Gretta Ray FAULT Magazine Covershoot and Interview

We are fast approaching the August 27th release of Gretta Ray’s debut album ‘Begin to Look Around’ and fans and new listeners alike are beaming with excitement. The album has been described as a ‘wonderous and empowering coming of age record’ and yet with so many tracks linked to real life lessons and experiences, we’re sure to see a whole new side of Gretta’s artistry. 

We caught up with Gretta to discuss her new music, process, journey and as always, her FAULTs. 

On your new album, you explore very personal events in your life, will being so open and honest help close that chapter of your life?

I think it already has! Completing the writing process allowed me to begin closing that chapter, yes. It’s no secret that songwriting is very therapeutic when you’re writing about personal experiences. Being able to release these songs into the world and have them be relatable to other people in the way that they once were to me, means a lot to me and brings me a great deal of closure.

Do you have an album release day ritual?

Not really no, this is my first album! For both of my EPs, I had little launches for them. Neither were on their release day, but both were opportunities for my family and close friends to hear and celebrate those EPs.

While the Duology focuses on the two narratives in the fact, when listening back, did you ever find yourself changing your opinion based on outward reflection?

Absolutely. In fact, I actually had the chance to make some of those changes to the songs when I was rerecording my vocals and finalising the production. Some of their narratives didn’t resonate with me in the same way anymore, so I adjusted the lyrics here and there. Some of the songs needed to stay the way they were written, but others I moulded a little more before completing the album.

What would you say was emotionally the hardest track to write on Begin To Look Around?

Interestingly, the songs that are about some of the most challenging times in my life were often the easiest and quickest for me to write. I think this is because those feelings needed to urgently get out of my system to be turned into song. So, the hardest tracks to listen back to I’ll say were Duology Three’s songs – Cherish and The Brink, for sure.

What would you say has been the biggest change in yourself between Here and Now and Begin To Look Around?

Without a doubt, regaining a sense of independence and falling in love with solitude has been the biggest change within me. I was a co-dependant young girl when I started writing my album; I would always want to be around people, or with a boyfriend… now, I look forward to my alone time so, so much. I enjoy my own company and how it allows me to reflect, rest and recharge. I feel very fortunate to have arrived at that place.

As someone who started their musical journey so young, do you ever feel pressure to live up to the dreams and aspirations you previously set yourself?

I feel that pressure every day. This is all I have ever wanted to do with my life; I have had profound moments when I’m on stage of just really feeling that this is my purpose. For the most part, I think that pressure and a sense of purpose makes me driven and hard-working, but it can get a bit overwhelming at times. I’m still learning balance. I think I always will be!

What would you say has been the most difficult hurdle to overcome in your musical journey?

The global pandemic! So obviously, I’m still doing everything I can to ‘overcome’ this mighty hurdle. Although, I think it’s less about overcoming it and rather, learning to accept and work with it. There is a huge part of me that is disappointed that I don’t get to release my album in an ‘easier’ time for the world, but this is our reality. I’m still really lucky that I get to make/release my music at all! So I’m learning to work with the current limitations, rather than against them.

What’s something journalists never ask you but is something you’ve always wanted to say/ discuss?

I haven’t spoken much about executive producing the album. A huge highlight for me while making this body of work was getting to help write bass melodies, midi string arrangements, piano parts and arrange backing vocals. Particularly with the songs that weren’t singles, like Worldly-Wise, we were able to get a little experimental as we had more flexibility. On the day we started producing that song, I had this idea that I wanted to write a vocal arrangement at the beginning, that would be an ode to a choir that I was a part of when I was younger, called the Young Voices Of Melbourne. I was in choir from when I was 5 to when I was 18; a lot of my musicianship is rooted in all the training I did in that choir. I love how creative and personal you can get with production. It’s so interesting and so much fun.

With the pandemic forcing a break in your recording process, did the added time cause any drastic changes to any of the final tracks on the album?

Changes were made, but not drastically. We had 9 of the 15 songs completed before the borders shut between New South Wales (where I was recording the album) and Victoria, where I live. Between finishing the 9 and starting work on the final 6, I think 10 months went by! Having all that time allowed me to meticulously plan what those final songs needed in order to complete the overall sonic palette of the album. Look for the silver linings where you can I guess!

What’s something you’ve done to protect your mental health this year?

Honestly, I was much better at doing that last year than I have been this year! I’ve found that the best things I can do for my mental health include getting enough sleep, going for walks in nature, eating well and getting perspective. Things are hard right now, but I am so fortunate to take comfort in having such a good community around me. I try to focus on that as much as I can.

What is your FAULT?

I am late for things. That’s not cute. Currently, though, I would say it’s being on my phone way, way too much. There are many, but that has to take the cake in this 5th lockdown in Victoria! I should read more books.