Sunday 22, April

Isaac Gracie: From choir boy to the charts

Isaac Gracie's life changed forever the day his voice broke.

"I set moronically high expectations for myself," he laughs. "I wanted it to be the best record of all time."

Key to the problem was that he had to re-record those bedroom demos without diluting their essence. Last Word, in particular, was revised and re-versioned several times.

"The song is like a little hymn," he explains, "so you can't just say, 'Let's produce it like Hold Back The River' because it won't work on those terms."

The first attempt, recorded by Markus Dravs (Arcade Fire, Florence + The Machine), bludgeoned the song's delicate beauty, launching into the first verse with a double kick drum and starving Gracie's angelic vocals of oxygen.

In the end, the singer went back to the arrangement of the original demo, adding subtle embellishments that combust in a cathartic climax which puts his choral training to excellent use.

"I only realised fairly recently how much choral music had played a role in how I record songs," he says. I really try to carry through the evocative, emotional anguish."

Now that the finished version of Last Words is out in the real world, the singer is finally satisfied.

"I really love it," he says. "It's a great song and everyone should listen to it - but I'm also going to say that it was a frickin' trial and all the pressure and stress I felt boiled down to that one song."

Getting out of the studio and playing live has finally restored Gracie's confidence.

Taking to the stage in London earlier this year, he was in playful mood - "Is a handsome nipple showing?" he asked the audience, tugging at his unbuttoned shirt. "No it isn't. I'm sorry."

During The Death of You & I, his long, dirty-blonde hair explodes around him in a thrash of guitar noise the youngster would never have contemplated in his childhood bedroom ("we've got neighbours!" he protests)

"Do I look forward to that part of the set? Oh hell, yeah!" he grins, in a rare moment of eye contact.

"Playing with the band made me realise I enjoy singing these songs, and I enjoy seeing the reaction people are having - and therefore they must have merit.

"Now I have a desire, a real drive, to get back in the studio.

"I'm sure all of those questions - all those emotions and confrontations with myself - will come back up again. But now I've got a roadmap for where I want to go."

Isaac Gracie's self-titled debut album is out on 13 April.

More on Isaac Gracie BBC Music homepage BBC Music News LIVE


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