Rising Pop Artist Grace Gaustad Talks New Music and Friendship With Mentor Mariska Hargitay (Exclusive)
August 23, 2021
Rising indie artist Grace Gaustad is gearing up to release her debut album, BLKBX: wht r u hding, into the world.
The highly anticipated project is set to release on Sept. 10, but the 19-year-old has been gifting fans ahead of the multi-format concept album’s debut by releasing original songs and music videos every week leading up to the big day, including Friday’s release of “Jupiter.”
The Los Angeles-based singer dives into a number of deep topics that hit home for her including her struggles with depression, bullying, her experience as a sexually fluid teen, and learning how to accept oneself.
Whether you’ve been a longtime fan or just discovering Gaustad, read on to get to know the talented singer.
ET: As an artist, how would you describe your style? Are there any artists you would say you’re similar to?
Grace Gaustad: I think most artists are a combination of the artists they were most influenced by, while also bringing their own unique ideas to the table. With that being said, I grew up listening to a lot of pop music by artists like Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Adele, and Michael Jackson so I think my music falls somewhere in between all of them. I would describe my music as pop/dance and at times alternative!
What’s something you want fans to know about you and/or your music?
My only goal as an artist will always be to help people feel safe and valued. My music is simply a vehicle for self-love, self-acceptance, bravery, honesty, and most of all authenticity.
Leading up to your album’s debut, you’ve released a single and music video consecutively for 11 weeks so far with Creative Director Jo Baker. These music videos will be edited together to create a powerful short film. How did the concepts come to life?
BLKBX tells a linear story about the first 18 years of my life and I knew from the start that the story had to be told in chapters. I’ve been a writer and storyteller since I can remember and BLKBX has been my way of combining my two loves of music and storytelling together. I’ve never had much attention span for movies or long TV shows, but I’ve always loved music videos that can tell a story in a matter of minutes.
Your newest single and music video for “Jupiter,” which released Friday, is about growing up and growing through struggles. Can you elaborate on what that means to you and how you poured those feelings into this song?
I wrote this song at 2 a.m. in my living room just a couple of weeks before moving to L.A. full time. I remember being in tears while writing it. It flowed out, almost all at once, as one cohesive thought. When I describe it to anyone, I describe it as a love letter to my younger self, and I hope others can relate to it similarly.
All your singles so far have been deeply personal, were you nervous at all to be that vulnerable in such a public way?
The only song I was nervous about releasing was “Red” because it was the first time I had ever written publicly about my sexuality. To my surprise though, “Red” ended up being one of the most successful songs on BLKBX, and the music video was incredibly well received by the LGBTQ+ community, which I’m so grateful for.
Actress Mariska Hargitay starred in your music video for “93 Days.” How did you get her on board and what’s your relationship like with her?
Mariska has been a friend and mentor for many years! I played her the BLKBX album almost two years ago and she fell in love with the message of the project and the music. For years, I’ve been watching Mariska be a hero to young girls and sexual assault survivors on TV, and she is just as much as a hero in real life. I feel so grateful to know someone as talented and brave as Mariska. She brought something totally special to this whole endeavor. I have eternal gratitude and love for her on and off screen.
Hargitay is a supporter of your charity, BLKBX Project, and so is Lady Gaga. What does it mean to you to have their support?
These two women have been huge inspirations to me for the longest time, so being able to support Lady Gaga’s foundation Born This Way and Mariska’s foundation Joyful Heart by creating a partnership with blkbxproject.org is a dream come true.
How did the whole idea for your charity come about?
I knew that I didn’t just want to put an album out for the sake of putting an album out, so blkbxproject.org was my way of giving back to kids like me who struggle with mental health issues, with a special focus on the LGBTQ+ community. When I was younger I spent countless hours on the internet searching for the answers to questions I had about myself and my identity. I wish I had blkbxproject.org and an incredible therapist like Jaz Robbins when I was younger and struggling. It would have made things so much easier!
Your debut album is ready to release in the next few weeks, what does that mean to you to see all your effort and hard work about to be released into the world?
It’s so rewarding and crazy to think that everything I have been working on the last few years is about to be out in the world. I feel blessed to be able to create music and even more blessed to have such an amazing team who is right alongside me in this wild journey!