- Words Isabelle Cassidy
- Photography Lee Scullion
- Styling Caitriona Oladapo
- Location Big Sky Studios
- Production Studio Notion
We get to know rising artist TS Graye as she speaks on her debut EP, 'Graye Area', biggest inspirations and favourite TV shows.
Direct, vulnerable and upfront, TS Graye is an artist not afraid to use her songwriting to tackle visceral emotions and tough topics. The singer’s debut EP ‘Graye Area’ does just this, laying out her hopes and fears in blazing honesty. Covering topics like experiences of anxiety and the difficulties of self-love, Graye has discussed how for her, the EP serves as an unflinching exploration of what it means to be a woman in 2022.
Citing a range of inspirations from Frank Sinatra and the Beatles, to Tupac and Kanye, it was the discovery of Lana Del Rey at the age of 11 that started TS Graye’s songwriting. She then began her music career younger than most, being approached to audition for a girl band three years later. Deciding to pursue her solo endeavours, Graye was still only 17 when she released single “MY2”, an exploration of cheating and revenge. The early success of this track opened doors for the singer, appearing on dance remixes and supporting the likes of Sasha Sloane and DRAMA on tour.
Fast forward to 2022, and Graye’s debut EP has already gone through various iterations. Having originally written songs during lockdown, she describes feeling like she’d grown up, gaining confidence and wanting to explore wider topics happening across current affairs. We caught up with the rising artist to ask about her evolution as an artist, her experiences of writing the EP, and what she hopes people will take away from her new music.
Congrats on the EP, ‘Graye Area’! Is there a particular message or feeling you hope people take away from the tracks?
Thank you!! I hope people feel as much relief listening to this EP as I felt when writing it. I want it to be something people can listen to and see it as all the things they couldn’t or cannot find the words to say. I hope people feel inspired to make decisions they’ve been stuck on, and I want people to know that things do get better even when you feel that you’ve hit the lowest of lows!
You started making music when you were only 17. Four years later, how would you describe your evolution as an artist, and is there anything you’ve learned?
I actually started when I was much younger, but since releasing my first track when I was 17, I have definitely learned and grown a lot musically. For me, it’s just about growing up. I see my music as an outlet so the more experience I have in life, the more authentic. I’ve learned to not be scared to talk about my personal experiences because even if one person can relate in their own way, or it can help someone, it’s worth it.
What got you into making music in the first place?
My mum! When I was 11, she cashed in her Tesco vouchers and booked me into a studio. She told me “if you hate it, you never have to do it again but I just want you to try”. After that, I just fell in love with it and have been doing it since!
We know Lana Del Ray’s music had an influence on your work – who are some of your biggest inspirations both in your professional and personal life, and why?
The biggest inspirations in my professional life are Frank Sinatra and Little Simz. Frank because I love the way his music makes you feel regardless of the mood you’re in, and he’s just an all-around icon. My mum always played him around the house when I was growing up, so he played a huge part in my influences, too.Little Simz is one of my favourite artists. I love the way her music makes me feel, and I love the way it sounds. She is such a huge voice for women, she is so intelligent and talented. She’s also just so authentic in her writing and her delivery of every word is perfection. In my personal life, my family is my biggest inspiration. They are all hard workers and have had to overwork to get to where they are now. My mum has always worked overtime to make sure my brother and I were okay. She’s an angel!
Your long-time collaborator Oscar Scheller (PinkPantheress, Ashnikko) co-wrote with you on a lot of ‘Graye Area’, could you tell us about your musical process for the album and the songwriting experience?
The process was probably the easiest experience I’ve had with making music, it poured out of me and was such a weight lifted off my shoulders when I finally put it into a song. Oscar was so amazing to make this EP with as he’s always so open and understanding which made me feel comfortable enough to write about anything and everything I wanted to!
What do you love most about working with Oscar?
I just love that it doesn’t feel like work. It’s so fun and he is so talented! The majority of the time I feel like he’s in my head when we’re working. He knows exactly what I like when it comes to production, so I don’t even have to say. Then when it comes to the writing, we just bounce off each other and it’s so rewarding when we finish the song as it’s a real collaboration of both our brains!
Why do you think it’s important to explore what it means to be a woman in 2022, and how does ‘Graye Area’ tackle this? I understand the title is in reference to the need for perfection on social media?
It’s important for everyone to explore what women endure on a day-to-day basis. If you’re not in someone else’s situation or body then you will never know what it’s like to experience what they are experiencing. However, the majority of women go through similar things every day and I don’t think most men/ people are aware of that or if they are just how bad it can be.On the other hand, it’s important for society to be more accepting of viewing women as sexual beings and not objects, too. Graye area explores this in many ways, through learning to love yourself, to not feeling safe as a woman.
How would you compare this EP to tracks like “Dressed in White” or “Honestly” you’ve put out previously – do you feel ‘Graye Area’ has been a long time coming?
I would say this EP is far more honest, purely because I have a grown-up a lot since then and had more experience. I also didn’t necessarily know how to talk/write about the things I have written about in ‘Graye Area’ at the time I released honestly. It’s definitely been a long time coming, and I hope it gives people as much therapy to listen as it gave me to create.
The EP-opener “Bunny Years” takes its name from a 1999 TV movie – do you find much time to watch films or TV shows? Did any on-screen stories get you through lockdown?
It does indeed! I always try and find a little time to watch movies but my favourite is always going to be Girl, Interrupted.
Do you have any dream collaborators? Who do you think is killing it in music right now?
Dream collab would have to be Little Simz. I would also love to work with A$AP Rocky and Dave. They are all killing it and their music is timeless.
Alongside the EP release is there anything you’re looking forward to in 2022: any live show plans?