Austin's biggest R&B artist, Grace Sorensen sat down to talk to KVRX about her growth as an artist and her latest "Poetic Baddie Anthem

Austin's biggest R&B artist, Grace Sorensen sat down to talk to KVRX about her growth as an artist and her latest "Poetic Baddie Anthem

March 16, 2024 in Features

by DJ rat

Labeled, the "Austin R&B Cool Girl," by the Chronicle and maybe everyone since it was first dawned upon her, Austin Native Grace Sorensen has in the past year accomplished what any aspiring TX musician could possibly wish for.

Since she released her first EP in 2022, WHAT I NEVER TOLD YOU, the soulful musician has put out three stellar singles including one with Austin Hip Hop artist Magna Carta.

With performances in ACL and being featured as a SXSW official artist, Grace Sorensen has a lot to look back on as an artist, and a lot to look forward to as well. We got the chance to ask Grace just that.

This past year, ACL and then SXSW, it's pretty incredible to be official artists for both of these shows. Has this always been a landmark goal for you starting out?

For sure. ACL growing up here, you know how much of a big deal it is. All your friends go -- I never could afford to go as a kid so I never went to ACL until I played there.

The first time I played at ACL was in 2021. I sang backup for a Latin artist named Shiela and then in 2022, I danced backup for an artist named Lilyisthatyou, and then finally in 2023, I was very lucky enough to be able to do my own show.

But absolutely, it was crazy. When I was first sent the offer, it felt like it wasn't reading a real email... But it was real. And then SXSW as well, it's another one of those big weeks in Austin. So it's just it is really surreal. Obviously, it's very cool.

Growing up in Austin did you go to a lot of SXSWs? Even any unofficial stuff?

No honestly! I think it was because I was too young. I am just now coming into the age where I do mostly everything I want but growing up in high school my mom wouldn't let me go downtown and walk around. Most of them I couldn't even get into anyway.

The other thing that's crazy to me is that growing up here, I never knew about the Austin music scene. I never really was a part of it.

I never went to shows and it was mainly because I didn't know anybody that was in the industry and they were all older than me. I honestly don't have a very good perspective on how the Austin music industry has changed because I wasn't there. I just pulled up so.

I've had a very short window of time that I've experienced it but it seems normal -- it's really fun and I love it.

What you just said is really shocking to me, not really knowing the awesome music scene when you were young. How was your first experience into that world and around what time was that?

I was just talking to my friend Julian my brother like best friend out in LA who's from here, [from Oregon but he lives here.], and he DJ'd my first show. It was at Flamingo Cantina in 2021 or 2022 and that was my first experience in the Austin music scene.

I remember just thinking it was the coolest thing and I still do it. It was a really great experience. They offered me a 10-minute slot and I went up and I just sang to tracks that I had, and did some covers. It was on Sixth Street so I felt like "Oh my god, this is the Austin music scene."

After that, I remember being like, "Oh, I gotta get my stuff together, now I'm performing. Now I need to learn how to get a show together" Most of the music scene that I'm familiar with has just been fun, going to other shows, and being a student of the game always seeing my friends.

Speaking of being a student, you were a student at ACC right?

Yeah, I was there for two semesters. I took a couple classes just to learn music, business, and music theory for working musicians. That program was amazing. If I didn't move, I would still be there.

I was interested on if you thought it was worth it?

Absolutely. Oh my god, I had this teacher Scott Cain. I love him oh my God. He was so funny. No one else in the class thought he was funny except me. He would be saying the funniest things and I was the only one laughing I had a great time. He was a great teacher.

As you're becoming a bigger artist, and you're working on albums and touring do you feel like dancing is something that you've had to put aside a little bit? Do you have any creative projects, or work that you want to do going forward to express that side of you?

I definitely was putting it aside for a long time. So when I first got into music, I was really just trying to finish high school and I set dancing aside. I have my own personal journey with dancing, that's a totally different conversation, but I fell out of love with it for a long time. I almost resented it for a little bit and so I stopped dancing for a while.

When I moved to LA I was like, "oh my god, this training is unbelievable. And it's within reach." I just started doing everything I could to find choreographers that I loved and go take the class and so now I reignited this very, very passionate love for dancing.

I'm so grateful I did because it does so many things for me -- dancing is so cathartic for me when I don't feel like sitting down and writing, or sitting in a session or mixing a song or something. It's the one thing that occupies my body in my mind at the same time. So it's been very therapeutic for me lately and has made me fall very much in love with it again.

In my project Madness, Madness, I released that single, December, I believe and I really wanted to start this visual concept of including real dancing what I grew up doing more technical training and whatnot. So I had former dancers that I grew up with come on and do this piece with me for my Madness, Madness video. And then I had my best friend, Sydney choreograph it and it was such a good time, being able to give love to that side of myself.

I hope I will continue to do that forever because I've learned that's very important to me. Something that I think is different, that we don't really see anymore on stage is dancing, so I want to bring it back.I want to be the artist that will drop the mic for a minute and go hit a couple of eight counts.

I wanted to ask you a question from my amazing staffer who put in all the work to get this interview: "I know, this is a common question, but I'm genuinely wondering who her your musical influences are, I just really love her sound. So awesome."

Thanks DJ Matty G

I really appreciate you so much I love it. It means so much to people like when I sit and chat about music because it's my favorite thing to talk about.

But I don't know. It's easier for me to tell you facts because if I start getting opinionated and I'm like, "Oh, I like this person, this person then I'm gonna look back and be like I left on this person." Factually. The first CD I ever had was Natasha Bedingfield, pocketful of sunshine that she ate down. I remember listening to that album and being like, damn, this girl is crazy. She just has an incredible discography so I really liked her first. Then I listened to a lot of Beyoncé early on so like Destiny's Child and early Beyoncé like Halo and her classic hits. That was my other big influence.

Then growing up, I listened to so much music. My dad is a huge music kid so he's the reason why I love music. He doesn't play or sing or anything, but he loves music. So I grew up listening to like Jimi Hendrix and a bunch of reggae and a bunch of classic rock and so Donny Hathaway and Marvin Gaye. So those are like my subconscious deep-rooted influences. And then when I got older, I fell in love with Jasmine Sullivan, and then Brent Faiyaz was another one early on, and then Miguel. I mean there are so many I could list Jay Cole was a big one Kendrick Lamar. Just really great, great artists who really care about their lyrics too, because lyrics are really important to me. So yeah, that's, that's,

Okay, I love that this is becoming a coined thing I was just trying to express when I made my song that I care about lyrics. That's my favorite part of music is writing the lyrics.

I wanted there to be that little inclination in people's ears to be like, "Oh, okay, well, she's trying to say something here."

Then people kept me to make a song for baddies. We have a lot coming out now, celebration anthems about being in your femininity and being powerful as a woman. The way that has been portrayed, sometimes they don't align with me personally. I had to find my way to get that point across and celebrate being a baddie. It's a song to empower people. It doesn't even have to be women only. It's just made to make you feel good. Make you feel like cool, make you feel pretty, make you feel beautiful. That's what I was striving for with the song and then what I strive for with most of my music.

I love the song. And I specifically love the production.

My really close friend, Rafi Rosenthal, he produced it

Have you worked with them before?

Yes. He's awesome. He's a freshman in college right now. He's super young. He does a lot of his stuff. We met through Orb Recording Studio, my home studio my favorite studio in the world.

I remember meeting him in a session with his co-producer. I said to him, "You're crazy, you're incredible," and we just created a friendship from that.

We would have sessions here and there, whenever we got a chance. One day I came in, and they had this little keys loop going on. (vocalizes it) The little thing in madness.

I was like, "Oh, that's crazy. Like, let's build this out."

Then we ended up building out and writing the whole song in one day. Then I just recorded vocals and then we released it

Beyond whatever you have musically going on this year as an artist do you have any personal goals for yourself kind of navigating the industry this year that you feel comfortable sharing?

I've been really learning the importance of having those personal goals, as well as having tangible date-marked physical goals. Honestly, this last year was very transformative for me as a human and as an artist.

I think my goal for this year is to continue that -- To know how to be myself and be true and honest.

Also, know how to not get taken advantage of because there's a balance between those two. I'm sure in every creative industry, there are a lot of things that can go wrong so it's my goal for this year is just to be very observant, vigilant, and smart.

And also just have fun. I love enjoying life, but I think sometimes, I can lose a bit of the love for what I'm doing if I get overwhelmed with the options, the dates, and the expectations that I think are there. I need to just chill out and remember, I love doing this. This next year will be my album rollout. So while I'm putting it out, just not stressing over expectations -- just leaving the door open for whatever. Just keep doing it and enjoying it.

For people who haven't heard your sound before, what would you say is the ideal way to listen to your music?

So personally, I'm very picky with where I listen to music because there's something about it -- it's very intimate to me.

When I listen to music, it has to be on my air pods or my headphones or in my car. My car is my favorite so if you're listening to my project, I would recommend a car. Preferably often like a long drive or your 30 minute commute home through downtown Austin.

The gym is also like weirdly, another place where I really enjoy listening to music on a deeper level. When you're on autopilot, and you're really listening to something that's the best place.

I read something about the psychology on that, where when one part of your brain is like occupied by physical motion, you're gonna be more creative or more in tune with your like, other brain. There's something about it, where like when you're physically doing something that's easy to do, your brain is more alert. So yeah, when you're walking on the treadmill, maybe listen to me.

Thank you so much for doing this interview, is there anything we should be looking out for in the next couple months?

I have a single coming out in April called superstars. It's the first song of the album rollout.

Thank you Grace Sorensen for speaking with KVRX.

Follow Grace: here

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