We may not want to accept the nearing proximity of fall, but Gracie is already greeting the shadowed season of change.
After Fat Creeps called it quits last year, Gracie, the moniker for Massachusetts native Gracie Jackson, is finally pursuing solo work. Their lo-fi grunge is out the window. Now, she’s focused on brooding, lethargic, smoky alt-rock somewhere between the hopeful sighs of Karen O and the troubled thoughts of Elliott Smith, most recognizable through her off-kilter guitar. “It was never intentional; I just like to play with weird tunings,” she laughs. “I used to bring two or three guitars onstage, but that was such a hassle. I’m trying to simplify things while still using various de-tunings.” The tuning on ‘Jesse’, one of the first songs she ever wrote, lends this dark vibe. “It set the mood for the record as a whole.”
The majority of the record’s songs were written during her time at Salem State. After growing up listening to Ravi Shankar records from her parents’ collection, classic country singers, and then tides of Sonic Youth in college, Gracie tried to mimic the hollow drone sound of Indian music and detached address of the others in her own songwriting.
“I can express myself easier with guitar, and singing came with that,” she says. “My band in high school needed a singer so we got all these singers but everyone was so bad. I figured I would step up and sing. I guess I just learned how to sing in a band through that.”
That rush of confidence found its true voice after Fat Creeps ended. “I’ve recorded with or played with so many bands, but my work has always been on the side,” she says. “I wasn’t confident enough to do my own thing so I would always sit in the back as support for someone else. I never wanted to be the main musician. Now, I’ve definitely always done my own thing, but I’ve never released it officially. I never made it a big deal. When Fat Creeps broke up, I figured I had all these songs and had to keep going.”
Between working as a nurse at McLean Hospital for the last three years and trying to get by as a social human, Gracie has crafted a set of songs so strong that Ghost Ramp Records, the label of Wavves’ Nathan Williams, sought her out for an official record deal — attention she’s long since deserved. “It’s nice,” she laughs, somewhat embarrassed. “Ben Katzman’s BUFU Records put out some releases and now Ghost Ramp is doing this. Everyone is being so kind to me and I’m usually a bit more reserved. I appreciate it.”
Even though the songs harp on dissonance and gloom, Gracie’s music still ends with a smile. Like those she listens to on repeat–Angel Olsen, Patsy Cline, Sibylle Baier–her music is for submerging. “I’ve always been drawn to minor keys and I’ve always written songs that aren’t the most happy-sounding,” she explains. “Even if I do write a song I think is upbeat, people always tell me it’s so sad. I don’t consciously realize it, but I guess that’s the work I churn out. Maybe I’m motivated by darker things.”
As fall starts to show its face, don’t be afraid of parting with summer. Gracie’s music makes that an easy transition. “The lyrics aren’t always depressing. In fact, they’re rather hopeful,” she says, noting her disassociation from careful structural planning. “The more you think, the more you stink. I’m just letting feeling guide me more than logic.”
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