After experiencing a lot of success at a very young age, do you have any advice for up and coming musicians hoping to do the same?
I was lucky to get into music and start performing at a young age simply because I found my passion early on and had a team of people encouraging me and helping me...my parents and teachers. When I was first touring and performing I was never thinking about "success" and wasn't even thinking it would be a career. It was just a fun thing to do!
The most important thing is to focus on the music, to make great stuff and keep moving forward whatever that means for one’s career. Sometimes it's super busy with touring, interviews, CD release, etc. and sometimes there are slower periods. Opportunities will always arise and it’s our job as the artists to prepare and be ready for them when they do come because one opportunity always leads to the next. It's been a beautiful journey over the last 10 years of touring and things have unfolded in a very organic way. My hope as an artist is to find success AND longevity and to be able to keep reaching people and doing this thing that I love for a long time.
You seem to connect well with young musicians. What’s your secret and do you have any tips for others looking to do the same?
When I'm out and about presenting workshops to young musicians I think there's a connection that just automatically happens because we are close in age...It's a feeling of talking to your friend and not so much "presenting" but more of having a "conversation." When I open things up like that and invite the audience/young musicians in to be a part of it with me the feeling in the room changes and becomes a lot more open. That would be my tip for others looking to do the same! Less "lecturing" and more "exploring" and opening the conversation up. I find it fascinating to find out what artists/music/concepts other young musicians are into and asking them what questions and concepts they'd like to talk about.
You have a very strong social media following, how are you able to maintain that presence while keeping things fresh?
Like I said earlier it's all about content. I try to always have engaging stuff up on my social media whether it's videos, pics, etc. It's really fun to make videos and talk straight to my audience and get to interact with them. I don't think about the ages/demographics it will reach but really just focus on quality and the music. Fans want to connect with artists and it's easier than ever now to keep people updated while on the road, stream live performances etc. Consistency is also important.
I started a new web series a few months ago called "Grace Kelly pop ups" which documents me and my horn in all my travels and playing in "unusual" places. I did a pop up while riding the ferris wheel and playing, on top of my car, in Vienna Austria in the town center and many more.. New videos come out every Thursday on my Facebook and YouTube. They are quick snap shots. 1 take. 1min-2min. I love incorporating visuals and audio...it's like giving my fans a "tour" of the cool cities I'm in while traveling but with my music!
What projects are you currently working on?
There's a lot of different things brewing. I've been touring my latest CD, "Trying to Figure it Out" with my band. We did a west coast tour recently and a month long European tour. I've been in the beginning stages of writing some new music for the next recording of mine and recently started diving into effect pedals as well which has been very exciting and inspiring in my sonic world. I'm excited to start writing with more of that in mind.
I've teamed up with a good friend, Felix Peikli who's not only an amazing clarinet player (and Vandoren artist) but a really great producer for electronic music. We've been working on a EDM (Electronic Dance Music) duo group and plan to do a bunch of performing in the NY area in the summer and launch into some tours in the near future. Right now we've been doing a lot of writing and producing.
I've also have 2 web series that are currently out. One is my pop up series which I wrote about and the other is an interview series called, "Go! with Grace Kelly" (Casual Conversations with Creatives) where I have inspiring conversations with other creatives whether it be musicians, dancers, actors, chefs. My first episode (which is out on YouTube) features Marcus Miller and there's many more episodes to come with some really cool artists.