by Hero Magnus
With her latest EP, Grace Weber releases a deep existential question: “How Did We Get Here”?? Weber paints a bold and brilliant sonic palette on this new EP. The trumpets on the intro song add flavor and immediately liberate her from just a single genre. And then the smooth jazz trumpet solos on “Crazy to Hope” show off an investment in real musical prowess, removing her from the context of too-simple mainstream pop.
The jazzy EP also has a strong narrative arc, which is a special treat for something so short. Weber comes out victorious, moving from a plaintive request for her lover on “Time on Me” (but still steady in her beliefs: “I will not wait on your ass,” she insists) to a quiet strength on the powerful “Sideways” (“you won’t keep on fucking with me”) and finally a deep reckoning on the final track, “Remember the Way.” She says the EP is about renewal, and the beauty in “taking your power back, removing what no longer serves you, and not waiting on anyone’s approval to follow the path of your own life.”
Weber also has strong DC connections to some of our hometown heroes. She sang vocals on DC native GoldLink’s Tiny Desk Concert in 2018, and she made the current EP with DC/VA producer Louie Lastic. It was a pleasure hearing from Grace Weber personally and getting a chance to dig into her work. The confident and soulful combination of quiet strength and soaring melodies on “How Did We Get Here” is nothing short of triumphant.
Alchemical Records had the privilege of interviewing Grace Weber this week to talk about the role of a musician in these rapidly shifting time periods, why she makes music, and how her process has grown and developed.
What has changed for you while making music in the time of coronavirus?
Quarantine has forced me to learn how to perform my music live completely by myself— I usually play with other instrumentalists— which has been a cool learning experience for me. I’ve also learned how to record my vocals by myself, which has been extremely liberating and creatively freeing.
Do you miss live performance?
Performing in virtual spaces like zoom and IG Live was also something I had to learn to adapt to and embrace, but I’m honestly so grateful for the virtual performance spaces existing because it has allowed me to keep doing the thing I love the most about being an artist, and that’s singing live for other people.
How is your music evolving?
My music has become more personal over the years, and so it reflects the things I’m experiencing in my life. A lot of times writing about what I’m going through helps me process how I’m feeling and helps me grow, which in turn helps my music grow! I also have been so blessed to work with amazing hip hop and r&b producers over the past few years who have helped me really expand my understanding of production and hone in on my sound. Working with Louie Lastic and Jack Dine on How Did We Get Here was such a fun and cool collaboration. I loved getting to make this project with them.
What do you feel like your role is as a musician in this current world environment?
I think the role of a musician is to create… I do think that art reflects the times and helps move people forward; art helps people process the emotions of the times. In this way, art is helpful to the world, to healing, and to progress. Right now, I feel like my role is to provide potential comfort and space through singing and painting.
What have been the hardest things for you about working in the music industry?
I think it can be hard to build trust in the music industry. You’re sharing your heart with people, and it can be scary to be vulnerable. So I think learning how to really… trust your gut and intuition as an artist is the thing that can ground you. Also for me, maintaining focus on my own journey versus comparing myself to others, has been the key to funneling the majority of my energy into my music and my artistry, versus worrying too much about numbers or stats or accomplishments. It’s a hard thing sometimes though, and I’ve had to re-balance and refocus many times along the way, but forgiving myself for the times I’ve lost my way and finding learning in those moments, has been what’s kept me going.
What projects do you have coming up? We’re so excited to listen!
In addition to working on visuals for the EP (we have some really cool music videos and lyric videos in the works), I’m also working on finishing my album, produced by The Social Experiment. I’m so excited to keep releasing new music!
One of my favorite things about Grace Weber is how consistently she credits the history of hip hop, and the producers she works with, for how they influence and inspire her sound. It is so important to credit and connect with the musicians who invented and built hip hop, jazz, and r&b, especially if one is interested in being part of those genres. These conscious collaborations allow Grace Weber to grow into a voice that is resolutely her own.
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Early in pandemic times, Dar Williams faced the uncomfortable truth that her career as a world-touring musician had stalled. While locked down—along with the rest of us—the singer-songwriter opened up virtual photo albums to recall trips to domestic cities and foreign lands to which she brought her unique music-set poetry.
“I was going through my photos online and I got this case of FOMO—envy for this person who has traveled all over the world,” Williams said recently, “and I was like ‘oh, my god, it’s me!’
Now I’m telling myself [to] take the day to appreciate whatever city you’re in.