Currently residing in Phoenix, Arizona, Grace Otto is an alternative pop singer-songwriter who grew up in Billings, Montana.
Her musical journey started at the piano on her grandfather’s lap, as he played fake book after fake book of jazz standards with the rest of the family band. Although music was a keystone in her life, she didn’t start writing her own music until the summer of 2018. With 10 unreleased songs that range in themes from hurt to feelings of general instability, to self-love and acceptance, Grace Otto is bold, theatrical, honest, and dedicated to expressing herself authentically.
The buoyant pop essence of Grace Otto’s latest single has us thriving in a realm of unapologetic sass, and witty charm.
“You’re the Worst,” acts as a vivacious anthem for all of those who have been wronged by an ex-lover in their lifetime. The overflowing passion that comes from Grace Otto’s charisma has us walking the tightrope of boisterous and effervescent hues that make up the well-rounded, and likable energy she delivers to listeners far and wide.
As a debut single, the entire high-spiritedness that’s dispensed from a place of passion has us wanting to personally know Grace Otto so we can dissect her thoughts one on one. Holding onto a memorability and allure of that caliber doesn’t come easy for some, and the fact that Grace Otto knocks it out of the park has us immersed in the high octane performance she stirs up.
“You’re the Worst,” connects with us on a personal level, and has us only imagining the up-rise that it has brought into the lives of people far and wide. Captivating us with her dazzling croons and inimitable swagger, Grace Otto is surfacing to the top of the totem with songs like these.
Congratulations on the release of your debut single, “You’re the Worst.” We love how blatantly direct you are in the way you perform this track! We can only imagine there’s a killer story to go with the inspiration behind this song. Could you please take us into what influenced this track's concept?
Thank you, I’m seriously so happy you like it! Oh yeah, there’s a story behind almost everything that I’ve written. I have a background in theatre and playwriting so... I’m kind of obsessed with stories. The story behind this track, in particular, starts in 2017: I was dating this guy and he and his friends took a trip to New York City, one of those friends is a girl he had a history with. I was like “keep it together Grace, you don’t want to be “that girl”... which, in retrospect, I think there was some internalized misogyny going on because there’s nothing wrong with having boundaries, but anyway; I was at our house and he was in New York. I went to check my messages on Facebook on our home computer, but he was still signed in. Just as I went to sign out, a picture from her popped up… and like, not the kind of picture you would want your boyfriend receiving from a girl he had a history with, you know what I mean? I hadn't really written a song before, but I was so mad at her, that I went to my keyboard and just... exploded. I wrote a song called “Natalie,” which was kinda the prototype for 'You’re the Worst,' but I realized by the time I got into the studio to record that my anger was totally misdirected. He was the one overstepping my boundaries. He was the one who wasn’t there when I needed him. So fast forward about a year after we broke up, he and I were in the middle of figuring out how to maintain a friendship but I was just… upset. I hated the situation because admittedly, I was still completely in love with him... but I knew it wouldn’t work. It's the worst feeling in the world. The studio was about 2 hours away from where I was living at the time, so I had this whole car ride to sorta stew in my feelings, blasting P!NK and Amy Winehouse the whole time. I got to the studio and talked to my producer about what was going on, and he was like “yeah, that’s the worst, anyway, what are we making?” I said something like “what do you think it would sound like if Amy Winehouse wrote a P!NK song?” : he took that, made a stellar beat, and we got to writing. I was in this headspace that I couldn’t write about the breakup because we were still trying to be friends, but Hiram (my producer) asked, “what if the chorus is just “you’re the worst” over and over” and it clicked. I had bottled everything up and I had a “fuck it, this is what I’m feeling, I’m going to write about it” moment, and that’s how You’re the Worst happened.
With 10 songs unreleased, how long ago was “You’re the Worst” written? Was anybody assisting you in the top-tier production and sound quality that this record holds?
So, You’re the Worst was written in late August of 2019 with my producer Hiram Hernandez, who has worked with Asking Alexandria, Breaking Benjamin, AVOID, Dragged Under, SION… a whole bunch of really awesome bands. We did another song together before deciding we wanted to work on an album, and we actually recorded it at the beginning of COVID. Like, I moved to Phoenix to do it and a week later Italy started getting really bad, and a couple of days later, the world was in lockdown It ended up being a really insane process; we had no idea what was going on in the world, we didn’t really know each other, but at least we had a project.
In terms of the creative process that you embarked on when fashioning together “You’re the Worst,” did you find that you were able to get this song out in an organic way? Does what it means to you the same as what you want your audience to take away from it?
Totally organic. I think both Hiram and I have had romantic experiences where we’ve been screwed over. I remember feeling really torn writing “you say you love me but I saw you with that bitch from down the way”. I was like… is this anti-feminist? Is this shitty? But it’s a manic heartbreak song. I think everyone’s dealt with jealousy on some level, especially with how society teaches us to treat relationships. It’s really possessive. It fosters jealousy. I’ve grown up a lot since recording "You're the Worst,” let things go, and have reflected on how I reacted to the situation in part because the song is weirdly healing. You would think it’s kinda negative screaming “You’re the Worst”, but you have gotta feel those feelings to move past them. I think anyone in the middle of their own “You’re the Worst” moment probably needs to release some stuff that they might not feel fully comfortable expressing in “real” life. We wrote it so anyone could project their experiences onto it; everyone’s felt jealousy, everyone’s felt heartbroken, everyone has felt things they don’t want to feel. I think especially as women, there’s a pressure to be overly forgiving or unrealistically positive, and if we express something outside of those norms, we’re "crazy." I coped with the breakup by blaming myself for everything, especially because towards the end I lashed out in ways I wasn't proud of. It's way easier to completely blame yourself because then you can fix it (which again, fixing things emotionally is something pushed onto women). In a lot of ways, I was the worst, but it wasn't completely my fault. There's a difference between accountability and martyring yourself. There’s an added pressure to be morally right for women or to sacrifice themselves to be “good.” "You’re the Worst," is all about expressing yourself even when it’s ugly because nothing will make you feel more “crazy” than not listening to yourself.
What’s your mission statement as an artist? How do you ensure to make that known through everything that you do?
It’s overly simplistic to say we live in a plastic world with no authenticity, but I do think we live in a world that prioritizes being “ok” when literally nothing is ok. It’s a cognitive dissonance that makes things feel really hopeless when we finally admit to ourselves that we are not ok. Take climate change for example people collectively refused to look at it and now the ocean’s on fire. Emotions are a lot like climate change; if we want to fix ourselves we gotta be honest with ourselves without falling into nihilism. My mission statement is to stand in my own power, love, honesty, and resilience in a way that helps others stand in theirs; to be an example of someone who is not always ok, not always right, not done growing, but is still out there kicking ass.