Since working on Chance The Rapper's Grammy-winning mixtape Coloring Book, Grace Weber has been working with The Social Experiment (Nico Segal, Nate Fox, and Peter Cottontale) on her debut album, set to drop this year via Big Mouth Entertainment. Her latest single "Elated" is a euphoric tune that showcases many of The Social Experiment’s touchstones, highlighted by a bouncy rhythm and Segal’s brass accompaniment, complemented by Grace’s versatile vocals, crafting the feeling of pure and genuine euphoria.

We spoke to Weber about what makes her feel elated, working with The Social Experiment and creating a space for others to be celebrated for being their authentic selves through music.

Your latest song, "Elated", celebrates love and different forms of it. What inspired you to write about love? Why did you feel like that was a necessary focus for this song?

It actually kind of fell into my lap a little bit. When we were first writing the song, I was with Peter Cottontale at my Airbnb and we were working on the piano and kind of messing around with the core progressions. I was having a lot of melodic ideas and I started mumbling syllables with the melody. Peter recorded it on his phone, then took it to the studio, took eight bars of this idea that we had started, pitched the whole thing an octave down and started creating the beat around that sample. You can actually hear it in the first verse, this really low, male-sounding voice, that's actually me! Then when we were in the studio I was listening to it and it actually sounded like I was saying words, the voice sounded like I was saying "I get so elated" and I was like, "Wow, do you hear that? It sounds like I'm saying elated. I don't think I've ever used that word before in my everyday speech, I wonder why it sounds like I'm saying that". And that kind of led me to asking myself, "What makes me feel elated? What are the things that make me feel like that?" I started realizing that I usually feel that way when I've accepted myself for who I am and when I feel like I'm ready to let someone else really love me for who I am. That's how the story of the song kind of came about.

On the song you say that you're "Ready to be free" and freedom definitely goes hand-in-hand with the type of love that you're talking about. Is this freedom something that you're experiencing now or something that you've lived through in the past?

I was super lucky the past year and a half to come into this new family of musicians and friends. I walked into the studio and felt like I could create like a kid again, I had this freedom of expression, with absolutely no fear of being judged... it's a really beautiful space to be in. And I think that that kind of played into this song, as far as this feeling of like, "Ok I've met a group of friends and people who are really accepting me for who I am and for the music that I want to make, and are sort of resonating with me. It feels amazing!" So you're right, this type of love and self-love feels very much like freedom because I don't have to hold myself back anymore, I don't have to put up any walls or judge myself, I can just be myself. And I also have an amazing family and life to look forward to. So yeah, it's been a good year of just feeling the love, for sure.

It seems like you're also trying to extend that love and help others feel that freedom through the Music Lab. Could you tell me a little bit more about that project?

We started the Music Lab in January of this year and it's been an incredible experience. I realized that the most important thing we can do for these students (and I'd argue for any young person or even for any human being, honestly) is to notice them for who they authentically are and celebrate that. We wanted to create this space with the Music Lab, this platform for students from all different backgrounds to feel like they're being noticed for being themselves. Especially for students whose music programs have been cut at their schools, music and art might have been the only things that some of they felt really confident about. To have that taken away, it sort of eliminates the opportunity for that person to develop in the thing that makes them shine. So we wanted to create the opportunity for them. We also bring guest mentors in every month and our first mentor was Jamila Woods, who was actually a co-writer on this song, and she did such an amazing job with these students. We have the mentors give feedback afterwards on how the students perform and give really constructive comments on how the students can develop their craft. The other part of the Music Lab that we've been trying to tap into is developing a community in Milwaukee. Milwaukee is still one of the most segregated cities in the U.S. and so wanted to use the Music Lab as a way to bring students together. We promote to all the public schools in Milwaukee and we also promote to all the private schools. We try to bring all these students together and show them that we're all the same through music, we all feel, we're all human beings. That's what we're aiming to achieve with the Music Lab and that's what I try to do through my music, too.

You mention Jamila Woods, I'm a huge fan of hers. How did this collaboration with her on this track come about and do you see yourself working with her again in the future?

I'm also a huge fan of Jamila's! When I started working with Nate and Nico, I knew Nico was really good friends with Jamila and so when we got started on the project I told Nico that it'd be really cool to have Jamila roll through the studio and do a writing session. Everybody was super excited about the idea, so we were in Chicago in August of 2016 and Jamila was also in town so we all met up at the studio that Peter was working out of. She only had a few hours to work so I thought, "Ok what's the song that I should pull up for us to work on?" and "Elated" felt right because it has that Chicago two-step and a lot of Chicago people were working on it. I was also having a hard time finishing a couple of lyrics in the verses and I couldn't figure out my doorway into the rest of the song. Jamila instantly came up with a perfect lyric to kind of lead me through the chorus and the rest of the song and it was so cool to be able to work on a song that was about love and self-love, especially with her album. I love her line "I'm not lonely, I'm alone" and this song kind of happened to be like, "I'm just ready to be loved because I love myself" and feeling really good about that. So working with Jamila on this song is definitely special to me. And I would love to collaborate with her on something else in the future. Do you know Lisa Mishra? She tweeted out this thing where she celebrated all these women; she tagged me, Jamila, Yebba Smith, Eryn Allen Kane, and all these other dope women. And so we started this thread where we talked about collaborating on a song in 2018 and everyone was like "Yeah, let's do it, I'm in", so there's definitely some potential there if we can follow up on our Twitter thread. Maybe we'll have an epic girl group song.

Speaking of 2018, how does "Elated" fit into the album that you'll be releasing this year?

This track actually comes towards the end of the album and I think what I'm really excited about for people to see and hear when the whole album comes out is that I'm really trying to show my humanness on it. I was trying to be as raw as I could and to me that meant just showing the whole range of my emotions, what I go through and what, to me, feels like being human means. The album is kind of a journey of me discovering myself in a lot of ways. So with this song it was kind of the song that was coming towards the end of a journey, feeling like I've arrived a little bit and being like "Ok, I got through some shit and now I'm feeling like I'm ready to be present, to be myself". I think people will hear how that fits in as they listen to the whole album. And this song shows a lot of joy, the feeling of happiness and love, and I want people to feel that. We kept the laugh in there because when we were recording it, Peter and I were joking around and we were all having a really good time and I chose to keep that because we want people to hear the humanness of joy, too. I hope this song gets people excited to hear the album because it's definitely a good lead into showing all the different textures of the project.

How did the reaction to "More Than Friends" make you feel? Were you expecting that feedback from fans?

It was so fun. I wasn't expecting it at all. When we were getting ready to release "More Than Friends", we actually decided to release it three weeks before it came out. We were trying to figure out when to release the whole project, when to release the first single, when the go time was. I don't really remember what the switch was, but the timing just felt right, we just felt it in our gut and we decided to just drop the song. I called up Sean who's an embroidery artist because I knew I wanted to involve embroidery in ever single cover and so I called him and I was like "Wanna get coffee? Because I need to make a cover with you in like two weeks". So we met up and brainstormed all these things about nostalgia and what makes us feel a feeling of letting go but also wanting to hold onto something, so we came up to be this fortune teller thing... But in terms of my expectations, I was really just like, "Let's put this out and it'll be step one, we'll see what people think". This was my first time putting music out in a long time so I was excited but I was also really nervous. So when we released it and got a lot of love on it, it just felt so good. The random John Mayer screenshot was really cool and random and totally unexpected because I don't know him at all. It just felt great and also served as a nice reassurance to just keep going and keep sharing this music with people.

What do you hope that people will take away from your forthcoming debut album?

I hope everyone has their own experience with it and I hope people are able to listen to the album top to bottom and go on some sort of journey, whatever that journey is for each person. When we were tracking the songs and looking at the transitions between them, we were really thinking about the entire flow of the project. What happens if somebody puts their headphones on, sits on the couch, presses play and goes through the album from start to finish? How do we make it feel like we're taking them on this ride? And I think that we accomplished that in the way that we set up the entire album. I hope that people can get the opportunity to go through that journey on the project.