“Tracy is about confirming my sexual identity. It’s a nostalgic letter to my younger self”
BY ELEANOR NOYCE, IMAGE BY RICHARD DAVENPORT
Juggling beatboxing, teaching, acting and music, Grace Savage spins a lot of plates. Her new single, Memory, is out now. Go go go, DIVAs!
Your latest single, Tracy, was released on 30 September. Congrats! Could you tell me a little bit about it?
Tracy is a song about a cowgirl that I met when I was 13 years old. My mum had volunteered us to go on a programme called Holiday Swap and the premise of the programme was that two families went on a holiday they wouldn’t normally go on. We always used to go to Disneyland and so we went on a ranching, horse riding type of holiday and this other family went to Disneyland. This cowgirl called Tracy worked on the ranch, and she was probably in her late 30s, early 40s. She was just so cool – I became really obsessed with her. When we finished that holiday, I wanted to write to Tracy and work on the ranch. A few years later, I fell in love with a girl for the first time.
It’s kind of a song for Tracy, but it’s not really about Tracy. It’s about confirming my sexual identity – it’s like a nostalgic letter to my younger self saying, “It’s okay, you were just a little gay girl”. It’s kind of an ode to myself.
Tracy is your first explicitly gay song. Do LGBTQI themes manifest in different ways in other areas of your music?
I’ve been very open about my sexuality on social media for a long time. A bit of my following is younger queer or older queer people, so I haven’t shied away from it. It’s just never been explicitly said. It’s been alluded to, and all the songs I’ve written about have been about girlfriends and exes, and women. I’ve missed out pronouns, or not used the words “she” or “her”. And that probably is to do with my early introduction into the music industry. At 23, I was told by a producer that I should tell people I’m bisexual because I didn’t want to alienate people. I think that probably stuck in my head for a long time. I’ve only been releasing music for four years, and I can’t believe that this is the first time I’ve brought out a song which is openly about a woman. I should have gone with it much earlier.
You’re not signed to a label. How has it been doing things of your own accord?
It’s very empowering. I’m very wary of ever going down the mainstream route. I have to finance everything myself. I’ve been lucky with funding but it’s costing money to put music out there now, which is typical as an independent artist. I’ve had such a luxury this year of being able to release every six weeks because I’ve got some funding from the Arts Council. Who knows – if a major label came along and said, “Here’s a million dollars”, I’d probably just say yes. Any artist will tell you when you release, it’s quite an anti-climax. It might get a few streams and you’ll post about it for about a week, and then everyone’s on to the next song. Measuring success is something that’s shifted for me – it’s much less about getting streams and more about an individual person saying, “I really connected with that song”.
You’ve spoken about your experiences as a beatboxer. Is this industry very male-dominated? If so, what has it been like for you?
It’d probably say that it’s 95% male. It’s derived from the culture of hip hop, which is quite a male-dominated genre. A lot of it is about battling and cockiness, and we don’t typically associate that with female traits. So, if a woman comes into that scene, and tries to compete in that sense, she gets labelled cocky and arrogant. It’s a hard space to feel embraced in. But there are more women doing it now – me and my partner Bellatrix have a beatbox duo called BURD. We know that every time we step onstage and beatbox together, that’s amazing for another young girl or boy to see in the audience. I realise how politically important that is.
You and your partner Jade are expecting a baby. Congratulations! How has your journey towards queer parenthood been?
It’s been an interesting journey. We don’t know any other LGBTQI parents, and I realise now that I knew absolutely nothing two years ago about the whole process of trying to get pregnant as two women. It’s been a real learning curve. It’s much harder to get pregnant than you think, and it’s much more expensive than you think. We found an Instagram community called LGBT mummies, and just seeing other gay mums posting things and seeing that representation is really nice. The antenatal classes were funny – I had to hang out with the dads and talk about football.
How did you and Jade meet?
I was in a show at The National called Home and there was someone in the cast who then went on to do a show with Jade. So I went to go see my friend in that. And that was my first introduction to Jade. We met for a drink afterwards and I went to say hi to my friend. Apparently, Jade said to my friend afterwards, “Who was that girl?” Apparently, I had some sort of effect on her. Then, we met for a coffee and a couple of drinks. As far as I was aware she wasn’t into girls, and as far as she was aware, she wasn’t either. But we just we hit it off, and here we are seven years later.
If you could give other LGBTQI women and non-binary people that are looking to start a family any advice, what would you say?
Save your pennies. You have to do 12 natural inseminations before you can be offered IVF on the NHS, which is awful, really. I didn’t know that you had to pay that much money to try and get pregnant.
If you could give your younger queer self one bit of advice, what would it be?
Don’t be so hard on yourself. You will find your tribe, you will find your happiness, you will find your people. And sex with women is way better than sex with men. You made the right choice.
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