Songwriting can represent different things for different artists. It can be about catharsis, it can mean letting go, or it can be an escape. For 21-year-old, LA-born Gracie Abrams, it means everything. It's also been an evolution. At first song writing was purely a way of letting her emotions out, with songs built around teenage journal entries, and often recorded solo, in her bedroom, and released via demos on Instagram (now sitting on 355k followers) or Soundcloud. More recently, having found a group of collaborators she trusts, it's become about really honing the songs until they're simultaneously as specific and as universal as possible. “The details in my songs are super important to me,” she says. “The more I can color my songs with explicit detail the closer I feel to them.” It was there in the delicate piano balladry of her debut single proper, Mean It, a song that zooms in on the end of a relationship, or the equally plaintive, gossamer light I Miss You, I'm Sorry, which forms the emotional apex of hher debut project, Minor. Both showcase one side of Abrams' sound but are in no way the full picture, as reflected by the soft electro pulse of 21 (produced by Joel Little), or the guitar-lead, psych-tinged Friend. Ask her, for example, what genre her music fits into and she's flummoxed, in a good way. “My hope is that I get to the point where I've put out enough music that can exist in different boxes,” she smiles. "The freedom to exist and create without living within the confines of a specific genre matters a lot to me as a young person who’s constantly growing and changing. I think we’ve only more recently started seeing that happen generally, but specifically for female artists. The fact that expectations are shifting feels really exciting."
Abrams was raised in Los Angeles, in a house teeming with music. One of her early memories was driving to school listening to her parents' record collection, things like Joni Mitchell, Simon & Garfunkel and Elvis Costello. Later these influences would be joined by the likes of Bon Iver, Elliot Smith, Kate Bush, The 1975 and James Blake. “I swam in the angst of The 1975 and that's when music started to feel really personal,” she says. “Like it was mine and nobody else's.” The angst was there from an early age, however, with early rock drum lessons when she was just 8-years-old augmented by angry passages from her journals. “I always journaled growing up, and I still do every single day, and it's never not been something that felt like the centre of my life,” she explains. “When I was angry as a child I would take my journal and read it, like scream it over the drums, so that felt like me trying to make songs out of my diary entries. Obviously I soon worked out that that wasn't reallypossible for too long, so I ended up teaching myself guitar and I learned piano.”