“I want to show people there’s a way to go through something bad and still come out happy,” says songstress Grace Aimi. “I can feel sad or lonely, but there’s a perfect world out there that I just need to go find.”
Her Debut EP PICNIC is a testament to such a statement as it embodies a beautifully breezy sound, perfectly capturing the sensation of lazing about in the sun with your friends and loved ones. At the same time, the EP’s six songs often find Grace reflecting on her experience in heartbreak, revealing her deep sensitivity and radiantly hopeful outlook.
Hailing from Okinawa, Grace considers her homeland essential to her sensibilities as an artist. “I come from an island that was decimated during World War II, yet people here are beautifully resilient, genuinely happy,” she says. “I’ve been raised in an environment where you find the good and move forward. I want to share that Okinawan spirit.”
Twenty-year-old biracial Gen Z songstress Grace Aimi began her career with her brother posting covers in both Japanese and English on their YouTube channel, “Gracie and Gabe.”
10M views later she decided to get off on her own and release her debut single “Eternal Sunshine” (a track produced by Chaki Zulu, who’s known for his work with Japan’s hottest hip-hop artists).
Her first EP is simply the consecration of a true rising star as Grace’s global upbringing and angelic yet husky vocals make her a force to be reckoned with.
Tell us about the genesis of your project. How did you get to where you are now?
My high school years are where it really started. I fell into a deeper love with music and the creative and emotional process behind it. I knew that I had a talent to make people happy even as a kid and I’m just so proud of myself that I can tie those two together to make my art. It’s taken a lot of trust and believing in myself and the people around me to be here. Everything I have now is thanks to a collective of people with the same goals and aspirations, coupled with a lot of love.
How many hours a day do you spend making music?
It really depends on the day and my mood. Some days I’ll barely get one line out and I just stare at an open page wishing it’ll magically fill up with the best lyrics and other days I’ll wake up with an idea or a concept and I can write and make melodies for hours until I go back to bed. I never force myself to make music. I like to do creative things when I feel a creative flow.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up?
Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline, Amy Winehouse, Coldplay, Tyler the Creator, Latto…. the list goes on and on and it’s very diverse in genre. I think artists who can pull a certain strong emotion out of someone with their music are so inspiring. Whether it be a melancholic feeling or simply wanting to dance and feel like a bad bitch I love it all.
What are some things to do to keep your inspiration alive?
I look to people who make me feel happy and whole. If I’m with the people I love, my inspiration will live forever. But if I happen to be alone, I like to go to my “safe spot” (my room or the beach) and I think about all the blessings I have in life and I remind myself that I’m here on this earth for a reason and with a goal that I will accomplish.
Who are you binge listening to these days?
Latto all day, everyday. And I’m always listening to Chouji. He’s an artist from my island and no matter where I am his music makes me feel like I’m home in Okinawa.
Favorite movie or TV show?
Recently I just started watching ONE PIECE and I’m officially addicted, also, anything scary or suspenseful.
Tell us about your debut EP and how it came about
My song Rainbow just dropped and I started writing it at the beach while I was holding a friend’s baby. The song was originally going to be about children and how their emotions are so pure, but surprising even to me it slowly turned into what I like to call a “haunting love song”. In this song I sing in the highest key I’ve done so far so I got to really challenge myself during the recording of it.
Do you have any peculiar pre or post show rituals?
I just started my career last summer during this whole global pandemic so I’ve only performed a handful of times. I still get really nervous before I have to perform so I make sure to breathe, clear my mind and just have a good time. I’m excited to grow and to have more shows.
Who inspires your style and aesthetics?
Old people. lol. They just have the most effortless swag and style. I say this a lot but I can’t wait for my 60’s.
What is the achievement or moment in your career you are the most proud of and why?
My producer called one day to tell me I was the second person in Japanese history to sign with a stateside label. The first was Kyu Sakamoto with his song “Sukiyaki” in 1963, and that song has been one of my favorite songs in my whole life. I grew up singing it with my Grandmother. It’s a crazy full circle moment for me and my grandmother cried when I told her the news, too.
I wish my grandfather was here to share the moment with us but I know he’s definitely watching over me. Another really special moment for me was when I helped a fan out of a deep, deep depression with my music.
The day that I got a message from that person they sent me a really long DM asking for advice and thanking me and I cried for a good 15 minutes knowing that what I’m doing is helping someone out of a bad mental state. Easily one of the most proud moments I’ve had so far.
What is your advice for aspiring artists that want to achieve what you achieved?
Believe in yourself, take your time and be truly happy and content with what you’re pursuing in life. WRITE AND BE VOCAL ABOUT YOUR DREAMS. I can’t stress that enough, the universe works in a lot of weird ways and when you’re open to it, it’ll guide you to where you need to be.
Lastly, I believe when we truly want to make the lives of others better, when we share, forgive, when we want to add love to the world…because love wants more love… something special happens. I can’t explain it, but magical things happen.