Interview with Grace Kinter

Our own Kat Dobay had the chance to sit down with LA songwriter Grace Kinter. It was a powerful conversation – read it below:

Tell me your story.

So I have been singing since I was, like, nine. I had a little nasal-y girl voice, but I knew that it would be something soulful one day. My dad was a professional jazz guitar player, so I grew up around a lot of jam sessions. Very unique, intricate jazz music that had just such a fast and interesting pace. I also enjoyed the pop music at the time, like Christina Aguilera. I enjoyed my own things, but I also had this very worldly musical energy around me from my dad. I was always listening to Aretha Franklin and Eddie James and stuff like that. So I think I just sort of loved soul music, the really early soul and jazz music. When I was introduced to Alicia Keys and some of the more pop oriented soulful queens, I just fell in love with that emotive, sultry style. Ever since then, yeah, I wanted to be a singer. I didn’t really take singing lessons, but I taught myself piano. I became a girl who would sing in her room, play piano and cover songs, and then put those covers on SoundCloud when I was like, eighteen.

Then I moved to Chicago where I went to school for music business at Columbia college. Chicago offered an amazing place for me to start my performing career. It’s very community oriented. There are just tons to do and tons of other artists. I sang in bands that didn’t last very long. I sang for rappers a lot. When I was doing that I went by a different name.

At what point did you decide, like, this is completely me, I’m going to use my real name this time?

That would be about three years ago. I sort of had a really big shift, like a lot of artists did. I just wasn’t sure if I could continue to be a solo artist anymore. I was really run down with competitive thoughts and just like, mental illness and it was just hard to sustain at this time in my life. So, I kind of took a hiatus around 2018, right before the pandemic forced me to take and most people to take a hiatus or change the course of their life. I just sort of announced that I was going to stop playing shows a little bit. That’s when the writing and really started to become more me and I started to really become comfortable with myself outside being a singer. But, I’d say I’d say around 2018 while taking a break so I could just focus on being myself.  That ended up the foundation for my artistry and for this album. It is just so utterly me and what I’ve been going through internally the last four years.

Wow. Okay, so you said that you were in a handful of bands. Let’s circle back to that. Tell me about those. Like, what was the style of those? What were the names of the band? Where’d you play?

My first ever band was called Limitless, and it was like a neosoul group. It came to be because the lead singer and musician, Reggie. He was actually a rapper and singer and he wrote all the songs. He literally heard me singing in my dorm room and knocked on my door. Ever since then, we were in a band together. Then I started playing my own music with a guitar player from Limitless named is Jackson Shepard. He’s another really talented musician who plays in Human Bloom. Then after that, I started singing with rapper Charlie Curtis Beard, who is now very well known, became TikTok famous. We started out together and he was so awkward back then,  and now he’s like a star. So funny. But yeah, we would do little shows and we would do the open mics at Columbia and stuff. He really got me started with shows and stuff.

So, you don’t live in Chicago anymore, tell me about you moving out to LA. 

So it was always a dream of mine to move to LA, I could never really explain why, other than, you know, the weather and the fame. Not exactly the fame but the fact that everyone here is looking for that in some way. I kind of enjoy that, the feeling that you’re in a movie, even when you’re not. I know it sounds superficial, but once I moved here and just like, it felt so right. I understood that maybe what pulled me here is bigger than words. So, I have always wanted to move to LA. But yeah, ultimately I moved because I just, I had to get out of Chicago. I… was kind of stuck in Chicago because, of um, of the pandemic. And my dad died. So, I moved in with my sister so we could support each other. We got a puppy together.

How did your father pass away? 

Lung cancer.

I’m so sorry to hear that. Was that a long, ongoing thing? 

It was actually a really quick and confusing thing. Um, he, once he got the diagnosis, it was actually only like six months. Um, even though we thought it would be a couple years. This was right after college, so I was 23 at the time.

He was, I mean, obviously a huge, supporter of my music. Like we didn’t always have the most perfect relationship when I was a teen, but he was kind of like where music started and ended with me, you know. Because of the early influence and it was definitely what brought us together.

So I think that was a big part of my mental health going down. I just felt like I lost my cheerleader and life. It’s just cancer, you know, without even my personal experience, it’s just seeing someone wither away like that whether it’s quickly like it was or drawn out. It’s just gonna take a toll. So there’s a lot of themes of that in this album and in side effects, because that was a huge thing that I was healing from in my own very unique way.

Um, Yeah, I forget, um, the original question. 

Well, I asked about moving to LA. We were talking about LA and then we were talking about before you moved. Like there was a lot going on during the pandemic and then your father passed away.

Yeah, the pandemic plus a family death was definitely tricky and it just caused me to like really. Self medicate, honestly, which is why my EP is called side effects.  But, I don’t regret anything, but I do feel like I was sort of in a haze for three years. Just trying to get through the pandemic, trying to get through a tragedy and then all the repercussions of the tragedy. Which is like, you know, my mom’s sadness and her aloneness.

It was just a really tough couple years. I didn’t really realize that I was making an album while I was making it, but these are just sort of songs that kind of came out of the emotion that was in those last few years.

That’s really powerful. 

Yeah. And of course, it’s really sad that he’s not gonna get to hear them in person, but like, you know, I believe that by putting these out into the world, Carrying the legacy by just existing, you know, like I believe in all that energy. So I it’s so weird. It’s coming out at midnight and I just feel, which is very on brand for me, not necessarily excited. I’m not nervous, but I’m sort of exposed and raw, you know. It is what it is. It’s not good or bad, but it’s a really interesting place to be, to release something so vulnerable.

I wanted it to be out at the end of the summer. Because I love the summer and I identify with the summer. At the end of summer, we always feel like we have something to lose. We have something we wanna hold onto. So I like the idea of having something to look forward to, or gift the world during a time where we, where I feel uncertain.

Listen to her album below and follow her on Instagram and Tik Tok.

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