Thanks so Sony Music, Sarah Anderson had the chance to interview Greyson Chance on January 11th, 2020! Check out her interview below.
Greyson Chance rose to fame at the age of 12 with his cover of “Paparazzi” by Lady Gaga at his school’s talent show, attracting the attention of Ellen which led to him meeting his idol, Lady Gaga. Considering that I remember when that video gained its popularity, it felt surreal to meet and interview Greyson. He performed at Stage 722, a brand new Portland venue still in the process of renovation. Greyson was only the third artist to ever perform at the venue. I met him before the show with my carpool and moral support, Rebecca Cole, and we all sat down for a 15 minute conversation. The interview itself was very comfortable and we discussed his opinions about the music industry, what he wishes people would ask him in interviews, and some of his biggest musical influences.
Sara: What’s you favorite song you’ve ever written?
Greyson: “Wow, that’s so hard! Nice to meet you too. I think any songwriter would be lying to you if they said that what they are currently writing isn’t their favorite, because, I’m always writing things down and hearing things. I’m very proud of my past work, but very excited about my next record that’s gonna be coming out this year.”
S: So have you been writing on tour a lot?
G: “Yeah I have, we got out on the road in February 2019, and we finish this January. This is our last month for our Portraits world tour, we end on January 31st”
S: So you’ve been writing and touring all this time?
G: “Yeah, very much so.”
S: Have you been going back and recording stuff along the way?
G: “I live in Oklahoma City, and have a place in LA. Teddy Geiger is executive producing this album so her and I have been meeting. She’s been coming to different places throughout the globe. We worked a lot in Berlin, and other places in Europe. When you’re touring you just have to write wherever you’re going, you gotta make it work.”
S: What artist do you feel has had the most influence on your music?
G: “You might be surprised, there are different artists that I think have different applications for me. Gaga will always be my foundation. Everything I know about being an artist and a performer I learned from her. I studied from her and was able to keep a friendship with her and learn from her. Where I’m at now, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver is an inspiration, and Amelia and Nick from Sylvan Esso, as well as Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes. “
S: What would Paparazzi aged you think about you now?
G: “He would be incredibly proud. People assume that they know the story, based on the headlines and the trajectory of it, but there’s so much that happens behind the sense with an artist and career. At the time too, in 2010, I was really one of the first big viral cases on YouTube so everyone was figuring out what to do with me and the whole thing, but there was so much crap that I went through, and so many hard nights, so I think that kid looking at me and the determination I’ve had the past five years, I think he’d be really proud, or at least I hope so.”
S: With all your traveling, where do you usually find the most inspiration when you’re writing music?
G: “Oklahoma, easy. You know I feel so connected to that place, I think because when you are able to travel and see the world it’s wonderful, and so amazing to see so many cultures, but you really then begin to cherish your roots so much more. I feel such a stillness in Oklahoma that I don’t feel anywhere else. Its truly the place that got me to where I am now. I think everything that I know, my virtue and sense of nobleness comes from that place. That’s why I still live there now, I refuse to live full time in LA because I know the music will suffer for it. I’m able to really focus on myself in Oklahoma, that I can’t do in other places.”
S: How does Oklahoma itself effect your music, do you see a country music influence?
G: “All different types of music exist there. The cities, like Oklahoma city, you might be there and think it looks like Portland. I think that the people in Oklahoma are what influence my music. The people there have such a realness, people really tell you how it is in Oklahoma and aren’t afraid to fight, in all senses of the word. They are able to fight for themselves, their friends, no one can push them around. You don’t get that in LA.”
S: Favorite gig?
G: “This past year we did 11 dates in China and that was just truly remarkable. I had been to China before, a few shows. But only in major cities. This tour was an experiment, going out into the country to really see what was happening. The support there was remarkable. To be able to see that even with the language barrier, they knew every word to portraits.”
S: Had you known how big your fanbase was there before going?
G: “Yes, we knew. But I don’t know if I expected the level of dedication of the fans. So we’re going back next year.”
S: When did you start making music?
G: “In terms of physical creation, I would say probably around 10 or 11. I had been singing since I can remember, I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t singing. I started playing the piano when I was around 6. It took me a minute to realize that those things could go together, Around 10 or 11 I found interest in merging both these worlds (pianos and singing).”
S: Is there a genre of music that you’re interested in exploring music in?
G: “I don’t think genres exist right now, like this is my friend Affi playing right now (motions to music on speaker). And Affi, her names anna, she’s a cowriter on a ballad in the next album, but she makes club music. I don’t really believe in genres. I make pop music, but I make what I want. Right now I’m extremely inspired by country music.”
S: Do you have a favorite country artist?
G: “Tanya Tucker right now. Her music is produced by Brandi Carlile, who also produced Maren Morris’s album too.”
S: Do you feel like you have made a lot of good connections in the music industry?
G: “For sure, artists either love or hate each other. I feel like there’s a small group of true people who are doing it the right way. That’s not to throw any shade or discredit anybody, but there’s a lot of people who get on stage and in my opinion they aren’t doing their authentic service. I do feel like my connections and are strong. It’s really important. I’ve been doing this for 10 years, so I know my way round the block.”
S: What do you wish people would ask you about in interviews?
G: “That’s a good question. I do like questions about the songs, or about the process of making it. Portraits I really describe as my debut album, because every aspect of it I was in control. There is such an intentional story there, how the record is track listed all these different things and I really spent time with it. The next album really has a story there too. So I like talking about the songs and the inspirations and all sorts of things. I’m so sick of people asking me about my relationship life. Like what type of boy are you interested in? The one that holds me at night, the one that doesn’t leave, right?”
S: What did you study in college?
G: “What do you think, have any guesses?”
S: I feel like English maybe?
G: “Not super far off, I was a history major with two minors in archeology and anthropology. I worked as an archeologist for two years. I spent a bunch of time in Israel, about four months in the Galilee digging and working on excavation.”
S: Did you find anything exciting?
G:”I did actually, there’s a coin in the Israel museum in Jerusalem that I dug up. It won’t have my name on it, it has the sights name on it.”
S: Rapid fire question round, if you had to choose between two artist which would it be? JT or JB?
S: Christina Perri or Christina Aguilera?
G: “Christina Aguilera.”
S: Mariah Carey or Carrie Underwood?
G:” Neither, Mariah Carey. I actually change my answer on the Justin Timberlake/ Bieber thing. I think purpose was too good, I’m going to go Bieber.”
Greyson asked to take a picture with us and then he went on for his show soon. He had such great energy and we could tell he had a great time performing.