Gracie Martin & The So Beautifuls
“I thrive on the tension between the past and the future,” says singer/songwriter Gracie Martin. “It's similar to my interest in capturing the acoustic/analogue warmth of 20th century artists I love while producing it in context with the music that's been popular in my lifetime.”
While the Rochester-born Martin has one foot in the past and the other in the present, her music comes across as a timeless blend of both—a stirring confluence of classic American music and modern pop that’s brimming with sophistication and heart.
Unschooled until she was a teenager--unschooling is an iteration of homeschooling defined by encouraging learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning—as a young girl Martin was able to focus on creative disciplines like music, art and theatre. Along the way, she discovered the music of Bob Dylan, Amy Winehouse and Joni Mitchell, and once she did, nothing was ever the same.
By the time she was 15, she had been studying classical voice, writing her own songs and playing guitar for several years. An elegant blend of lush pop and fantasy folk, Martin’s compositions are a rich, dreamy and emotionally exact.
Her EP Unconscious announced her arrival back in 2017 and 2019 finds the musician at a particularly creative moment in her life. Martin has two new singles on the way--the affecting and hypnotic “Like Falling Asleep” and the lush and percussive “10%”—and she’s just written the soundtrack to The Wilma Theatre's production of Romeo and Juliet. The soundtrack will include original music by Martin along with a crew of talented Philadelphia artists that was written and performed for the theatre’s winter 2019 production of the legendary Shakespeare play.
As for the themes she keeps returning to, Martin is rather candid. “Sleep and dreams are a big one,” she says. “I'm very interested in the power of the literal unconscious mind but also in the dreams and fantasies we lie to ourselves with in our conscious minds. Right now in particular I keep returning to the delusions of conventional romance and how dangerous they are especially for young people. I first experienced love in an emotionally abusive relationship that felt really normalized by both contemporary and classic examples of romance from Romeo and Juliet to Twilight.
With a BFA in acting under her belt and as a company member of Elliott Arrick’s Plant Me Here interdisciplinary arts collective, Martin is a natural extrovert who admits she likes to have randomly deep conversations with strangers. Her work explores the intersection of music and theatre and as a result, her compositions are fully realized narratives that evince a true gift for storytelling inside the framework of a pop song.
Martin admits her aim is, “To make songs feel like their own sonic worlds that can draw you in like a play. Working with Plant Me Here was imperative in turning on my interest in music production and coming at songwriting with an ear for sound design. Every time I sit down to record a demo by myself or work with a coproducer to develop a track's sound, it's a world building and storytelling exercise a lot like creating a piece of theatre.”
And speaking of theater, Martin. Who has spent hours on stage at a time, has some advice for theatre goers and actors alike. “Pee twice during intermission, kids,” she laughs.