A childhood fandom (and eventual tattoo) of Elvis. A deep love of My Chemical Romance and concept records. A range of influences stretching from Taylor Swift to Danzig.
With such diverse touchstones, you wouldn’t expect Atlantic Records artist Goody Grace to be so polished, to have such a focused sound, to establish an aesthetic all his own. But that’s exactly what he’s done through full length record “Infinite,” and a slew of buzzed-about singles like “Scumbag” featuring blink-182, and the career kick-off of “Memories.”
Through our conversation, you’ll discover how he blends those influences, plus how he started making music at around 12 years old and what song from The Smiths gives him goosebumps.
Intro: Hello and welcome to What’d I Say, where we talk with artists about songs they made, songs they like, and songs they’d like to have made. It’s an inside look into the craft of songs from the artists themselves. The origin story of Goody Grace is well known, especially to his passionate fan base. Growing up in Selkirk, a Canadian city about 20 miles north of Winnipeg, the artists would move west to California at 17. Here, he’d quickly attract both attention and collaborators to the release of his first single, “Memories,” in 2015. Headlining and supporting slots on tours would follow, as would nearly 500,000 listeners a month on Spotify.
Following more standalone singles, this momentum would continue into March of 2018, where he would drop his first extended effort, that being the 8-song release, “Infinite.” But there’s plenty you may not know, like what classic artists would become his earliest idol, or what famed rock record he still counts as his favorite album of all time. And maybe most importantly, how exactly does one get into making their own music as early as 12 years old? In his recent visit to our podcast studio, Goody Grace got into all of that along with his love of horror movies and more.
Goody Grace — Scumbag (feat. blink-182)
Jesse Cannon: So, what was your first favorite song?
Goody Grace: My first favorite song was probably the whole…I had a tape in my Walkman when I was like 5, of the whole blink-182 “Enema of the State” tape. So pretty much everything off that. I just listened to that on rewind, back and forth, always at my brother’s hockey games. So that’s probably, that whole album was probably my first favorite song. Because when it’s the tape you can’t really differentiate songs.
Jesse Cannon: That’s true.
Goody Grace: Just kind of runs on, so I didn’t really know when it switched. Yeah. The one with the girl with the glove.
Jesse Cannon: Yes. So, the question is, does that one still hang on to you? I think this was a big thing like-
Goody Grace: Yes, of course. Yes.
Jesse Cannon: A lot of people are like, “Oh, I can’t do blink anymore.” And then some people are like, “No, that’s still the shit.”
Goody Grace: Yeah, I can do that album whenever. I know it front-to-backwards.
Jesse Cannon: Yeah I was old when that came out and I still do that album.
Goody Grace: Right.
Jesse Cannon: So I’m definitely living that “What’s My Age Again.”
Goody Grace: I feel like I was like 2 when it came out, so I was a few years late.
Jesse Cannon: Nice. How about the first song you memorized?
Goody Grace: The first song I memorized was probably the song called “I Still Miss Someone” by Johnny Cash.
Jesse Cannon: And so what about that stuck with you? I imagine you were pretty young. That’s a pretty mature song.
Goody Grace: Yeah. I just grew up around like pretty much exclusively country music. And then I was like learning to play guitar and it’s just really easy chords. So, then it kind of became like a song that like my family would get me to sing at like every gathering, and it was like my one song that I just could always play super well. I don’t know what it was. I just really liked it, and I think my grandma or someone told me I should, like, sing it. So, I learned it until I was like 10 that was like we’re having a family dinner and everyone’s like, “Oh, get your guitar and like, sing the Johnny Cash song.” So, I was kind of just like a one trick pony for those youth years.
Jesse Cannon: So, growing up around country music and then blink-182. So is that the rebellion point? Like was it your parents that were just listening to that. Like what was that scenario?
Goody Grace: Yeah, I grew up with grandma and my mom really close, but my brother is like a few years older than me. So, I think I got into like hip-hop and like punk music and stuff early from him. Because like I’d assume that tape was his, that I just like acquired from his bedroom. But no, I grew up with like everywhere you look there was like Elvis memorabilia. I just grew up engraved in my mind that Elvis was like the best ever. So just, I feel like from a very early age I was into all kinds of music, but country was just like the through line of what would play when I was eating dinner. I’d just wake up and my grandma would have it playing, and yeah.
Jesse Cannon: Nice. So how about Elvis? Has Elvis had any effect on you and you make any stage moves or anything like that?
Goody Grace: Oh I wish I could make stage moves like him, but yeah he’s probably like my biggest inspiration. I have a portrait of him tattooed on my arm.
Jesse Cannon: Oh wow.
Goody Grace: Yeah.
Jesse Cannon: That’s badass.
Goody Grace: Yeah, I love him. He’s just like always been my kind of end all of like what a star is. I went to his house when I was like 3 in Memphis. You can like take tours. I don’t really remember, but there’s like photos of it. But yeah, I just, there was like every clock, like every analog clock in my house was like Elvis. And the seconds, his legs would like swing back and forth. Everywhere. Like the plates were Elvis, my cup was Elvis. My mom and my grandma, Elvis was just the end all so that I just grew up with that, you know, engraved. And as I got older I was like, damn man, he’s the best.
Jesse Cannon: Nice. The question is though, are you going to take up any of his eccentric diet habits?
Goody Grace: I like the, you know, the sandwich. I’d eat that maybe, the peanut butter.
Jesse Cannon: The peanut butter banana, I think it was, yeah.
Goody Grace: Yeah.
Jesse Cannon: Yeah, I’m not fucking with that.
Goody Grace: Yeah, I’m not going to take up any of his habits aside from being a legend, hopefully.
Jesse Cannon: Nice. How about the first song or album you remember buying?
Goody Grace: I remember my brother already had a couple, so I had like “The Eminem Show,” and I had like blink and a couple randoms. But I really remember buying like some Green Day albums, like CDs. And then I remember the day that, I like counted down the days until “The Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance came out. And I got the like deluxe, deluxe edition and it’s a concept album.
Jesse Cannon: Yes.
Goody Grace: So, I like laid in my bed and like read the lyrics along with it like it was like a play or something. That was like my first like, that’s going to be, you know, I went to the store and bought it and loved it. It was like ’06, so I was like 9, and that’s my favorite album ever.
Jesse Cannon: Oh wow. So, so you’re a pro concept album person. This is a big thing. Like you know, some of the people we talk to they’re like, “Oh those are so cheesy.”
Goody Grace: I love them. Yeah, because then from that I got into like “The Wall” and all that and you know there’s a lot of good concept albums out there.
Jesse Cannon: So, one day we think we’ll get one from you?
Goody Grace: Yeah I think everything will be like at least a loose, everything’s a little loose, you know, conceptually. But one day I’ll probably do like an exact storyline or something.
Jesse Cannon: Nice. I think that, you know, it is that thing that so many of them end up bad, but the ones that are good are like the most amazing records.
Goody Grace: Mm-hmm. I think it ends up bad when people try to get too specific, because if you look at any good, like even “The Wall” or “Black Parade,” you can really listen…“The Wall” is a bit more intense, but like “Black Parade” you could pick any song and it stands alone. It’s not like you need to listen front to back. “The Wall” has like a bunch of weird like 1-minute songs and stuff like that. But I think if it’s done right, every song can stand alone or it could be like a cohesive storyline front to back.
Jesse Cannon: That’s a great point. I actually hadn’t considered that. Was there a specific song of yours when you were writing it that you felt like you finally jumped to a level where you’re like, OK, I’m actually getting good at this?
Goody Grace: I had a song, it’s really like my first song, it’s called “Memories.” It came out like the end of 2015. I put it out on SoundCloud and I’d been making music…Like I started producing my own stuff when I was about 12. I got Pro Tools for Christmas because, well I started before that on Garage Band and because there’s just no studios where I’m from. Super small town. No like opportunity to do anything like that really.
So for all those years, I mean I made like hundreds and hundreds of songs of different styles and all over the place, just to like learn how to record. But then when I made the song “Memories,” I was like, “Whoa, this is like a really cool sound that I hadn’t really heard.” And I was like, I’m going to keep making more like this. And that really is what opened the door to get right here and now.
Jesse Cannon: Nice. So, what about it jumped out at you that it was like, “OK, I think I got this”? Like was there certain elements of the sound? Like what did you feel?
Goody Grace: Yeah, I was just making the beat and I did a couple little tricks in the production that I now incorporate and everything. It’s just how I like to track my guitars, and some of the drum sounds, and my voice, and it just kind of wrote itself. I really just made the beat first and then just, you know, like free-styled the whole song and, and that’s one of my favorite songs of mine. Like I open every show with it and that’s a special one to me.
Jesse Cannon: How about, who would be a surprising musical influence that we would not expect from you?
Goody Grace: Well, I’m a really big fan of Taylor Swift, but I feel like that’s not too much of a surprise because you can kind of hear it. I listen to a lot of like really dark rap.
Jesse Cannon: Mm-hmm. Like who?
Goody Grace: Like it started with Three 6 Mafia and I love a lot of the South stuff like UGK and you know, there’s a lot of good stuff and there’s a lot of dark stuff. I’m a fan of these guys called the $uicideboy$. I’m really into dark stuff. I love like the Misfits. I have their logo tattooed as well.
Jesse Cannon: Oh I work with them all the time.
Goody Grace: Oh really?
Jesse Cannon: Yeah.
Goody Grace: Yeah. So I love Danzig and even, you know, metal. I think the surprising thing is really what I listened to the most. I’m a pretty happy person and positive, but I love a lot of dark horror themed stuff.
Jesse Cannon: Nice.
Goody Grace: So yeah.
Jesse Cannon: Does that extend to horror movies too?
Goody Grace: Yeah, big time.
Jesse Cannon: So come on, give me a few faves.
Goody Grace: You know, everything, I love like “Nightmare on Elm Street,” of course, but pretty much any new horror movie, even if it’s bad. Like you can ask my manager, I’ll take him to go see the new, like horrible, teeny-bopper horror film and I just like to keep up on it. I love like not being able to walk around my house without like jumping. Yeah, I love it.
Jesse Cannon: OK. How about the most recent song you discovered and had to share it with all your friends and texted tons of people like you got to hear this?
Goody Grace: There’s a band called Cigarettes after Sex that they’re super…I’m actually wearing their shirt. They’re super just like, every song is a very specific style. It’s very lounge-y and relaxing, but when I found them, I definitely told everyone I know, like “You got to listen to this”. And I tweeted about them so much that like we’re really close now and we’re really good friends. I think they’re actually like based out of Brooklyn, but they were probably the like, you know, I had to tell everyone around me to go listen to them, and that turned into us being super close. So, I think that was probably the most recent where I was like, “Whoa.” If I like something, I get pretty addicted to it. I don’t really listen to a lot of music in like a month, like I’ll listen one artist for like a whole month, you know, and then move onto something new.
Jesse Cannon: So, when you’re listening to one artist for like a month, is there a lot of note taking or is it just really that you just get really exhaustive with it?
Goody Grace: I think I just fall in love with the vibe and I’m like all right this is just something easy. I have a lot, like I save a lot of music in like Apple Music or whatever. You know, if I like…I have discographies of every artist just saved. So my library’s quite overwhelming. So, what I’m usually listening to is just the “Recently Added” section cause it’s the first thing that pops up. So that’s where I’ll get into like a groove of listening to the same thing because it’s just easier to find than scrolling through like…I probably have like 30,000 songs saved in my Apple Music.
Jesse Cannon: That’s something.
Goody Grace: Yeah, it’s actually why I switched from Spotify because Spotify is cap is 10K.
Jesse Cannon: Oh that’s interesting.
Goody Grace: And I went to save an album and it was like you’re out of room and I was like, alright.
Jesse Cannon: That’s funny. I think they just announced that they’re changing that too.
Goody Grace: Really?
Jesse Cannon: So yeah, it’s a funny thing.
Goody Grace: Nice.
Jesse Cannon: I sat there go like, who needs more than that? Now I know.
Goody Grace: Yeah, I just like to keep it all in the holster.
Jesse Cannon: So, do you remember where the first time you heard your song in public?
Goody Grace: Like a couple of restaurants where I’m from will play it, but I think that’s more because like I walked in and they put it on. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard my song, like music in public. I’m not quite there yet, but actually a really cool story. I got a text from Halsey, she’s a friend of mine, and she was walking in a mall in South Korea and sent me a video of my song “Two Shots” playing in the mall. So that was probably the first time, but I’ve never been walking and heard my music yet.
Jesse Cannon: Nice, that is a great story.
Goody Grace: Yeah, hopefully I’ll be hearing a lot soon, but shout out South Korea for playing my music in a mall.
Jesse Cannon: That’s rad.
Goody Grace: Yeah.
Jesse Cannon: So let’s get to your songwriting. Is it usually lyrics, beats first? Tell me about how a song comes together often times.
Goody Grace: Usually beats all the time. I don’t think I’ve ever come up with a lyric first. Everyone’s different though. Sometimes they just write a song sitting on the guitar. Sometimes I like, make a beat with someone, or get a beat from someone, or make a beat myself. But it’s usually always music first. Yeah, I don’t really sit and like write lyrics. I’ve never really done that. I’ll write lyrics to like the song, but I don’t sit and write, you know, just words ever. But I like that because then I kind of just go off how the music makes me feel and what I’d like to talk about, or you know. So it’s usually always music first. Yeah.
Jesse Cannon: Yeah. That’s what’s important, matching that emotion to the music.
Goody Grace: Yeah, I feel like when I was younger, I used to like, if I was in a car, I’d try and write like a song, lyric wise. But when in my case when I try to match it with a beat, it was just never natural. And I feel like I’d try and fit too many words in and, you know, you got to leave space and feel what we feels best.
Jesse Cannon: How about a song you love that if it comes on you have to drop what you’re doing and just take it in?
Goody Grace: I’m a big fan of the Smiths and, like, Morrissey, so I feel like it happens quite often. I’ve been a fan of them for a long time and everything he does, but when I’m in public and I hear them, I always get super excited. Like I was in an airport the other day and like “Ask” by the Smiths was playing in the airport. And I’m always like, “No way.” Because it’s something I’ve listened to alone so much and so when I hear it out, it’s just exciting for me still because I just know the songs front to back so well. So, I feel like when I hear anything by the Smiths out I get really excited.
Jesse Cannon: Nice. That’s a common thing while you’re in New York.
Goody Grace: Yeah, yeah.
Jesse Cannon: How about, what’s your guilty pleasure?
Goody Grace: Like music wise or just in general?
Jesse Cannon: Sure, in general.
Goody Grace: Playing video games actually.
Jesse Cannon: Yeah, so what are you into now?
Goody Grace: The new “Spider-Man” game for PS4.
Jesse Cannon: Seems like that’s what everybody was into this weekend.
Goody Grace: Which is wild because I played it like for days on end, and then it’s really, the map is like geographically completely accurate to just Manhattan Island.
Jesse Cannon: Oh really, I didn’t realize that.
Goody Grace: So, I’m like driving around and being like “damn, I know this part. I know that.”
Jesse Cannon: That’s really funny.
Goody Grace: Yeah, but when I have like a good like hour at night or just some free time, I love to play video games. I think it’s like the coolest form of entertainment aside from music.
Jesse Cannon: How about some advice another musician or somebody in the business that has given you that’s really resonated with you?
Goody Grace: I luckily am around a lot of people that give me a lot of advice. And I’ve watched a lot of people’s careers build around me, and a lot of friends, you know, kind of before me as I was just working behind-the-scenes. So, I don’t think there’s really one specific piece of advice, but I just think staying true to-
Jesse Cannon: Any example that anybody’s given you that’s really helped?
Goody Grace: I think just staying true to yourself and like making what you want to make, you know? Yeah, not making what you want to make, but just kind of following your gut on what you make. I feel like people start to mess up when they start to like follow a preconceived formula before just creating the art of what it has to be. I feel like just from watching my friends make music and artists make music, I feel like everyone kind of starts to trickle off when they fall off of just what they’re really good at, you know?
Jesse Cannon: Yeah I think you get so much pressure from the outside.
Goody Grace: Of course.
Jesse Cannon: Like people don’t get what artists are talking about, this and that. Like every day somebody is inundating you with “like you should do this.” That’s not what I want to fucking do.
Goody Grace: Well yeah, any artists that I love I mean, when you think of them off top, you know what the music sounds like and what it is. You know, from the Smiths, the Misfits, like you can just hear how it sounds just from the word if you know it. So, you know if one of them were to make something completely different, it probably wouldn’t correlate as well. Not that you shouldn’t try new things, but it all just has to be you. Yeah.
Jesse Cannon: Totally. How about, is there any guiding thing that for you with your music, you’re like, you hear this as you’re like, “this is me,” but you hear something else and you’re like, “no that’s not me. That’s not something I should do.”
Goody Grace: I think I always have dabbled back and forth with the blend of, like, I play guitar and sing, but I’m also into hip-hop and kind of more contemporary drums and beats. So, I feel like for a while I struggled with buckling down and being like, what is it that I’d want to make? Because some stuff would be just, you know, too far one way and too far the other. So, I think the through line is just blending all my different styles that I have in my back pocket that I could contribute to a song and just always making that perfect blend. Sometimes I’ll make a song and then like, before I play it for anyone, I’ll just listen to it for like a day. And then after the day I’m like, no like that’s not it, but it’s still a good exercise. It all leads to the next one.
Jesse Cannon: How much trashing are you doing for every one that we hear?
Goody Grace: I mean I probably make 15 songs before I make like two that I’d even want to show another person.
Jesse Cannon: That’s a lot.
Goody Grace: And then of those two they pile into songs that I think should be out and then maybe like one out of 20 comes out.
Jesse Cannon: Wow.
Goody Grace: So there’s a lot of stuff in my hard drives. Like I’m the first pass and then the second pass is like “should this be out?” And then what’s out is what made it through all the gates.
Jesse Cannon: How about a song that gives you goosebumps every time you hear it?
Goody Grace: I have a lot. I’m trying to think of like one in particular, probably like “Asleep” by The Smiths. A couple of like the more emotional like Bob Dylan songs from his early stuff, like “Girl From the North Country.” Yeah just that, like, eerie, emotional — some like piano ballads sometimes give me, you know, like “Asleep.” I get goosebumps a lot from songs honestly. I cry a lot from songs. Songs really like you know… If I feel something like that intense it’s probably really, really good. “First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes.
Jesse Cannon: Oh yeah.
Goody Grace: That one always gets me, anything in that kind of realm.
Jesse Cannon: How about a go to karaoke song?
Goody Grace: You know what, I don’t think I’ve ever done karaoke.
Jesse Cannon: Wow. So why is that?
Goody Grace: I don’t think I’ve ever been in the opportunity… I just turned 21. So, I’ve never really been in like a bar that had karaoke. Next time I’m in karaoke in the situation, I’ll probably do like “Without Me” by Eminem.
Jesse Cannon: That’s pretty adventurous for your first time, I have to say.
Goody Grace: Just something that I already really know, then it’s like I don’t really need to read it.
Jesse Cannon: That’s smart.
Goody Grace: And you don’t really have to sing.
Jesse Cannon: Yes.
Goody Grace: I would feel pretty awkward if I started like belting out at a karaoke situation.
Jesse Cannon: I could definitely see that one, but I think you know what you have to do while you’re in New York now.
Goody Grace: Yeah, there will be a video of me doing “Without Me” sooner or later on karaoke.
Goody Grace — “Two Shots” (feat. gnash)
Outro: Thanks to Goody Grace for coming on What Did I Say. Find out more information by visiting goodygrace.com.
Our theme music is by Max Frost. Thank you for listening.