Chief Women: Grace Acladna
Welcome to our new series Chief Women. Chief's founder Zoe, is inspired by the stories of her grandmother and mother — the strong, vibrant women who have come to define the essence of the brand.
Exploring their individual narratives has presented her with the opportunity to reflect on why Chief Studio was created — it is a platform for community, individuality and expression.
Here, we share a glimpse of the women who embody, and also celebrate, the spirit of Chief Studio.
Grace Acladna is a producer, singer-songwriter and multi- instrumentalist from Hounslow, London.
Drawing inspiration from all genres of music, Grace is a woman who defies definition - creating something entirely unique within music.
In London we caught up to discuss her background and her music, check out our interview below.
Did you always feel like becoming a musician was the path you wanted to take?
As a kid my idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up shifted and transformed depending on my age and interests at the time.
However, music was a steady and constant attraction for me — I took to it quickly and it was something I thoroughly enjoyed, even though at times I found performing very intimidating. I [recently] found a picture I drew of myself when I was about six or seven-years-old. I was on stage in front of a microphone and underneath I wrote, “when i grow up I want to be a boxer”. I don’t know if that was my sense of humour…
How would you describe your music? From what I’ve heard your genre is almost one of its own — it transcends across electronica, soul, indie and more. When, and how, did you start to carve out your individual sound?
Growing up I was exposed to a lot of different genres of music, particularly from my dad who is a bit of a music buff. As well as listening to the chart music of the 90s and early noughties, my parents were playing my brother and I music like Gorillaz, The Prodigy and King Tubby. We also listened to a lot of Jazz and Soul — Gilles Peterson compilations have a special place in my musical memories.
As I got older I started to get into Indie music. I would stay up late doing my art homework, filling notebooks with lists of obscure indie bands. I was also getting an education on grime, garage and funky house from my brother who would blast music from his room.
My curiosity and obsession with finding new and exciting music has definitely influenced how I make music now. I want to listen to music I haven’t heard before and when you get tired of searching sometimes you have to make it yourself.
London is one of the most diverse, vibrant and spirited cities in the world. What was it like growing up there?
London is an interesting place because it’s a big city made up of different villages. Every area has its own story to tell. Where I’ve grown up in Hounslow is incredibly multi-cultural and as a mixed-race person it was a great experience.
My school was made up of such a diverse group of people — you kind of forgot you were different, because everyone was different. I’m really grateful for that experience — living a good portion of my life oblivious to the stereotypes and expectations attached to the colour of my skin.
Can you explain the evolution of your single ‘London’ and the specific reference to ‘London is burning’?
My friend Jordan, a dancer, asked me to make a house track inspired by the film Paris Is Burning and take the lyrics of the nursery rhyme London’s Burning. I didn’t like the idea of taking the entire lyrical content of a nursery rhyme and inserting it into a song, so I decided to make my own version.
It started off as a hypnotic beat balanced between a spacey bass line and sweet, sorrowful lyrics. It slowly developed into a story of how I felt about the city; a place as beautiful as it is ugly, as euphoric as it is depressing, and as uplifting as it is oppressive. I found it a really tough city to exist in at the time and the song truly told that story.
Tell us about your cultural background and how this has come to influence your music? Does your music help you build a bridge between individual expression and reflecting on your cultural identity?
My father is of mixed heritage, English and Egyptian, and my mum is from Barbados. I have spent a lot of summers in Barbados, especially around carnival and you can’t help but hear all the Soca Riddims pounding through the streets. I love it. You can hear this influence in some of my music.
I’ve never thought much about my English heritage because I live in London — it’s kind of part and parcel of being here. But my dad didn’t know his father until he was in his thirties, so we never knew much about our Egyptian heritage. I visited Egypt for the first time last year and this trip revealed a whole new world of music.
You released your debut EP at just 22-years-old. Was it an empowering feeling to have your work out in the world and on global platforms like Spotify?
Yes, but the coolest thing was the feeling of empowerment that came with producing the music myself and having people hear my music all over the world. That was a great achievement for me, I had been so afraid of producing my own music.
What brings you the most joy in what you do?
PLAYING WITH SOUNDS! I sit at my computer giggling with delight when I hear sounds that I like.
What does the future hold for you?
I have a new EP launching this year, which I’m so excited to share! Then there’s some collaborative projects I’ve been working on. I plan to continue researching new avenues of music and all the amazing things that can be achieved with this incredible medium.You can keep up-to-date with Grace’s new projects here and listen to her debut EP on Spotify.
Shot by Anna Gallifent
Mix and match like a Londoner - get Grace's look here