We hold all of our deepest emotions, realest secrets, and truest thoughts under lock and key. By letting them out, we ultimately connect with one another. For Grace Gaustad, music turns the key to unlock these truths. The 19-year-old Los Angeles-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, Grace Gaustad, intuitively couples thoughtful and vulnerable lyrics with powerful, yet playful soundscapes. Asserting herself as a responsible voice, she welcomes everyone into the embrace of an inclusive sonic safe space without judgment or fear. After generating nearly 40 million total views and streams independently, she opens up this place on her 2021 EP Welcome To Jupiter 1.0 and full-length debut and accompanying collection of poetry and artwork, BLKBX.
“These songs are stories,” she affirms. “There’s so much more to them than just a hook, lyrics, and production. If you really dig into the words, they create a whole world. You’re listening, but it’s really like reading a book.”
The first chapter of that book began in Phoenix, AZ where Grace grew up. Mom played piano and wrote music, introducing her daughter to the likes of Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Bruce Springsteen. At five-years-old, Grace often sat on her mother’s lap and followed her hands as she played the piano. Within a year, Grace started piano lessons and even penned songs of her own. Loading up her iPod with Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, and Taylor Swift, she studied the ins and outs of pop, recognizing her destiny and falling into “an immediate love affair with music.” In between, she also consumed poetry by R.M. Drake and Edgar Allan Poe, fueling a love of language.
Relocating to New York, she developed chops on stage through numerous theatrical productions. At 16-years-old, mom and dad allowed her to launch a YouTube channel and switch her Instagram from “private” to “public.” In 2018, Grace uploaded a riveting and raw piano and vocal cover of Hozier’s “Take Me To Church.” It organically caught fire on Instagram, amassing 25 million views. Resonating around the world, it even bubbled up on Spotify Argentina’s Viral Top 50.
In 2019, she unveiled her debut EP Human, which The Hype Magazine described as “a picture of the most impactful emotions that every human being feels in big ways or small, every day.” She maintained this momentum with the single “Photogenic.” Earmilk praised, “Her writing style is unique due to its distinct pop sound accompanied by dark elements that make her sound undeniable.” Throughout 2020, she used her downtime to assemble 12 songs for her first album and 4 songs for her ep, Welcome to Jupiter 1.0. The title represents a metaphor for people who like Grace feel like they are from another planet because they have never felt like they fit in. Welcome to Jupiter 1.0 gives listeners a glimpse into Grace’s highly anticipated first album. Grace’s sultry vocals and songs are steeped in lyrical truths that embrace her listeners with her musical mission statement, “for anyone who has ever felt different you are safe here.”
She introduces the project with the first single “Out Of Time.” On the track, lush synths glisten over a bold beat as she encodes a thought-provoking message within an upbeat and undeniable refrain.
“Even though I’m young, I feel like I’ve wasted so much time on stupid things,” she admits. “The world’s in a crazy spot right now. We don’t know what the future will be. In your teens, you only care about very superficial things like your friends, parties, girlfriends, boyfriends, how you look, and your parents. But, what about the real shit going on? It’s about the fear we’ve spent too long worrying about the wrong things.”
On “No You To Me,” her dynamic vocals take center stage as she assures an ex, “I could meet 100 people, and none of them will ever be you.” And “Oxygen” exhales an homage to her mother as her voice rings out between stark piano chords. She goes on, “As an only child, I fear death. I fear losing my parents young, because they’re older. At the lowest point in my life, my mom kept me going. The song is for anybody who keeps you stable.”
Then, there’s “Freedom.” Her voice brushes up against airy guitar as she pleads, “I just want to be happy like when we were kids, guess that’s what freedom is.”
“We have a misconception that adulthood equals freedom,” she explains. “In reality, it equals responsibility. Childhood is freedom. We just don’t realize it until we’re older. When I wake up now, I have obligations. As a kid, I was actually completely free.”
It all speaks to her overall mission statement. Grace sheds labels and encourages other creatives to do the same. Rather than identify with words and titles, she shares universal emotions without categorization, instead of clinging to categories of race, sexual orientation, gender, and so on and so forth. She’s rewriting everything.
As such, the EP just hints at the scope of BLKBX. The 12-song concept album traces her upbringing and the trials, tribulations, and triumphs that made her who she is. Grace confronts the bullying she endured in school. She speaks on coming to terms with things that made her feel bad about herself like a learning disability that made her feel stupid and issues around sexuality that made her feel different. She also examines first love, loneliness, and heartbreak without filter. And ultimately begs the question, “what are you hiding?”
Adding another dimension to the project, she penned a collection of poetry and artwork to accompany the record.
“It’s a linear album that tells the tale of the first 18 years of my life,” she states. “It’s based around self-discovery, acceptance, self-love, learning, and growing. When an airplane crashes, there’s an indestructible device known as a black box left behind. It stores a massive amount of data and information to ultimately explain why the plane crashed. We all have these metaphorical black boxes. We are who we are because of our experiences, our pain, and our happiness. It’s about exploring your own black box. There’s no end, because you’ll always add more information. Everything I do will be centered around growing and learning.”
By opening BLKBX, you might just learn something about yourself too.
“If you’ve ever felt different, you’re safe here,” she assures. “With my music, I want people to feel like they have a place where they’re 100% safe in whatever it is they’re feeling about themselves. The longer we hide parts of ourselves, lie about things, and try to alter who we are to fit into what we think society wants us to be, the harder it’s going to be come out of it. For the first time ever, I’ve come to terms and have begun to heal with issues I was struggling with that left deep scars from all of the bullying. I let go of things I was struggling with. I just want to encourage everyone else to do same.”
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