Another CMJ has encompassed New York City, and with it is the usual chatter of who will be winning over crowds at festivals and support slots in 2016. Sometimes the hype machine behind certain acts can feel rather forced. Thankfully for us, this isn't one of those times. Grace Mitchell is the real deal, and she'll be winning you and your mates over without even trying.
As of now, there isn't a new musician more interesting than Grace Mitchell. At 18 years old, it's clear to see how a world of Yeezus, action films, and sarcasm has influenced her, but what's truly startling is the aspect of confidence and self-awareness she exudes. To converse with Grace Mitchell is to recognize how little of your own self you're aware of, and that in itself is impressive for someone so young. She's released two EPs (Your Design in October 2014 and Raceday in August 2015), both radically different collections of work, yet both are greatly realized in their own right - an aspect of her progression she finds exciting: "I'm always changing and evolving musically. Your Design was influenced by music I was into then, and Raceday is influenced by music I'm into now."
2015 proved to be an interesting year for Grace. Not only had she signed to Republic Records (home of The Weeknd, Florence + The Machine, James Bay, Drake, & Stromae to name a few) but she also began to evolve as a live performer, the best showcase so far being her electric support slot of The Weeknd's show at London's Roundhouse during the iTunes Festival. 2016 expanded that with a slot supporting St. Lucia and playing festivals such as Bonnaroo and Coachella. Did the performance feel as flawless as it came across? "I'd woken up that day (supporting The Weeknd) pretty sick so the whole thing for me was kind of a daze. I'm almost grateful because think it would've otherwise been a pretty nervous performance with it being televised and everything. But yeah, all I could think about was how congested I felt." But even with that response, it's clear - these are songs meant to be heard live. When I press Mitchell about this, the confirmation comes about: "I don't tend to write anything that I couldn't see myself performing live. Performance artistry is a part of my creative process."
A glimmering moment of the performance was when she performs the most underrated track of 2015, her tune 'Jitter'. It's a tune that gives a new meaning to the word bombastic, and yet the aspect of cohesion is beautifully displayed. 'Jitter' doesn't only prove Grace Mitchell's talent as an incredible force, it rightfully cements it. 'No-Lo' (her latest single) also offers an aspect of eclecticism that most acts wouldn't dare to venture into, especially so early on in their careers. Glimmers of enthusiasm shine through when asked about these two particular tracks: "'Jitter' began down-tempo, then we started adding beats and synths and samples to make it into what it is now." And on 'No-Lo': "NoLo is a free-flowing genre bender. We made it in a 'stream of consciousness' sort of process."
As our talk progresses, I come to the conclusion that Mitchell isn't the sort who'd care to flesh out her songs in immense detail, and after living with her EPs, it's a more than a fair way of going about it. The music is layered in a way where you can constantly find something new to latch onto when you re-listen to her songs. The words are important and carry weight, but it's her ability to transform listeners to her own world that is truly startling. A great example of this is 'Bae' (from Raceday), which features French singer Spri Noir. It's a shame it has to be stated as such, but to release a track that delves between English and French in 2015 is still a brave thing to do, especially within a market such as the states. When I bring this up, Mitchell doesn't seem at all bothered: "I've always been inspired by the French language sonically. I don't know much about French culture, and I haven't looked deep into French contemporary music, but I love the band Yelle. I'm always hoping I'm not exploiting French culture by dropping French all over my music even though I'm not French. Sorry French people."
Raceday was created with the help of Mark Foster (of Foster The People). The technicolour landscapes and backdrop of LA can be felt throughout Raceday, but Mitchell's voice and talent as a wordsmith shine above the production. The music is kinetic, challenging, and most importantly, fresh. Many will hear it and describe it as music made by the Yeezus generation (such as this very writer did) but it's not sounds or aesthetic that Mitchell has taken from Yeezus, it's an aspect of 'why not?' when it comes to presenting her music. 'Jitter' is a tune that was created by someone who thinks out her moves but also doesn't care how you react. 'Jitter' is proof that Grace Mitchell is someone who looks hard work in the eye and smirks at its attempt to intimidate her: "I haven't decided how the LP will evoke feeling yet. I think my creative process will always be relatively the same in its organic nature," she said.
"2016 will have lots of exciting stuff: working on visual components at the moment, then probably another tour. I'm mainly just focused on my LP, though." Dear world: Grace Mitchell has arrived.