Thirteen year old Greyson Chance first captured the Nation’s attention when his cover of Lady Gaga’s hit single, “Paparazzi” was posted to YouTube by his proud father. The video has 40 million plus views to date and netted Greyson an invitation to perform it on the Ellen DeGeneres show. She was so impressed she created her own label to sign the young singing sensation and from there life as he knew it took a dramatic turn. Greyson said, “Well you know my life has completely changed. It really, really has from being a normal kid to now being an artist. I’ve definitely matured.”
I caught up with the articulate and always gracious young man while he was in the studio last week cutting his debut album entitled, Hold on ‘Til the Night. He opened up about the making of the record, what the title track means to him and his experience with Cody Simpson on the road among many other things. At times he even sang to me! It was a delightful interview and I thought it best served straight up, in his own words.
Marian: Let’s start by talking about the album, is it more a collection of songs or written around a theme?
Greyson: “You know it’s just basically, from when I’ve been writing it to when I’ve been cutting the record, it’s gone through a year of my life. You really hear the different emotions that you’re going to feel during a year. You hear heartbreak in some, you hear anger, you hear sadness, you hear happiness in some, and you hear I’m in love in some songs. The general theme of this record that I was very inspired by was that I was going through heartbreak at the time when I was writing it. And so I think the general theme of this is a heartbroken record.”
Greyson: “Hey trust me, it’s not an ‘Awwww’. I’m doing okay right now.”
Marian: How did you come up with the title for it?
Greyson: “Hold on ‘Til the Night is actually one of the songs from the record, so it’s a title song. When I was in the studio writing this record, I was very, something wasn’t right that day. I was very sad, I was heartbroken, I was insecure about how this song was going to happen, I was missing my friends. So I went into the studio and I told myself that day I need to write a record that is going to get me back up on my feet because as an artist and as my duty to my fans I need to be able to gain courage. I wrote that record from gaining courage and when I was writing it I could just picture myself and my fans, because the chorus is: (sings) ‘Hold onto the night get out of your own way’. So it’s like saying don’t be afraid, gain courage, take a risk. And when I was writing the record I was imaging me and my fans just running towards this light, this endless light and we were just running and we were gaining courage.”
Marian: Have you written all the songs and music on the album?
Greyson: “I haven’t fully written the whole album. There’s a lot of collaborations, a lot of co-writes and them some of the records, very few, I didn’t write. Most of the record is written by me but everything from the mixing, the production, the vocal riffs, everything creatively I’m very involved in.”
Marian: So did you know the production side of things, or is that something you learned working on this album?
Greyson: “I’ve gotten into production a lot by working on this record. I’m actually in the studio right now talking to you. We’re just finishing up everything today, so it’s a big day. I’ve learned a lot about production and I’ve been in my seat back a lot with the producers. And what I think is so great about this record is that everybody I have worked with has really respected me.”
Marian: How would you say your artistry has evolved or you have matured during this process since you were first discovered on YouTube?
Greyson: “Well you know my life has completely changed. It really, really has from being a normal kid to now being an artist. I’ve definitely matured; I’m a little bit more of an adult now, especially being in this business. I was always a pretty mature kid and now being an artist and doing what I love I just keep on growing every day and I keep on learning things. I’m in the studio right now and we’re going to be cutting the record. I’m going to be learning something new today. I’m going on another tour this summer; I’m going to be learning something from that. You keep on learning and developing as you go and you keep on gaining more artistry.”
Marian: You just came off of a co-headlining tour with Cody Simpson, tell me a little about what was that like?
Greyson: “The tour was incredible! Cody was a very good friend and he’s become an even better friend after spending six weeks with him on a bus. The tour was very special and it was my first headlining tour which meant a lot. I had so much fun with him and his family and we had a blast on the road. We played elevator games, we were chasing each other, we were pushing each other down stairs, we did about everything.”
Marian: Will you be headlining another tour this summer in support of your album or will you be on the bill with other artists?
Greyson: “Well let’s hope, that’s the goal right? (laughs) For this summer I’m opening for Miranda Cosgrove and then after that the horizon is clear so we’ll see what’s up.”
Marian: Who or what inspires you right now or encourages you?
Greyson: “Well for this record I was very inspired by Journey and Steve Perry. I would listen to these old Journey records about heartbreak and I thought it was so amazing how a band could make such a big chorus and mainly such an environment for the whole song and I was really inspired by that and I wanted to incorporate that into my music as well.”
Marian: I love Journey, I’m happy that you’re inspired by them!
Greyson: “You should see my iPod, its Journey, its ACDC, The Who, Motley Crew. I don’t listen to anything that’s past the 80’s or 90’s. But I also listen to; I’m really inspired by Coldplay, Snow Patrol, I love Maroon 5 and Justin Timberlake. So I get my way around from old and new.”
Marian: What’s one of your favorite songs currently?
Greyson: “My favorite song on my iPod? I love the new Adele record actually. ‘Rolling in the Deep’, I think that record is so great and especially being in the studio and listening to how she cuts vocals and that soulful tone is very inspiring.”
Marian: What have been or are currently are some of the biggest challenges you face?
Greyson: “I think its being in this business and constantly traveling, it tends to get very lonely. Usually when people ask me this question they always ask, ‘It probably has to be how the press has this huge spectacle on you.’ And you know it’s not really about that for me. I feel as if, if my name is in headlines than I’m obviously doing something right. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to go cause a huge scandal because I was raised right by my parents and I would never do that. People are always thinking that it’s because of the press and that’s the hardest thing and it’s really just that sometimes at the end of the day it gets lonely being on the road and being an artist.”
Marian: What is for you one of the most defining or memorable moments so far in your journey as a recording artist?
Greyson: “I think it’s just every day. I’m in the studio writing a different record and every stage that we use and every audience that we play to. It’s being an artist every day, it’s amazing! What I do sometimes it gets hard and it gets sticky but I love what I do and I would never give it up for anything.”