Dang Ms. Mitchell. You sound fired up. We've been keeping tabs on this Portland, Oregon-born singer for the past couple years—back when she was a teenager and her pop boasted a synthier bent and then, last year there was "NoLo", which inspired us to dance in parking lots. Now we've got "Kids (Ain't All Right)," a furious stomp—all crunchy, 90s, distorted guitars, and Mitchell's husky, swaggering vocal. In the second verse she moves, as the synths scuzz up the song still further, into territory where she's rubbing sonic shoulders with another flame-haired wonder: Garbage's Shirley Manson. It's the first song off her upcoming album and it is strong.
Mitchell also had a great deal to say about both the song's genesis and her forthcoming long player (scheduled to drop this summer).
"A tiny piece of my heart breaks when someone asks me what my music sounds like. It's not their fault and we're all guilty of it. I shed a little tear for every artist who's been asked to define or categorize themselves. The very purpose of art is in the magic of the listener's interpretation. Art is the truth that lies in the silence of an artist's busy mind. Constantly bending, and abstracting, distorting and refracting, connecting and unifying concepts once the essence of an inspiring idea comes ashore like a special, invisible gift.
"The day I walked into the session to write what is now 'Kid (Ain't All Right)' was like any other day, with no exceptions. 'Kids…" could've never even been written at all because I was bored and exhausted from staying out too late the night before, and in another dimension, it probably wasn't… But that day, the loud colors of youth, frustration, corruption, aggression, agony, and Kurt Cobain simmered ever so slightly under my skin. I decided to take my partners outside to write a song on the porch with an acoustic guitar, and lazily bask in the sun with my head tilted up, riffing something punchy and angsty, not yet fully inspired. We didn't finish it that day, and 'Kids…' had many evolutions before it became what it is now. At one point I nearly strong armed my way into having a Steven Tyler impersonator come in to sing a three second vocal part in the bridge. But then I quickly axed the entire bridge before it was ever accomplished.
"Throughout this entire album there have been so many moments where I've wondered: 'What if it sounded like this?' 'What if it became this?' 'What if we all of a sudden did this," and so many of those moments have been captured because myself, and the collaborators involved, weren't afraid to pursue my vision, and we didn't waste a moment forcing ourselves to try and make this album sound cohesive.
"A commemoration of 1970s punk rock, and a visual homage to its influence in the contemporary age of art, fashion, and music based on the socio-political climate of that era and it's parallels to the modern age. 'Kids…" being the influencers and 'Ain't All Right' being their abstract, mental state of being that was wildly condemned by conservative adult demographics but received and nurtured by other 'Kids,' revolutionizing rock music and popularizing it. The phrase 'Kid's (Ain't All Right)' is multidimensional and interpretative. One can interpret it from the perspective of both a bitter adult patronizing a Kid, and a Kid commiserating with another Kid.
"Now that the album is finished, I can say that it is a fully cohesive artistic narrative. It is unified in its ideology, with the string tying it all together being raw, active, emotion. When my brain starts paying heed to the hell fire of order and conformity it's easy to shoot my ideas down. But I've learned to work through that by telling myself that; nothing I create has to take shape. It can live fluidly and without borders for as long as it inspires me, and no one else decides that moment but me.
"Modern America shouldn't—and doesn't limit my creativity as a woman. I can make whatever I want with brute force. A song isn't a song until I want it to be. A painting isn't a painting, a book isn't a book, and an album isn't an album until I will it to be the one that reflects me most. I have so many people to thank for this artistic privilege. People who have encouraged me to be weird, bold, and loud. They tell me to nurture my uniqueness, and to feel emotion. Now I have an army of people who'll go to war for me. They protect me from the people who still want to put me in a box marked 'Grace Mitchell.' To those people, and to the other guys, I am so thankful. Finally, to the people who really need to know:
"My name is Grace.
My music is loud.
I like everything, and my music does too."
"Kids (Ain't All Right)" is out on January 13 via Casablanca/Republic Records.
Grace Mitchell plays Coachella this April.