestral elements with traditional pop songwriting. Originally from California, the duo have made home in NYC and embarked on a North American tour in anticipation of their debut album, which is set for release in coming months. Here’s what transpired…
You occupy such a unique space in the music world. “Orchestral Pop”, Did you both start off solo and then merge together? How did that come about?
Gracie: I’d say we were both musicians doing sight-reading and doing our own classical pursuits and then we kind of started to explore different ideas with each other. I think we always joked that she (Rachel) gives me structure as sort of a classical violinist and I try to give her a little more freedom as a pop singer. I think that fusion is where we’re based.
Being originally from California how did moving to New York influence your sound? What was the driving force behind the move?
Rachel: I think it was always our plan to move to a city together. We studied in our conservatories, our respective schools…
Gracie: I went to Berklee.
Rachel: I went to the Jacobs School of Music in Indiana.
Rachel: We toyed with different cities. We wouldn’t want to go back to California. I think we really wanted to get out of our comfort zone and explore new terrain, kind of put ourselves in an uncomfortable position to force ourselves to expand our horizons. I think translates into your music so it gave us a little bit of a bolder sound and put ourselves out there on the edge. New York definitely brings out the depth of your despairs.
Gracie: I think the song “Uncomfortable” was when we did not really know where we were going to move. We were living at home for a second after we graduated. It was way too comfortable being at home eating our parent’s food. So we thought, “Let’s get out of here even if it’s going to suck and we’re going to be broke let’s just do it and hope we make better music.”
Rachel: and write our own story.
So you guys recently did an in studio session with Audiotree in Chicago, and you also did one in 2015 at WNYC for Soundcheck…
Gracie: Yeah, You’re good! *laughs*
What is different about doing those in studio sessions rather than recording by yourself or even just playing a live show?
Gracie: Well, you have a million people staring at you. So that’s kind of interesting, I think recording is such an intimate private process, at least for me. I need to get into like a headspace where I’m in the zone and if too many people are there I’ll get really out of it. However, I think it kind of channeled us. At Audiotree it was such an attentive crew of people. We each had a few cameras on us. It really felt like a support system, opposed to feeling too much pressure. They put mics on everything, have someone to mix it all so it sounds really great.
Rachel: It’s like a conversation you know? Compared to recording or performing, it’s just . “i don’t know. I’m having an in studio session you’re there not only to talk about your music, but to talk and…
Gracie: connect with the environment.
Rachel: Yeah, connect with the environment. As for the difference between WNYC and Audiotree? I think it was a younger crowd in general at Audiotree.
Right, maybe because of the NPR connection…
Gracie: Yeah because of the NPR thing, but they’re both are smooth running machines. It’s amazing how attentive everyone is. It was just really amazing to play grand pianos at both of them. That’s my love.
You went to Schubas Tavern too?
Gracie: Yeah, Schuba’s is great!
Rachel: We love Schubas.
* EDITOR’s NOTES * – Schubas Tavern is a legendary music venue located in Chicago, IL and famous for it’s intimacy. Interviewer, Kenny DuMez, is from Chicago and his obsession with his hometown results in him talking about Chicago in any given situation. Typical Chi-town Doucher…
You are putting out an album very soon, is there a release date?
Gracie: It’s not announced right now, yeah our managers are really…
Gracie: Yeah, we’re not allowed to say. laughs
Got it, but it’s finished?
Gracie: It’s all done and has been done for a while. We really want to release it, but it’s a process. You know finding the right timing and partners to do so.
Rachel: Yeah, we’re really excited to release it.
So, what’s next after the album release?
Gracie: Just playing as many shows as we can, then writing and recording but mostly just seeing where the album takes us.
Last question. So as an up and coming band trying to get your name out…How has streaming, social media and all of this online presence affected you guys?
Gracie: It can be really detrimental to your psyche. Artists get obsessed with numbers as opposed to the content and what’s being done. So if you can kind of ignore that and make the most of the awesome things.
Rachel: Not losing sight of promoting others as well as promoting yourself or promoting causes that are bigger than yourself, and funneling that through own promotions. It’s just so hard, especially when you have voices like “remember to talk about yourself today, remember to tweet about you.” We’re still really bad at social media…So any tips ya know, just shoot it our way!
Interview by Kenny DuMez // Photos by Adam Kenny