“I don’t just do this for Zoom,” Grace Davies chuckles, pulling out a full-blown studio microphone to record our chat. Currently residing in her bedroom-turned-studio in her family home, Davies departed from London after four years to move back to Blackburn, Lancashire, in an attempt to hide from the population to write and produce what would soon become her next major project.
Davies has, however, been back and forth to the city as part of plans on the down low for the second half of the year. “Last year London was such a ghost town and it’s usually the city that never sleeps,” she expresses. “It was nice to be back and to see a bit of buzziness to it. I’m also just so happy to be back at the pub.” The entire nation agrees.
For an April afternoon, it’s all very dreary outside, and what does one 24-year-old artist do when the drizzling weather traps them inside their homes? They plan to take over the world, naturally. “I’ve had a few masters back and some final tracks,” she tells EUPHORIA. “It’s all becoming very real.” Davies continues by teasing the first single of her upcoming EP and a release that will mark her seventh studio-recorded track, something that feels quite implausible for an artist who has been in the public eye for four years and counting.
Since her debut on The X Factor back in 2017, Davies has kept herself occupied and her fanbase fed by recording covers for her YouTube audience in addition to releasing her debut EP Friends With the Tragic’ Rather than rushing to record a body of work, Davies has been polishing up the music she’s until now hidden away in the vault, waiting for the perfect opportunity to unleash it.
As we delve into current obsessions and musical influences, Davies cites Lil Nas X, James Smith, and Troye Sivan as regulars on her “On Repeat” playlist. “I am that weirdo geek that makes a new playlist every month,” she says.
Making “This Is Grace Loves [insert month] 2021” playlists isn’t the only thing that’s been occupying Davies’s time at home, having recently introduced “live @ home” sessions to entertain both herself and her virtual audience. “I think the sessions are a nice way of me doing little live performances,” she details, explaining that decorating her living room with lights and projectors is an attempt to make the place feel like a stage. “I have six songs out now that I started releasing over a year ago, and I’ve never performed any of them live because, you know, what can we do? I’m trying to carry these sessions on as much as possible until we can do it properly.”
Admitting that while being locked inside gave her creative flair, the adjustment to begin with was one that Davies struggled with in the first quarter of 2020. “I was a bit alone with my own thoughts and I think I’d gotten so used to bouncing off people in studios I began to think, ‘how do I write a song by myself again?’” she says.
Zoom sessions: a pastime that Davies has surprisingly not grown irritated with…yet. “I think a lot of us were kind of like, ‘we’re not really gonna do the Zoom session thing’ in March last year,” she shares. “‘It feels a bit weird and we’ll probably be back in studios in like a month or two’ and then it got to like May and we were like, ‘right, we should probably do the Zoom thing.’” After birthing ‘i met a boy online’ virtually with partner in crime and musician Frances, Grace soon found the positives in digital songwriting sessions. “I’ve written with people that I would never have been able to write with before from different countries across the world. We’re all just doing it online and I think that’s something that will carry on even when everything’s gone back to normal, which is really cool.”
‘i met a boy online’ began, like most things in the modern day, on TikTok. Shoving only a fraction of the unfinished track on the social media platform last April, the audience Grace attracted from the clip was neither something she had intended nor prepared for. “It sent me into a panic because I had a million people who’d seen it and were asking me to release it,” she explains, mentioning how this experience arrived at a time that her label was shutting down and as an artist she was on the verge of becoming independent again, alongside expressing gratitude for receiving positive responses to a track released entirely on her own.
Originally starting out as an indie artist, Davies returned to her independent roots in what felt like a natural move. “Even when I was signed to a major, I was still such a control freak and wanted my fingers in all pies and wanted a say in every aspect and I think that’s very much what an independent artist has to do,” she says.
Being a perfectionist has built Davies a devoted following that’s stuck around since before her national exposure, and has remained by her side as she transitions into a brand new artist. More recently, Davies’s songwriting methods link to the early work of Lily Allen and Kate Nash with conversational flow and distinct narratives. “I think it’s something I probably developed over the past three years. I always used to try and be so poetic with my lyrics and have so many metaphors hidden in things. I just eventually got to this point where I wanted to say it completely as it is.”
Davies’s newest release “Testosterone” hones this songwriting approach, albeit is the first track she’s ever sung but not written herself. “One of my closest friends, Lauren Aquilina, who I wrote two songs on the last EP with, sent me a playlist in 2018 of songs she had written and was keeping back for herself; “Testosterone” was one of them.” Produced by Lostboy (Griff, Tom Grennan), “Testosterone” is driven by dainty piano and led with a brittle vocal that’s pleading to rescue a relationship on a sinking ship.
“Sometimes as a writer you hear a song and it either sounds like something I would’ve written or a song I really, really wish I’d written. This was one of those for me,” she admits, adding that this was a paramount moment for her as an artist to take on a song she hadn’t written, but after sobbing her way through its 3 minutes and labelling the track as a “massive hard relate,” she knew it needed to be out there.
“Testosterone” leads the next concept EP in which Davies vows to free herself of any façade by revisiting her roots. “It takes people through a full cycle of a relationship: from being single and wanting to find someone; to meeting someone; to falling in love; to finding out they cheated (testosterone), and then having to eventually get over them and start again,” she shares.
There’s two ways in which Davies plans on celebrating the release of “Testosterone”: the pub being an obvious choice — “the table is booked!” — alongside a tradition she’s held for previous releases by going live with her fans moments before midnight to host an earnest listening party together.
In addition to the forthcoming EP, Davies has releases planned up until at least autumn, including the sought-after original “Roots,” which first touched people’s hearts four years ago and has since remained a pivotal offering in her discography. “I’ve probably had questions about ‘Roots’ every day since I was on The X Factor, so I’m very, very excited to put that out this year.”
Grace Davies is turning a new chapter. The music has been exceptionally crafted and stored away to mature, and 2021 is the year it’s going to taste just right. Live performances are back in motion and with over two EPs worth of material that has never been experienced outside of playlists, Davies is ready to showcase the daring pop artist that she is…and she will do just that.