BY BRE CURA
With popular songs like “October” and “Reflections”, singer/songwriter gray has gained a lot of attention for his beautiful impressions of some of life’s most universal experiences. gray’s new song “Swoon” is set to hit music platforms on June 28th, and we were lucky enough to get a behind the scenes look at his process of writing the single, the story behind it, and more! Taking a turn from his slower tracks, “Swoon” is an upbeat and hopeful portrayal of a love story very personal to the artist. gray writes, “I felt like, with the distance removed, we were finally free to fall in love”, which is an evident notion throughout the entire piece. For anyone who has undergone a situation similar to gray, this song will surely hit home.
What can you tell us about your new single “Swoon”?
gray: “Swoon, like many of my songs, is about the girl I fell in love with when I was 17. I wrote quite a few songs about Gracie while we were dating. I recognized last year, though, that I had an assortment of songs written for her and songs written about life so far that all centered around one core concept. Swoon fits within that concept, but I’m not ready to tell you what it is yet.
Swoon is about the transition between having a long-distance relationship and finally being able to truly date each other. Someone said that ‘separation makes the heart grow fonder,’ and for me, that was definitely true. The first verse alludes to the fact that whenever we were apart, I had a million photos to look over, a million memories to consider, and a million reasons to be thankful for her. The chorus captures the liberating feeling of my realization that my family was moving from around seven hours away to live seven minutes away. Up until then, Grace and I had stalled putting any term but ‘friendship’ on our relationship because we didn’t want to add difficult tensions and expectations that could stifle our growth together. I knew I loved her. Maybe I just didn’t want to jinx it. Instead, we opted for a super weird ‘let’s accidentally FaceTime for three hours instead of thirty minutes’ kind of friendship. Understanding that suddenly, in a matter of time, we would be very able and ready to pursue each other in a new way was the best feeling for me. As soon as I found out I was moving, I asked her dad if I could date her, he said yes, I vomited, and then asked her to be my girlfriend.
Verse 2 captures those initial feelings of being in a relationship with someone you really love and admire. Grace and I had known each other since we were little kids so I felt like I was already playing the long game. We had both avoided dating people in high school because we were trying to hold out for that one person we knew we could spend our lives with. That’s not everyone’s story, but it is ours. For me, the initial weeks of our relationship had all of these whimsical feelings juxtaposed with these well-grounded ideas that had only come through the life experiences I've had.
The lyrics in Swoon take just a moment to acknowledge the way I felt about us and the beginning stages of our relationship. The last part of the song explores some musical ideas that convey the same feelings of freedom. I felt like, with the distance removed, we were finally free to fall in love.”
So, what is your backstory?
gray: “I started taking piano lessons when I was four years old, then cello, and taught myself guitar, ukulele and other popular instruments. I wrote my first real song at the age of 7. I also participated in various choirs, choral groups, and was very involved in musical theater. So, I trained in music throughout my childhood, and my parents and teachers were great at resourcing me for that. I did what most young artists do and dropped a bunch of money to record an EP with a friend of a friend – an EP that I never got. And, like most young artists, I understood that the amount of money it’d take to fight what happened would be way more expensive than just dealing with it. So, I brushed off my shoulders, let the cost of it all go, and decided to be thankful for whatever opportunities were ahead.
I never really started pursuing music again until 2017 when I released my first single, ‘October (Live).’ I did the vocals in one take in a practice room at my school, mixed it myself, called a friend in for a master, and another friend Daniel Carrai for the cover.
I never could have expected the way October (Live) would register with people. But numerous emails, phone calls, Instagram messages, and Spotify streams told me I was onto something.
I bought a website, made some hats, called some friends, booked some shows and stopped being so afraid.”
What’s your method for songwriting?
gray: “Disorganized and unusual, from everyone else I’ve asked about their process. Most often, I just experience things, and pretty quickly hear musical ideas in my head with lyrics and chords and everything all mashed together. I don’t always land on fully-produced pieces initially, although sometimes I do. I usually end up using very close to the chords I imagine under a certain melody and lyrics. But the overall feel of the song sometimes changes, because I value my best ideas over my first ideas. I’ve been lucky so far – I’ve just committed to write and write and write and didn’t have a label or producer pushing me to write for a certain concept or project. It wasn’t till I stopped to catch my breath that I realized that all of these songs centered around a core theme.”
How do you see music influencing the choices you make in life?
gray: “Music forces me to consider life experiences. My own, and other people’s. It’s a place to reflect, and broaden my understanding of things. It’s a place to understand and process and agree or disagree. Music is so ingrained in my life that it’s hard to put my finger on all the ways that it influences my choices, but that 30,000 foot view should give you an idea of just how much it does.”
Have certain experiences in your life shaped who you are as an artist?
gray: “All of them. Every single one. Good and bad. It’s always gone into music. But I think it’s caused me to mature as an artist because I want other people to be able to learn from my life experiences – good and bad. I also allow some songs to be just for Grace and I, or just for a season that’s gone now, and that’s okay for me, too.
There are things I’ve gone through that are so good, Grace is the only one who will ever hear the songs that came from them, because other people don’t need those songs as much as we do.
There are also things I’ve gone through that are so difficult, I put all of my feelings into a song that I never need to sing again, because I’m just not there anymore.”
Can we expect you to release any more new music soon?
gray: “Yes! In fact, I’ve got an album that’s between the final recording stages and the beginning stages of post-production. I’m not going to say too much about it yet, but I will have lots to say about it soon. Swoon will release on all streaming platforms on the 28th of June. It was produced by myself and Brett Allen, recorded and mixed by Tanner Kinney and mastered by Kyle Monroe from Tiny Taperoom. Thankful for all who were a part of bringing this song to life!”
How can fans stay in contact with you, and find out about new music?
gray: “musicofgray.com gives an overview of my artistry and links to my social media.
You can also find me @musicofgray on all social media – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.”