Grace Sewell, the Australian singer who performs as Grace, only released her first EP, Memo, in May of this year and already she’s created something of a sensation. In addition to topping the charts in her homeland—well, in recent weeks Grace and her brother, singer Conrad, have battled each other for the #1 spot—she’s received international attention thanks in part to her cover of Lesley Gore’s 1963 hit “You Don’t Own Me,” produced, just like the original, by Quincy Jones.
Here, on a break in her packed international schedule, Grace takes a minute to discuss her success, her future and her personal style of songwriting.
You’re in New York this morning. The EP is a hit, you just did the Today show. Were you expecting any of this?
No! You kind of just hope that people like it, and even if it’s like five or 10 people who are into the music, that’s a big thing. But to see how well this record was received in Australia, it’s all kind of crazy. I’m pinching myself.
And this was just the appetizer. You’re working on a full-length right now, right?
Yeah, I’m finishing up now. I’m working with the producer who did my whole EP and a couple other people and we’re in like the last phases right now.
Does it have a similar feel to the EP?
It does. I’m always thinking hard about the sound and I’m always influenced by soul, hip-hop and jazz. I’m growing as a writer and I’m growing with the content and I think what I’m speaking about is a little bit more mature. But it still sounds like me for sure.
Do you write your songs in the studio?
It can go either way. I can go in with an idea that I have just walking down the street and start recording into my phone. Or it can be as simple as going into the studio with a beat and then co-writing and doing stuff with the melodies and adding notes. If I really want to express something, then I go into the studio by myself without a producer and just knock it out.
Your big hit has been “You Don’t Own Me.” Obviously the song was a big one for Lesley Gore, did you expect it to hit again?
I love the song and wanted to do it because the message behind it is so powerful. And I always kind of knew that females would connect with it because when it came out in the 1960s, women around the world connected with the words. I wanted it to do what it has done, especially in Australia. It shows that the message is something that a new generation wanted and needed to hear again and that’s a beautiful thing.
You’ve been around the world lately. Has the time on the road been inspirational?
It has! I try to go into the studio at least every couple of days, if not every day. And it makes me think about different concepts and stuff that’s going on. It feels good to go to so many incredible places.
Do you have any other covers up your sleeve?
I’m not too sure yet. It will probably come a bit later in my career, I’m not sure when. It’s not something I’m thinking about right now. I think this is a pretty good start.