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Gracie Ella Debuts Soulful Heartbreak Ballad “Beat Me To It”

Writing from her own experiences, the Toronto singer-songwriter taps into heartbreak as a source of healing. 

by Molly Labenski

After a two-year hiatus from releasing music, soulful singer-songwriter Gracie Ella debuts her deeply personal and emotionally raw new single, “Beat Me To It.” The song is about knowing when a relationship is going downhill, but being unable to sever the ties yourself. The accompanying music video is understated to let the emotion speak for itself. At the local creative hub Home Sweet Sessions, Gracie Ella performs her song with a minimalistic backup band, only to be left standing alone with her guitar and the mic at the conclusion of the video, emulating the isolation and loneliness felt after a breakup.

Lyrically, the song is painstakingly vulnerable as the singer expresses an awareness of the relationship’s looming end and the power dynamics that do not shift in her favour. In real life, Gracie confesses to losing herself in this relationship and admits that it contributed to her time away from music. This song was Gracie’s way of finding herself again. There’s an unfiltered honesty to Gracie’s lyrics that mirrors how she talks in real life.

Gracie Ella joins us below to talk about the inspiration for the song, healing from heartbreak, and her triumphant return to music.

This new single sounds deeply personal and is full of raw emotion. What is the inspiration behind it and is it based on real experiences?

It is based on my experience of a true story. I fell deeply in love with someone and had my heart broken in a way that made me question my reality and brought me to my knees. I stayed in a relationship that I knew was going extremely downhill—I knew he would leave me, hence the lyrics in the chorus. Not only did it break my heart to be abandoned, but once it ended, it felt like I had abandoned myself.

The song is of course about heartbreak, but it also touches on being stuck in situations that you don’t have control over. Is that topic important to you as an artist and as an individual?

I would say that topic is one of the most important ones, because I want to write from an honest place. When you are in a situation that you don’t understand at the time and you write a song about it, you allow yourself to be honest. It transcends the pain or confusion, or whatever you’re feeling. Music can be something we create as imperfect people, something we can look back on and say, “Wow… that’s where I was at that moment in time.” It’s like having a guide to your own evolution.

How did this song come to be? Who was involved in the creation of this track?

This song came to be when I was right in the thick of the breakup. In fact, I wrote half the song right before the breakup and then the other half after the breakup. This song truly helped get me through it because at that time, I hadn’t been writing and I desperately needed to find myself again. Alex Reid helped me refine the chorus and we talked about the vision of the song in depth as we went along. We took our time with this process and just kept it real and honest with no crazy bells or whistles. My amazingly talented friend Marito Marques played drums and Alex asked Peter Randall to play bass. It was really special getting Peter on the track because he didn’t know me at the time and he plays bass for Adele.

You described yourself as a soulful Taylor Swift in regard to your affinity for writing about love and heartbreak. What makes those topics so appealing to you as a songwriter?

It’s honestly because I am so lovesick LOL. I can’t help but write about it because I have trouble controlling my emotions and it helps me understand my feelings and brings me to a state of feeling calm. I listen to all kinds of music, but the shit that I cry to and scream to and feel immense joy from has always been songs written about love and relationships. I am growing as a songwriter, though, and I wouldn’t refer to myself how I did before. I’m still writing songs about my relationships but I’ve expanded this to writing about family and sometimes friends—and the relationship I have with myself and the world. 

This is your first music release in over two years. What did you do in that time period and what made you feel ready to put your work back out there?

Before COVID, I was really active with performances and then the pandemic forced me to stop. During this time, I also fell in love, which was completely unexpected and painful from start to finish. It ended up consuming me emotionally, so I hit a bit of a rock bottom. I reached a point where my whole reality was distorted and nothing seemed to really make sense to me anymore, so I guess the final breakup was the straw that broke the camel’s back and helped me feel ready to break my silence and release my work again.

Your music in general is a fusion of a lot of different styles and influences. You have classic electric guitar sounds, reggae undertones, pop energy, and contemporary singer-songwriter lyrics. Do you actively work to blend these genres together? Is it ever a challenge to make them all fit, or does it come naturally?

I honestly just love so many styles of music. When I’m writing, initially it doesn’t feel strategic because I’m just playing something that I would like to hear and feels true to me! When the feeling is strong and the music has the right energy and matches the intention, it all blends together naturally. I have always loved jazz, but that style doesn’t always match the intention or the energy of the feeling I’m writing about. So in that sense, I would be strategic and I would simplify the chords to match the feeling. Then, I might use those jazzy chords in another song to match a different energy—like a puzzle.

What’s next for Gracie Ella? What can your fans expect on the horizon?

Y’all can expect more music. A lot more music. I have been wrapped up in my own recluse for long enough, and I have lots to share! Another goal of mine is to tour. That’s the dream right there.