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Greyson Chance Talks "Hellboy," Overcoming An Eating Disorder: "We're Maybe Not As Strong And Powerful As Our Fans Would Assume"

Greyson Chance

Broderick Baumann

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Greyson Chance Talks "Hellboy," Overcoming An Eating Disorder: "We're Maybe Not As Strong And Powerful As Our Fans Would Assume"

Pop singer/songwriter Greyson Chance kept his eating disorder private for years until he realized he needed help. With the right emotional toolkit, even during the pandemic, he stayed centered enough to write celebratory songs like "Hellboy"

GRAMMYs/Jun 22, 2021 - 02:58 am

Classic albums from Pink Floyd's The Wall to Weezer's Pinkerton have zeroed in on how hard it is to be a famous musician. And singer/songwriter Greyson Chance is here to remind us how the touring lifestyle may lead to mental health challenges. 

"The job of an artist is very, very loud, and then all of a sudden, it's quiet," Chance tells GRAMMY.com. "At the end of the night, it's just me, and it's something every musician has to wrestle with… I'm still working on it all the time." In 2020, the pop star dropped "Bad to Myself," a song about his struggles with drinking and anorexia, which he chalks up to twofold origins: his hurry-up-and-wait lifestyle and unresolved childhood trauma.

These demons followed Chance into the pandemic year of 2020, when the stage lights and hysterical fans vanished and he was left with only himself again. Luckily, because he opened up about his disorder, he was able to have the support of people around him. And with the fortitude to rise out of his doldrums, he wrote the boisterous "Hellboy," about getting in touch with his inner rock star. The single appears on his upcoming EP Trophies, which arrives June 25.

"I was thinking a lot about the energy I try to grasp when I'm getting on stage, which is this over-confidence," Chance describes. "'Hellboy' was my attempt to do that without a stage accessible to me."

GRAMMY.com spoke with Greyson Chance about the struggles that led him to come out about his eating disorder, the emotions that led to "Hellboy" and the advice he'd impart to a young person struggling with the same malady he does.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

In the press release, you said "Not being able to play shows in over a year has been difficult and heart-wrenching." Some people just say they were bored in the house or got to spend more time with family or learned a new hobby. What brought on these visceral feelings?

As with anybody, the pandemic year was difficult. It was a time period for me where, all of a sudden, after 2019, when we had played 119 shows, I went from living on an airplane to staying in one place for a really long time. For me, as an artist, I think it was a big lesson in how much I need to be on stage and how much I survive off that energy of the venue and the connection with the fans.

It was a difficult year, but what I did was I just poured all my time into working in the studio when I could. It was a year in which I wrote a ton of music. But now, looking forward to the tour, I'm just ready to get back out on the road and get back to where I think I belong, which is on stage.

You don't just have a tour coming up; you have a world tour. Not very many people get to travel the entire planet. What's that experience like?

I've been fortunate enough that not only in 2019 did we have a world tour for my album Portraits, but I started when I was 12 years old. I'm 23 now, but that's when I signed my first record deal. I filled my first passport when I was 15 and it's been probably the biggest blessing in my life to not only travel but to experience so much culture—and also to just realize the impact of music.

I've played shows in places where I can't even really have a conversation with my fans because of the language barrier, but they are still able to sing out the lyrics to me every night. Being able to learn that at a young age and realize the impact of music and the importance of what I do, it's been such a blessing and probably, again, my favorite part of my career.

Greyson Chance. Photo: Broderick Baumann

I feel like the pressure cooker of such an existence is conducive to all sorts of maladies, like eating disorders, which you've been open about. Was that connected to touring life, or was it based on other causes?

I came out last year in a public statement talking about my battle with anorexia and my eating disorder. I do think a lot of it was lifestyle-driven, of course, living out on the road. But it's also something I noticed was a big effect of a lot of the trauma I had to go through as a kid in music. 

A lot of things were suddenly unearthed in my 20s that I had unknowingly suppressed and said, "That's not a thing. That's not a real issue." All of a sudden, you wake up in the morning and you look at yourself in the mirror and say: "Wait a second. This actually is real. It's something I'm dealing with on a day-to-day basis."

The reason why I wanted to come out with my story and battle with anorexia was that eating disorders are something I feel society kind of pigeonholes to one demographic. We say it's very common for young girls, this kind of thing. A lot of people view it as a kind of phase. They say you'll grow out of it. 

What I wanted to show to my fans—who I knew were probably struggling through this as well—is that this disease is not selective to one demographic. It affects a lot of people. I wanted to just show that even in my career and in my life, where I'm really, really blessed, I've still had to work through this thing, and it's been a really, really tough journey.

But upon coming out with my own story, I was so enlightened to hear from other individuals about their own battles. Overall, it felt like such a weight off my shoulders, and I was able to learn a lot through the comments and what people were telling me in response.

I appreciate that you're trying to bulldoze these barriers in people's minds. As you know, it affects all genders, not just women.

Yes. Very, very much so.

What can you tell me about "Hellboy" and its video?

We talked about how dark the pandemic year was. I spent so much of 2020 in the studio, and for lack of a better term, I spent so much of it really deep in my feels. I was going into the studio and feeling kind of sad all the time not being on the road and feeling so isolated because of the pandemic.

"Hellboy" was an effort for me to reclaim my confidence. When I was writing the song, I was thinking a lot about the energy I try to grasp when I'm getting on stage, which is this over-confidence. I try to boost myself up and say "OK, I'm a performer tonight! Let's go! Let's show the crowd what I've got!" "Hellboy" was my attempt to do that without a stage accessible to me.

I went into the studio in Nashville and I was wearing sticks and shred-leather high-heel boots that I bought from a thrift store that day. I said, "Guys, it's time to write a confident song. It's time to write something that's going to make us feel joyous." The whole process helped me find footing from underneath me.

Is that a side you turn on at will? The confident exterior where nobody can mess with you, while the inside has that vulnerability?

Absolutely, and it's the side of myself I garner when I go up on stage. The spotlight is on me and I'm ready to go. I can live in that space. This is what that song was to me.

Is there a future where you can unite those two sides and reach peace with the stuff you've had to go through?

Every person wishes they could do that, right? That would be an absolute blessing and goal. That's probably my common life goal, to find that balance. 

But if I'm being completely honest with you—and I think most artists would say this too—when we get offstage, I think a lot of people would be surprised as to how we feel and how we act. When you're done with the show, you have to look at yourself in the mirror again and step forward to all your truths and realize that we're maybe not as strong and powerful as our fans would assume us to be.

The job of an artist is very, very loud, and then all of a sudden, it's quiet. At the end of the show, I retreat to a hotel room and it's just me after playing for all those fans. At the end of the night, it's just me, and it's something every musician has to wrestle with. But as I said, I've been doing it for 11 years now, so I think I kind of know what I'm doing. I'm still working on it all the time.

Greyson Chance. Photo: Broderick Baumann

What would you tell a young person who suffers from an eating disorder but may not have the language or toolkit to address it?

The first piece of advice I would give anybody—and, of course, this is so much easier said than done—is to try to work toward not feeling embarrassed by it. That's another reason why I wanted to come forward with my story: There's such a stigma of weakness attached to eating disorders. People say, "Just stop doing that. You know it's bad, so don't do it anymore."

Or "Stop being so vain!"

Exactly. You feel this sense of weakness all the time. 

That would be the first thing. The second thing is that I kept it incredibly private all my life, except I did tell one or two friends who were sort of trusted sources. [I told] them to watch out for me and keep me in check. 

I recommend to anybody going through anything to have at least one trusted source. Somebody who knows there's something going on with you, whether it be a friend or a family member, so they can keep an eye on you. It's very, very important when you're at the peak of this disease, this disorder.

WATCH: Phoebe Bridgers Talks Openly About Experience With Mental Health & How Artists In The Music Industry Can Prioritize Their Own

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GRAMMY SoundChecks With Gavin DeGraw

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

On Aug. 28 Nashville Chapter GRAMMY U members took part in GRAMMY SoundChecks with Gavin DeGraw. Approximately 30 students gathered at music venue City Hall and watched DeGraw play through some of the singles from earlier in his career along with "Cheated On Me" from his latest self-titled album.

In between songs, DeGraw conducted a question-and-answer session and inquired about the talents and goals of the students in attendance. He gave inside tips to the musicians present on how to make it in the industry and made sure that every question was answered before moving onto the next song.

 

Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year

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Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year

Annual star-studded gala slated for Nov. 4 in Las Vegas during 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Week celebration

GRAMMYs/May 15, 2017 - 01:36 pm

 GRAMMY.com

 Internationally renowned singer/songwriter/performer Juan Gabriel will be celebrated as the 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year, it was announced today by The Latin Recording Academy. Juan Gabriel, chosen for his professional accomplishments as well as his commitment to philanthropic efforts, will be recognized at a star-studded concert and black tie dinner on Nov. 4 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nev. 

The "Celebration with Juan Gabriel" gala will be one of the most prestigious events held during Latin GRAMMY week, a celebration that culminates with the 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards ceremony. The milestone telecast will be held at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on Nov. 5 and will be broadcast live on the Univision Television Network at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central. 

"As we celebrate this momentous decade of the Latin GRAMMYs, The Latin Recording Academy and its Board of Trustees take great pride in recognizing Juan Gabriel as an extraordinary entertainer who never has forgotten his roots, while at the same time having a global impact," said Latin Recording Academy President Gabriel Abaroa. "His influence on the music and culture of our era has been tremendous, and we welcome this opportunity to pay a fitting tribute to a voice that strongly resonates within our community.

Over the course of his 30-year career, Juan Gabriel has sold more than 100 million albums and has performed to sold-out audiences throughout the world. He has produced more than 100 albums for more than 50 artists including Paul Anka, Lola Beltran, Rocío Dúrcal, and Lucha Villa among many others. Additionally, Juan Gabriel has written more than 1,500 songs, which have been covered by such artists as Marc Anthony, Raúl Di Blasio, Ana Gabriel, Angelica María, Lucia Mendez, Estela Nuñez, and Son Del Son. In 1986, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley declared Oct. 5 "The Day of Juan Gabriel." The '90s saw his induction into Billboard's Latin Music Hall of Fame and he joined La Opinion's Tributo Nacional Lifetime Achievement Award recipients list. 

At the age of 13, Juan Gabriel was already writing his own songs and in 1971 recorded his first hit, "No Tengo Dinero," which landed him a recording contract with RCA. Over the next 14 years, he established himself as Mexico's leading singer/songwriter, composing in diverse styles such as rancheras, ballads, pop, disco, and mariachi, which resulted in an incredible list of hits ("Hasta Que Te Conocí," "Siempre En Mi Mente," "Querida," "Inocente Pobre Amigo," "Abrázame Muy Fuerte," "Amor Eterno," "El Noa Noa," and "Insensible") not only for himself  but for many leading Latin artists. In 1990, Juan Gabriel became the only non-classical singer/songwriter to perform at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City and the album release of that concert, Juan Gabriel En Vivo Desde El Palacio De Bellas Artes, broke sales records and established his iconic status. 

After a hiatus from recording, Juan Gabriel released such albums as Gracias Por Esperar, Juntos Otra Vez, Abrázame Muy Fuerte, Los Gabriel…Para Ti, Juan Gabriel Con La Banda…El Recodo, and El Mexico Que Se Nos Fue, which were all certified gold and/or platinum by the RIAA. In 1996, to commemorate his 25th anniversary in the music industry, BMG released a retrospective set of CDs entitled 25 Aniversario, Solos, Duetos, y Versiones Especiales, comprised appropriately of 25 discs.   

In addition to his numerous accolades and career successes, Juan Gabriel has been a compassionate and generous philanthropist. He has donated all proceeds from approximately 10 performances a year to his favorite children's foster homes, and proceeds from fan photo-ops go to support Mexican orphans. In 1987, he founded Semjase, an orphanage for approximately 120 children, which also serves as a music school with music, recreation and video game rooms. Today, he continues to personally fund the school he opened more than 22 years ago.   

Juan Gabriel will have the distinction of becoming the 10th Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year honoree, and joins a list of artists such as Gloria Estefan, Gilberto Gil, Juan Luis Guerra, Julio Iglesias, Ricky Martin, and Carlos Santana among others who have been recognized. 

For information on purchasing tickets or tables to The Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year tribute to Juan Gabriel, please contact The Latin Recording Academy ticketing office at 310.314.8281 or ticketing@grammy.com.

Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013
Grizzled Mighty perform at Bumbershoot on Sept. 1

Photo: The Recording Academy

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Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.

By Alexa Zaske
Seattle

This past Labor Day weekend meant one thing for many folks in Seattle: Bumbershoot, a three-decade-old music and arts event that consumed the area surrounding the Space Needle from Aug. 31–Sept. 2. Amid attendees wandering around dressed as zombies and participating in festival-planned flash mobs to Michael Jackson's "Thriller," this year the focus was on music from the Pacific Northwest region — from the soulful sounds of Allen Stone and legendary female rockers Heart, to the highly-awaited return of Death Cab For Cutie performing their 2003 hit album Transatlanticism in its entirety.

The festival started off on day one with performances by synth-pop group the Flavr Blue, hip-hop artist Grynch, rapper Nacho Picasso, psychedelic pop group Beat Connection, lively rapper/writer George Watsky, hip-hop group the Physics, and (my personal favorite), punk/dance band !!! (Chk Chk Chk). Also performing on day one was Seattle folk singer/songwriter Kris Orlowski, who was accompanied by the Passenger String Quartet. As always, Orlowski's songs were catchy and endearing yet brilliant and honest.

Day one came to a scorching finale with a full set from GRAMMY-nominated rock group Heart. Kicking off with their Top 20 hit "Barracuda," the set spanned three decades of songs, including "Heartless," "Magic Man" and "What About Love?" It became a gathering of Seattle rock greats when, during Heart's final song, Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready joined for 1976's "Crazy On You."

Day two got off to an early start with performances from eccentric Seattle group Kithkin and Seattle ladies Mary Lambert and Shelby Earl, who were accompanied by the band Le Wrens. My highlight of the day was the Grizzled Mighty — a duo with a bigger sound than most family sized bands. Drummer Whitney Petty, whose stage presence and skills make for an exciting performance, was balanced out by the easy listening of guitarist and lead singer Ryan Granger.

Then the long-awaited moment finally fell upon Seattle when, after wrapping a long-awaited tour with the Postal Service, singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard returned to Seattle to represent another great success of the Pacific Northwest — Death Cab For Cutie. The band celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their album Transatlanticism by performing it from front to back. While a majority of attendees opted to watch the set from an air-conditioned arena, some of us recognized the uniqueness of this experience and enjoyed the entire set lying in the grass where the entire performance was streamed. 

Monday was the day for soul and folk. Local blues/R&B group Hot Bodies In Motion have been making their way through the Seattle scene with songs such as "Old Habits," "That Darkness" and "The Pulse." Their set was lively and enticing to people who have seen them multiple times or never at all.

My other highlights of the festival included the Maldives, who delivered a fun performance with the perfect amount of satirical humor and folk. They represent the increasing number of Pacific Northwest bands who consist of many members playing different sounds while still managing to stay cohesive and simple. I embraced the return of folk/pop duo Ivan & Alyosha with open arms and later closed my festival experience with local favorite Stone.

For music fans in Seattle and beyond, the annual Bumbershoot festival is a must-attend.

(Alexa Zaske is the Chapter Assistant for The Recording Academy Pacific Northwest Chapter. She's a music enthusiast and obsessed with the local Seattle scene.)

Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Neil Portnow and Jimmy Jam

Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

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Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Jimmy Jam helps celebrate the outgoing President/CEO of the Recording Academy on the 61st GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Feb 11, 2019 - 10:58 am

As Neil Portnow's tenure as Recording Academy President/CEO draws to its end, five-time GRAMMY winner Jimmy Jam paid tribute to his friend and walked us through a brief overview of some of the Academy's major recent achievements, including the invaluable work of MusiCares, the GRAMMY Museum, Advocacy and more.

Portnow delivered a brief speech, acknowledging the need to continue to focus on issues of diversity and inclusion in the music industry. He also seized the golden opportunity to say the words he's always wanted to say on the GRAMMY stage, saying, "I'd like to thank the Academy," showing his gratitude and respect for the staff, elected leaders and music community he's worked with during his career at the Recording Academy. "We can be so proud of what we’ve all accomplished together," Portnow added.

"As I finish out my term leading this great organization, my heart and soul are filled with gratitude, pride, for the opportunity and unequal experience," he continued. "Please know that my commitment to all the good that we do will carry on as we turn the page on the next chapter of the storied history of this phenomenal institution."

Full Winners List: 61st GRAMMY Awards