Grace Mitchell

Grace Mitchell

There was a time, not so long ago, when the line between pop and punk blurred and the space between was art. In those days, the music breaking through reflected the electric pulse of New York City and Los Angeles and a night on Sunset Strip evoked the same dangerous and erotic essence as a bar crawl in the East Village. Now days it seems Los Angeles would prefer to enjoy a cold pressed juice under umbrella shade on a lethargic brunch outing while New York City parties on. Not that we don't all enjoy a smoothie now and again, but today it seems the edge has dulled. Gritty cultural landmarks become trendy franchises, underground warehouses are carved into luxury lofts. The major LA studios are abuzz with post-dubstep, Swedish soft trap, pop-drops and innocent female top liners. The air waves are flooded with acoustic guitars layered on top of 808s, and the ears and hearts of alt-rock, and grunge loving young adults are seldom satiated. Simply stated, pop music in Los Angeles has lost the danger. It seems we have traded artful risk taking for the safety of proven formulas, rather than striving to push boundaries to strike a precarious balance between the two. The LA pop scene is long overdue for a re-vamp, a reinterpretation of the sonics and integrity of late 60s and 70s rock and roll with a new face a la Joan Jett, Stevie Nicks or Debbie Harry. But who would dare to fill such large, strappy, black, platformed shoes? Introducing her Alt-Highness, Grace Mitchell.
Grace is a force to be reckoned with. She has two major defining physical features that make her immediately recognizable, be it in the low light of a crowded East Village Bar or a bungalow at the Chateau Marmont. Amazonian in height, she glides above the crowd, with a stature suited to her larger than life personality and commanding stage presence. A head above the rest, her voluminous red hair frames her statuesque features and piercing blue eyes. She is a lean lioness on the prowl, the likes of which would have made Jim Morrison swoon. She is slinky and mysterious, yet approachable and charismatic. Her witty, youthful spirit and wise composure perfumes her with the sweet nostalgia of a John Hughes movie. Turning heads across rooms, clad in her well-worn leather jacket, she draws in bystanders like a moth to a cigarette flame. Captivated by her swift, decisive movements, and undeniable charm, you can’t help but think you’ve seen her before on television, in a tabloid, or on the cover of your favorite vintage Playboy.
Looks and character aside, her golden voice is incomparable. She sings with total conviction and absolute sincerity. Her voice is both archetypal and androgynous. She sings with the fire and passion of a true rock and roller and with the beautifully constructed, effortless melodies of the most seasoned pop performer. Her husky, warm inflection sounds like falling back into a plush velvet couch with a whiskey rocks in hand. She uses her uniquely dynamic voice to project devastating, impassioned notes and calls, and then in the next second, dramatically croons like a Southern harlot. She slips in and out of mysteriously alluring and colorful characters all while maintaining the utmost sincerity. Her inflections never feel like a put on, but rather, with each note she invites the listener to peel back the many layers of her endlessly fascinating mind.
This same multidimensional quality can be applied to her vast musical prowess. The music is daring, fresh, and free of era. She is a force to be reckoned with both as a writer and a producer in the studio. Grace marries chaotic, at times schizophrenic synth-based production with live instrumentation and melodies reminiscent of the best 90’s grunge, and indie-rock heroines. Mitchell’s music takes you by the hand and leads you on a trip through space and time. Listening, you could find yourself in a neighborhood coffee shop, hungover and alive with your memories from the night. Groggily tipping back black coffee and sorting through the foggy morning. Next you might find yourself in the basement of a Brooklyn Warehouse; speakers blaring post-apocalyptic guitar strokes with hip hop overtones. The kaleidoscope of Mitchell’s sonic intuition folds together into a precise materialization that is her first debut album. Across the tracks of her record, the prolific artist presents an unrelenting set of boundless, genre-defying pop songs. She captivates listeners with fully immersive anthems provoking in their catchiness and alluring in their tastefulness.
A product of her tireless dedication to art and creativity Grace has created an utterly extraordinary and eclectic body of work. Dare we call it a modern playlist? Seemingly having solved the formula for what draws us all to popular music it maintains an artistic credibility and mass digestibility seldom heard from an individual artist. In her own words, the music sounds “…like everything at once, and nothing at all, but most crucially, it is loud.” Mitchell has decided to treat listeners to this playlist one track at a time, building to a culminating crescendo of the final release. The collection of songs lends itself to be consumed in this fashion due to its sonic vastness and each track’s unique world. In this way she is also turning the notion of a single driven industry on its head, releasing each song individually but within the context of her larger vision. It is a playlist that is at once expansive and entirely cohesive. For her fans, each subsequent track is another delightful piece of the endlessly captivating puzzle that is Grace Mitchell.

On the single “Alive,” HAWAI [pronounced huh-why] charismatically carries the chorus, “I want to be alive, here in the darkness, under the stars, there’s only your light.”

It’s more than just a catchy chant for the Orange County quartet—Jake Pappas [vocals, guitar], Jesse “Bumper” Dorman [drums], Jared Slaybaugh [bass, vocals], and Matt Gillen [keyboards, synths]. Rather, it represents the awakening explored on their forthcoming second EP, Hide in the Ocean [Antler Records]. It’s the moment when you realize you don’t know everything. It’s the realization that longstanding beliefs you’ve held onto can change. It’s when you embrace change.
It’s the day you wake up, forget about trying to fit in, and just be alive…

“I had an awakening,” Pappas affirms. “I thought, ‘There’s so much knowledge out there, there are so many beliefs, and there’s so much to discover.’ I was okay not knowing. The song is an invitation asking, ‘While I’m trying to figure it all out, does someone want to come on this journey with me?’ I felt like it was time to go out on the boat in the middle of that vast ocean.”
That boat first set sail in 2015. Formed by longtime friends, HAWAI came together with a pure, passionate, and powerful vision equally steeped in alternative, rock, and pop. Produced by Lars Stalfors [Cold War Kids, Deap Vally], their 2016 debut Working All Night EP yielded fan favorites such as “All Night,” “In My Head,” “Fault,” and more, which cumulatively totaled 1 million Spotify streams. The group’s brand of beach-swept alternative bliss generated a serious critical buzz too. Everyone from Consequence of Sound and Magnet to Indie Shuffle and Alternative Press offered praise, while the boys headlined many shows across SoCal.

Back in Los Angeles, they quietly assembled Hide in the Ocean with the help of producer Frederik Thaae [Atlas Genius]. The new tracks marked a sonic progression. Together, they incorporated more synths into HAWAI’s signature salvo of kinetic guitars. Meanwhile, Jake lyrically cut right to the chase—“getting directly to the point like never before,” as he describes it.
“We had something with Frederik from the very beginning,” the vocalist elaborates. “He helped make things a little more concise. He taught me how to loosen my grip on aspects of the music.”

The first single “I’m Not Dead” illuminated this evolution. Praised by Paste as “the track fans have been waiting for,” it quickly crossed the 100K mark on Spotify in a few months’ time. Awash in fuzzy guitars and warm keys, it encodes a theme within the plea, “Come with me to the ocean. Let’s hide in the ocean.’”
“The concept is to go to somewhere that’s completely undiscoverable,” explains Jake. “The ocean is 70% of the earth’s surface, but it’s uncharted. The theme is wanting company in this unknown place. We’re hiding there together.”

The clarion call and shimmering second single “Alive” tempers an upbeat synth spark and bombastic rhythms with a thought-provoking chant.

“It embodies this image of not just wanting to breathe, walk, and talk, but to really live,” he exclaims. “People say they feel alive, but what does that mean? How do you get there? I want to really feel alive. That’s what I’m crying out for.”

Over the course of Hide in the Ocean, that energy transmits right to the hearts and minds of listeners.

“When people hear this thing, I hope they ask questions,” Jake leaves off. “I started asking questions while I was working on it. That inspired me to dig deeper. If they feel like it sounds rad and it also makes them think, that’d be all we could ever ask for.”
Get ready to dive in with HAWAI.

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