The Nash New Artist Interview – Parker Graye

Singer-songwriter Parker Graye is from the western part of Canada. Growing up, her parents always had the radio on in the car and that’s how she fell in love with listening to music. “I always kinda obsessed over music and I obsessed over lyrics and I obsessed over soundtracks to movies. There was always something about them that I could really relate to,” she tells us. Country music was the soundtrack to her life whenever she was at her Aunt’s farm where she listened to Shania Twain, Dolly Parton, and Tim McGraw.

In school, she struggled with mental health and found herself turning to music in order to heal. She would find songs “Without music, I don’t think I would’ve gotten through those harder years,” she explains. “It transformed my emotional state whenever I was in a dark place and I’m so grateful for that. And I’m so grateful that now I can tell my story and hopefully give that back to other people.”

Graye did poetry as a kid, but it wasn’t until high school where she discovered a love of songwriting. One of her teachers let her produce a song as a part of a project with a fellow student who played guitar.

In 2020, Graye released her debut single “Do Over” and then her next single “Before You Leave” came shortly after. Over the course of the pandemic, Graye was able to work with songwriters from both Canada and Nashville and has over 200 songs under her belt now. She discovered an app called “We Should Write Sometime” where she was able to connect with fellow musicians. “It opened a door for me to not only write with more of my US folks, but also across Canada,” she exclaims. “The last year sucked in a lot of ways, but I built my catalog.”

In her bio is a statement that is catchy enough to grab the attention of anyone. It reads that Graye is “on a mission to make country music sad again,” and when asked about it she laughs and says, “I first wrote it as a joke and then I was like, ‘Wait, but this is so on par with everything I do.’” And it stuck. The phrase first came to her when she was building her Clubhouse profile and needed something to reel people in.

Graye’s songs deal with the universal theme of heartbreak and she prides herself on being emotionally raw in her lyricism. “I think we look at heartbreak as this very negative thing and it feels awful, and it sucks, and we don’t want to relive it but, on the positive side of it, heartbreak brings new life and creativity and opportunity, and I think we often overlook that,”  she explains poetically. 

She makes a point to reference old school country music and how back in the day, artists in the country genre were able to tell a story about devastating heartbreak, but also capture the growth that comes with it. That’s what Graye aims to do with her music: Tell powerful sad stories that make you re-experience the hard times, but also reflect on how much one has overcome since that specific hard time. 

Her latest song “Last Time” was released in June and has gone on to be on six Apple Music editorial playlists. It has also gained over 42,000 streams on Apple Music alone. “Last Time” is about the same guy that Graye sang about in her first two singles: The man she thought she’d spend her forever with. “I never intended it to happen like that. It just happened,” she says.

During their relationship, there were roadblocks, red flags, and eventually, a third party involve. She ended up saying the phrase “Last time’s the last time,” to her boyfriend and later on, decided to make it into a song. “I didn’t know at the time how strong that saying was and what it actually meant,” she tells us. After the breakup, she called her friend and fellow artist Luca Fogale to set up a writing session. They took text messages and conversations, put them into a google doc, and created the story for the song. 

Graye never thought she’d release the song until she performed for the BC Country Music Association’s Breakthrough Country Project. She didn’t have enough songs to perform for her set and a friend convinced her to perform “Last Time.” “The room was silent and I was like ‘I made a mistake. I shouldn’t have done this,’” she says. After the show, her performance of “Last Time” was all over social media and people kept asking her about the ballad she had performed. She knew she had to release it. 

After the song dropped, she’s received messages from people telling her how the song has impacted them. “To know that my song is reaching folks who don’t know me, that aren’t my friends, that aren’t from where I live or came from, it’s so special.”

She plans on getting in the studio later this year to record her debut EP. Right now, she’s sitting on a pile of songs trying to narrow them down. Whether it has upbeat songs or slow songs or a mix of both, Graye says, “I just know it’s gonna be sad.”

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