With guitar in hand and a story to tell, Grace Sanders sky-rocketed from her humble beginnings uploading live acoustic videos to YouTube, to becoming one of Perth’s most notable singer songwriters. Renowned for her ability to capture the audience with her intimate and personal lyrics whilst exuding pure confidence and a command of the stage, we spoke to Grace about the upcoming launch of her new single and music video ‘I Can’t Win‘ to uncover what’s behind the scenes of filming, how music and film unite and whether she’ll be rocking that wedding dress on stage at the launch on Friday August 31 in our Main Room.
Visual art and film have played an influential role in a lot of your past releases. You worked with artist and director Cody Cameron-Brown in the curation of the video for your last release ‘Small’ and have chatted about the way film and visual art both expands and alters the audience experience music. Can you elaborate on this idea, and how it sits in context with your music?
Growing up in the internet/music video generation, I feel lucky to have been raised in an environment where I’ve been consistently exposed to the collaboration of different art forms to create something that transcends one and both and now get to take these ideas and apply them to my own songs. Sounds and visuals are such an innate part of how we communicate and connect as humans, and as a result I like to think music videos have the potential to become the ‘ultimate sensory experience’. I write a lot from feeling and experience, and I guess what I would like to be able to do is make music videos that take that story in the song and translate it to something expressed visually that can connect with other people to encapsulate some element of that shared experience.
Interestingly, videos seemed to play a major role in the audiences introduction to your music! I note the early videos published back in 2010, 2011 are bedroom recording of you playing both original songs and covers on your acoustic and getting up to 100k views! Is this how it all kicked off?
I have been writing songs as long as I can remember, but I was always very shy and private about them and about singing in front of people. When I was 13 I started showing a few friends at school who were encouraging ad wanted me to make recordings they could listen to. It’s funny to think when I was 14 I felt less shy as a result to start a little YouTube channel where I could share these songs so my friends could access them- even though asa result the videos ended up getting much more reach then they would have if I didn’t put them on the internet. This was the beginning of my documenting myself as a singer songwriter and definitely gave me my start, however I feel my music career only really began when I was 19 and started playing live around Perth.
You worked closely with Director Jacqueline Pelczar for the creation of ‘I Can’t Win’ video clip, re-creating iconic scenes from the 1968 film ‘The Graduate’. How was this concept generated? Was it inspired by the narrative of the song itself? Or was it the result of a brainstorming session between yourself and Jacqueline?
This idea was 100% Jacqueline being her creative self! We played around with a few different concepts, but this was the one we decided would provide a unique opportunity for both of us to push our limits. All of my songs are written about either specific experiences, emotions, or concepts so as a result I have a personal rule that the videos have to incorporate some element of what message the song is trying to convey. We liked the idea of ‘The Graduate’ because we both love the film, but also ‘I Can’t Win’ is about the fear of repeating the mistakes of the past and essentially ‘becoming your parents’. We loved the narrative of the story of Elaine marrying who her parents want her to because of her mother’s jealousy of her relationship with Dustin Hoffman’s character, Ben, and her own dissatisfaction in her life. Their rejection of this in the penultimate scene of the film is a powerful statement about these young people trying desperately to escape the vacuous, shallow lives they feel their parents have succumbed to. My favourite part of this film however is the ambiguous nature of the final scene as they drive away in the bus, looking at first happy and then deeply conflicted by their actions- it begs the question, as does my song, are we destined to become the things we try the hardest to run from?
Can you tell us about the process of filming and preparation for this video? How did you go about sourcing the costumes, deciding on locations, selecting the actors involved? I don’t imagine churches receive many requests to film a music video! Did this influence how you interpreted and re-created the scenes?
We spent about 6 months planning for this shoot.. we actually had a schedule that ended up changing last minute initially because some of the elements weren’t exactly how we wanted them to be, which I think was the right call to make. I’m lucky Jacqueline is wonderful and has so many friends in the industry who helped, as it was a full scale operation. We had Texx Montana source period costumes for myself and all the other characters, as well as about 20 extras we had come down on the day and she did a fantastic job of getting everyone looking like they were from the 60’s. Our location actually changed a few times, (Jacqueline looked at I think around 20 different places!) because most churches weren’t willing to support the project, but it worked out perfectly with the location we shot at in South Perth because they had the back balcony we needed for David to have his iconic moment yelling at me from the back of the church, and the fight scene on the stairs as he broke up the wedding. Re-creating it shot by shot is always a tedious process and the shoot as a whole actually took place over 2 days but it was well worth it as the talented cast and crew managed to make it look perfect considering our limitations. I can’t take any credit for how smoothly everything ran however, there are so many people to recognise in this video but mostly Jacqueline’s meticulous planning and the help of everyone who got involved made it possible despite any set backs.
You show a lot of support for other local artists often giving shout outs and sharing new releases by fellow Perth musicians on your social media. In addition to the talented artists supporting you on launch night, if you had to pick five local acts a gig-lover had to see live – who would they be?
We are so lucky to have such a thriving industry in Perth, how could I not give shout outs! It’s almost impossible to pick 5… off the top of my head some performers on my gig list you HAVE to see (besides the fantastic musicians I have supporting me at my event who are a given) would be Jacob Diamond, Odette Mercy and the Soul Atomics, Old Blood, Simone and Girlfunkle and Southern River Band. They’ll all blow your socks off with stage presence, musicianship and 10/10 energy.
What can we expect at the launch? Any chance of a live action re-enactment?
You can expect some of Perth’s best performers, me embarrassing myself and dancing to all of them and video projections of all of the music videos I have ever had the pleasure to make. Maybe I’ll get out the wedding dress… MAYBE. You’ll have to come down to the launch to find out I suppose.
You can catch Grace Sanders live at the launch of the single and music video ‘I Can’t Win’ at Rosemount Hotel Main Room on Friday August 31, with special guests Kallan Phillips, Tanaya Harper and Noah Dillon. Check it out!