“I think for the first time I’m able to answer this question honestly,” 18-year-old singer-songwriter Baker Grace smiles when and I ask how she’s doing right now. “It’s so easy to feel like you’re expected to say you’re feeling good, but I have been feeling strong lately. Living in the moment, and taking things day by day.”
It’s no surprise Baker’s feeling powerful: the day we speak she’s just dropped “Numb”, the latest release from her forthcoming debut EP – a light, feel-good pop track about tuning out the negativity of others and petty comments online.
“I hope people will listen to this record and stop letting other people’s negative words and actions affect the way they feel about themselves,” she says of her inspirations for writing and putting out the song. “There will always be hurtful words thrown your way, especially in the social media age. I think learning that other people’s hatred has everything to do with their pain, and nothing to with me, has allowed me to become ‘numb’ to it.”
Having grown up immersed in the music industry – first releasing music under former moniker Bitter’s Kiss and signing with a major label at just 16 – the Jersey-born, NYC-based artist spent years learning to take her own advice and advance her career on her own terms. “I used to think that as an artist you create music, come up with creative ideas, perform and the rest is taken care of for you, but that was very naive of me,” she tells me, explaining how she started taking full responsibility for the sound, direction and output of her music last year. “As an artist, I have to be involved in every decision, and I have to constantly make people believe in me. I learned that if I don’t create my own path, there would not be one waiting for me. And I also learned to take that as a blessing – I don’t want to walk in somebody else’s footsteps, only to realise I’ll always be one step behind them.”
It’s been a journey of self-discovery as much as musical development, which so far has culminated in “Girl, I Know”, her debut EP as Baker Grace, due to drop in May. The five-track project explores every aspect of teenage girl-hood, drawn both from her daydreams and day-to day-reality, with each song tackling a different dilemma. “My songs are moments of overcoming, moments of reflection, moments of solace, and moments of hope,” Baker notes, highlighting that the EP’s five songs tell the story of a week in her life. “Each day, and each song, is about realising something new that brings me closer to my true self and an understanding of what’s important in my life,” she explains, or in other words: “The tale of how I learned to trust myself and take control of my life.”
Though she’s just starting this next chapter, Baker’s newfound confidence in herself feels infectious – permeating her lyrics and creative direction as much as her personal life. Will she always feel “numb” to the challenges that come with being a young woman in the public eye? “I do feel pressure as a woman to look beautiful to get attention, and to fight harder to be taken seriously,” she admits, “but I’m glad I get to prove people wrong. It’s more satisfying that way.”
With live festival slots lined up to promote the release of “Girl, I Know” this spring, her teenage life’s about to take a surreal turn – but that’s exactly what she’s been building her own vision for, and if those pressures rise, Baker leaves no doubt she’s ready to take them on.
Taken from Rollacoaster SS19; available to pre-order here.