By Rich Henrich
Last year, nineteen year old, definition-be-damned rocker Grace Mitchell was just another fan in the Coachella Valley Music and Art Festival crowd enjoying the springtime ritual of our beloved valley. This year, she brings a hit battle cry for a generation of people to feel resonance and connection with Kids (Ain’t All Right) and a beautiful bouquet of pop aware songs with rock ‘n roll edge.
CVW: How do you define your music?
GRACE: “I try hard not to. I want to play a variety of music and do I what I want. I have a lot of influences and what’s most important to me about making music is keeping it organic and real.”
CVW: Do you think genres are useful to music?
GRACE: “I don’t subscribe to any genre really. I think it’s helpful for labels but not the artists. If I had to subscribe to (a genre) I’d say alternative.”
CVW: Who are some of your musical influences?
GRACE: “Fiona Apple is genius! I love her. I have a lot of respect for Alanis Morissette.”
CVW: What role does music play in our current political landscape?
GRACE: “I think socially and politically it is important to use the platform of music to speak my truth. I sing about what I am inspired by and what I am interested in. Feminism and politics are definitely important now.”
CVW: Where have you felt you connected most with your audience?
GRACE: “Boston. That show was crazy! It’s a huge college town but the crowd really connected with the music and the freedom.”
CVW: Like Kids?
GRACE: “That song is really about losing yourself in the moment and connecting but letting go for a few minutes, too. The generations before say, Gen X, have screwed things up and now it’s like the capable generations have two jobs to do- clean up the mess and move things forward. It’s hard.”
CVW: What can we expect from your Coachella performance?
GRACE: “I hate giving a presentation like it’s a PowerPoint or something. So, it won’t be that! It’s all new material. We are going to have a lot of fun! It will be high energy, with a lot of visuals and very high tempo.”
CVW: Having been a fan at the fest last year, what challenges do you anticipate as a performer this year?
GRACE: “Well, we play in the afternoon in the Mojave Tent. I’m hoping we can draw people from the heat of day out of the sun and into the tent. If you seek relief from the heat, come see us in the Mojave Tent!”
CVW: How did you start playing music and singing?
GRACE: “I played acoustic guitar in coffee shops. I’m from Cottage Grove, OR (outside Eugene). I recorded a demo and was lucky to have Richard Swift (The Shins) living in my neighborhood. He helped circulate my demo.”
CVW: Not a bad music mind to have in your corner!
GRACE: “No, he was a big help in explaining a lot about the industry. There were a lot of different pinnacle moments. I went to L.A. and found a fantastic team. They really let me figure it out rather than insist on instant gratification.”
CVW: What are you learning about being a professional musician compared to the acoustic guitar girl in a coffee shop.
GRACE: “It’s a long process but I’m starting to find my musical vision.”
CVW: What is your musical vision?
GRACE: “It’s just keep making raw music that feels right and I don’t want to identify with any genre. I want to make music that is genuine and that resonates with people.”
CVW: What bands are you looking forward to seeing this year?
GRACE: “Lorde. She will be debuting new music. I definitely want to check that out. I have a lot of friends in the line up. Dillon Francis and DJ Khaled are on my list, too.”
CVW: I’m thrilled for you to be on the stage this year! Enjoy the festival run you have ahead of you!
GRACE: “Thank you so much for the interview.”
Grace Mitchell is a force on the rise and definitely a show to catch on a Sunday afternoon. As her bio states, “…in a nutshell one might say she’s a post-Yeezus, highly aware pop disruptor with a lifelong reverence for Tori Amos and a frenetic, fiery sound that raises a middle finger to the zeitgeist while possessing the power to reshape it.” Give her a listen and you too will be a convert.