Wearing your heart on your sleeve is hard. Naturally, we all have vulnerable feelings that we wouldn’t want anyone to tap into. Instead of pulling away from those feelings, Graycie York leaned in and opened her heart for the world to hear, doing so in the form of Sad Bird, her newest EP that features four of her most personal songs.
Sad Bird isn’t for casual listening, it’s begs for a listener’s full attention as York delves into feelings of love lost, self-doubt and letting go. Just two years after the release of her debut single, “Patsy Kind of Night,” York has solidified herself as one of the premiere up-and-coming singer/songwriters in Texas.
We caught up with York to talk all about Sad Bird, as well as her successes over the last two years, vulnerability, growth, her approach for the rest of the year and more!
Pro Country: When we last talked, you had just released “Texas Rain.” Since then, it’s gone on to earn nearly 1.2 million Spotify streams and become your most successful song to date. What has it been like to watch the numbers on the song continue to climb to such heights? What do you think it is about your version of the song that connected with listeners?
Graycie York: I am so blown away by that number & how people have reacted to the song. I genuinely never expected this type of reaction or these numbers in just a little over a year. It’s wild. I think people just like the different perspective on it. It’s obviously a song everyone already knows & loves, so I think it just took that song they already loved & gave them another reason to love it. I’m glad they do!
PC: You released your single, “Drag Me Down,” in April of 2021, which features a more rocking, alt-country sound than anything you had previously released. How important is it for you to expand your sound to a certain extent and showcase multiple sides of your artistry?
GY: I NEVER want to put myself into a box of just one genre, because where’s the fun in that?! I’ll always be country at heart, but I think my voice has potential outside of country, and I love singing all types of genres, and I think it would be so fun to expand even more into that. I think that’s why I wanted to put this song out to show people just a little different side to me & my music.
PC: You released your all-acoustic EP, Sad Bird, a few days ago. Why did you feel it was the right time to strip things down and present four highly personal songs that way?
GY: I just had some of my more personal songs that I wanted to keep acoustic because I wanted the lyrics and emotion of them to showcase more than the music. These songs hold a special place in my heart, and I was genuinely terrified to release them; not because I thought people would hate them, but more so that I was putting out these super raw emotions, and still some that are healing out for everyone to hear about. I needed to do it more for myself than anything. I think it was the perfect time.
PC: Prior to the release of Sad Bird, you mentioned that you were both scared and excited to release the songs that made up the EP because of how vulnerable they are. Can you talk about the emotions that came with releasing the EP and if it was at all cathartic in a way to put those feelings out into the world?
GY: It was definitely scary, but also the release of weight from the emotions I was keeping in. It was definitely a weird feeling knowing it was finally out and everyone could hear it, but I took a breath of fresh air once it was out.
PC: What do you think it is about yourself that allowed you to persevere through the fear that came with releasing Sad Bird and allow yourself to be vulnerable in that way?
GY: I just knew it was time to let it go and give myself that release. I’m glad I did, because I won’t lie, it feels damn good to get some of that stuff off my chest. I still have more to say after this too…
PC: The song “Sad Bird” leads off its EP, and also leads with a heavy line of “I feel stupid, never felt more useless, than I do right now.” Why did you decide to both open the EP with the song and have it serve as the title track?
GY: I think especially after we finished it, I just felt that “Sad Bird” was the perfect title for it because it encompasses everything that this EP is. One of my favorite quotes is “sad birds still sing,” and I think that quote represents the EP perfectly, because even though when I was writing these songs I was so sad, I was still singing & always will.
PC: “Honey, Tell Me” is a song that discusses the uncertainty of a relationship. Can you talk a bit about the inspiration behind the song?
GY: This is my favorite song off the EP honestly. I had a relationship where I knew my intentions and what I wanted from it, but unfortunately the other person didn’t know what they wanted, and it was a back and forth thing that left me super confused. I see this song as my letter to that person just asking for some answers. It’s super personal to me, and the person knows it’s about them [laughs]. There’s just something about this song that I love so much.
PC: “Just Another Night” follows “Honey, Tell Me,” almost like a sequel, with a song about realizing that love wasn’t right and realizing that someone wouldn’t change. Do you see those two songs that way? How important is song sequencing to you?
GY: I actually haven’t ever seen them like that, but I love that you can. Those two songs have no correlation at all actually! I’ve had “Just Another Night” for over a year now. Lyrically, I think it’s one of my best songs; I’ve been sitting on it for a while. This song really shows that even if you love someone and see that future with them, sometimes it might not work out; it’s toxic & you have to let them go.
PC: “Intuition (Feel It Coming)” is a more raw recording than the other three songs on Sad Bird. What went into the decision to record the song and present it that way?
GY: I actually had the most trouble recording this one. This is the last one we recorded, and I knew going into it that I wanted it to be more raw because the emotions of the song were written that way. It’s almost crying out for that person to not leave you. You can’t do it without them, and you’re begging them to stay. I think it’s a perfect last song as the song is saying they’re leaving and there’s really not much else you can do. This song was the one I was most nervous for everyone to hear, just because of how raw it is emotionally & vocally.
PC: What do you hope listeners take away from Sad Bird after listening all the way through?
GY: I’ve been saying this since before we started recording: I would love if people loved it and could relate or if it could help them through something, but this EP was for me. To help me. To release everything. I didn’t want to sit on these songs any longer. Sad Bird was my diary, and I’ve opened the pages for everyone to read. Again, if they love it, that’s great, but I needed to do this for myself and to help heal some hurt. ❤️
PC: You released “Patsy Kind of Night” two years ago this month. In the time since, you’ve earned millions of streams, been featured on several major playlists, landed on charts in Texas and played on countless stages. If someone told you two years ago that you would have achieved all of that within two years, would you have believed them?
GY: [Laughs] no, absolutely not. It still hasn’t hit me at all. Some days it does, and I just sit back in awe and then I’ll start crying because I just genuinely don’t know what I’ve done to deserve all of this so quickly. It’s definitely something I’m not taking for granted, because I know it can be taken quicker than it was given, but to get to do all the things I’ve done & to play the shows I’ve played is truly a dream come true, and I am so blessed. This is all I’ve ever wanted.
PC: What has been the biggest thing you’ve learned about yourself as an artist/songwriter in the two years since “Patsy Kind of Night”?
GY: That songwriting is my escape. If I’m ever in a funk or I need to get some feelings out, I go pick up my guitar and start writing. It’s funny that before “Patsy Kind of Night,” I never saw myself as a songwriter, but now I can’t picture life without my songs and being able to write them. I’ve also learned that I freaking love playing shows with my band, seeing everyone, meeting folks and being on the road. It genuinely makes me so happy.
PC: Of the things you can control, what are your plans for the rest of 2022?
GY: I’m honestly just riding it out and seeing where it goes. I’m working my tail off and we’re just getting started! Like I said previously, I still have more to say, so maybe another acoustic EP if this one goes well? But seriously, just taking it one day at a time and counting my blessings.
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