GREYSON CHANCE's portraits of chaos, beauty and tests.
WORDS BY IRVIN RIVERA
“I cannot hold my tongue, you give me much to say
I'm sweating bullets, nervous that you'll push away
And when your eyes catch mine, I know I talk too much
So give me your two lips and baby, I'll shut up”
That’s just a taste of Greyson Chance’s music from his newly released album portraits.
The new album is rich with Greyson’s mature music with diverse songs like Yours, Timekeeper, shut-up, and Twenty One.
The album delivers songs that will punch and slap you with a bag of feels and transport you to an era of your life when love is such a beautiful, fleeting thing that makes you feel the most human – when you get hit by that huge wave of emotions all at once.
Chance’s Raw Electrifying Emotion with music streaming directly from the heart seamlessly ebbs and flows to his audience.
In this exclusive interview, the underrated singer-songwriter, known for his viral cover of Paparazzi, opens up about being back from hiatus, his music, the story behind the song shut-up, Amy Winehouse, and a whole lot more.
Who is Greyson Chance? What’s your story?
Most simply put, I’m a songwriter; that lies at the core of who I am as a human being. My story can be defined as unique, unexpected, and a great example of how, at any given moment, one small event can drastically change the trajectory of one’s life.
How was it growing up in Oklahoma? Would you say your childhood affected your music-making process?
I love Oklahoma, truly, with all of my heart. I think growing up in a working-class community, in which no one really had a lot of money, instilled into me a sense of appreciation for the opportunities that have arisen from my time in music. I’ve filled a few Passports, not a lot of kids have the chance to do that where I’m from; I am really fortunate. I’m not sure if my childhood has directly affected my music-making process, but the tenets that I learned from my family at an early age, to work hard and to work with passion, have greatly affected the way I conduct myself as an artist.
Has music always been a part of your life? Did you come from a musical family?
I wouldn’t say that I come from a musical family. My mom performed as a drama student when she was in high school, and my sister plays the piano and sings as well; she has a beautiful voice. That being said, it wasn’t a huge part of my family-life growing up. I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t singing though, or when I wasn’t amazed by music in general. I never minded when my parents would ask me to sing for their friends at parties or events; I always loved being the center of attention when I was young.
How has it been since your viral cover of Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi?
There’s not an adequate amount of time to properly answer this question, so I’ll leave you with this: chaotic, beautiful, and testing.
Can you walk us briefly to your songwriting process?
I wish I could, but it’s truly different for every song. A song might start as a vocal melody, a lyric that I jot down in my notebook, a piano line, or simply just a drum beat. I hear music in my head constantly, and in all different forms. I don’t question it; I just follow it.
What’s the story behind your single “shut up” and what’s the inspiration behind it?
“shut up” was inspired by a brief stint I had in Israel this past summer. I was there for some University work (I studied archaeology when I was school), and I found myself madly enamored by a fellow peer on the excavation site. Whenever I would be around him, I would catch myself talking endlessly about anything and everything, just hoping that the conversation wouldn’t stall. I guess he found it endearing, because we ended up luckily sharing a few romantic interactions during the rest of our trip. When I was in the airport about to leave back for the States, I challenged myself to write down exactly how I felt when I was around him in those beginning moments. The lyrics came to me immediately, I wrote them down, and then finished the song when I returned to LA.
Tell us about your forthcoming album portraits. What inspired it and what can your audience expect from it?
portraits, to me, is my first released body of work that is truly mine. I have been releasing music for a long time, but this album honestly feels like my debut, for it’s the most truthful extension of myself that I have ever provided. When I wrote it, I wasn’t thinking about how it might resonate, or how it might impact my career. I thought about the experiences of my previous year and how I wanted to share such experiences. I wrote every word of the album and I am not sure I have ever been this vulnerable as I am with this work as a songwriter. In terms of inspiration, I was inspired by leaving college to pursue music again full time, the weight that that transformation held within itself, falling both in and out of love, and lastly, the pursuit to create a record that I could be proud of as an artist and as a creative; in this way, I was greatly inspired by the concept of redemption.
What are you most excited about your tour?
To see the people who have been supporting me since day one and to show them that I’m happy and that I made it through to the other side. On top of that, I am excited to make new fans along the way. I think a lot of people will be surprised by the music and the show. I love proving people wrong.
How important is it for you to come out to the world in a positive way?
It has been extremely important to me. If I can be a positive light and a source of positive energy for anyone struggling with their sexuality or identity, that’s a huge victory. I’ve thought about this a lot recently. I think my purpose, or rather my “cog in the machine”, at the moment is to make intentional and good art. I’ve seen my music help a lot of people, and I never want to lose that.
Who are your music idols?
For this album, I was most inspired by Slyvan Esso, Bon Iver, and, on a songwriting level, Joni Mitchell and Brandi Carlile. In terms of my overall idols, I will forever love Amy Winehouse, Nas, and Gaga.
If you could collaborate with an artist (living or dead) who would it be and why?
I don’t think I would have necessarily wanted to collaborate with her, I would have been too intimidated, but I wish I could have met Amy while she was still alive. I have seen a lot of addiction in my life through different family and friends, and I wish I could have helped her and been with her. Her album Frank is the most honest and telling records I’ve ever heard. That type of songwriting and her delivery, her energy, her openness, all of it inspires me daily.
Top 3 music in your playlist right now.
What’s the last book you’ve read?
Demian by Herman Hesse. I’m a huge fan of Hesse. He inspires my songwriting a lot.
If you were a book (type/kind/title/etc), what book would you be and why?
Fiction, early 20th-century, Hemingway-type prose, slightly romantic. I’m not sure as to why that’s the case, but that’s an honest answer.
Check out Greyson’s latest hit single, “shut Up” from his forthcoming album “portraits” available now!