What’s it like touring with your idol? Gracie Abrams would know. Following the release of her debut album, Good Riddance, Abrams has joined Taylor Swift on her “The Eras Tour” across the United States, propelling her to new heights. Not like that’s anything new for her. Standing at the nexus of the pop and alternative music scenes, the 23-year-old singer-songwriter has garnered the attention of Billie Eilish, Phoebe Bridgers, and Olivia Rodrigo alike (not to mention, she opened Rodrigo’s “Sour” tour in 2022).
Even while running around the world, the star remains strikingly grounded. She cites balance, softness, and presence as the key tenets of her life right now — values that signal a maturity and self-awareness clearly felt in her songwriting prowess. The brutal honesty, self-evaluation, and heart-wrenching vocals that dominate her work might make you feel like you’re the one going through a breakup. And maybe you are, in which case, thank goodness you have Abrams in your corner. It’s easy to listen to any of the tracks that populate Good Riddance and think, “How did she manage to put that feeling into words?” (“You don’t move me, I see through you / I don’t follow, I don’t want to,” from “Will you cry?” — oof.) We’re still trying to figure it out.
In our attempt to do so, Abrams sat down with actor and childhood friend Diana Silvers to talk growing up, personal style, and falling in love.
GRACIE ABRAMS: I feel like we haven’t caught up since a lot of larger life events.
DIANA SILVERS: You’re on a really cool tour, opening for none other than Ms. Taylor Swift.
GRACIE: Well, you also moved into the most beautiful apartment I’ve ever seen in my life in New York City.
DIANA: Life happens.
GRACIE: This weekend is my first headline show since we started with Taylor. We were in Dallas and then flew to Portland two days ago, and we’ve been doing a lot of nothing. The first 48 hours of days “off” are just this funny adjustment period where I’m like, “It’d be awesome to have another two days of nothing before diving in.”
This morning we went to the Japanese Gardens. The last time we toured here, we went and it is one of my favorite places. It’s a stunning way to reset amidst all the chaos. So, that was nice. I got some rice and green tea, and it was good.
DIANA: Sounds like a perfect day.
GRACIE: It’s been good so far, we sound-check in an hour.
DIANA: I feel like there was me as a human being before Taylor Swift, and then there was me as a human being after Taylor Swift. But you just opened for her on her first tour in years, and it’s a stadium tour. How do you feel?
GRACIE: Obviously the scale of these rooms is pretty unimaginable until you’re standing there. Regardless of where in the room you’re standing, whether it’s in a seat or on the stage, you’re kind of perplexed by the fact that stadiums exist. Maybe that’s a post-pandemic mindset, but you feel like such a speck of dust.
There’s that, but then there’s the Taylor of it all, which, when you watch her perform, she makes that space feel like an intimate one. Despite it feeling like the biggest show in the world, she has this freaky superpower of, regardless of where your seat is, it’s like she’s looking directly at you, singing directly to you.
The day of our first show on “Eras” — walking into the stadium for the first time, unloading our shit right before we sound-checked, being in an empty stadium — the whole time I was just like, “Holy shit. I get to watch her play tonight. That is crazy.” And it kept hitting me again, that I’m like, “Okay, I get to play before that. But I’m here to see her show.” It is such an unbelievable show. I’ve never seen anything like it.
As a friend of hers now, there’s the part of it where you’re like, “Yes, knowing you as a person, I’m deeply and permanently in awe and proud of you for being able to do something like this, because no one else can.” But also as a lifelong mega-fan, to see a show that so beautifully pays tribute to her 17-year career while remaining so herself… She’s never sounded more powerful. She’s never played better. She’s never shown up more [as] herself for all of her tens and tens of thousands of fans that are dying to watch her breathe. It’s nuts.
DIANA: I’ve watched your style evolve a lot over the years, and watched you really grow into yourself. Figuring out who you are, what you like to wear, and what you feel comfortable and confident in. How has your style changed over the years? Are the clothes you choose to wear onstage different from who you are in your personal life?
GRACIE: It was a pretty slow burn in terms of trusting myself enough to have that translate into the physical realm. When you are uncomfortable in your skin, there’s the obvious, easy experiment of trying things on to become something else or to fit in. And I don’t feel regretful of the many, many years that I spent in crop tops that I hated.
There’s an ease to the clothes that I like to perform in and that I like to wear day-to-day that are not ones that require me to suck in or sit up straight or whatever the fuck. Throughout middle and high school there were these layers to try to make yourself this impermeable force by obstructing what’s underneath all of it, which for me growing up was a very sensitive young person. I’m infinitely less defensive now than I used to be, and it’s a never-ending process to completely outgrow those habits. I feel like my approach to everything and everyone in my life right now is generally softer. And I’ve found that has translated to the clothes that I like to wear, which is a funny manifestation. I’ve been enjoying wearing dresses when I perform, which is maybe the most run-of-the-mill shit of all time to people who don’t know me. But growing up I would wear black jeans and a black hoodie and my sneakers and nothing else, except for the embarrassing, trendy shit that I would try on sometimes.
DIANA: Clothes are so interesting, because how we present ourselves outward tends to be sort of a reflection of where we are inwards. As an actor, the biggest part of getting into character is costume, because that’s sort of like, “When this person wakes up, what do they want to wear? What do they want to put on?” And that reflects who they are on the inside. After a long shoot, I’m like, “I don’t even know how I dress anymore ’cause I’ve been wearing this person’s clothes for the last two months.” It’s very confusing.
GRACIE: I imagine how that must inherently trigger different sides of your personality. In order for you to successfully play a character, do you feel like you have to personally identify with your character? Or is it more empathizing and sympathizing with them as people?
DIANA: You know when you spend a lot of time with someone and, not even on purpose, you just kind of start to mirror them?
GRACIE: Yes, because I live with 12 people all the time and we all have the same personality now.
DIANA: It’s human nature, it’s basic psychology. When I’m playing someone, I have a new best friend for however long I’m playing them. That’s why they call it the reintegration period, and the people in your real life have to be very patient with you for that first month out of an on-location shoot. It’s probably that same way for you coming off of a tour — you’re with the same people and you get so close, they become your family.
GRACIE: I’m trying to figure out how to do this while also… I just want balance really badly. When you are becoming more aligned with yourself, you are also inherently aligning more naturally with people who are on the same page as you.
DIANA: When you’re away on tour, you often reach out to your followers on Instagram for restaurant recommendations in the cities you’re in. Have you had any standout dining experiences?
GRACIE: We’ve been in Portland for two days and we’ve eaten the same meal three times from this place called Nong’s Khao Man Gai. We’ve gotten the same chicken and rice and peanut sauce. I’ve been thinking about how devastated I am to leave. You know when you eat something and it’s just healing immediately? It’s like the food you want when you come home after being gone for a long time, or the day you go through a breakup.
DIANA: God, I hope neither one of us goes through a breakup anytime soon. I know you are dating someone. He’s very nice, and he’s so handsome.
GRACIE: He is.
DIANA: You were in a very long-term relationship, and then that relationship ended. You can even see in the transition of Good Riddance, the last couple songs, how you’ve clearly entered a new relationship. What is it like to write songs [while] entering a new relationship and falling in love with a new person?
GRACIE: It feels like instinct, because it’s what I’ve been doing since I was eight years old. With Good Riddance, the biggest difference came from finding the right partner for all of it. Aaron [Dessner] is the most extraordinary person, and he’s one of my best friends now. The kind of dynamic we share as friends and collaborators is a very specific one that lent itself immediately to processing. As drastically as I was processing all this shit in therapy in real time, it was also happening in the studio. Aaron and I have a shared cynicism and optimism that makes it really fun to talk about everything. So despite writing about real pain and aching, it was fun every day, no matter what.
This whole year has kind of been strange. I was actively not looking for a new relationship.
DIANA: You were like, “I need to be single. I just need to be single.” And it’s every time somebody says that.
GRACIE: It wasn’t even about, “I want to be single.” It was like, “I want to be alone.” I wanted to be alone so hard. So there was this kind of surrendering from that. It was deeply unintentional.
When you are alone, you have one less pillar to lean on in the ways you’re used to when you are dating someone. You get closer to yourself in a new way and you learn more — there’s this space for change. The theme of the year, and the theme of the record, was surrendering to change — being okay with the fear or trepidation that comes with walking away from versions of yourself you stop recognizing.
DIANA: I’m sure you’re familiar with Rebecca Solnit?
GRACIE: Yes. Genius.
DIANA: I’m reading A Field Guide to Getting Lost. She talks about how when you get lost, essentially there’s room to be found. And when you lose yourself, that’s when you find yourself. She’s like: Some people travel more than others when they get lost. And sometimes when you travel a great distance, you revisit the past and look at who you used to be. It’s like putting on an old garment that doesn’t fit you anymore.”
GRACIE: It’s really tragic, too. And it’s hard to know that at first. It’s hard for that to be true for one person before it is true for both people. That is what can feel so painful despite the fact that it is sometimes the natural progression. It’s kind of like, how do we allow that to be true without taking it personally? It’s so brutal.
DIANA: I’m curious — when you’re performing songs about the past or a past relationship, what is that like?
GRACIE: What I’ve loved about this tour is I feel more connected to my audience than ever before. It’s tangible. It’s in the air that we’re all working through our own shit in the room in real time at these shows. Making this record was a serious form of closure by the time of release. The process was so fulfilling that I wasn’t worried about reception, because I didn’t care. These shows allowed me to have new memories associated with all of the songs, where I’m like, “It’s not about me at all. I am up here singing with everyone else, and that’s pretty cool.”
DIANA: Here’s a fun question: What’s on your rider?
GRACIE: Someone asked me that recently and I was like, “I have nothing fun to offer.” Basically, we bought a George Foreman Grill. So it’s variations of sandwich or wrap fixings. We have on the rider the local hot sauce of the runner’s choice.
DIANA: In my mind, your rider includes a framed photo of SpongeBob SquarePants.
GRACIE: Honestly, the weenie memorabilia this year has been pretty fucking epic in a way that has also cured fractions of my homesickness on a daily basis.