You recently release your new album Midnight, and the cover has a kind of Carly Simon look about it, have strong female artists been a big influence on this new album.
I love that, thank you. It’s interesting you ask me that I have been getting that question a lot from people who are I think feeling the more feminine energy from this album. I can’t deny that this has been a factor, although not as big of a factor as you might think because I have always approached music as kind of an asexual creature. I really don’t like when people put women in their own right like women become like a “genre” you know. I have people come up to me and say like “hey you’re my favourite female artists” and it’s like so that’s a thing you know, as opposed to just a musician who plays music. Although on this record I do think there was that creeping into my influences? There was definitely a lot more influences that really did run the gamut for me When I was in The Nocturnals as a band leader I really did accentuate the influences that were more masculine because I was in a masculine mood and The Nocturnals is a slightly more masculine sound than the midnight record. Although I will say that every record I make is a little bit different and strange and my influence’s sort of change. I think in this case definitely the feminine energy just made its way to the surface a bit more because I was getting more comfortable in my own skin as a woman.
That’s a natural feeling women experience when we age, sounds like you are enjoying it.
Listen, ageing has been a beautiful thing for me I’m really enjoying being in my 30s, when I turned 30 a couple of years ago I remember thinking ‘oh god I’m not this hot young thing anymore what’s gonna happen my career is gonna be over’. It’s really funny how people get more and more comfortable in their own skin and all those fears go away and suddenly you start to really take stock of your life and figure out what you want and I’ve been having a ball doing that.
Grace I was lucky to have watched you at the Bluesfest in 2013. It was interesting to see the crowd descend into the tent after you started paying they literally swarmed in, drawn by the energy of your music including my 16 year old son! Do you thrive on the crowd’s vibe as well?
Oh really oh I’m so honoured? I love that I’m getting the 16 year olds into it, I like it- for sure. That’s the other thing I have felt about being a woman- in music you can use it to your advantage you know. There’s definitely elements early on when I was paying my dues and playing at festivals and had to get my gear on stage and you don’t have a crew as I didn’t have enough money to pay them suddenly I’m like I come in with my small team – you know I need some help carrying this and that and I think as a young lady it was easier to get the attention of the production guys. Honestly it was always very respectful and never this objectification, just you know here’s a girl who’ s working hard and doing the heavy lifting herself give her a hand get her on stage get this girl what she needs you know. If I had of been Gary Potter who knows, it might have been a very different situation.
Absolutely, yes to thriving on the crowd’s vibe. I mean I change the set in the middle of the show based on how the crowd is reacting. My band is always on their toes because for me it’s all about channelling energy you know that’s music for me live music. I think recorded music is a bit different but the live experience for me is always about channelling especially at Byron Bay. In all the Bluesfests we have played and around Australia and Europe I notice that the crowds are very different. In America the crowds move very slowly, they move slowly from one place to another, they will linger around the beer tent or they are like ‘maybe we will go in there maybe we won’t’. I think the audacity to just run towards the music is something that we posture ourselves as very civilised, but really if you hear something you love it’s like ‘run towards it run’. I love that it’s so endearing and it’s something that makes me want to come back. I really have fallen in love with Australia it’s a place I can picture myself living as opposed to just visiting to play music.
What do you prefer to write the Rock Ballads or the rockier guitar marathons?
It depends on my mood. I don’t really have a style, I do find that my ballads are what I am drawn to sing but when it comes time to play it onstage I just want to jump up and down and dance so I find myself in this creative conundrum so onstage as a live as a performer I just want to dance all day and all night and jump up and down all night so I’ve got to pick and choose my ballads I usually only do one or two in a show and the rest of the show is upbeat. I definitely got my energy and metabolism from my Dad, Sparky. I eat like a fuckin dump truck so I’m lucky to have an outlet to release that energy on stage.
You will be performing next year at the Byron Bay Bluesfest, I understand you have played many festivals around the world how does this one rate and who if anyone would you like to jump on stage with next year – Tom Jones perhaps??
Byron Bluesfest stacks up against any festival I’ve ever played in and it inspires me in my own music festivals that we throw. In Vermont have a smaller festival called Grand Point North we just finished our fifth annual year of Grand Point North and that experience of growing a festival has taught me just how hard it is to get it right. Peter and the Byron Bluesfest organisers are amazing and I’m blown away by the experience of being at Byron, the nature of the festival is so intrinsic to the culture at Byron Bay and the locals are really embracing it as part of their identity. It’s been a long standing festival and so prestigious and so respected by so many people and it’s never really fallen off the beaten track lost or lost its way. That’s a hugely important thing for any festival – to maintain its identity; and even for artists like me- I’m a crossover. I’m certainly rooted in the blues but I play all kinds of different music, I have all kinds of different inspiration that come at me but at the heart of it I know I’m at a blues festival and I know what music is going to appeal to the audience. When the festival is so rooted in that it makes me want to be better and makes me want to perform my best.
To answer the second part of your question about who I’d like to jump up on stage with, I haven’t looked at the full line up but the year I was there when Iggy pop was there I would have loved to get up with him. I am a huge fan he’s my inspiration, he’s my hero, I love him he’s so if me and Iggy could ever do something together that would be wonderful. I’ll have to look at the line-up for 2016 and see who’s playing
One last question for you Grace, I hear you like to cook for the band to make them feel at home. Growing up in Vermont is Pancakes and Maple Syrup one of your specialties?
Of course it is, Vermont was a very beautiful place to grow up and I have my own Maple Syrup. We actually farm it from our maple trees behind our house and so pancakes and maple syrup are one of my specialties. I kind of do it like a crepe and sometimes I even get into my big jar of Nutella.
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals will be playing at the 2016 Byron Bay Bluesfest and I will definitely be one of those festival goers with the audacity to run into the tent they are playing in.