INTERVIEW: Rising star Yorke talks music, skating and vulnerability
Image: Max Fairclough
Indie-electro-pop singer Yorke, real name Grace Hughes, is becoming one of the brightest new talents on the music scene. After releasing her debut single ‘First Light’ last year, the Byron Bay native has garnered critical praise and support from outlets such as Spotify, MTV and Apple Music.
She has recently released her second single, the hypnotic, dreamy ‘Wake This City’ which proves Hughes’ deft talent to create songs which resonate with the listener through creating a personal, almost intimate connection. It is a track we definitely recommend putting on repeat. We recently caught up with Yorke to find out more about her music and career.
Hi Yorke! Thanks for chatting to us! You’ve been writing songs for 10 years, that’s pretty impressive given you are only 20! Do you remember what some of your first songs were about?
Hey guys, thanks for having me! I remember them all! My singing teachers at the time gave me a songwriting book to write them all in, which I actually found the other day (cringing). They were all angsty songs about love and heartbreak… which I have no idea why I was writing about that at 10 years old! Shy little Grace writing songs about “waiting for my knight in shining armour to come.” (laughs) I was listening to a lot of Taylor Swift at the time…
New single ‘Wake This City’ was released last week, it’s such a fantastic song, congratulations! What was the inspiration behind the track?
Thank you so much! It was inspired by what I was going through at the time and I was questioning a lot of things. It was super fresh at the time, so the song just fell onto the page really quickly. #cathartic
Was there a particular sound or vibe you were going for with the track?
Not really! Andy Mak (Vera Blue, Tina Arena, Gosling) and I wrote it on this gorgeous, slightly out of tune piano at Forbes Street Studios, and then built it up from there. I was completely in awe watching him work. I think not having any references really benefited the growth of the song, there was no boundaries or limitations. I guess the Yorke sound is quite cinematic and anthemic but still pretty organic, so that’s what we were going for vibe wise.
You’ve said the song is one of the most exposed and vulnerable songs you’ve ever written – is it difficult to share that vulnerability with the world?
It’s incredibly nerve wracking, because you get so emotionally invested in it on quite an intimate level. The song still makes me emotional. But now that it is out, and seeing how it is connecting with people, I feel liberated.
The video has an uber-cool feel to it, what was it like to make?
It was so much fun! The director, Charli Burrowes (MeOhMy) is an absolute legend and really brought the vision of the song to life. We had a really amazing crew which made me feel really comfortable. Most of the scenes were filmed in really public places, with loads of people gawking. We kept telling the really nosey ones that we were filming Home and Away, it was great!
Did you become an expert skater by the end of the shoot?!
Haha! Great question. Unfortunately I didn’t get any more co-ordinated, no matter how much I tried. The one time I went to a skate park when I was younger, I broke my arm within 5 minutes… so that was going through my mind the whole time. My manager was also laughing at me a lot, which didn’t help.
There has been a lot of debate about gender equality over the last year or so. What are your thoughts on gender equality and sexism in today’s music industry, and how female artists are portrayed in the media?
This debate is so necessary! The first thing that comes to mind is I’ve never had an opportunity to work with a female producer, I don’t even really know of any. It’s quite a heavily male dominated industry, it always has been. Females are highly sexualised in the media. It’s never really just about the music (in the media’s eyes), but the whole package - what you look like, what you wear, your size and shape. I don’t think this is at all right.
Do you think the situation is changing?
Slowly. I definitely think baby steps are being taken. Little things like Triple J seems to be playing a really equal balance of genders, and festivals seem to be taking this on board too, which is great. Also things like KLP’s all female song writing camps and stuff too. I look forward to more steps being taken in the right direction.
What artists have inspired you in your music career?
As I said earlier, I grew up listening to a lot of Taylor Swift, so I think that inspired my initial desire to start writing. I think she is an incredible writer, and shaped my understanding of pop music. As writers, Julia Michaels and Sarah Aarons really inspire me. I love the way especially Julia Michaels is really pushing the boundaries of what is considered pop, and is looking at it through a songwriters eyes. SO cool! Vera Blue is another artist I’ve been inspired by, in particular, on the production side of things. ‘Hold’ is one of my all time favourite songs. It was so cool getting to work with her producer, Andy Mak, on ‘Wake the City’.
What artists are you listening to at the moment?
So many artists! E^st, What So Not, Lana del Rey, Vera Blue, Lanks, Hi-Life, Sasha Sloan – just to name a few.
What’s up next for Yorke?
New music is definitely not too far away, and hopefully a bunch more shows! I love playing all my new material live. Very excited for what 2019 will bring.