In Her Feelings: Gracie Abrams Interviewed

Exploring the solitary creativity of this profoundly honest songwriter...

Gracie Abrams has spent the last year-and-a-half somewhere she’s comfortable: in her feelings. But truthfully, she hasn’t minded it. Confessional pop’s next star, her resolute honesty is born from solitude, and a desire to channel the inexpressible.

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In Her Feelings: Gracie Abrams Interviewed

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Gracie Abrams has spent the past year-and-a-half penning songs in her childhood bedroom. Though the outside world wreaked havoc from the coronavirus pandemic, her self-imposed cocoon has provided the familiarity this burgeoning singer-songwriter needed. “Being in my room, writing from my room and filming everything from my room has been the entirety of my social media presence,” Abrams says over Zoom from her parents’ house in Los Angeles. “But I felt inspired by the fact that I had played from that space forever already.” Though Abrams had never played a live show, she took advantage of being in a space that felt so natural and began performing Zoom shows. “It was a deeper look into the space that I'd already been showing for years and years,” Abrams says.

Aside from taking a lot of walks outside, therapy and working with different collaborators in LA, Abrams has largely spent more than a year building a following online, posting intimate videos of her songwriting and singing from her bedroom. Back in July 2020, she shared her debut EP ‘Minor’, which chronicled the dissolution of a relationship and the path forward. With help from producers Benny Blanco and Joel Little (Taylor Swift, Lorde), she crafted a deeply vulnerable, atmospheric pop project. She also worked closely on the songs with producer Blake Slatkin, her ex-boyfriend of five years whom the EP was about. (They rekindled their romance during the process.) The raw, oversharing nature of her music stems has also helped her gain a cohort of famous fans like Eilish, Lorde and Olivia Rodrigo.

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In Her Feelings: Gracie Abrams Interviewed

In Her Feelings: Gracie Abrams Interviewed

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The daughter of producer J.J. Abrams and producer Katie McGrath, Abrams grew up in a creative household. But the inklings of a music career really began with journaling, where her barebones thoughts would fill her pages. At eight, her parents enlisted her in drum lessons. While those didn’t take, she pursued piano and guitar. In-between, she found kindred spirits in artists like Elliott Smith and Joni Mitchell. “Growing up my parents would play [Coldplay’s] ‘Yellow’ in the house, and that kind of production is nuts,” Abrams laughs. “And it definitely made me feel like I could imagine different things, sonically.”

When the singer-songwriter started making her own music, she shared it privately at first, but later on SoundCloud and Instagram where she began garnering a following of her own. By 2019, she signed to Interscope. And even now, her parents’ involvement has remained non-existent — aside from support. “I love them, but I definitely would also love to be able to not be associated with what they do for work when it comes to what I do for work,” Abrams notes. Still, she’s “grateful and so aware of the privilege of being a part of this family,” she adds.

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In Her Feelings: Gracie Abrams Interviewed

In Her Feelings: Gracie Abrams Interviewed

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Despite releasing ‘Minor’ last year, Abrams has barely slowed down. In March, she teamed up with Benny Blanco for the stripped-down single ‘Unlearn’, and by May, she shared the downtempo pop anthem ‘Mess It Up’ rife with insecurities. “I felt like I was finding myself in situations where I would get really close to something being great and somehow find creative ways to break it all down,” she says of the track.

While Abrams doesn’t have concrete plans for a new release following ‘Mess It Up’, she’s continued to write and knows her music will be a departure from what fans heard on ‘Minor’. That, she says, came from “a more urgent confessional standpoint where I just like had the first real breakup of my life.” Now that she’s emerged from that transitional state, her work is coming from a different place. “I've been considering how to introduce myself more personally through this music,” Abrams says. “Not that it wasn't a reflection of me with ‘Minor’, because it so literally was, but it felt like a breakup record.”

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In Her Feelings: Gracie Abrams Interviewed

In Her Feelings: Gracie Abrams Interviewed

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Shifting her vision has also been a gift — it’s given — the pop singer the space to dream about future collaborations. For Abrams, she’s most intrigued by the prospect of teaming up with James Blake. “I just feel like watching him produce would be the craziest experience of all time,” she says. “Every time he puts anything out, it's raging jealousy that I feel. So, to be in the same space as him, I would love that more than anything.”

But right now, connecting with fans in person is something Abrams is really fantasizing about — something she couldn’t say a few months ago. “I've never heard anybody sing my songs back at me before,” the singer says. The thought makes her emotional: “I don't know what that's going to feel like, but I can imagine.”

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In Her Feelings: Gracie Abrams Interviewed

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'This Is What It Feels Like' is out now.

Words: Ilana Kaplan
Photography: Meg Young
Fashion: Savanna White

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