Grace Gaustad is celebrating Valentine’s Day weekend with the release of “Pink Cadillac.” From her upcoming JUKEBX EP, the Bruce Springsteen cover layers Gaustad’s vocals with her 10-year-old self. The release comes off the heels of her September 2021 debut, BLKBX: wht r u hding, and serves as a predecessor to her next album, PILLBX. Before the 20-year-old artist starts rolling out her next LP early this summer, LA Confidential caught up with Gaustad to talk about “Pink Cadillac,” paying tribute to influential artists and finding freedom in creating PILLBX.
“Pink Cadillac” began with discovering an old recording you did as a kid. How did you come across that in the first place?
My mom, a couple times a year, we get on our phones, get on our computers, and we go searching for old demos, old recordings.
We go digging a couple times a year just to see if we can find something different. I've been writing music since I was so little that we have just an abundance of different recordings and funny things that I did as a kid. And so more recently, we came across this cover of “Pink Cadillac.” We played it and we were like, “Wow, this is actually pretty good,” because a lot of the stuff we find from when I was younger is just like a cute little kid singing.
Has Bruce Springsteen had an impact on you as an artist?
Absolutely. He has been one of my mom's favorite artists for so long. When I was younger, my mom introduced me to a lot of the first music I ever heard, which included a lot of Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, a lot of really sort of older artists who essentially shaped the landscape we see in the industry today. So he was one of the first artists I remember loving and hearing as a little kid. This is one of his first records that I remember just being obsessed with— probably because I was 10 years old and loved the color pink. It's still a great song.
What was it like layering your 10-year-old vocals with your vocals now at 20?
We weren't actually sure if we were going to be able to do it. What really allowed us to layer those vocals was the fact that I sing the song in the same key that I sang it in when I was 10 years old. Although my voice has grown and matured, and maybe I could have moved that key higher or lower, keeping it in the same spot was what allowed us to ultimately combine the vocals and stack them. I think it's super cool to hear me as a full adult now singing with me at 10 years old. I never thought that was going to be something that was possible. Just listening to the recording, and if you really pay attention, just hearing those two vocals against one another is like magic. It's so cool. It's one of those things that I hope every artist has the opportunity to do at some point. It's very surreal.
Your debut has been out less than a year. Why did you decide to go all in on a new project?
I think I've always just had so much appreciation for older artists, older music. I look back on being younger and just absolutely studying people like Bruce Springsteen or Michael Jackson or, even more recently, like the Lady Gagas, Katy Perrys and Taylor Swifts of the world. I think that artists are essentially responsible for the next generation of artists. So this is just my way to pay tribute and to keep these records alive in the modern world. I think we live in the world of the consumer and our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter and more and more music is being put out. And for me, I just don't want such great art to get lost in it all. I think that keeping these records alive and relevant is super important because they shaped me so much as an artist and I want the next generation of people and musicians to also have an experience with these incredible artists and songwriters.
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And you've also already started working on your next album, PILLBX, right?
Yep. It's actually done. Most people don't know, but I am one of those people— I just work probably way too much and I create far more than I will ever be able to put out into the world. We are officially in pre-production with PILLBX. Van and I are working day and night to put the whole vision together and it's going really well.
PILLBX is described as “an episodic style musical journey.” Can you explain more what that means?
I think the easiest way for me to explain it is to compare it to BLKBX. BLKBX is a linear story of the first 18 years of my life and everything that I went through growing up. PILLBX is a bit of a continuation of that story. It follows a more abstract format than BLKBX, but it still follows the premise of now I'm a young adult, trying to figure out the world, figure out what I want, who I want to be. So it's very much an album about self-exploration, identity, dreams, hopes, wishes for the future. It's really the album of those first couple years of adulthood where you're just trying to figure it all out. I'm 20 years old and sometimes I still feel like I'm just a super young kid who has no idea what I want to do with my life. And I think this album is a representation of what a lot of young people feel today where it's like all of a sudden you hit this turning point, you're out of high school, maybe you go to college, maybe get a job, maybe start a business, there's so many things to do. It's like the world is your oyster. And yet, it's so scary to put yourself out there and leave home. This album for me is like taking those first steps, getting out into the real world being on my own for the first time and just essentially growing up in a way that I didn't in BLKBX. I was still very young at the end of that album when I finished writing it, so this is just a continuation of my life story.
How does PILLBX demonstrate your evolution as an artist?
PILLBX sonically is still in the same vein of BLKBX. I think, though, it explores faster tempos, bigger production, just bigger songs in general. I really pushed myself with this record to go way outside of my comfort zone. As an artist, I would describe these songs as a bit riskier. They don't always follow, necessarily, a formula. They're very experimental. And at the same time, I feel like it's the best music I've ever written in my life. PILLBX, for me, has been incredibly freeing. I didn't allow myself to have any boundaries with this project. And the outcome of letting myself create without those boundaries has been very magical. It has a whole different vibe to it because I just put it all out. We'll see what happens. It's always scary putting art out into the world and seeing how it's going to be received. But I, personally, am already really proud of this project even though there's still a lot to be done.
What are you looking forward to most about the release of JUKEBX EP?
I think one thing to add about the JUKEBX EP is that it's not really an EP. It's going to be something that I leave open-ended so that in between my album cycles, I'm able to continue to cover old music and music from my favorite artists and put those covers out and put those songs out while I'm busy creating new material of my own. So JUKEBX is very open-ended. I don't know that there ever will be an end to it. I'm not sure. It'll just be something that lives out there that I add to every time I feel there's a song that I want to cover and pay tribute to.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Photography by: Courtesy Status PR/Grace Gaustad