Gracie Abrams on opening for Taylor Swift and deeply personal new album Good Riddance

“EVERYONE remembers their first heartbreak,” says Gracie Abrams about the pain of a break-up, a theme central to her debut album.

“Heartache stings in a specific way and even when you move on or think back fondly and become wiser from it, it never really goes away.”

Danielle NeuGracie Abrams has just released her new album Good Riddance – an honest depiction of a broken heart and the trauma that accompanies it[/caption]

Danielle NeuGracie, 23, is one of this year’s biggest new stars — and an idol to her devoted fans[/caption]

This summer will see Gracie open for her pal Taylor Swift on her The Eras Tour across the USGetty

The confessional pop queen has just released Good Riddance to critical acclaim.

The relatable album, of deeply personal songs, gives an honest depiction of a broken heart and the trauma that accompanies it.

It’s no wonder Abrams, 23, is one of this year’s biggest new stars — and an idol to her devoted fans.

Watching her perform at her first London show at Omeara in 2021 was astonishing.

Fans hung on to her every word through songs including I Miss You, I’m Sorry and Friend.

This summer she is set to open for her pal Taylor Swift on her The Eras Tour across the US.

We meet in a central London hotel where Abrams is rushing between interviews, with an appearance on Radio 1’s Future Artists with Jack Saunders to follow.

“Walking away from something that isn’t right is painful, but coming to terms with it is gratifying,” she says.

“And making the album allowed me to process and then move past the things that I was writing about.”

‘Enriched so many corners of my world’

Working with The National’s Aaron Dessner as producer on Good Riddance was inspiring for the singer — who is the daughter of Star Wars and Lost filmmaker JJ Abrams.

Her mum, Katie McGrath, is a producer and founder of Time’s Up, the non-profit organisation supporting victims of sexual harassment that was launched in the wake of allegations against Harvey Weinstein in 2018.

“Aaron is a genius,” she says.

“He is as genius a friend as he is a creative genius.

“I can’t speak more highly of him. 

“Making these songs together and sharing my personal stories was the easiest thing to do — and that’s coming from someone who hates even playing anything new for anyone. 

“The environment he’s created at Long Pond studio is so calming and the second we started hanging out, we became super close. And with his wife and family too. 

“He entered my life at a time when I needed a mentor, not just creatively but at the stage I was at in my life. 

“He’s been so helpful and enriched so many corners of my world and we’ve already started the next record.

“Writing this album with Aaron and being in consistent therapy allowed me a newfound confidence.”

Abrams grew up loving The National and getting to play live with them a few times has been “mindblowing”.

She says: “It was always a bucket list thing for me to meet The National because when I was growing up they were so important to me.

“When I was 12 years old, I’d sit at the back of the classroom, listening to them on my headphones, being all emo about their music. 

“So when they had me come out with them for a show in Maine, where my family is from, it was such fun. 

“Watching Aaron play specifically was amazing and seeing the role he plays within the band, he’s such a good communicator.

“They’re a band with so many cooks and that’s why they’re as epic as they are.

“I feel deeply lucky to have had an up-close view.”

It was writing last year’s non-album single Block Me Out that set the ball rolling for the album.

Abrams says: “When we made that song, we were so energised that we started making the album there and then. 

“Block Me Out created a snowball effect and we really felt like we were diving in.”

Good Riddance is a melancholic listen and a touching collection of songs that show off the singer’s vulnerabilities. Standouts include the gorgeous That Is What The Drugs Are For, Amelie, Difficult and I Should Hate You.

Abrams says: “I wrote I Should Hate You about a short-lived relationship whose energy or time I didn’t value and I used to feel shame around having ever been involved with. 

‘More comfortable in my own skin’

“I was questioning why I still felt drawn to this person when logically I should very much hate you forever. It was nice to write that song.

“Then Difficult is a rant to me about feeling at odds with the desires you have as you’re entering adulthood. It felt really nice to let that one out too. 

“These songs help me feel more comfortable in my own skin.”

Abrams explains that she started writing songs in high school after journalling gave her the confessional writing bug.

“I journalled forever. I learned how to really write when I was in third grade and I fell in love with the secrecy of journalling.

“I loved the imagination of it and the ability to say anything — it was escapism. I loved reflection from an early age.”

With a filmmaker dad, the knack of storytelling is in Abrams’ genes.

She was also exposed to music at an early age.

She says: “I was lucky enough to grow up with instruments around the house because my dad plays a little bit, so I would mess around and started putting words here and there.

“Never did I think I’d become a performer though. 

“We had a piano in the living room and anytime anyone would walk by I would stop playing. 

“Being in the spotlight was not for me whatsoever. I fell in love with singing because it was just for me. 

“It selfishly allowed me to have something that nobody else did.”

It was discovering Phoebe Bridgers’ music when Abrams was 13 that made her think music might be something for her. 

She says: “Phoebe was only a handful of years older than I was, so it made music feel in reach. Her music has always been as painful and beautiful as it is now. And it made me think that if she’s singing her own songs and doing something with it, then maybe I can.”

It was when Abrams started uploading songs on to SoundCloud that she began to see a reaction.

She says: “I would record really sh**ty voice memos of my songs and put them on SoundCloud and they would connect with people who are on that platform. I would listen to what people had to say and interact with them.”

But Abrams says she still had to overcome her fear of performing.

“Tsunamis and performing are my biggest fears,” she reveals.

“And when I signed my record deal, I was aware that live music was part of their expectation.

“And I felt like such a fraud, signing the deal, because I had never played a show before at all, but I also never wanted to play a show.”

Abrams began touring at the start of last year and after a year of playing live, she’s now a big fan of being on stage.

“I’ve been proved wrong as I love performing. It’s wild now just how much I love it,” she says.

‘I’m so proud of my generation’ 

“One of the many reasons I’m so grateful for these people who come to my shows is because they created a safe space for me to do it. I really believed that I didn’t want to perform or couldn’t.

“With my fans it’s a two-way street as their vulnerability allows me to be myself around them. Now I just want to get out there and play live more as I feel like there’s so much room for me to improve as a person.”

Next month, Abrams will be playing the biggest dates of her career when she opens for Taylor Swift across the US. 

Swift has been a huge supporter of Abrams as well as a good friend.

Getty Images – GettyTalking of her new album, she says: ‘These songs help me feel more comfortable in my own skin’[/caption]

Getty Images – GettyAbrams says she still had to overcome her fear of performing[/caption]

“I’m beyond grateful for the opportunity that Taylor has given me,” she says.

“The second I found out, I texted her and said ‘Dude, what the f***?’. I can’t entirely believe that it is real yet

“It’s going to be a masterclass in performing every day on tour.

“It’s been a dream for me as I love Taylor’s music and I love Taylor as a person. 

“I’m very lucky to have her as a friend as she’s so genuine.

“I admire people the most who are just themselves.”

Last year Abrams went out on the road with another famous friend, Drivers License singer Olivia Rodrigo.

She says: “My friends are so supportive and I think it’s a brilliant time to be a woman in music. 

“I’m so proud of my generation.

“Artists who are my age and have been so just unabashedly themselves.”

Feminism is very important to Abrams and for more opportunities to be available to the next generation of female artists.

She says: “I am lucky enough to have been born at the time where so many women have done so much of the heavy lifting to get us to a place where the conversation is so much less of a shock now. 

“There’s so much to do still. I love how a woman can have her own identity today and it doesn’t need to fit in the ‘perfect’ box that people’s standards used to kind of be shaped by.

“I’m very inspired by female artists who have stood the test of time and have longevity with their careers. 

“I’m looking at everyone who’s come before me, who’s done such a brave and important job of talking about all these imbalances along the way.”

Danielle NeuGood Riddance is out now[/caption]


Good Riddance