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You Heard It Here First: JGrrey talks touring with Billie Eilish, getting recognised and her parents

Every week Stylist will be shining a light on a female musician you need to be listening to. Meet JGrrey a one-of-a-kind talent and individual who you need to listen to.

JGrrey is relatively new to the music scene after only taking it up as a career in the last three years. Since then she has played at Glastonbury, toured with Billie Eilish and collaborated with one of Drake’s producers. Her music is a frank, honest and reflective take on a myriad of topics including mental health, self-worth and difficult relationships. Her atmospheric and at times club-heavy tracks have garnered attention from YouTube channel COLORS and Brit Award-winner, Jorja Smith. Her specific style and approach to neo-soul is what makes her stand out from the rest and why everyone ought to listen to her.

Following her latest release, Dreaming Fool, Stylist spoke with JGrrey as she rushed through London for a photoshoot to discuss her mother and father’s support, her dog Bertie, and her fear of singing on stage. 

The first record I ever bought…
Wasn’t technically bought, I never really bought records for myself. My dad was and still is a DJ so I wouldn’t need to buy any records because he had them all. I would just steal whatever he was listening to or whatever I liked that I knew he had because he would always be the first person to have it.

I think the first record I got from my Dad was a Nelly Furtado song, but I couldn’t tell you what single it was. I remember falling in love with her, she was one of those artists that really resonated with me.

My first source of inspiration…
I remember listening to Nelly Furtado’s music and her lyricism and thinking I totally get it. Even though everything she writes about is so obscure, I definitely think that it subconsciously inspired me.

Alongside Nelly Furtado, there are all the obvious names as well like Lauren Hill, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and Amy Winehouse.

To be honest music is a new thing for me. I’ve only really been an artist properly for three years and even now I’m still working that out - to me it’s still kind of crazy that this is something I am genuinely doing. So, when I was younger and watching all of these people, I was just watching these people and thinking they were amazing. I wasn’t necessarily taking note of them, at the time, as sources of inspiration.

Despite that though Amy Winehouse has always stuck out in my mind as a person who I think is beautiful. Her music, her style and what she created was obviously amazing but as a person, she was just so cool. 

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The first gig I saw…
Is a bit of a touchy one because I went to see Whitney Houston at the O2 and it was not a good gig. But regardless of that I remember walking in and thinking; “I am in the same room, the same space, breathing the same air as her”. Her stage presence was incredible.

The first time I knew music was my future…
Was probably at my first headline show. It wasn’t actually a moment that I personally recognised – but it was one that my Dad did. My Dad has always thought very logically about my career, saying you could give it a go, but you could also just get a job and be more secure. But when he came to my headline show and had seen that there were people outside asking if this is the JGrrey gig. I could see he was thinking that there was a career for me in this and I would be secure doing what I was doing.

I would love to say that my Dad has always told me to pursue music, but he hasn’t always been like that. He has always been supportive because he loves music, but he has also been a realist about it as a career. Whereas my mum has always told me to pursue music. She used to say that one day she’d hear me on the radio and that was before I even knew I could sing.

JGrrey Singer

The first time I realised I was good at my job…
Is a difficult one to answer because I’m still not convinced. It was probably when I got asked to tour with Billie Eilish. Billie had followed me on Instagram, sent me a message and then my booking agent called me and said you are going to go on tour with Billie Ellish. And that was that. You’d think there was more moving parts involved or that there was a plan and we we’re aiming for it but it just happened organically.

If people, especially Billie, think I can do this then obviously I am doing something right.

The first time I performed…
Was in primary school, I played the Artful Dodger in Oliver Twist and I shut it down! That’s how this all started.

Weirdly I hated singing though. I went to college and studied performing arts and as part of my course I had to sing. I was always too nervous to sing. I’d get up on stage and I’d be so anxious that it would ruin everything, and everyone could see the awkwardness. It was just horrible. Given all of that, I still don’t really know how I’ve ended up here, I don’t know when the transition happened where I became fine to get up on stage and perform. Even now I get scared, but I’ll just have a couple shots of whisky before I go out. God’s honest truth.

The first time I realised I had fans…
Was when I went to my mate’s show in Shepherds Bush and there was an area for his friends to watch the show. I was in awe of him playing. I went to the bathroom, still in awe, and I opened the door to this girl who turned around and gasped. In shock, I gasped back before asking her what had happened. She responded with “Oh my god, you’re JGrrey”.

Now I sometimes get stopped in the street, which is awesome, but I am socially all over the place. I was on the tube the other day and a girl recognised me, asked for a photo with me but at the next stop she got off, which left me on a train with everyone just looking at me like, ’what do you do?’.

Despite the uncomfortable moment that followed on the train, it’s those kinds of interactions that make me think my music genuinely resonates with people. I think because what and how I write is very personal, people feel like they know me – which more often than not is something they express – and I love that. 

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The first job I made money from…
Wasn’t actually music related. I worked in a café for ‘like’ three years and loved it.

Even the second job I got paid for wasn’t music related, it was a sports brand campaign. It wasn’t even to sing - it was just to be JGrrey and wear some clothes. It had some really cool people in it like Oscar #WorldPeace and Benny Mails. I have some big stuff coming up in a similar vain too.

The first thing I do when I wake up…
Is have a cup of tea in bed and hang out with my dog, Bertie. He’s a Cavalier King Charles, Pomeranian and Shih Tzu cross. Don’t really know how that’s the case.

The first thing I do when I get home…
Is walk my dog unless I’ve given him to someone to look after for the afternoon. So if he’s not in, the first thing I do is sit on my sofa, get on Netflix or go on my phone. I try not to be on my phone when I’m out, so I find myself looking through my phone when I get back to see what I’ve missed. At the moment, if I’m not on my phone I’m rewatching Big Mouth just because it reminds me so much of that part of my awkward teenage life, it’s exactly how it was so it really makes me laugh. 

JGrrey Singer

The first thing I spent my money on…
Was when I first moved into my apartment two years ago. I had saved up loads of money, went to Homesense and I spent most of it on pillows, bedding and towels. And now I have way too many pillows, way too many towels and bedding I have never used. It’s a bit ridiculous. When my drummer comes around and stays after a gig he always ask if there can be no pillows on his bed because it takes him hours to take them all off.

The first thing I heard this morning…
Was the sound of my own voice. I spoke to my mate Hope on the phone making sure she was up, so then what I heard next was Hope responding to me checking on her, mumbling to tell me she was up.

The first piece of advice I’d give my friends…
Don’t waste your energy on something you don’t need to be doing.

The first female artist Stylist readers should go and listen to after this interview…
Sol Galeano – she’s my graphics designer but makes music as well. She creates super-chilled spoken word over trippy hooks. 

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