Every few months we run a little thing in conjunction with “Reverbnation Opportunities” where we choose from sometimes thousands of submissions and offer a featured interview with the artist we select.
It can be a daunting task though because there is a lot of material to sort through. A lot of dare I say, bands or artists that have no business putting their music out in front of the world just yet. Simply put, maybe they just aren’t ready or maybe never will be but at the same time this daunting task also leads to some absolute diamonds in the rough. This cycle’s winner provided just that sort feeling when I first heard her music. I’d already had several potential winners in mind as I’d narrowed the field of over 1700 down to around 65 or so. One listen though, and her soulful and sultry voice proved to be too much for the rest of the field. Her name is Whim Grace and she has a fascinating story as we found out during the interview.
NWMS: Tell us a little about your history.
WHIM: I was born on an island in the Philippines. We moved around a lot. I’m a mutt, a mix of several ethnicities, so everywhere and nowhere feels like home. Growing up, there wasn’t a great variety of music allowed in the house. Church music, classical, and musicals were all I knew about. No tv. Limited radio. But I had piano lessons and dance lessons, and sometimes I would get to go to the symphony with my grandparents. I would close my eyes and listen with my whole body. There was a lot of turmoil in my childhood, so music was my refuge. I went to college early, but never finished. Now I work as a teacher, an exotic dancer, a model, an actress, a writer, and I enjoy all my whimsical titles, but music reminds me of the world I want to live in. It always has.
NWMS: How long have you been performing?
WHIM: I’ve been gigging since I was a teenager. My ex-step dad got me a guitar at 13, and even though I played piano, it was the guitar I wrote on. At the time I started playing out, around 17, I was living in a small town in Idaho. The owner asked me to play at a magic tea shop where my friends would hang out, and other people would offer me gigs. A couple years in a row I was runner up in an international online music competition for original music, Yobi.tv. I won some money, and had people all over the world listening to my music and voting for me. I was pretty green then. I just didn’t know much about music, or about myself, and it was just amazing how people responded. I never planned to be a musician. It just happened.
NWMS: What is most important to you outside of making music?
WHIM: Friends, family, being happy, oh and good lingerie.
NWMS: How does Portland compare to the other parts of the world you’ve been in?
WHIM: Portland is really like no other place. This city has been so good to me. I can feed all my diverse colorful sides freely. And that in itself is pretty amazing. The neighborhood feel with the big city attractions and amenities. The mountain, river, and the ocean all being so close. The easy going aspect of the city. Even the dirt edge and history. It’s a pretty inspiring town. It’s become more of a home to me than I ever imagined.
NWMS: How did you end up in Portland?
WHIM: I first came to Portland when I was 19, on a short stop on a long road trip with an old boyfriend. I remember even then, there was something about the city I loved. Years later, I helped a girlfriend move to P town and then a year after that, I was looking for a change. Portland was the answer. I will have been here for 6 years come this October.
NWMS: You have an incredible voice, have you taken lessons or are you self-taught?
WHIM: Thanks for that! I did have lessons. I got lucky with a teacher in Hawaii, where we were living at the time, by the name of Deborah Lynn. She was classically trained and taught me and my younger sister for a few years. We sang arias and learned old vocal techniques. I’ve definitely used what I’ve learned, though I tend toward to lean more towards a textured sound more than a classical one. I love singers like Billie Holiday and Janis Joplin. So much sadness and so much soul, you can hear it in one note.
NWMS: How does it make you feel to know that people are enjoying your music?
WHIM: Well, it feels sort of like a miracle every time. Really. I’m a small girl, born in a third world country, and to know that people are listening to my music is sort of incredible. The idea they might like it too, well, it’s like someone liking the sound of my soul.
NWMS: What would you do if money was no object?
WHIM: I would get the best musicians I know to back me, and we would go on a world tour. Play my new album in every corner of the world. Perform at theaters and concert halls and have it rain flowers and hide noise makers under the seats. Make some vinyl. Make some really amazing music videos with my super talented buddies. Anything I could dream up!
NWMS: Where would you like to be in five years, speaking of your music career of course?
WHIM: Would love to tour more. Play more. Write more. Exactly what I have now, just turned up a notch. I used to be scared of making noise, now I just want to let it all out.
NWMS: What’s next for you?
WHIM: I just released the new single “F&#$ked Up, Broken, Beautiful“, and put out a music video for the single. 50% of the proceeds go to Sage, a new non-profit program from Morrison Child and Family Services, for young girls who are commercially sexually exploited. The video was a DIY project; a collaboration of my odd vision and my talented friends at Mongrel Studios. I’m also currently in the process of recording a new album. It’s a Soul/Blues inspired indie pop album with upbeat songs about longing and human’s endless desire for more. I play electric and acoustic guitar on the album, as well as keys, ukulele, and even percussion. It will be big soulful songs sandwiched between lilting instrumentals overlaid with musical poems and spoken word. I’ll have a bunch of local musicians play on it too, here and there. It will be called ‘Black Holes and Unicorns’, because we all need something to believe in. A super out of the box sort of album. I’m recording at Rack Recording Studios in Hillsboro. I’ve worked with Greg Blaisdell, the engineer and owner there, for the last three years and I also met my producer through him, Parker Mann. The guys make me feel comfortable, and I’ve been able to play with sound, my ideas, and really get used to recording. It’s so different than playing live! The three of us work really well together and are responsible for the sound of my last three singles. I’ve recorded 5 or so albums before, but it was usually live, done in a day, with few takes, in a borrowed studio, or in someone’s living room. This is a whole new level of a project and I’m having a lot of fun making it!
Thanks for picking me out of a bunch. Huge thanks to all the support I’ve had over the years, and to my lovely little P town, for giving me a chance to be heard.
If you’d like to submit your northwest based musical act to our next Reverbnation Opportunity, you can do that HERE