Name: Robert Grace
Occupation: Singer, songwriter
Current release: Robert Grace's new single “Self” is out now.
If you enjoyed this interview with Robert Grace, visit him online on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.
Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?
The impulse has always been there. I’ve always loved to create art in some form but after I made my first song I realised that that’s all I wanted to do from then on. I take inspiration from absolutely everything. Dreams, personal experiences, even movies!
For you to get started, do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called a 'visualisation' of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?
I don’t like having a concrete plan! I like to just see what happens and make the best idea possible in that moment. I don’t like to have too many constraints.
Is there a preparation phase for your process? Do you require your tools to be laid out in a particular way, for example, do you need to do 'research' or create 'early versions'?
I usually will have anywhere between 5-10 demo versions of a song before I’m completely happy!!
Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?
I’ve gotten used to creating in anyway kind of environment. I think when you have kids you have to take advantage of any free time you get so I’ve adapted to be able to work almost anywhere ha.
What do you start with? How difficult is that first line of text, the first note?
It can be both the easiest and hardest part of writing a song depending on the day.
When do the lyrics enter the picture? Where do they come from? Do lyrics need to grow together with the music or can they emerge from a place of their own?
There’s a million different ways to do it. None of them are wrong. Again it just depends on the day! Some days you start with melodies and then find a story. Other days you have the story first!!
What makes lyrics good in your opinion? What are your own ambitions and challenges in this regard?
I love clever lyrics! Lyrics that have double meanings or reference something in a fun way. I love raw truthful lyrics. Simple lyrics. But they mean nothing without a good melody to back them up.
Once you've started, how does the work gradually emerge?
Again, depends on the day. Sometimes it flows out super quick, other times it takes a lot to get a song over the line!
Many writers have claimed that as soon as they enter into the process, certain aspects of the narrative are out of their hands. Do you like to keep strict control over the process or is there a sense of following things where they lead you?
I like to just go with it and see what happens!
Often, while writing, new ideas and alternative roads will open themselves up, pulling and pushing the creator in a different direction. Does this happen to you, too, and how do you deal with it? What do you do with these ideas?
I like to try out all options because you never know what might work better.
There are many descriptions of the creative state. How would you describe it for you personally? Is there an element of spirituality to what you do?
Sometimes it just feels right and easy. You kind of connect perfectly with the emotion of the song. Those are the best days!
Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite. What marks the end of the process? How do you finish a work?
I mean, it’s hard to finish a piece of work completely. For me anyway. I always feel like it could be better or more could be done. But you have to learn when to stop.
Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you're satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practise?
I listen to a new song about 100 times and if I still like it after that then I don’t change anything! ha
What's your take on the role and importance of production, including mixing and mastering for you personally? How involved do you get in this?
Its extremely important. If the production isn’t right it can ruin a song. Same goes for the mix. I like to be very involved in this.
After finishing a piece or album and releasing something into the world, there can be a sense of emptiness. Can you relate to this – and how do you return to the state of creativity after experiencing it?
As soon as I release something I almost instantly want to move on to what’s next! And do so usually with ease.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you personally feel as though writing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
Music is powerful. One song can change someone’s life. Save someone’s life. Make you feel things that you might not have ever felt or known you could feel. The more I write, the more I unravel myself. Without even trying. I unconsciously dissect my pain and heal from it by putting it into a piece of music.