By Hannah Connolly
he past few years have been big for JGrrey. Having launched onto the scene in 2017 with her rendition of Don’t Fade, she racked up the streams with breezy, For Keeps and Growing before heading out on tour with Billie Eilish.
Then came the pandemic, and as life changed for all of us, for JGrrey it was a chance to reckon with who she was. Feeling disconnected, lock-downs sparked a look inward and a subsequent reinvention.
“For a long time I wasn’t going with my gut, in business, in my social life, or my relationships. I wasn’t going with my gut because I thought I wasn’t allowed to,” she says over Zoom.
"I was in a place of feeling like I wanted more from love, more from my identity, more from queerness, and more from experiences with other queer people."
This was the catalyst for flipping the switch: “As soon as I realised I could do what the fuck I want, then things changed. I started working really sincerely in my music and started to treat it more like art than work.”
Even through a laptop JGrrey’s energy is infectious, completely charming and straight up funny – chatting away you can feel the passion in her approach to her craft. Yet, there was a time where music wasn't quite so fulfilling.
“It’s the music industry at the end of the day,” she says, adding: “When you feel like you can’t make the art you want to make or be sincere in what you are releasing, or you are just not having conversations with your team around where you are at… it can really suck the joy out of things.”
Sincerity would be the standout for our chat, something JGrrey notices herself. “I know I keep saying sincere, it’s like fucking shut up, but it is something I hold dear,” and it’s palpable in her music. This isn’t a buzz word. Neo-soul influences and stream of consciousness freestyles invite you into JGrrey's world with open arms, and it's a world you won’t be in any hurry to leave.
Today JGrrey's is in a new place, but what does that look like? Paceless is the answer. “Say for instance I want to make an album, I decide right now I want to make a debut album – immediately there is pressure”, she says. Adding: “If you take away any of that and it’s paceless – it’s whatever I want to do.”
Though, it’s a team effort, she says, and when it comes to making tracks, who makes up the inner circle is a vital. “It’s key, so key. You know, these are the people that you will end up speaking to on the weekends and first thing in the morning and when you are at dinner and you don’t want to be working. So it is really important that you trust and love your team.”
“For a long time, I wasn’t going with my gut, in business, in my social life, or my relationships. I wasn’t going with my gut because I thought I wasn’t allowed to.”
Taking away the pressure is JGrrey's approach from now on and often, she says, it’s about just getting the right people in the room and seeing what comes out of it. The result? A relaxed and more joyful approach that pours out of her new material.
In fact joy, and collective joy, is another theme to our conversation, but it’s a delicate balance: “If everyone else finds joy in it (the music), hopefully I can still find joy in it. As soon as someone is not communicating well or being a prick – you know egos and people's projections into what they think you are or how you should be... Who you’re around can make or break whether you enjoy what you’re doing or not.”
In keeping with her new attitude to taking the pressure off and releasing new work when it feels right, Theirs13 dropped last month, after a few years in the making. The first lines “They, them, theirs, I’d like to be 13,” came together over a beat sent by producer and songwriter Ed Thomas during lock-down.
Theirs13 is one of those pieces of music that you can’t help but sink right into, the beats and vocals lulling your body into an unconscious, rhythmic sway – for JGrrey she’s just happy to hear it’s being well received.
“The fact you said you liked it makes me so happy because it came out of a really obscure place.” Adding: “I was in a place of feeling like I wanted more from love, more from my identity, more from queerness and more from experiences with other queer people.” On the inspiration JGrrey had spoken to her partner at the time, who’s non-binary and who’s pronouns are they/them – “It's almost ridiculous, but that’s the song that came out of it.”
This month marked a second release as May dropped on the scene, another stellar track featuring Kojey Radical. Imbued with a similar soothing, feel it in your body rhythm.
On what’s coming next JGrrey has a few ideas: “I do really want to make some great merch, I want to do flash tattoo sheets and give all the money to key charities. I want to do amazing live shows and continue to connect to my fanbase and who knows, maybe make an album, but at the moment I’ll just be happy to have a nice dinner tonight.”
Remaining in the moment is paramount of JGrrey and it’s what makes her such a joy to speak to: “ It’s everyday as it comes for me at the moment, and I’m aware of how blessed I am to be in a position to do that. I am really grateful for that.. It is to continue in the same mindset and mindframe I’m in recently because I am blessed and I am grateful. I feel happy at the moment.
We caught up with singer-songwriter JGrrey to talk new music, staying in the moment and realigning with yourself.
By Hannah Connolly