LOS ANGELES — Grace Gaustad’s talents were recently recognized by two musical giants: Mick Jagger and Lady Gaga. The first danced to one of Grace’s songs in a video. The second fueled Gaustad, who titled a recent single “Gaga,” in honor of the star singer. Gaustad’s albums are structured like a television series — each single serves as an episode accompanied by visuals.
After the success of “BLKBX: wht r u hding,” Gaustad preps for a summer release for their second studio effort: “PILLBX: whts ur fantasy.”
They recently released the video for a new single, “Old Ways,” which is a goodbye to the old, as Grace Gaustad embraces new beginnings.
Zenger caught up with Gaustad to discuss upcoming releases.
Zenger: How does one person have so many talents?
Gaustad: That’s a very nice question. I just have a lot of passion and love for what I do. When you love what you do, it makes you want to work hard at it. I’ve been doing music since I was 5 years old. All I do is create.
Zenger: How does a 20-year-old have such a clear vision of their artistry?
Gaustad: That comes down to knowing yourself well, knowing who you want to reach, and what you want to say. People in my age group grew up with technology, and it gives you a different outlook. Our changing outlook, our changing world, inspires my work and vision. I was bullied in school, never invited to anything. I never wanted anybody else to feel the way I did. That feeling fuels what I want to say.
Zenger: Does your past make you more relatable to your fans?
Gaustad: One common denominator that I see with artists is hardship. For me, it was bullying and teasing. That’s something a lot of kids go through, especially with social media. It’s crazy out there. It’s a scary time to be growing up. Anytime you can speak from personal experience, it always makes you relatable to people. We all go through the same things. We just never know it because we don’t talk about it. When you start having the conversations, you start putting the art out there.
I’ve had thousands of messages from young kids saying: “Wow, I just went through this” or “This song helped me come out” or “This is what my depression feels like.” It’s really important to share from an honest place, and the authenticity factor comes into play.
This is exactly where I envisioned myself. I knew at a young age that I wanted to pursue music, but I also knew I didn’t just want to be a musician. I didn’t want to put out songs, for the sake of writing songs. I wanted to somehow make a difference and make a better world for the people who will come after me, and the generations after them.
Zenger: There is a connection between your album “BLKBX: wht r u hding” and “PILLBX: whts ur fantasy.” There is significance behind every single. What was your mindset when you decide to connect your albums?
Gaustad: “BLKBX: wht r u hding” was my first full-length album. It’s really the first 18 years of my life. It tells a linear story — from childhood until I graduated high school. “BLKBX” goes through all the experiences that essentially were responsible for who I am as a person today, and how those experiences shaped me.
In “BLKBX” goes through bullying incidents, depression, a learning disability. I went through first love. What it was like to make up with the people who were mean and have sympathy for those who are cruel, because in order to be cruel to someone else, I find that you have to be in a lot of pain yourself. “BLKBX” is a coming-of-age story. It leads very well into “PILLBX.”
“PILLBX” is a young adult, out in the world for the first time. High school is over. What am I going to do with my life? “PILLBX” is heavily inspired by what the last two years have been like. It’s been tricky for young people to feel there is any path forward. I decided to write a project about fantasy. All the things I wish I could be and wish I could do. Sometimes, the harshness of our current reality is just too much.
There’s a story line within “PILLBX” where I sort of meet this charlatan who offers me different journeys. It’s a song called “Gaga,” and I ask him: “Can you make me Lady Gaga?” What’s my ultimate fantasy? I’ve looked up to Gaga for years. There is a song called “Beauty and The Beast.” Can you make me the most beautiful person in the world? He fulfills these fantasies, only for me to learn there are major pros and cons and life lessons with each. It connects to “BLKBX,” but it’s like watching the next chapter.
Zenger: Why is it important to have visuals with all of your singles?
Gaustad: I grew up loving music videos. Loving MTV, taking a song, and then watching what the artist envisioned behind it. In “Old Ways,” I have all of my old “BLKBX” looks on mannequins in a parking garage. “Old Ways” is a song about wishing to revisit the past with the knowledge of the future. There is comfort in the past because it’s what we know. Change, growth and the future are all scary things. “Old Ways” represents that fear of moving on, not knowing where I’m going next. The video is sort of a goodbye to my younger self. Your happiness doesn’t lie in the past; it’s in the future.
Zenger: When can we expect “PILLBX?”
Gaustad: “PILLBX” will be fully rolled out by next summer. Every song has a month to live on its own. There is a song a month, a video a month, and the project tells a story, similar to “BLKBX.” Start at the beginning and get up to “Old Ways,” which is track No. 5. That’s the good part, the nitty-gritty, when you get to track five and beyond.
Zenger: How have you handled being praised by celebrities?
Gaustad: I’m grateful and humbled that someone I have looked up to for so many years, like a Lady Gaga or Mick Jagger, would even recognize anything I’m doing. I had a phone call with Lady Gaga a couple months back. She gave me some invaluable advice. To know that someone you have idolized is willing to be a cheerleader for you is mind-blowing. People who have accomplished so much, and have changed so many lives, think I’m doing something right. It’s reassurance that I’m on the right path.
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