Welcome to The Drop, Refinery29's home for music video premieres. We want to shine the spotlight on women artists whose music inspires, excites, and (literally) moves us. This is where we'll champion their voices.
Grace VanderWaal has come a long way since her first EP dropped in 2016. She's working on new music, the first since her 2017 album Just the Beginning, and as the summer draws to a close she's going to be headlining her UR So Beautiful Tour. She's topped lists from Refinery29's Z List to Forbes' 30 Under 30 to being named a Billboard Women in Music Rising Star. And, at 15-years-old, she's a high school freshman.
VanderWaal rolled out her latest song, "UR So Beautiful" at the end of June and before the close of July, she's premiering the video right here on Refinery29. We caught up with the musical prodigy to talk about filming it in her hometown of New York City, finding the authenticity in her songwriting, and using her headlining tour to expand her creativity.
Refinery29: Tell me about writing and recording this song, how did the vibe come together?
Grace VanderWaal: "I just did whatever, and I think that's why I like it so much. I let the song flow in the natural way that it wanted to, from production inward. This song is about having such a strong admiration for someone, that it's almost frustrating. All my songs evolve a lot from when they're first written or recorded. The cool thing about 'UR So Beautiful' is that pretty much the second after it was written, [producer] Ido Zmishlany and I looked at each other and knew that we heard the same magical things about it. It pretty much made itself. Then we had to overcome the challenge of making what the song was telling us into real sounds."
How did you do that? Was there a specific sound you wanted to go with these uplifting lyrics?
"No, but through experimenting I have found that every idea isn't a good idea and every good idea isn't a great idea and so on. It's about trying out every idea you have, because you never know if it's going to be cool or bad. Then, continue on and let the song evolve."
Tell me about shooting this video?
"The video is my best friends and I going around New York City and singing the song live. We had the best day ever doing it and filming ourselves. I feel like where we were going to shoot was kind of planned before we went out, but the second we started doing it we did whatever we wanted. We were on the subway, obviously, because how could you make a New York video without it? I have a whole song about New York City on my last album, "City Song." If I were to do it again, I would execute it differently. The city is such a beautiful, but touchy concept; you can walk the line of getting too clichéd and unrealistic. The main thing we wanted to do with this video was not stage it. With 'UR So Beautiful,' nothing is staged.
"I chose New York because I live here and I love it. I feel like 'UR So Beautiful' is a very New York-y song. I wrote it here, I made it here, and the words literally have the Lower East Side in it because it's one of my favorite parts of the city."
And I understand you're going on tour right after this?
"Yes, I'm going on tour starting on August 10. This one is going to be special. It will be called the UR So Beautiful Tour and the reason I'm so excited is because — I've headlined one tour. I obviously didn't have much control when I was an opener. After the experience that I've had, I feel like I have the ability to express myself now. It's going to be a self-expressive tour, with everything executed exactly how I see it. I'm excited for people to get a glimpse of my mind, in that way."