It’s early 2016 and an under-confident kid from Ealing is causing the biggest ruckus the UK’s new music scene has witnessed in years. Lucian Grainge, the head of Universal and arguably music’s biggest bigwig (he’s currently Number 1 on Billboard’s ‘Power 100’ list) has flown into the UK direct from LA to prop himself up at the bar of the capital’s poky Lexington venue. Once there, he strains to get a look at the performer onstage, whose pastoral and folky acoustic songs recall everybody from Jeff Buckley to Ryan Adams.
All the fuss comes off the back of a demo called ‘Last Words’, written and uploaded to SoundCloud by a long-haired, deep-eyed guitarist called Isaac Gracie. “I’m an anxious person, so the relations I have with my songs are like, ‘Oh, that’s a bit crap’,” Isaac tells me now, having just signed a record deal with one of Grainge’s labels, Virgin EMI. “But with ‘Last Words’, I wrote it the night before a gig and I was so happy with it that I played it the next day…”
He’s not exaggerating about the anxiety. Throughout our interview the 21-year-old questions not only his talent but the entire position he’s found himself in of late. “It’s so easy, as a singer-songwriter, to really dilute the crap out of something,” he says wearily. But the simple fact is that ‘Last Words’ is no fluke and Gracie’s talent marks him out as special. This week he releases his debut EP, entitled ‘Songs From My Bedroom’, and off the back of it every festival boss in the country is desperate to book him this summer. Basically, it’s high time for him to put all those troubles to bed.
ISAAC GRACIE: THE DETAILS
Buy It: Debut EP ‘Songs From My Bedroom’ is out now digitally, and released on vinyl on May 13.
Mar 30 Cadogan Hall, London
Apr 20 Oslo, London
Apr 30 Live At Leeds
May 10 Waiting Room, London
May 19 The Great Escape, Brighton
Fact: Isaac is obsessed with one iconic songwriter in particular. “Jeff Buckley,” he sighs. “I have to tiptoe around him because he’s my man.”