- 05 Feb 21
How sweet the sound! Singer-songwriter Robert Grace enjoyed a landmark 2020 - but our hunch is that his 2021 will be even bigger.
2020 was a challenging year for most musicians. Gigs were cancelled, artists left to their own devices in an unprecedented way, and the music industry came grinding to an abrupt halt. But the stars certainly aligned for one up-and-comer: Robert Grace.
The Kilkenny native managed – in what will surely go down as one of the most unpredictable years in history – to bag a record deal from one of the most coveted labels in the business: Sony Records.
But it wasn’t all champagne and strawberries for the young singer-songwriter.
“I had a weird start to the year,” he admits. In a Hot Press interview a while back, Grace revealed that the start of January 2020 saw the passing of his grandmother, as well as an illness for his young son. “I came into this year with absolutely no money,” Grace said at the time. “I think it was two days before New Year’s Eve and
I had a big bill I had to pay, and that was all my money gone.”
As it happens, all of this stress and grief turned itself into ‘Fake Fine’, Grace’s viral hit. How did he manage through the whole period?
“Having a family distracted me, to be honest, and kept everything kind of normal for a while,” Robert reflects.
“When I released the song, it was such a mental couple of months. I was very lucky that things worked out for me at the right time, I didn’t have to worry too much.”
Did the singer experience the imposter syndrome that plagued so many artists during that time of uncertainty?
“I’d say up to that point, I’d always wondered or doubted whether or not I was good enough, or if it was going to work out for me,” he considers. “That was always there, especially in the last year-and-a-half. As I said, I came into the year absolutely broke. A lot of musicians are anyway, but obviously because I have a family, it puts extra pressure on me.
“But the main reason I hadn’t stopped was out of fear. I’m not good at anything else. I literally have all my eggs in one basket. I didn’t want to disappoint my wife, or my dad, or my manager. Thankfully, it all worked out.”
Family is obviously important to Grace, whose father played in a trad band, and was a strong source of encouragement for him in his childhood.
“My dad used to always tell me, ‘When you’re famous, you can get me this’. For a while, when I was small, I believed I was going to be famous,” he laughs. “It wasn’t a joke to me.”
So how does one make good on their father’s predictions and land a record deal in the midst of all this chaos? If you’re Robert Grace, the answer is simple.
“Most of my following is on TikTok now. I love it, it’s the most interactive social media platform that I’ve ever come across,” Grace enthuses. “I can stick up little snippets of new songs and get feedback, to see if people would like them. That’s been very helpful. And it also translates over to Spotify really well. If someone likes a song you’re after putting up and you put a link in your bio, they will click through.
“When I first went on it, I was very worried about being old, and all these young people dancing. But the cool thing is that if you don’t like a video, you can click on it and ask it not to show you videos like it. It learns what you like to watch.”
What does Robert Grace watch?
“Mine is just animals and music. Fluffy stuff, that’s it.”
It seems 2021 will maintain Grace’s upward trajectory.
“My wife is due another baby at the start of January,” he says. “I have a headline gig scheduled for April, and I hope it goes ahead, but I don’t know. I’m looking forward to – hopefully – things going really well. I’m excited to see how people react to the singles.”
• ‘Fake Fine’ is out now.