Q&A: Isaac Gracie Brings Folk-Rock Bygones Back to Life on Debut, Self-Titled Album


Bringing a collective of folk-rock bygones back to life, London-based Isaac Gracie has birthed his debut, self-titled record after nearly two years of final touches. Bringing forth a natural folk sound, enclosed by 90s grunge, it's no wonder Gracie has been compared to artists of the past and present - Kurt Cobain, Damien Rice, and Jeff Buckley. We might also add in Eddie Vedder - Gracie's vocals might just transplant you to the scenes of Into The Wild. 

Growing up with a poet for a mother, writing became a way for Isaac Gracie to channel his own thoughts and emotions. It later led him to attend the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England to study creative writing. Creative writing then led Gracie to songwriting and eventually, SoundCloud. It was on SoundCloud that his beloved track, "Last Words" caught the attention of music industry elites, sparking Gracie's transition from coffee shop barista to full-time musical artist. 

The finished product to Gracie's beginning is his self-titled and self-written, debut album, Isaac Gracie. A novel of a record, it's one you'll engulf in one sitting and later, thumb your way back through because you just can't get enough of it. With honey-laced guitar strumming and Gracie's unique mix of folk serenades and grunge-core screams, his earnest songwriting will enchant you. 

As the album resonates, read on to learn more about the making of Isaac Gracie's brand new album, below: 

OTW: Can you give us a look into the two year recording process for the album?

Isaac Gracie: The record was recorded in a few different studios in London. We spent the most time in Rak Studios in St. Johns Wood, where we did the bulk of the record. From then on, the process was primarily about tweaking and re-recording a couple things where I felt it could be improved.

OTW: We’re you hoping for a sooner release or was everything part of a plan?

Isaac Gracie: No not at all. I've been on a mad journey and I'm blessed to have had this time to really come around to everything. When I first put out music to the attention of anyone, I'd never been in a studio, there was nothing already prepared or understood. I had to learn it and make it along the way, and I'm glad to have had the time to do that.

OTW: Any future plans to venture to the US?

Isaac Gracie: Yes absolutely, hopefully I can come over some time this year. I'm a big fan of all things American sports and culture, so it'd be a dream to tour over there sometime.

OTW: Who, or what, do you draw inspiration from?

Isaac Gracie: I find love inspiring, when you know you feel it and are carried by it and lifted by it, then oftentimes songs welcome themselves. In the absence of a feeling of love (romantic or platonic), things can get a little heavy on your mind.

OTW: "Last Words" was your starting point, can you describe what led up to the creation of the track?

Isaac Gracie: It was summer, I'd finished my first year of university and I was working at a coffee shop washing dishes in the basement. One night I hummed the melody while going downstairs to get a drink. I had a gig the next day, so the prospect of writing a new song I could play at it, excited me. So I did, and it was "Last Words."

OTW: You've certainly played a lot of live shows, what is your favorite, and least favorite, parts of the live experience?

Isaac Gracie: I couldn't really say there's much of anything bad about playing live. I used to find it hard going on tours on my own, it can get quite lonesome and mentally isolating doing it like that. But playing songs for people is always a joy in some way or another.

OTW: What song from the album are you most looking forward to playing live?

Isaac Gracie: I love playing "Running On Empty," it just really goes and is fun to bop around to I guess.

OTW: How was the songwriting process for the album? You have a strong creative-writing background, are your lyrics related to your real-life or?

Isaac Gracie: Yeah, I don't know, songwriting is a mystery. There isn't one specific way that I'm aware of myself writing really. The record was written over about three years and concerned many different versions of myself. I think I just spend a lot of time in the mode of writing that sometimes real and worthwhile stuff might bubble to the service.

OTW: For those new to your music, what would you like them to know about you?

Isaac Gracie: I'm not sure. Maybe that I write my own songs, and I care about them a lot. It's hard to say without sounding like you're trying to sell yourself, which isn't really what I want to be doing. I guess my music comes from a personal place in me, and I hope it resonates in a personal way with them.

OTW: You’re playing Rock Werchter this summer alongside some greats - are you looking forward to seeing anyone in particular/will you have time to check anyone out?

Isaac Gracie: Yeah absolutely - Arctic Monkeys, Nick Cave, MGMT, Pearl Jam, it's stacked! Hopefully I can stick around and see some stuff.

OTW: What do you enjoy the most, the hardcore rock aspects of your music or the softer, acoustic side?

Isaac Gracie: I honestly don't have a preference, they both serve different ends. I really like how I can play both sides of the spectrum, and people will support that and still follow it, that's awesome.

OTW: What are your favorite lyrics from the album?

Isaac Gracie: "I don't want to sing another song, about the ways I got everything wrong, to list it all, would take too long"

OTW: Who are a few of your favorite Ones To Watch artists?

Isaac Gracie: I'm digging Big Thief, Soccer Mommy, Moses Sumney, Snail Mail, loads of great stuff at the moment.