Record of the Week
We take you inside our favourite new records with the artists who made them. Today we're premiering Grace Turner's stunning debut EP 'Half Truths'
With her soaring, smoky vocals and heart-on-your-sleeve storytelling on full display, Grace Turner will wrap herself around your soul in only the opening seconds of her debut EP Half Truths.
With a visual artist mother and a poet father, the Newcastle-native was bound for a life exploring her deepest feelings through art, and after picking up the guitar in her early teenage years her course was truly set.
Inject some Nashville-esque alt-country into indie rock melodies and you’ll land somewhere close to Turner’s sound. There’s a power and strength there, a raw vulnerability too, and, underneath it all, a delicate tenderness that weaves itself through every emotive moment across Half Truth’s 24-minute journey.
The seven tracks on Half Truths were written in mid-2017 during what Turner has described as a tumultuous time in her life, still grieving the passing of her mum three years earlier and recently coming out of a difficult relationship.
Before the release of Half Truth’s first single ‘Dead or Alive’ in 2018, Turner was making gentler folk music, but that first single marked a shift in Turner’s sound and caught the attention of music fans and critics around the country.
Recorded over a number of sessions spread across a Melbourne studio, a regional NSW tractor shed, a Newcastle bedroom, and a caravan in Castlemaine, the whole EP deep dives into Turner’s mind as she questions and works to understand the world around her and the different parts of her own personality and emotions that fit within it.
Throughout it all, Turner’s brilliant, moving, and vivid storytelling is on show, positioning her as one of the country’s finest songwriters.
Before bunkering down to finish Half Truths, Turner had an extraordinary 2019. By March, she had wrapped up her first international shows in the USA at Austin’s SXSW Festival. She has also shared the stage with the likes of Julia Jacklin, Lucy Dacus, Phil Jamieson, City Calm Down, Kingswood, Ali Barter Alex The Astronaut and more, as well as making appearances at Grow Your Own Festival and Groovin The Moo. In July, APRA AMCOS awarded Turner with a Women in Music Mentorship with art-pop artist Megan Washington.
We are so excited to share Grace Turner’s debut EP Half Truths with you. We sat down with Turner to chat about the EP and get to know her a bit better.
The Grace Turner Story
From the beginning
Grace Turner: “I have been writing songs since I was a child. I used to sing to my dogs. I started writing more ‘seriously’ when I was 16 and learnt acoustic guitar. I was obsessed with playing and after one or two lessons pretty much immediately began writing songs about my feelings. Haven’t ever really stopped.”
What you’ll hear
Grace Turner: “ I like distortion and I like country music. So maybe it’s a mix of those. I like to experiment with songwriting and sounds. I think in this EP I’m playing with a sound that is more fun and reflects the almost sarcastic tone of some of the lyrics.”
Influences & inspiration
Grace Turner: “I like visual artists a lot. I love concepts within art and thinking about the uses and restrictions of mediums. I grew up watching my mother exploring the subconscious and her interest in philosophy through abstract painting and I am attracted to this way of thinking in my music.
“I am inspired by many songwriters and writers. I love the work of Lucinda Williams, Sharen Van Etton, and grew up obsessed with The Beatles and Frente. In terms of inspiration, I look up to people that continue to work and create, and who move with the changes of what art and creativity bring out in them and what they can learn from that.”
Inside the creative process
Grace Turner: “I see it as a big beautiful collage. There were many different people and places involved. It was created between established recording studios, caravans in the dead of night, and then city apartments in Sydney. It saw the songs be changed and morph into versions of themselves I didn’t know they could be.
“I don’t want to lie and say it was always easy, there is lots of self-doubt and work on acceptance involved in this process too. I have had to be patient, to give them and myself the time and work they need and deserve. It’s so freeing to know they will be released and no longer mine, that I can begin to create the next chapter.
“I have been trying to get a better workflow with writing and recording. Mostly I write with my guitar, record demos immediately on my phone, and then if the song stays with me I will eventually teach it to the band.
“I think the essential tools around my writing have stayed pretty consistent since I first started when I was young. I have something I feel I want to say that I can’t express in my day to day life. I play guitar a lot as a way to soothe myself and so it will come out when I am playing.
“One thing I have been working on is my attitude to the process. Sometimes I can be impatient to ‘finish’ something. I have been realising that nothing is ever really resolved, and if it is, it is always only momentary. As soon enough I will begin working on the next thing. You have to love the process.”
Tell us the story
Grace Turner: “There is a lot of anger and frustration in these songs. There is a lot of shedding. I think, essentially it’s me tearing off all expectations I had placed on my music, myself as a songwriter, performer, and as a person. I am giving myself permission to explore all of the different sides of myself I have personally, and in my music and sound. It’s cathartic singing and playing them now, I hope the honesty and energy in the songs are relatable for audiences.”
Down memory lane
Grace Turner: “There are so many different periods of my life involved. A favourite that comes to mind is recording in Castlemaine (in rural Victoria) with Shanna, the guitarist of the band. We had all our gear set up in this tiny caravan they were living in, it was a beautiful crisp night and we finished the guitar parts and vocals. It felt romantic. And I think a lot of making a record isn’t always so romantic. It’s hard work, you sit for hours listening over and over, questioning, doubting, hoping you’re pushing it in the right direction, realising you’ve gone too far. Starting again.”
Grace Turner: “Playing festivals has been a big jump for me. A highlight would be having the opportunity to go to Texas and play SXSW and take my beautiful band with me.”
Overcoming struggle town
Grace Turner: “Realising I don’t really like festivals and touring makes me very tired and I cry a lot more than usual. Also, the amount of money being an artist costs, it’s such a massive investment for little return (monetarily) in the initial stages.”
For the love of music
Grace Turner: “Music is one of my greatest and most complex relationships I have. It’s my connection to something bigger than myself. It is there when no-one or nothing else can be. I understand myself better from music and I understand the world better through listening to music.
“I love the feeling in my body when I sing, I love the feeling of holding my guitar like a big warm hug, the wood, warmth and vibrations of sound. I love playing music with others, the connection you feel with your friends, with audiences. I love saying things to people I can’t say in general conversation. I like thinking about things deeply and having somewhere to put those thoughts, confusions and realisations.”
Say it in a sentence
Grace Turner: Half Truths is…”Screaming at your psychologist ‘I’m not crazy you’re crazy!'”
Grace Turner – Dead or Alive
“This song means a lot as its the first one of the EP that I released, and I got a whole bunch of unexpected attention from it. I wrote it in one sitting after a friend called to see if I was okay – he literally said, ‘Sometimes I don’t know if you’ll be dead or alive,’ and I wrote the whole thing after the phone call. A lot of the songs began as throwaway ideas and were taken to a new level with the encouragement of the friends and musicians I have surrounded myself with.”
Grace Turner – Disdain
“I wrote this whole song in the car with no guitar. I was driving for no reason, just to feel like I was going somewhere else. I was singing and writing this song and it helped. I never thought it would turn into anything. But I took it to my drummer and he encouraged me that it was worth playing. Now it’s my favourite.”
Grace Turner – Get Your Head Straight
“I wrote this song in the middle of the night just after Trump had been elected. I was suffering from some of the worst insomnia I have ever had and doing tarot readings as a way to pass the time and help myself understand what I was experiencing. I feel I got a lot out in this one.”
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