“Oh my God, Andrew, let me show you,” GRACEY says gleefully. She’s presenting the fruits of her most recent labors — a Tupperware teeming with multicolored friendship bracelets. She beaded them herself: “I think I’ve currently made 50, but I’m gonna try and do more.”
The 23-year-old hasn’t simply developed a penchant for crafting during lockdown. Rather, the bracelets comprise her new, limited-edition range of merchandise, coinciding with latest single “Got You Covered” — a collaboration with pop producer duo and fellow Brits Billen Ted.
Most artists would have their merchandise manufactured for them, but “I wanted to show people how much I do fucking care. Like, I will sit on my bed and bead for you because you do so much for me,” GRACEY says referring to her fervent fanbase. The bracelets’ proceeds go to Beat, a UK charity that helps those battling eating disorders, including GRACEY’s friend.
“Got You Covered” was GRACEY’s way of supporting her friend when lockdown stopped her from being there in person. “It started off more as just a feeling that I can’t physically be with you,” she says. “I can’t physically see you, so I think I wanted to show her that I was listening always, I still cared, and she wasn’t a burden.”
The track is the first new music from GRACEY since last November’s mini-album The Art of Closure and sees her join forces once more withBillen Ted after their UK Top 10 smash “Don’t Need Love,” alongside 220 Kid last summer. The latter two are also fresh out of a run on top of international charts with sea-shanty remix and TikTok phenomenon “Wellerman.”
“Got You Covered,” however, is 3 minutes of UK-garage-infused, dance-pop dynamite, that’s both moreish and cathartic. Billen Ted’s sugary production is offset by GRACEY’s declarations of solidarity to her friend: “I’ll be with you when you’re going through extremes / I got you covered like when we were 17.”
The track’s duality aligns with how GRACEY envisaged it being enjoyed. “You put it on and you just kind of fucking vibe” in the park, under the sun with a bottle of Prosecco and a portable speaker, she explains. “And you know, you’re just at that point of drunkenness where you’re either getting really silly or you look at your mate and just go: ‘I just fucking love you, you’re so fucking great.’”
GRACEY’s been centering her friends within her songwriting more lately as she embraces love beyond merely the romantic. “You know when you’re feeling really unloved? Like ‘no one fucking loves me,’ well one of my mates said, like: ‘Bitch, I love you! Look around you. The constant baseline is that you have a group of people who would do fucking anything for you because you would do the same for them.’ And I feel really grateful for that. So, I feel like that’s what I started writing songs about.”
Within that friendship group, aside from being the “chaotic girl, big mess, not really sure if she can stand up without falling,” GRACEY is also “actually the wise, level-headed one. I do love giving advice to people,” she admits.
“I love listening and trying to help people through any sort of qualm,” she says. You would want GRACEY as your confidant. She discusses issues like mental health beyond hollow platitudes like “be kind” or “mental health is so important these days” that are often slung around aimlessly by those with platforms.
Her more nuanced understanding reflects her own experiences — GRACEY “struggles really badly with anxiety. I don’t even think my fans know how bad my anxiety is because I get anxious when I speak about it.” She also suffered a low period when her singing was jeopardized for months in 2019 due to vocal surgery, and online trolling earlier in her career had caustic effects on her confidence. “I used to get so much hate; I can’t even explain to you,” she shares.
“I would be really upset and it really got to me, to the point where I wasn’t really acting like myself on the internet. I was too scared to post things, and it was a huge part of what happened with my anxiety.”
The pandemic presented another setback last year as GRACEY’s success hit new heights. “It’s really hard to maintain a good mentality,” she says. “You get the fucking worst of your brain sitting alone in your room.” GRACEY now finds herself in the surreal position of being a UK Top 10 hitmaker for last summer’s “Don’t Need Love,” which also made her a Brit Award nominee; despite having only ever played two live shows before restrictions were introduced. She does now, thankfully, have her biggest headline show to date at London’s O2 Academy Islington, scheduled for September.
“I just wanna see people in the flesh,” she says, as we were speaking a day before the Brits’ ceremony. “I’m very intrigued by what artists actually look like in real life.”
GRACEY is, however, part of a squad of nascent British pop acts whom she knows beyond the digital realm. “Billen Ted, 220 Kid, Mae Muller; I feel like they’re my gang,” she says. “It’s really nice like coming up together; going to the Brits and shit and knowing that Billen Ted are gonna be in a box, and, like, 220 Kid is gonna be next to me.”
Her relationship with such artists is established and effortless, meaning it was a no-brainer to rope in Billen Ted for “Got You Covered.”
“I really trust them, and they’ve been working on a lot of my other songs as well so it just kinda made sense to get them involved. Billen Ted are just absolute beasts when it comes to knowing where to take something, which is why I just felt so at ease,” she says. She hopes their partnership will be longstanding. However, she says, “I feel like they’re probably gonna pop off and be the next big producers in the whole fucking world. I hope for them anyway, so, we’ll see if they still have time for little old me.”
It’s likely other artists are saying the same about GRACEY, and perhaps another Billen Ted collaboration could be the ticket to further chart success for both. “I guess if it charts it means that it’s working and it means people are listening to it and connecting to it, and that’s all I want.”
With this track especially, though, commercial success isn’t the be-all and end-all. “I think it’s actually just been such a lovely moment for me and the people that already listen to my music,” she explains. “Because yes it’s about my friend, but I don’t think they realize how much support they give me and how much I appreciate having them to rant to on Twitter at 1 a.m. Having someone’s back is really important and I think that’s a huge part of what I want to stand for and what I represent as an artist.”
The track also earned approval from UK garage luminary Craig David, who she played it to during a studio session together. “I was like, ‘Craig, you need to let me know what you think of “Got You Covered” because it was really inspired by your music.’ He just fucking flipped and loved it, so I was just really excited and fulfilled. I feel like if ‘Got You Covered’ didn’t do anything then that would be enough,” she says.
GRACEY’s no stranger to co-signs from the illustrious — Gwen Stefani, another of her idols, recently shared GRACEY’s lockdown-influenced adaptation of “The Sweet Escape” on her Instagram Story. She says if she could make the ultimate mates’ group chat, Stefani would have a place. She adds, “David Attenborough to make sure we are all staying woke and aware of the environmental issues of the world,” a classic like Will Smith, “Rihanna and Lorde to question where their albums are,” plus 220 Kid, as he’s good at providing voice notes, and Jade [Thirlwall] from Little Mix. “I just think she’s so funny, I love her.”
What “Got You Covered” certainly is, is the dawn of GRACEY’s new era. As she explains, “Era three is basically me deciding that I can’t be bothered to worry about what people think of me and I’m just having a good time and I’m going for it. I’m vibing and I feel way more confident in who I am.”
It’s a self-assuredness she’s gained in part by attending therapy. “I’ve been doing it for four or five months now, and it’s just made me understand myself to a whole new level,” which has translated into her music: “She’s very honest in 3.0, she’s an honest girl let me tell you that for sure.”
This next stage doesn’t quite signal a debut album: “I think I would find it hard to release an album without having gone on a single tour. I think when I start doing shows and seeing how people react with it and start actually having a human reaction I can start being like ‘Cool, I know where to take this album.’”
“But, it will be a progression,” she assures me. “Everything is always a progression for me.” You’re not inclined to doubt her.