INTERVIEW: GRACE PETRIE | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

Narc. Magazine Online

Reliably informed

Image by David Wilson Clarke

The first time I heard Grace Petrie was at a live recording of the Guilty Feminist podcast at Northern Stage, when she announced herself as “a socialist, feminist, lesbian, left-wing protest singer” to whoops of joy from the audience. “Politics are explicitly central to what I do but I’m always trying to put people at their ease and I think laughter’s a good way of doing that,” she explains, “I actually consider myself a folk singer; for me, folk music should speak to an audience, comment on the times that we exist in and social injustices. It needs to be political and radical otherwise there’s no point to it.”

Frank, witty and smart, her music is guitar-driven, fierce and vibrant, and her lyrics powerfully honest; she challenges the personal and political with songs that audiences sing along to, mantra-like, or use to soundtrack their own struggles. “When an audience are singing something that is political or about social injustice that’s a really, really powerful thing. It’s easy to feel like you’re totally on your own, that nobody else agrees with you about stuff or nobody else is fighting for the same thing that you are. The objective of a protest song is always unity and solidarity.”

I’ve grown up in a patriarchal society that doesn’t celebrate images of masculinity in women, I really wanted to write something that shined a bit of a light on kids like me

With a media industry ruled by a small number of gatekeepers who decide who is represented, it can be difficult to break through when you’re challenging their world view – not that it’s stopped Grace… “I’ve never had any record label backing, the music industry have never particularly got what I’m trying to do, which is why I took the DIY route.” In 2018 Grace crowd-funded for her recent album Queer As Folk, raising £10,000 in just 24 hours and £18,000 throughout the two-week campaign. “I owe everything to the people that come to my gigs and buy my records. I completely and utterly would not be where I am without my audience.” 

Released in September 2018 the album received high acclaim. Stand-out track Black Tie challenges gender stereotypes amidst jaunty guitar and fiddle, and with rousing lines like “No you never will surrender to a narrow view of gender” has had an overwhelming audience response. “I kind of wrote it thinking that this is such a personal specific niche thing – I knew it meant a lot to me, but I didn’t imagine it would really mean very much to anyone else. It was very much part of a cathartic process for me. I’ve always been gay, so that’s not an issue for me, but I’ve grown up in a patriarchal society that doesn’t celebrate images of masculinity in women, I really wanted to write something that shined a bit of a light on kids like me. That song’s had far more impact than anything else I’ve ever done. It’s incredibly touching and an honour for me.”

Grace Petrie plays The Old Coal Yard, Newcastle with support from Martha Hill, Gem Andrews and Beccy Owen on Saturday 28th July.

 

Like this story? Share it!