The rising star talks her new single “So Lucky” and leaving band The Pink Slips.
Everyone has a fantasy, and for Grace McKagan it came in the form of flight attendants and the mile high club for her latest single. In a retro visual for her latest tune “So Lucky”, the daughter of Guns N’ Roses bass player Duff McKagan steps into the shoes of a Britney Spears-esque flight attendant who has her eyes on a guitar player minding his business. As the grungy guitar-led bass lines erupt in to a full-throttle rock song, we’re taken to the runway where the singer and her band give us a stellar performance filled with high octane energy. Embracing an amalgamation of 60s rock ’n’ roll and sultry melodies, the singer keeps true to her signature dark rock sound in the single, but with more slick vocals and hard-hitting songwriting.
Formally a part of synth-pop punk rockers The Pink Slips, the singer has been waiting for the right time to venture out, which she finally did with solo release “Surrender” last year. With her solo career allowing us to see a different side to the LA-hailed singer, we are being introduced to a more raw sound that is reminiscent of early Taylor Momsen and Metric.
With the star already ready proving to be a force with her recent stint in Kim Kardashian’s SKIMS campaign and agency signing, we caught up with the rockstar talking her upbringing, how she feels most liberated on stage and why The Pink Slips went their separate ways.
Check out the interview below…
Grace – how have you been during this uncertain time? How has it impacted your music and creativity?
I recently read that the pandemic/lockdown has had generally negative effects on everybody’s psyche. The lockdown has decreased motivation for lots of people, including myself. There are definitely times where I feel super unmotivated and feel like I am comfortable being complicit. At other times though, I feel a jolt of creativity, which usually oddly comes to me when I am driving. Maybe because when driving, it’s a time where I am alone with my thoughts and music of my choice to propel me towards creativity and productivity. What keeps me busy most days is school, which can feel very dull at times, especially when learning about topics that lack any creativity. My favourite day of the week is Monday though, every Monday, Blues, and our producer meet to work on a variety of new demos and drink beers.
How does living in LA influence you sonically? Who are your musical heroes?
I am grateful to have been born and raised in LA. Growing up in LA, allowed me to see different live shows almost every week, whether it be a friends band or a festival like FYF. LA obviously beholds a rich and diverse collection of musicians, both past and present. I think LA has influenced me sonically by being allowed and encouraged to experience various genres and performances on a regular basis. Pre-pandemic inspiration was easy to find for me, whether it be from meeting an odd character or having a weird one-off experience with somebody. It’s cheesy, but LA is truly magnetic and beautiful if you choose to see it through that lense. My musical heroes are M.I.A., Jesse Hughes, Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood, Sleigh Bells, Iggy Pop, Morphine, The Kills, Jeff Buckley, Beck, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Missy Elliott, Rob Zombie, and so many more, but those have to be top tier for me.
Congratulations on your second single “So Lucky”, which tells a cheeky story about your keyboard player – would you tell us what it was inspired by?And the music video shows these super tongue-in-cheek, sexy visuals – what did you want to evoke with it?
“So Lucky” was inspired by that, my keyboard player, Trent! On tour in 2018, he made innocently made out with a flight attendant friend of ours. Lyrically, the story of the one night romance was dramatized a bit. Sonally, “So Lucky” was inspired by Wanda Jackson and Shocking Blue. With the video, I co-directed it with one of my really close friends, Kristen Jan Wong. The concept was to basically be a hot 60’s flight attendant, and run with that fantasy.
You cut your teeth with your synth-pop-punk band The Pink Slips – what made you feel like it was time to step out on your own?
A cumulation of things. I had always intended to remain in The Pink Slips and continue to work on the project until…forever? But then life and the pandemic happened. I think when you are a teenager and you’re in a band with your best friends, you’re like “Yeah! We’re gonna do this forever!” and have no intention of ever stopping. I think we got older, and people wanted to go their separate ways and explore different options for themselves. For me, it had become very clear that The Pink Slips was a specific group of people and sound at a specific time, and life has just evolved past that chapter. I will always cherish those years deeply. I think stepping into a solo career represents the true start to adulthood and independence for me. I feel confident enough to do it “on my own” now.
You are the daughter of 90s supermodel Susan Holmes and Guns N Roses’ iconic bass player Duff McKagan – what are the biggest lessons you’ve learned from them about the industry?
Honestly, at home, we didn’t really grow up talking about “the industry”. I am however so grateful that both of my parents encouraged and supported my sister and I to always be creative and to never hold ourselves back artistically..whether that be in musicals we did, clothes we chose to wear, or instruments we wanted to learn. Through their actions, my parents genuinely always instilled kindness as a core value, if not the most important.
You’re super focused on live performances – what would you say your style is like?
When performing, I am genuinely not trying to achieve a certain “style” or “aesthetic”. Performing is the most authentic and honest version of myself, who I am behind the mask I put on every day. I feel the most liberated but also overwhelmed when performing on stage, and I miss it so much!
What’s next for you? What are you looking forward to in 2021?
Releasing more music! Maybe playing shows, we will see. Fingers crossed!