FOCUS "YOUR OWN WORDS" Interview to Grace McLean
Acclaimed singer Grace McLean releases title track “My Lovely Enemy” from forthcoming album.
Grace McLean is an actor-singer-writer and an accomplished performer (recently on Broadway in Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Bad Cinderella). She releases title track 'My lovely Enemy' from forthcoming album.
Hi Grace. Welcome to AFX. What are a few words that would best describe your musical world?
I write music when I need to do something with my tears and/or to make myself laugh. I love using my voice as an instrument and finding ways to explore narrative using the edges, limitations, boundaries of my looping station.
What would you say is your greatest strength as a singer/performer?
I also work as an actor primarily in theater, and I think this has taught me a lot about storytelling and audience engagement. I value the power of seducing an audience, getting them to trust you, and then giving them something unexpected.
How did you first start producing the style of music that you are releasing today?
I've had a long and fruitful relationship with my bassist and producer Justin Goldner who has been a great collaborator for many years. I love the work he has done arranging the songs on my upcoming album.
Do any of your songs based on personal experiences? If so, can you tell us about one that’s particularly special to you?Always! I have a series of songs that are the verbatim text of old journal entries of mine and they are always crowd pleasers, even as they're totally embarrassing for me. There's something about revealing such intimate earnest stuff in the container of a song that allows people to recognize and laugh at (with!) themselves.
What's the best advice you've ever received about pursuing a career in music?
Share your music and get feedback from people you trust and people you admire, hone your craft, and write what's true for you.
Do you have any interesting stories from being on stage as a performer that you can share with us?
I was on tour with the US State Department in Pakistan and was a little bit concerned about the content of some my songs (they're sometimes...suggestive) and so I was being super mindful about that and changing maybe a word or two here and there. And then at one gig which was like a private party, these people had done a deep dive on me before I got there and were REQUESTING songs from my Harry Potter repertoire (I have a Harry Potter fan band called Lily and James, we're silly and great), specifically a song called Snape Seeker which is super sexually explicit and I was gobsmacked. Of course we played it.
What are your plans for the coming months?
I've released two singles and a music video from my forthcoming album and will be releasing another single later this year before the album drops next May. This is my first full length album and I'm super excited to share it!
“This song is inspired by a poem of 12th-Century mystic Hildegard von Bingen, about Saint Ursula’s martyrdom,” explains McLean. “In it, Hildegard expresses gratitude to Ursula’s killers because their destructive violence gives Ursula her deepest desire which is to be united with the Divine, something she could only achieve in death. It made me see the scene of martyrdom as a marriage ceremony, and I recognized that in adjusting the frame from mourning to celebration I could imagine the joy in relenting to and accepting sacrifice or loss.”
Catch 'My Lovely Enemy' on Spotify and AFX Radio:
On Rotation: 'My Lovely Enemy'