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ACL Interview: Grace London

The rise and return of the local classicist and prodigy

By William Harries Graham, 3:00PM, Tue. Oct. 1, 2013

Grace London at Maria’s Taco Xpress for a Proper Nang HAAM Day benefit
Grace London at Maria’s Taco Xpress for a Proper Nang HAAM Day benefit
photo by Wesley Balli

My last interview with my good friend and 13-year-old rising star Grace London was in 2012 – right after she moved to Los Angeles for a year with her family. Lucky for her friends and fans, she’s back! In fact, you can catch her Friday at the Austin City Limits Music Festival and on the second weekend as well.

London’s a sleeper act at ACL this year. Don’t let the fact that she’s playing the Austin Kiddy Limits stage throw you, either. Her music isn’t child’s play. Strumming guitar, singing pitch perfect, and playing the kick drum all at once with her intelligent, resonant, and melodious lyrics is sure to wow you.

A mainstay in the local youngbloods music scene, she’s also a regular at my Proper Nang nights. The last stage we shared together was on HAAM Day and she had the audience mesmerized.

Austin Chronicle: How do you feel about playing ACL this year?

Grace London: I’m crazy pumped about playing and so honored to be a part of it.

AC: What are your set times?

GL: I’m playing at 2:30pm on Friday the first weekend, and at 2:30pm on Sunday the second weekend.

AC: Los Angeles vs. Austin?

GL: I think Austin is more of a community, and Los Angeles is kind of like a corporation. I really like Los Angeles, but I think it’s a better place to kick around and visit rather than live there. I do love all the beaches and palm trees and different neighborhoods in Los Angeles and I might want to live there again one day. If I ever breed little kiddies of my own, though, I couldn’t think of a better place to raise them than Austin.

AC: While the music you play isn’t classical, I don’t think people realize that you’re an accomplished classical guitarist.

GL: Yes, I started with classical guitar at 7. It helped me build a good foundation as a guitar player. And now I’m in the chamber guitar group at McCallum, which is great!

AC: What was your first show?

GL: My first show was at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf when I was 9. I think I played a Nickelback song.

AC: Musical influences?

GL: I feel like all types of music can inspire me, even very subtly. A lot of music I’ve been listening to lately sounds nothing like my music, like Beyonce, Die Antwoord, Neutral Milk Hotel, and the Smiths. I think I’ll always be endlessly inspired by Jack White, Elliott Smith, and Beck.

AC: Tell me about recording with Brian Beattie.

GL: I’m in the process of recording my first full-length record with Brian Beattie at the moment. Dony Wynn is playing drums, Brian is playing bass and bleep-bloop sound machines, and the most wonderful Finley Sexton and Ramona Beattie are singing back-up vocals.

AC: What’s your future in the music business?

GL: I honestly think that people can be very silly and careless in the treasure hunt for fame. I love music so much and I want to do it as a career, but just don’t want to be one of those people.

AC: What’s inspiring you the most lately?

GL: At the moment, probably my family. I love my family and the support that everyone has given me has been so amazing. Even though everything can be very dysfunctional, weird, and confusing, that inspires me even more and makes me appreciate all the good things in my life, which is a whole lot in my opinion! My family is more important to me than anything.

AC: What’s your personal motto?

GL: Stop, drop, and think about it!

AC: How’s living the teen life influencing your music?

GL: I think I’ve had a lot more to write about, because I’m experiencing so many more things – hormones, high school, and whatnot! I’m getting to know myself better and figure out how I want to sound and how I feel about things. I’m just getting comfy with everything.

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