Interview by Savana
When punk musician, writer, and DIYer Grey… wrote in about her new song, Hand in the Grave, I knew that we absolutely had to pick her brain in an interview. Grey…’s lyrics are blunt, honest, and infused with a passion that’s absolutely impossible to ignore. Grey…’s work encompasses just about every media you can imagine- from music to crafts to clothing to writing- and maintains her vibrant voice throughout them all. Read on for a sneak peek at Grey…’s upcoming EP, Clown in Residence, her artwork, and her golden advice to fellow young artists.
I want to start with the basics because I haven’t seen any interviews with you yet– Could you introduce yourself? When did you start making music?
Greetings and salutations, my name is “Grey…” and I’m a bisexual bipolar 20 year old freak who was born in the south but raised in the city.
I’ve been making music since I was about 12 or 13, when I first got instruments. Before that I always sang and wrote songs. I’ve always been an incredibly “hyper-active” child so it calmed me down and soothed my brain to sing, write, or play shitty guitar. I never really made music to sound good but instead to make myself feel better.
I guess the first person that inspired me to try singing was my Papa. He sings like a goddamn saint. Literally could shatter glass or repair a broken heart with his voice. I heard him sing in church and he was like a rock star for Jesus, haha. Old women falling to the ground and men weeping in the pews. I’m not religious by any means but who can say if any of those people were. I’d fake a religious alliance to hear good music any day! But I didn’t like singing Gospel or R&B which was a huge problem for me since I’m black. Living in a black household those are pretty much the only genres of music you hear other than the pop charts, which I for the most part hated.
But thanks to the public school system I was introduced to bullies, the hell of academia, overtly sexual youth, and different types of music. I heard a friend in the courtyard after school playing this song. I had never heard music like this before. I connected with whatever this was, the lyrics and the guitars were everything. Come to find out he was playing “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day. Which is slightly embarrassing because people think Green Day sucks now…which for the record is not true! But after that I was hooked and totally invested in learning about rock history and listening to all the greatest bands and musicians. I looked at these people and saw myself. I mean not physically of course none of them were chubby black girls who exclusively wore Hot Topic but on the inside I was a carbon copy.
Your music addresses a lot of important political issues- gender roles, sexism, etc.- what pushed you to speak about these topics in your music?
I think it’s very important to have a reason to do what you do. No matter what it is. I care far more than most people probably deem normal. I care about people and nature and I want all of my work to reflect that. I don’t like the fact that gender roles exist and that still many of us are subjected to people pushing that ideology. I’m not getting married, I’m not having a child, and I’m not giving up the things that make me happy and feel most at ease for someone else’s comfort. I value my intentions far more than I do my choices. I mean well. And sometimes I get tired of explaining myself to people or defending my beliefs against old perverted men who want to touch my ass or get my number. Like I said, I make music to make myself feel better and so when I see or experience anything that hurts or is uncomfortable or any emotion at all really, I address those feelings in my lyrics and validate my own thoughts. This helps me extremely when I’m going through a manic or depressive episode. Writing songs helps me sort through all the white noise in my head.
I’m used to being disagreed with and having debates is apart of my everyday existence but sometimes it can all become a little overwhelming so then I allow myself to scream and let it all out.
You also create wearable art and merchandise! Could you speak a little about that?
Oh yes of course! I put a lot of thought into products that I make and sell. My most popular pieces are my “Proud Owner Of A Vagina” pieces. I make everything with a personal attachment which is probably while I’ll never go mainstream haha, but I kinda also like that about what I sell. I made that vagina shirt just for myself at first and I wanted to make it because I wasn’t allowed to say the word vagina for years. It was labelled as a dirty word and when I got older and started learning about the history of women and LGBTQIA+ history I noticed this sick trend of damning people for their bodies or who they are or what parts they have. So I wanted to go against that and liberate loving my body and not being ashamed of it while also pissing people off in the process.
I feel like I must also stress that none of my items will ever be gendered (which is commonly assumed to be the case because of that vagina merch)! It breaks my heart seeing a lot of stores, especially indie ones, still gendering their products- it’s stupid and unfair. Anyone can wear my work- boys, girls, gender nonconforming people- it doesn’t make a difference to me as long as you have good intentions when you buy it. And many people notice that my shirts are all “Plus Size” which is also intentional. Every shirt that I sell is one size which is XL. I did that because I want to see a world that doesn’t shame you for what size you wear. I used to get picked on for wearing a size medium.When my boobs came in I shot up to a size XL and that was totally unacceptable in society. Literally spending a day getting new clothes was torture. Dressing rooms and having to shop in stores that were specially made for you because your body type was no longer worthy of wearing Forever 21 or H&M. So, by making all of my shirts XL I’m giving all those brands the finger. At least with my shirts they will fit a lot more people and I encourage people to cut them and trim them. Whatever they want to do to make the shirt more fitting for their bodies but at least the material is there to be worked with. I never had that privilege given to me and I wish I did. Its not seen as attractive to have “plus size” labeled clothing in your closet and now I want it to be so common in everybody’s closets that the stigma disappears and the special “plus size” sections disappear. I’m working on my next pieces currently and I’m so excited. It’s inspired by the 90’s grunge scene, but that’s all I will say.
We’re so excited to hear your upcoming EP, Clown in Residence. Could you give us any insight about what it will sound like/address? What is the meaning of Clown in Residence?
I guess you should expect to hear… I don’t know. This question is actually hard. I think that these songs on this EP are the thoughts I’ve been screaming into my pillow for the past 3 months. The most honest I think I’ve ever been. I’m so open now about my sexuality and dealing with mental illness that I’ve allowed myself to be my authentic self. So you’ll hear a lot of synths, which are my favorite because the 80’s inspire me so much. A lot of guitar thrashes and heavy drums. It’s going to address my relationship with people, the internet, sexuality, humanity and politics, and maybe even my love for a certain rock icon…
The phrase Clown in Residence is basically how I sum up my existence. From my appearance to my personality. Not only do I hide a lot of my thoughts and emotions behind my makeup and my wigs , it’s also widely assumed that I don’t have anything other than that to contribute. Many people assume that I am just this joke and I have no serious opinions or complex thoughts because of how I present myself. I’ve watched as people have belittled my intelligence or completely dismissed me during discussions of activism or politics. Which sucks but I understand it. I don’t really look like or act like any type of person in any type of scene or community, except for the LGBTQIA+ community where I’ve always been welcome even before coming out.
I will always be the one that sticks out and never quite fits in. Even when I’m dressed “normal” I still feel different and am treated differently. I’ve always been the clown in residence, the freak, the outcast, and yet still their entertainment.
I love that you work with School of Doodle! Could you tell us about your work with them?
I love School Of Doodle! It’s the first non freelance job I’ve ever had. I’m an Editor which means I get to have a lot of creative freedom and I get to interact with a lot of wonderful people which is literally all any artist can ask from a job. I’m respected and my ideas are listened to and built into real things. I’ve been working for Doodle for about a year and I’ve learned so much and there are so many amazing projects in the works! Our founder is constantly busting her ass just because she believes in people like me and like you.
I even have my own show on the School of Doodle Youtube channel called “You’ve Been Vagina’d”! And the next season will be starting up soon so stay tuned!
Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you and your work?
I guess the one thing I’d wanna say is to always trust your instincts. The end goal of life is not to be the richest or most famous person ever but just to be the best one you can possibly be. So, light some sage and make something good, not great or perfect, just pretty damn good. ✿