Hailing from Milwaukee, singer-songwriter Grace Weber has carved a space for herself through writing songs for the likes of Chance the Rapper while continuing to develop her own sound and style. Last year saw the release of two singles, "Elated" and "More than Friends", and her debut album is out later this year. We recently had the opportunity to chat about her new album and the process of creating it.
Heavily inspired by R&B music and having come from a gospel background herself, Weber mentioned how important it was to develop a sound that engulfs the listener and can elicit emotions whenever listened to. Having been a fan of releases like Acid Rap and Surf, serendipity ultimately landed her the opportunity to work with The Social Experiment's Nate Fox and Nico Segal. "They're such incredible artists," Weber says as she reflects on her time working with Fox and Segal. "They never go half-ass into anything they do. That's why, objectively, so much of their stuff is so good because they're not thinking about how a song is going to translate into radio or what people are going to write about the song. They're not intellectually thinking about the way people view it or how many times it's going to be downloaded. They are just thinking about how it's going to make people feel and how it makes them feel in the moment."
The producers gave her new ways of looking at music and were instrumental in providing new writing techniques she hadn't tried before. "We'd go through this huge long loop of vocals and together we'd pick out the stuff that made us the most excited," shared Weber. "In the past, I'd listen to stuff that I was doing and I would judge it really harshly and say it was bad. It creates an instant kind of creative block to the process because it doesn't allow you to get to the good stuff. You stop yourself before you get there. But with this album we didn't judge, we maybe laughed at some of the bad stuff but we weren't judging, we were just looking at what made us really happy."
Outside of writing and working to complete her album, Grace also runs The Music Lab at 88Nine Radio Milwaukee. Featuring guest lectures from artists like WebsterX, Jamila Woods, and Aja Monet, the program strives to instruct high school students about the possibilities available to them through pursuing music. Elaborating more of her time there, Weber shared, "It really was an amazing experience for us, we didn't know how many students were going to show up to the first lab, instantly we filled the room with 100 students from 11 different high schools in the Milwaukee area, from the most underfunded public schools to the really expensive private schools. We wanted to create this space where students from all different walks of life could come together and realize that we're all the same and we can all come together with music. We were blown away. We really thought it was a real need in Milwaukee. There are a lot of schools that are cutting the arts programs and that's for a lot of students, the only outlets that they have to be themselves to be separated for who they are.."
Weber isn't alone in her philanthropic work and was joined by fellow musicians around the industry who were also eager to take up the positive social impact in the local community as well." The guys in Social Experiment came through in October. They did a lab where they put pro tools up on the screen and built a beat live in front of the students. Then the students got on stage and added to the beat. And by the end, there was 30 kids on the stage rapping and singing and playing drums. It was the coolest experience. It's been beautiful and it's been definitely giving. It's showing that Milwaukee how much talent exists within the young people of the city. All the students needed was a stage and an outlet to be themselves. It's been really rewarding."