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Grace Gardner Talks Inspiration and Process of Creating Peach at 1824 Press Conference

By Maryjane Perez and Esmie Fernandez | 27 March, 2023

Grace Gardner is a rising artist based in Austin, Texas who is pushing boundaries and making a name for herself in the singer/songwriter genre. She eloquently crafts her experiences into stories that are influenced by her relationships, perspectives, and the world around her. Drawing inspiration from jazz, 70s and 80s rock, and the folk music of her Southern upbringing, Gardner mixes an assortment of sounds to create one that is uniquely her own.

We had the pleasure of sitting in on a press conference, via Zoom, with Grace Gardner and Universal Music Group’s 1824. Gardner shared her process in creating music, specifically the songs on her debut EP Peach, her inspirations and influences, and her plans for the near future (one that we think is undoubtedly bright).

credit: @furthercreativestudio on Instagram

What are you most proud of on this EP and what have you learned for future projects?

Gardner considers herself to be a stubborn person. When it comes to bringing her artistic visions to life, she has always found it hard to trust anyone else to get it just right. This has led her to be very involved in the production side of her music. She self-produced Peach using Logic Pro, an extremely time consuming and solitary task. Although Gardner chose to work on this project on her own, she reveals that it was difficult when it came to dealing with the emotions that arose during the process. No one was around her to provide comfort, so she had to navigate it all on her own.

Do you have a favorite memory from this process?

The best memories are usually ones that are unexpected and unplanned, and that much is definitely true for Gardner as she describes her favorite memory of creating Peach. Her song “Acrobatics” was a last minute inclusion on the EP— written, produced, and mixed in around 8 hours and put on the record three days before it was due.

What does the songwriting process look like to you?

To Gardner, songwriting is a processing tool she uses to gain understanding over things that feel too big to comprehend. She writes in an attempt to understand herself, the things around her, and even the perspectives others hold toward her.

Every song that Gardner writes continues to feel more and more true to who she is and the experiences she goes through. Her song “Deny Me” was written during a time of emotional healing, allowing her to be in touch with her artistry and create a song that was authentic and honest. The same applies to “Parcel” which she describes as a final, “screw you,” to the universe.

How different is the released version of “Parcel” from when you first wrote it?

While writing “Parcel,” Gardner originally intended for it to be an acoustic song that was full of sadness, but the final version ended up being the complete opposite: angrier, with a bit of pep in the sound.

What are the major themes throughout Peach?

Gardner describes Peach as a processing project that she used to gain understanding over what happened and what part she played in causing her relational conflicts and heartaches to happen. She stated that unrequited love is a theme of the EP in terms of both platonic and romantic love. “Designated Driver” in particular is a song about a friendship breakup that Gardner remarks as being more painful than any romantic breakup she’s experienced.

credit: on Instagram

What was the process of creating the “Deny Me” music video like?

For this EP, Gardner learned how to collaborate with others to bring her music to life. She has no struggle in creating full experiences and universes within production, but confesses that she is not a visual person. When it came to creating this music video, she worked with a few of her friends in Austin who are involved in film. They created a treatment and Powerpoint of ideas for the video and shot the entire thing in two12-hour days.

How has it been touring with Adam Melchor?

Gardner is excited to be touring with Adam Melchor. She instantly loved Melchor’s music the second she heard his song “Real Estate.” Melchor is thoughtful and intentional about the instruments that he chooses to include, which is something that Gardner admires. Like Melchor, Gardner has a deep love for songs with strong vocal arrangements, stemming from her history of being involved in children’s choir and college a cappella groups.

The songs that Gardner is most excited to perform on tour with Melchor are “Parcel” and what she describes as her “acoustic gay yearning version” of “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield.

Do you have any tips for aspiring artists?

When Grace started music professionally, she felt like she didn't have a lot of traction or success but she made music the central part of her life. It’s how she made money, what she studied in school, and she performed a few gigs. After doing all this she realized she wasn’t going to burn out. The key is to never stop practicing and writing; nothing but music, to an extent. However, don’t do it to an extreme, because other things in life are important too.

Ten Instruments is insane! Which was the hardest to learn, and which one is your favorite to play?

Gardner can play 10 instruments, but guitar is her favorite. It’s the second instrument she learned to play; she describes it as feeling like an extension of herself. Being able to play 10 instruments does not come without its challenges: Gardner revealed that Lapseil guitar and banjo were the hardest instruments to learn.

Tell us about the title “Peach”! What made you choose it, and what’s its big-picture significance or symbolism?

Gardner grew up in rural Texas and has fond memories of visiting a town outside of Austin that's famous for their peaches. Growing up, she thought of peaches as God’s nectar–that's how good they were. Peaches are central to her childhood and also her favorite fruit. As she got older, peaches showed up in movies (in Call Me By Your Name and Parasite, to name a couple) as ominous foreshadowing. Gardner also mentions how her ex’s cat was named Peach.

credit: @gracegardnermusic on Instagram

If you could pick a film or tv show to make a soundtrack for, what would you pick?

An immediate response comes from Gardner: the Netflix show Atypical. She describes “Deny Me” and “Parcel” as part of a queer narrative, similar to the one shown on Atypical. As the older sister of an autistic brother, she relates a lot to Casey. She’s seen a few Cazzie (Casey and Izzie) edits to her songs, which she loves.

Where do you find inspiration for songwriting? What artists would you say have inspired you the most?

Gardner draws inspiration from a variety of people and things, stating that “songwriting comes from everywhere and falls out of me.” In particular, she notes that she has been influenced by her choir upbringing and her time living in New Orleans. Jazz is huge in New Orleans and Gardner would spend her time at jazz clubs observing the performers in their element. She comments that the performers were inspiring due to the intentionality of their performances. There are so many instruments involved in big band jazz, she developed an ear to identify what instruments can be present in her own songs in her time watching them over the past four years. She also mentions her family’s influence on her. While her family did not partake in music professionally, they were music hobbyists and she would borrow their instruments to practice.

As for artist inspirations, Gardners describes them as being like an “echo chamber” – there are endless people and sounds to be inspired by. Notably, she mentions being inspired by Fleetwood Mac, her personal favorite band, Taylor Swift, Lucy Dacus, and Lizzy McAlpine. Along with these artists, Gardner draws inspiration from 70s and 80s music as a whole. Her dream would be to work on music with Stevie Nicks.

What was the inspiration behind the metaphor of being a parcel?

The lyrics “I don't want to talk to you anymore / I'll be waiting like a parcel at your door” offer a unique metaphor. Parcel isn’t a term we see being used often by American artists. Gardner explains that the metaphor came to her mind when she reflected on her move from New Orleans to Austin. In the process of moving, she didn’t have enough room to bring all of her belongings with her, so her ex mailed them to her. Deeming the word package as unappealing, she decided on the use of the word parcel.

How has social media influenced you and your songwriting?

When it comes to social media, there’s definitely pros and cons. Gardner states that one of the downsides is the feeling of insecurity that can come from the algorithm not working in her favor. The upsides seem to make these small moments of insecurity worth it though, as she goes on to mention how social media can allow for a cultivation of community. Sharing music that comes from an emotional place leads to a powerful online community and fans, as we know, are the powerhouse of the music industry.

If you could record a video message to your younger self, what would you say?

Grace would tell her middle school self, “Girl, you wouldn’t believe it but we’re kinda doing it now.” In sixth grade, her YouTube channel bio said that she dreamed of being a famous guitarist. Music has always been her biggest passion all throughout school, but when she started college she pursued pre-med which only caused her to fault herself by suppressing what she truly wanted to pursue. She would tell her younger self to listen to her gut, stick with music and don't get distracted.

credit: @furthercreativestudio on Instagram

What was the inspiration and process like for ‘Scorpions Don't Live Forever’?

“Scorpions Don’t Live Forever” is the only song Gardner has ever written from a prompt. The prompt was for a zodiac series hosted by Weird Sister Records in Brooklyn. Gardner is a Scorpio and wrote about what it meant to her identity. While writing the song, she mentions speaking with her friend and fellow indie artist, Faith Zapata (who also has a song about being a Scorpio).

How has living in Austin influenced your music?

Gardner is still fairly new to living in Austin as she just recently made the move from New Orleans, but she is a Texas native and notes that folky instruments have found their way into her creative process. She admires how Faye Webster has elements of country in her music.

How do you deal with writer’s block or not being able to get a feeling on a page?

Grace uses object writing—an exercise where songwriters use all their senses to describe a specific subject—to help her get back in the zone of thinking in the lens of songwriting and it allows her to get over writer's block. She will sit at her desk and write about everything she can think about an object and will eventually hit something.

What’s Next?

Gardner’s EP has four songs and she plans on shooting another music video for one of the other songs. Gardner also has plans to start working on her debut album – that will hopefully be released in the summer or fall. She has over 50 songs written and ready, they just need to be produced which is a time consuming process when doing it herself.

Grace’s debut EP Peach was just released. Listen to it here and keep up with Grace via social media.


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