The stunning video is a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the picturesque Norman Rockwell idea of perfection that appears to be the gold standard of American living. But unlike the beloved quintessential American paintings, “Miss Perfect” highlights women of color and their frustration with being held to a standard that does not exist.
Following the success of her single, “Wake Up,” featuring Sean Kingston, Nolo Grace continues to release music that resonates with audiences both emotionally and sonically.
Tell us about the genesis of your project. How did you get to where you are now?
I’ve been making music for a few years, but I never had a plan to release it. That was precious in a way because I wasn’t really creating for an audience, just for myself. The period of lockdown shifted things dramatically for me. Something just kind of clicked. I was often up at 6am making music alone, and I was also introspective about my life and what I really wanted. One of those things was sharing my music with the world. I felt free and trapped at the same time, which was an interesting space to be in.
I thought a lot about what I wanted my project to mean, the voice and place in my life I was speaking from. Many of the songs I wrote in the past were about disappointment, broken relationships, and trauma. Those songs no longer felt relevant to me. The music I worked on over the past year has really been a reflection on my personal and spiritual development. Many of the songs I’ve written have been about the process of finding myself and freeing myself because that’s what I’ve been focused on for the past few years. I feel like many of them are mantras or reminders to myself, how I’ve grown and the lessons I’ve learned. I released my first single earlier this year in April, “Wake Up”—a collaboration with Sean Kingston, and followed up with a second single in May, “Miss Perfect.”
As for how I got to where I am now, my path was a bit unconventional. As a child, I played piano and sang, mostly classical music. Music gave me a lot of joy, but it was also a source of a lot of sadness in my life in a way. I ended up taking a different path and left music behind. I ended up working on Wall Street and as a corporate executive at a large conglomerate. All that kind of imploded—or rather I imploded—and I ultimately made a major life change. I left my job and life in NYC behind and embraced my desire to be free. I ended up living around the world, nomadic, and eventually settled in LA and started making music.
What does music and being an artist mean to you?
It means being free to explore, express, and take risks. We are all creative, and the work of the artist is getting past the censor or structures that limit us. The technical skillset can take time, but you don’t really need to know anything to be an artist. We just are, and we can create with the tools we have at that moment.
What are some sources of inspiration for your lyrics and storytelling?
Sometimes it’s just tapping into the intuition of the moment, an emotion or sentiment that just comes out and following that. At other moments, it can be more purposeful and try to capture a story or a specific event. A lot of my lyrics are really about a process of searching, identity, and transformation. I feel like there’s an existential underpinning to my lyrics.
Who is an artist that you look up to more than others today?
Willow. I love her style, freedom, skills, and originality.
All-time favorite record?
That’s a hard question. I don’t know that I have one, but I do love Blue by Joni Mitchell.
Tell us about your latest release and how it came about
My latest release was “Miss Perfect.” The song came together really quickly and easily. It wasn’t something I had intended to release. It was inspired by me reflecting on my old life – all the relationship issues and the pressure of working in the corporate world. I was miserable chasing an idea of perfection. It’s kind of a strange song, but I love that about it.
You seem to be fusing several musical genres. What inspires your sound?
I love ambient textures and vocal layers, so that’s a key element of the sonics. I also love hip hop, pop, and indie folk music, so I think that naturally creates a hybrid between the dreamier elements and the more pop genres.
What are some things you do to deal with anxiety and creative blocks?
I meditate twice a day for 20 minutes to cultivate peace, and I try to be easier on myself in general. If I have an anxious thought, I counter it. If I have a creative block, I try to respect it. I used to stack my day with an impossible list of tasks and then beat myself up for not getting through everything. That’s a recipe for anxiety! As a Type A person in recovery, I’m trying to learn how to rest. Sometimes when you’re blocked or anxious, it’s a message from your mind and body to just slow down.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see my life expanding—new creative projects, new inspirations, a positive community of people, and contributing meaningfully to the world. Given my background in business and in the non-profit world, I hope that gets fused in somehow too, but I don’t feel like it’s required. For the first time in my life, I’m just letting it unfold and trusting the process.
Your style is very original and elaborate. How do you take care of your aesthetics?
Thank you! The visual aspect of the art is important to me for sure, and I’m really happy that I have collaborators/friends who are so talented in that regard.
What was the most daunting moment in your career so far?
Every time you do something for the first time, it’s a bit daunting. Releasing music and putting yourself out there is vulnerable. Every time. I’m trying to embrace that.
What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
I could think of something profound, but the thought that comes to mind right now is a simple phrase people say all the time. “Don’t worry.” Imagine if we could all stop worrying and overthinking! How much time would be freed up, how much more easily we could move past our limitations.
Where do you think the next game changer will be in the music industry and entertainment scene?
Music is about emotion and connection, and the ability to create more engaging virtual experiences that connect artists/creators with fans seems like a compelling direction. It would be great if creators could easily find their audience and make a sustainable living without depending so much on traditional structures and business models.