Pop newcomer Robert Grace told David Hennessy about his latest track that deals with depression and coming from a very musical family.
“Really what I was referring to as the pandemic was depression,” emerging pop artist Robert Grace tells The Irish World of his latest track, Fake Fine the mentions the dreaded P word.
“The song is about pretending to be okay when you’re really not.
“I feel like sometimes you can be in the best situation and still suffer from bad mental health. It doesn’t matter. You could have everything but still not feel right. That’s what it’s about.”
Robert goes on to explain the events that caused the feelings the song came out of: “Some bill came in just before we came into 2020 and it took literally all my money. I woke up on 1 January with nothing and at the same time my son woke up really sick, started puking everywhere. I was 27 on 4 January. The day after my birthday my grandmother died.
“It was an awful start to the year, that’s where the whole start of the song came out of. It was a day I just wasn’t feeling good. You know you have those days where everything feels like it’s the end nearly? That’s where it originated.”
The song talks about not wanting to feel better with the benefit of a pill. “That’s a quick fix. I feel the solution is a deeper solution. I think talking about things is better in a lot of situations.
“I feel a lot of people who work in music have a lot of ups and downs, I definitely do. I could go from absolutely loving it to wondering what I’m doing, ‘Am I just after wasting a load of time?’ You have your moments where you question what you’re doing. Is this what you’re supposed to be doing? You love it most of the time and then you have days when you hate it.
“It doesn’t matter. Everything can be working out. You can make things great or you can make them terrible all in your own head.”
How has Robert coped during the lockdown? “I struggled at the start. A couple of weeks in, I wasn’t feeling great but then I started doing one minute covers on TIk Tok. I had 67 followers on it. It just happened to take off with the first cover I did and got over half a million views. I did one a day and in the last month I’m nearly at 80,000 followers now. I enjoy it. That’s keeping me going.”
From Graiguenamanagh in Co. Kilkenny, Robert’s style is earning him comparisons to well known pop stars Shaun Mendes and Charlie Puth.
Eoghan McDermott from 2FM said: “Robert is the Irish version of Troye Sivian and Lauv writing and producing slick commercial pop songs readymade for daytime radio.
Robert co-writes with Ryan Mack and many well known UK songwriters.
How has he found working remotely due to the enforced restrictions? “It keeps the work going but it’s definitely not enough. It’s good that you can get some things done but it’s always better to have the person there in the room. It’s easier to go through ideas sand figure out the best thing to do.”
Robert comes from a very musical family as his father played traditional music in the band Drop the Penny and now Keltic Kats.
“I grew up with that kind of music. When I was really small Christy Moore was the man I was mad about.
“You were kind of born into it. On my mother’s side and my father’s side, they both had 12 or 13 siblings, I think. Especially on my father’s side they were a big music family. Even my family: My mam can sing, dad can sing, my sister can sing, my brother can sing. We can all play an instrument. It was bred into us.
“My brother was in a band called Scuba Dice. They went on You’re a Star years ago. He was the singer in the band. When that happened, I felt like this was what I wanted to do then. When I saw them doing their stuff, something clicked. I started writing songs then. I’d say I was about 12 or 13 when I wrote my first song. And it was a terrible song.”
Scuba Dice exited the 2007 You’re a Star at a late stage. Incidentally, this was the same year that 21 Demands, who have since become Kodaline, and Susan O’Neill were competing on the show.
Robert’s brother Joe would inspire his songwriting by leaving a hole in his life.
“My brother left, went to Australia. He’s gone a long time now. I ended up writing a song about that. It was called I Wrote This For You. It wasn’t great now. At the time I thought it was amazing but it was shocking. I ended up entering a load of songwriting competition around Ireland. I won two of them.
“We used to play gigs together me and him. I started when I was 16. I used to look up to him an awful lot as well. It was a big shock to everyone when he was going.
“That was the first song I wrote about my own experience. It was a song that took me to the next step.
“If he didn’t go to Australia, I wouldn’t have had the song. I wouldn’t have won those songwriting competitions, met my manager. It’s still awfully sad.”
Fake Fine is out now.
For more information, go to RobertGraceMusic on Facebook.