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gracie abrams dazed interview good riddance
Photography Danielle Neu, Courtesy of Interscope Records

Gracie Abrams, the songwriter giving you full access to her journal

The LA-based singer-songwriter – and original inspiration for Olivia Rodrigo – catches up with us ahead of the release of her long-awaited debut album, Good Riddance

Most people kept a diary as a kid. While some had classic ‘Dear Diary’ entries, others let their imagination take over the page. For singer Gracie Abrams, her childhood journal opened up a world of storytelling that eventually ignited a passion for songwriting. Released during the pandemic, Abrams’ first EP, Minor was a small collection of songs she wrote in her teen years detailing the intricacies of girlhood, friendships, and navigating young love – the record went on to be the inspiration for Olivia Rodrigo’s 2021 hit single “Drivers License”. Her second project This is What it Feels Like followed a similar formula but with some heavier topics. 

Now after four years after her debut single, Abrams is finally dropping her official debut album Good Riddance and it’s her most honest body of work to date. Working with producer Aaron Dessner, the making of the album saw Abrams trade her hometown of Los Angeles’ chaos for the quiet bliss of Dessner’s home studio in Hudson Valley in New York state. “Working upstate and finding a partner in Aaron who I trust so deeply I think really allowed for an entirely different workflow, one that felt raw and rare,” she tells Dazed.

True to her stream-of-consciousness songwriting style, Good Riddance offers an honest reflection on the sudden realisations that come with your early twenties. In her album announcement, Abrams wrote “writing this record allowed me to grow up in ways I needed to. It forced me to reflect and be accountable. It allowed me to walk away from versions of myself that I no longer recognised. It allowed me to let go”.

Opening with what she describes as an apology, “Best” is a sincere account of owning your own mistakes, “you fell hard I thought good riddance / I never was the best to you,” she sings. The rest of the album takes listeners on a journey of self-discovery, with songs such as “Difficult”, “This is What the Drugs Are For” and “Right Now“ unpacking relatable experiences such as losing friendships, therapy and the guilt that comes with leaving home. 

Aside from the album, 2023 is already busy for Abrams. From next month, Abrams will be bringing her new album to the masses with not only her own tour but her dream gig opening joining her idol Taylor Swift for 30 stadium shows alongside Phoebe Bridgers, Beabadoobee, Muna, Haim and Girl in Red

Ahead of the album release, we caught up with Gracie about her Good Riddance, being inspired by Mary Oliver and how her songwriting has changed over the years.

Hi Gracie, congratulations on your debut album! How different was working on Good Riddance from your past projects?

Gracie Abrams: Thank you so much. It was a completely different process at its core, and I think a lot of that had to do with the physical space we were in while writing and recording. Working in what felt like the middle of nowhere with such expansive nature very much influenced the sonic landscape of the album. I was reading a lot of Mary Oliver while writing this record and she often reflects on the natural world and its elements… the seasons and change. I found myself feeling so drawn to how fragile yet sure her words always are. I just didn’t feel as curious in previous years. I felt distracted by LA when I’d work there, I felt differently anxious. 

How did you first get into making music?

Gracie Abrams: I’ve written forever and storytelling is my favourite part of all this. When I was small I started writing songs in place of journaling one day and just really immediately loved the way it made me feel. 

You used to post music on Soundcloud a lot when you were younger, how has your songwriting and style changed since then?

Gracie Abrams: I don’t know that it has changed too much, ultimately. I feel I still write as impulsively most of the time, but I do think or at least hope that I’m a significantly more thoughtful person now than I was all those years ago, so fingers crossed that shows up in my writing. 

Which was the hardest song to write and which one is your current favourite?

Gracie Abrams: “Best” was a tough one to write, not in terms of actually putting the words down, but tough in the confessional sense. It kind of sucked to reckon with the feeling of having let someone down. That song is a bit of an apology. My current favourite is “I know it won’t work”, mostly I think because in rehearsals these days the arrangement just makes me so stoked for tour to start. Genuinely. 

You often share quotes from your journal, what’s your number one tip for successful journaling?

Gracie Abrams: I don’t know what successful journaling really looks like… I think it really does look so different for everyone who does it, I’m always curious to know how different people go about it. For me, I just know I feel better when I stay consistent with my writing. Ten minutes a day, even. Sometimes it’s in my notes app. I don’t feel like I have the greatest memory, so finding selfish motivations for writing things down helps... I’m like, it would be really cool to not forget the majority of my days. I would love to have all the details all the time. 

You can only listen to three albums for the rest of your life, which three are you picking?

Gracie Abrams: Tapestry by Carole King. Grace by Jeff Buckley. Born To Die by Lana Del Rey.  

What’s the last thing you wrote on your notes app?

Gracie Abrams: A quote: “you chapstick is spicy.”

Favourite poem right now?

Gracie Abrams: “The Gate” by Marie Howe. 

If you were a cereal which cereal would you be?

Gracie Abrams: Cinnamon life or frosted flakes. 

You make it to the Great British Bakeoff final, what are you making?

Gracie Abrams: Literal dream… I’m probably making a to-scale cake of my dog Weenie. 

Good Riddance is out now