A conversation with Gracie Abrams, the next queen of bedroom pop

WSN spoke with Gracie Abrams as she prepared for her upcoming tour, “This Is What It Feels Like.” She’ll also be opening for Olivia Rodrigo on the “SOUR” tour.


Singer-songwriter Gracie Abrams’ latest album, “This Is What It Feels Like,” was released on Nov. 12. (Image courtesy of Interscope PR)

Sarah John, Contributing Writer

This Valentine’s Day, Gracie Abrams will be playing her first of two New York City shows. Her latest project, “This Is What It Feels Like,” dives into the woes and sorrows of young love, friendship and teenage melancholy. The album received widespread critical acclaim, and unsurprisingly so — the blossoming singer-songwriter has already garnered praise from the likes of Phoebe Bridgers, Lorde and Olivia Rodrigo, the latter of which she’ll be opening for on the “SOUR” tour. 

Abrams, a charmingly open TikTok user and a self-proclaimed shy and anxious young adult, exudes all the vulnerability and passion that bedroom pop is famous for. But just like the brutally honest, intimate music that put her on the map, Abrams has her own brand of boldness. She has a persistent devotion to diving deeper and deeper into her art, and that drive has made her into one of the hottest figures in bedroom pop.

I sat down with Abrams, whose father is film producer J.J. Abrams, to talk about her growth as a musician and her upcoming tours, “This Is What It Feels Like” and “SOUR” with Olivia Rodrigo.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

WSN: What is something small that you’re really grateful for these days, and why? 

Gracie Abrams: Oh, my relationship with my mom. I don’t think that’s small, necessarily, but it has been something that I know I’ve taken for granted in the past. I feel very, very hyper-aware of how lucky I am — to not only have her in my life, but to be as close with her as I am. 

WSN: You’ve talked previously about wanting to make music that’s culturally aware and reflects things happening in society, since a lot of your recent writing has focused on conflicts in your personal life. So I’m curious, what does that look like to you — incorporating activism or values or beliefs into your music? 

GA: I always want to be a better writer every single day, so a big part of that is constantly exposing myself to what’s going on outside of my own brain and heart. Honestly, I’m just trying to be a listener all the time right now. I want more perspective, because having a personal stake in matters that involve not just me, but others, is what it means to be a human being. I am desperately, constantly trying to consider that. That’s what I’ve tried to do in the past.

One of the things I’ve recently tried to get away from — although it kind of inevitably happens  — is writing about myself in relationships. I want to write about myself, not just in relationships with other people, but also in relation to the world. I want to get deeper into my own mental health sometimes, versus writing what comes to me more naturally, which is music about relationships. When I started writing music, a lot of it was about feelings toward other people that I didn’t really want to share with others at the time [laughs]. But I try to stretch myself to talk about everything else that’s going on because, luckily, relationships are just one very small part of everything.

WSN: It sounds like you’re using your relationships as a lens to talk about mental health and what’s happening in the world, right?

GA: Absolutely. Trying, but also being hyper-aware that I’m no expert. I’m simply fumbling around in the dark trying to navigate through all these things. So it’s funny when reflecting on certain songs or attempts at songs where I just completely missed the mark, but I am definitely fascinated by the process and eager to uncover whatever that ends up looking like. 

WSN: What did you learn that surprised you while making “This Is What It Feels Like”? How did making the project shape you as a person just in general?

GA: Well, I started working with Aaron Dessner on this project. My relationship with him has taught me a lot about myself — outside of the music industry as well. It’s taught me about the importance of taking time and space to just exist in places that are less public before being creative in a way that ends up being so public.

Growing up in Los Angeles, and living here for the past few years since moving back from New York — it’s all felt very loud for someone who is as sensitive and anxious as I tend to be. When I went to the East Coast to work with Aaron, I felt like, as a writer, a part of myself was unlocked in a way that reminded me of how I used to feel when I was 14 writing songs. I was just constantly writing about anything and everything. 

I think during the pandemic — a time of such uncertainty and fear and confusion for so many people — my writing was affected. I felt stuck all the time. But then I got out of Los Angeles for a while to be in a place that is so isolated with someone like Aaron, who is a genius but also just understands the importance of being patient with your music — versus what I know to be true about the industry now, to a degree, which is that many people are hungry for content all the time, and quickly. There’s a demand for that, but it’s not how my brain works and functions, and I can’t do that in a way that feels healthy. So I learned that is a very true thing about myself. I was kind of toeing the line of knowing that something wasn’t clicking properly with me [in Los Angeles] for quite a while. So to get out and experience that discovery of self through this project with him was an incredible learning experience.

WSN: You know how people wish they could reread their favorite book again for the first time? If you could re-experience a moment of your career again for the first time, what would it be?

GA: That’s a great question. I will never forget the first night of tour. It was the first show that I ever played in my life and it was really surreal. I feel like I blacked out a little bit, which is why I wish I could relive it. But it forced me to be present because there was no running away or turning back. And I think up until that very moment I had felt like doing that because of my own anxiety and stage fright in general. Paired with the pandemic, where things kept getting pushed back, I had this expectation: “Oh, it will never really happen.” And then it did! I definitely got the kind of wild-eyed, nervous-system reaction in this crazy way. I was sweating profusely. But I remember all the faces, and I just felt so OK to be in a room with the people that were there. It was just this special night that made me feel like what I was doing was more tangible than I had imagined and thought prior to it. It was just special to be with all of them. 

WSN: What has been the most challenging part of your career so far and what has facing that taught you? 

GA: It’s similar to the answer about getting away from here, and taking my time with my process in a way that I know is maybe a bit slower than others. Like, getting comfortable with that, because on this project I actually did experience a version of making music again that felt healthy and productive, and that made my inner child excited. I hadn’t really felt that way in a while.

The challenge was acknowledging the fact that I don’t necessarily fit into some exact mold. It was challenging for me to confront that, but then once I did, I felt like I had a bit more of a road map for myself in the future, about how to make music in a way that felt like less of a betrayal to what I know the music could be.

WSN: So obviously — you’re going on tour soon, and then you’re going to be opening for Olivia Rodrigo later. What are you most excited about for both of those tours? 

GA: I’ve been dying to go back out since the last run ended, which is so funny to me now because it was what I was so afraid of before. I miss the energy of the audience so much, and I miss being in the same room of people that have gone through similar experiences to me, because it helped make me feel like I’m a tiny grain of sand. It reminds me that I’m not unique in my experiences which is really helpful, and so I’ve been desperate to be back with all of them. And then with Liv, the rooms are going to be bigger, which is a lot of fun, but I’m also excited to be on the road with a friend. I know it’s going to feel like summer camp and summer camp was my favorite thing of all time [laughs]. We’re both stoked. We were talking about it last night. We’re just going to go find adventures every step of the way — and to be with her on her first run of tour? I mean, I’m going to be so proud of her, so proud to watch that happen. I think that it’s going to make me feel very full every single day. So I just feel lucky that I get to be there and watch her.

Contact Sarah John at [email protected].