Music interview – Issac Gracie: ‘There’s no façade or masquerade up there – it’s just me’

Isaac Gracie plays at Belgrave Music Hall.
Isaac Gracie plays at Belgrave Music Hall.
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The self-titled album isn’t exactly something music takes lightly.

To dub a record with your own name, as a singer or as a band, can be read as a statement of intent, as picking up the gauntlet. There’s a weight of history behind it; The Beatles, Metallica, Fleetwood Mac. Peter Gabriel started his solo career with four in a row, and, debatably, so did Led Zeppelin.

Why then has Isaac Gracie, the highly-tipped singer-songwriter, chosen to shoulder the burden of legacy for his debut release?

“You think about how to name a record for a very long time,” the 23-year-old notes with interest. “The nature of it, the embodiment of my life within it, the pricelessly unexchangeable personality of it… there was no title that I felt could be attached to it other than my name. There was nothing else I could give it to do it justice.”

It’s been a whirlwind overt the past two years for the young Gracie. Signed to EMI, his debut LP impacts this month. Comparisons to the folk-rock poetry of Jeff Buckley and Leonard Cohen aside, where else has he drawn influence from for his first full set? “It’s hard to name any specific one that has driven the process somewhat because I’ve grown alongside it,” he ponders. “The eponymous aspect is derived from The Velvet Underground, and their lyricism is something I’m inspired by. Jeff Buckley’s Grace, obviously.” He thinks for a moment. “The Bends by Radiohead. It’s overlooked; take them away from the album and every one of those songs can stand on their own. That’s some achievement, to have that strength in depth.”

He has his biggest tour to date around release day and is keenly aware that it will be the most serious gauge yet of his musical prowess. “You always hope live that there’s a connection to the songs, a certain rawness of emotion. I don’t gloss it up much, and I try to avoid thinking about it; I’m a rather neurotic person. But on stage, any superficial concerns can go out of the window and you focus on giving a performance that connects. There’s no façade or masquerade up there; it’s just me.” He pauses and mulls it over. “I hope everybody will have their own favourite track, that they will like the record. They all mean different things to me; and yet, so much at the same time.”

You always hope live that there’s a connection to the songs, a certain rawness of emotion. I don’t gloss it up much, and I try to avoid thinking about it.

Isaac Gracie

Isaac Gracie plays at Belgrave Music Hall on April 12. His self-titled album is out the following day. www.isaacgraciemusic.com

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