The freedom that 19-year-old Grace Gaustad sings about on her new single (and accompanying video) is not the kind that comes with growing up and spreading your wings. Instead, the Arizona-born, Los-Angeles-based singer-songwriter comes to the great realization that the real freedom comes in childhood—when any future seems possible—not in adulthood, which can surround and squeeze us from every direction.
“There are days when I wake up and wish that I could just go back to a much simpler time in my life,” Gaustad said by email earlier this week. “It’s not that I don’t love what I do, because my work and music is my whole world, but sometimes I wish I could go play board games at my grandparents’ house for the whole weekend and just let the world disappear. You don’t realize how fast childhood really flies by until you’re looking at yourself in the mirror and realizing that you’re not a little kid anymore—and yet there are days I wish I still was one.”
On “Freedom,” the third single from her forthcoming sophomore EP, Welcome To Jupiter 1.0, Gaustad looks back at simpler times in her childhood and compares those memories to true freedom. A melody driven by clean guitar picking and electronic percussion provides a soft, nostalgia-laced bed on which she rests her emotive, sandy vocals.
While earlier songs “Out of Time” and “No You To Me” provided more danceable, bass-driven moments, “Freedom” is fully introspective and perfectly hits the sweet spot in everyone’s lives when paying bills stops being novel and instead becomes claustrophobic.
Gaustad’s emotions are brought to life in the video, which was filmed at a studio in downtown L.A. It takes place in a bedroom and what looks like the inside of one shipping container and a hallway between two others.
“One of the rooms we filmed in represents waking up in an unfamiliar place that doesn’t feel like home, the next was a closed off hallway that represents the little flexibility we have in our schedules as adults,” Gaustad said. “We also shot in a money room which reminds … that even with success, sometimes it’s the little things we miss about growing up that we would give anything to get back again.”
Gaustad got a break in 2018, when her cover of Hozier’s “Take Me To Church” caught fire on Instagram, to the tune of 25 million views. Her first EP, Human, followed in 2019. She positions herself as a responsible voice in pop music, with inclusive, welcoming messages. For inspiration as a storyteller, she said she often looks to Taylor Swift.
“With a song like ‘Freedom’ that tells the story of growing up, I remember thinking to myself when writing it, ‘What would Taylor say? How would she write a song about growing up?’” Gaustad said. “I often think to myself when writing what the people who inspire me would say.
Welcome To Jupiter 1.0 is scheduled to be released on April 30.
Follow editor Roman Gokhman at Twitter.com/RomiTheWriter.