Gracie Abrams and Kaia Gerber on Therapy, Taylor, and Unrequited Crushes

Gracie Abrams

Gracie Abrams wears Top Bode. Jeans Gracie’s own. Earrings (worn throughout) Stylist’s Own.

Gracie Abrams is over sad-girl music. After making a mark as a moody singer-songwriter and opening for megastars like Olivia Rodrigo and Taylor Swift, the 24-year-old is stepping into her feel-better era with a sophomore album that still mines the bittersweet ache of young love, but with a smirk. Ahead of the release of The Secret of Us, the Los Angeles-born musician got on a call with her friend Kaia Gerber to talk about unrequited crushes, exposure therapy, and spinning out.


FRIDAY 1:30 PM MAY 3, 2024 NYC


GRACIE ABRAMS: Thank you for doing this. Where are you?

GERBER: I’m in New York.

ABRAMS: Are you going to do the slumber party on Sunday?


ABRAMS: Great. We can talk about that later.

GERBER: Okay. I have lots of questions for you. I basically rewrote the whole interview. There were questions on there that I wouldn’t want to be asked, so I decided not to put you through that either.

ABRAMS: Oh, wow. Like what?

GERBER: About your parents.

ABRAMS: God, you’re a genius.

GERBER: Let’s fucking rock. I also just watched your music video.

ABRAMS: Oh, god. Isn’t it funny?

GERBER: It’s incredible. You’re having so much fun in it.

ABRAMS: Yeah. Also, are we starting? Should we start?

GERBER: Let’s start.

Dress, Hat, and Stole Vaquero.

ABRAMS: Oh, we’re starting. Okay, great. We’re not actually on camera, right? I haven’t had hot water in a week, and my hair’s really dirty.

MEKALA RAJAGOPAL: No, no. We’re not going to use the video for anything.

GERBER: Great. Okay. Gracie.

ABRAMS: Alright, Kaia. Let’s go.

GERBER: So, you are a person of balance, softness, and presence.

ABRAMS: Oh, thank you.

GERBER: How do these principles influence your songwriting process?

ABRAMS: I’m a very impulsive writer, so presence is required there to some degree, but I also think that I feel in extremes. So, I don’t know how much balance I bring to the songwriting process, to be honest. [Laughs] Did you say softness?

GERBER: Mm-hmm.

ABRAMS: I feel like I tap into that side more with production rather than songwriting. I’m sort of a scathing writer.

GERBER: I think on this album maybe more than ever.

ABRAMS: Did they send it to you?

GERBER: I got to listen to five songs, which I loved. And to your point of being an impulsive songwriter, how do you know when it’s time to turn an experience into a song? Does it feel beyond your control or is it something that you decide?

ABRAMS: It does feel beyond my control, which is a little embarrassing. It’s always been my outlet. So everything comes out in that way eventually, like the vomit equivalent of getting something down on paper.

GERBER: Right. And you’ve mentioned confiding in writing from a young age rather than confiding in other humans. How did that early habit of processing your emotions shape your songwriting today?

ABRAMS: My songwriting process has changed pretty drastically since I started touring, post-pandemic. The quarantine aspect didn’t change the course of my social life much. But after the fact, when I got to experience touring for the first time, that was a form of exposure therapy that I actually loved leaning into, and it shocked me. It’s definitely influenced my writing in every capacity—not only knowing the kind of music that I want to be performing and that I want to hear being screamed back at me, but also the way that I am with people.

Gracie Abrams

Dress Loewe.

GERBER: Right.

ABRAMS: There are days where you don’t want to stand on an elevated surface and sing for an hour and a half. But processing feelings through music in front of people has also changed the way I handle my personal relationships. I feel like I’m able to speak to my close friends about big feelings in the moment, rather than wanting to hide them away for months before telling anyone I felt any type of way.

GERBER: Yeah. How do you separate the intimacy of the writing process from the exposing nature of performing?

ABRAMS: With Good Riddance [Abrams’ debut album], I felt like I was constantly saying, “I can’t put this out.”

GERBER: [Laughs]

ABRAMS: But then with The Secret of Us—I felt like we were Tasmanian devils, me and Audrey [Hobert]. When we were writing a lot of these songs, we were tearing things apart metaphorically, and blowing up the crushes and bitterness we were feeling. It was easy to make the drama feel satirical, and the amplification of it made it way easier to put it out, writing with a wink the whole time.

GERBER: That rings so true in the “Risk” music video, because it’s like you’re having these huge feelings, but you’re able to make fun of yourself. There’s this unseriousness to the whole thing.


GERBER: You’ve described your writing process as a horrible trick you’re playing on yourself. [Laughs] Can you expand on that?

ABRAMS: For sure. It’s kind of a trap. If you have any kind of public-facing job that requires you to confront yourself, it’s a double-edged sword. There’s a cathartic aspect, but also my face and name are attached. I change my mind about shit every day, so it’s funny to think about anybody feeling like they really know me through these time capsules. That’s what songs are for me, they’re like diary entries. But I don’t want everyone to know me.

GERBER: We’ve talked about your hesitation to specify exactly what a song is about so that people can form their own relationships to the art that you put out.

ABRAMS: Exactly.

GERBER: I think the art that you’ve been making has always been very truthful. Have you ever felt fear around releasing music specific to people in your life? And how do you navigate the fact that your art, while it’s deeply personal, will ultimately include and affect other people?

ABRAMS: It’s tough. It’s a one-sided narrative, and the subject is rendered defenseless to a degree. I’ve not been mature or kind in the past around releasing things that people I know personally might hear. You want to feel like you aren’t censoring yourself, but there’s a decent way to do it. So now I have conversations with people ahead of putting things out into the world. I’m just, like, “Here’s how I felt about you.” It’s exposing and it’s shitty sometimes.

GERBER: Also in turn, it’s flattering.

Gracie Abrams

Dress Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello.

Shirt and Tie Bottega Veneta.

ABRAMS: Maybe. I like being the muse, but my first instinct is airing out all my dirty laundry, and that’s not the person I want to be. I’m learning in real time how to be a better fucking person. And it’s funny, because we’re in our early twenties.


ABRAMS: We’re learning how to be people and how to navigate relationships. But I feel like it comes with the territory to an extent. Like if you’re dating a writer, or if you’re dating an actor, they’ll channel the shit that they went through with you to make a scene—or a painter, or a sculptor, or whatever the fuck.

GERBER: And we’ve talked about how the people who affect us or inspire us are not always the people we’ve spent the most time with. Do you feel like there’s a common theme amongst the people you have historically been inspired by? Or is the art really more indicative of the feelings they incite in you?

ABRAMS: That’s such a fucking good question.

GERBER: Thanks. [Laughs]

ABRAMS: It depends. When I think about the people I’ve been involved with, everyone’s incredibly different. So, I don’t think there’s a type or a personality trait that I go after. But the through line for me historically has been copious amounts of projection before I have real information. I lust hard and I love having a huge crush on someone. I don’t think that a lot of songs I’ve written are about people I barely know at all.

GERBER: Yeah. I think when we’re in an active state of experiencing life, we’re not always giving ourselves time to process. At least for myself—

ABRAMS: I actually feel like you can write wherever you are and it doesn’t need to be a book. You can get ideas and feelings down in a few words. My favorite kind of songwriting is really conversational, so I feel lucky that that’s where I go immediately. I find myself capturing things in the moment more and more as I get older. I will also reflect back on what I wrote in the eye of the storm and laugh. That’s a lot of what this new album is. It was written as it was felt—granted, 12 hours after, when I’m alone in a room, or when I’m home with Audrey and we can scream about it.

GERBER: I’ve always been drawn towards a lack of perspective in writing, or contradiction, because it feels very private and exposing to let someone in on those doubts.

ABRAMS: I write dramatically and don’t always feel the way that I did the previous day, even. But I also think—first of all, the world is burning and we all feel insane about everything. And at this point in my life, I’m writing from the perspective of a young person who feels insane.

GERBER: [Laughs]

ABRAMS: I’ve been the least cautious and the least thoughtful about reception. I think it comes from a place of just craving fun. During COVID we were super isolated, and I was listening to a lot of slow, sad music, and it heavily influenced what I was writing. But now it’s not what I want to put on. It’s not the energy that I want to embody when I’m walking down the street with my headphones on. I’m walking down the street to—

GERBER: The Challengers soundtrack. Oh wait, that’s me. [Laughs] It’s actually quite confusing because historically I have always listened to really sad music—

ABRAMS: I know.

GERBER: And then sometimes I’ll be in New York walking down the street and I’m listening to a really upbeat, happy song, and I’m like, “Who am I? And why am I in a good mood?”

ABRAMS: I know. It’s a craving. We’re animals.

Jacket Celine by Hedi Slimane. Jeans Gracie’s own.

GERBER: Do you ever catch yourself living your life in a way that gears towards sustaining or inspiring your creative process?

ABRAMS: The past month, I’ve had a lot of conversations with friends who are doing this also. A close friend who I admire deeply—she’s just a couple years older than me—was encouraging me to be as young as I am right now and go dancing and just try things. That’s new for me, but I’m loving doing it, and I feel like it’s having a really nice effect on my work. The imagery in my writing is different because I’m in new rooms, I’m meeting people. I’m curious about everyone I brush shoulders with in the street. And obviously, and we talked about this last time—

GERBER: I interviewed you.

ABRAMS: Yes. About the differences between cities. I definitely feel like New York is incredibly conducive to my personal life and also writing.

GERBER: Yeah. I also think there’s an aspect to art where it emerges from a lack of comfort. Can you think of a specific instance where discomfort directly led to the creation of something that has become meaningful to you?

ABRAMS: This whole album I had a big crush. I felt like it was unrequited. It was embarrassingly the first time in my life I ever had that feeling. It spun me out. I was like, “What the fuck is going on? I don’t know myself. I’m awkward everywhere. How do I function?” It made me nuts for a minute. And I’m so happy that I have this album to hold on the other side of that funny whirlwind. It’s proof that the writing is cathartic—it’s typical that I will write a song and feel like I no longer have the feeling that the song is about. It’s like an exorcism.

GERBER: Having an outlet that so truthfully depicts the actual emotion is important, because memories sometimes become facts, and that makes me very sad.

ABRAMS: It’s funny though, because songwriting isn’t always real, either. It’s one of the easiest art forms to assume is entirely autobiographical, because you hear someone’s voice, their name is attached, and their face is in the corner. You’re like, “That’s them. They’re saying it to me directly.” But it doesn’t actually all need to be about me.

GERBER: Yeah. I think of songwriters that I admire and Taylor [Swift]’s one of them, and a lot of her songs are about fictionalized characters. And you can use those characters to explore your own emotions. It doesn’t have to be completely autobiographical.

ABRAMS: Totally. I remember her talking about the relief that she felt not having to write every detail about her personal life around the time when she released Folklore. If you’re a storyteller, whether you’re referencing your own life or somebody else’s, hopefully you can cut through.

GERBER: Speaking of Taylor Swift, you toured with her, and I imagine that has had such a profound impact on you as an artist and just a person. Are there any specific memories or lessons that you took home from that tour?

ABRAMS: It’s pretty impossible to summarize the impact of that experience. So many aspects of it changed my life. Everyone who is involved in the tour is a reflection of how excellent a person she is and how brilliant a businessperson she is. She’s an Olympic athlete. She is so disciplined and so present, and I think that’s what her fans feel. The fact that for four months straight, three times a week, I got to be surrounded by her fan base and watch the show from every single place you could in the stadium, it felt like I was at college again. I was studying every aspect of it.

GERBER: Right.

ABRAMS: It expanded my imagination and it also made me want to make music that might be able to fill the space more. The scale is insane, but Taylor can make it feel like the only two people in the entire stadium are you and her. There’s such power to her writing, and it’s never stopped inspiring me since I found it. I don’t remember a time in my life before Taylor Swift’s music was a security blanket and a touchstone for every emotional up or down in my life.

GERBER: And then sustaining that.

Gracie Abrams

 Sweater and Bra Prada.

ABRAMS: It’s crazy. My goal is longevity. And I’m so inspired by the way that she has run this thing and still wants to give everyone everything, but also has boundaries.

GERBER: I imagine it can be very difficult to have boundaries, especially when you’re performing these deeply personal songs to large crowds.

ABRAMS: Well, opening and headlining feel very different. Opening is pure joy in that it’s not about me in any capacity.

GERBER: When I’m watching, it is about you.

ABRAMS: [Laughs] Well, it’s special to just have an amazing view of all of her fans, it’s the greatest. And honestly, I feel so lucky that I get to be singing my songs. But really, I’m just soaking it up like everyone else. I think shows often recharge my battery rather than drain me, because there’s just something about connecting with people in that way, especially in rooms that are packed.

GERBER: I’ve had the privilege of seeing you play very small, intimate venues and I’ve seen you play massive stadiums with tens of thousands of people. Is there one that you prefer? Or does it feel the same?

ABRAMS: It definitely doesn’t feel the same. I don’t wear my glasses onstage and I can’t see in a stadium sometimes. But around the Good Riddance release when the vinyls were on sale, I did a ton of in-store acoustic shows, just me and however many people fit in the record store. There’s something about that experience that makes it my favorite. I feel very lucky that I love to do it.

GERBER: Yeah. But also to have a job that’s constantly thrilling and exciting and terrifying. Whenever I get nervous about my job, I remind myself how lucky I am to have a job that still makes me nervous.

ABRAMS: Totally.

GERBER: What do you hope people will take away from seeing you headline your upcoming tour?

Dress Miu Miu. Shoes Prada.

ABRAMS: That sometimes it’s way better to find people when you feel crazy than to hide away. And The Secret of Us title—I’m so ready for the “us” to be me and the audience. There’s something so special about being able to express the kind of universal shit that is in this album. I feel like it hits lots of different points in relationships: It’s super full of love and lust and then also the pissed-off moments. I’ve never been more excited to play anything, and the community is so central to this album.

GERBER: Okay. I have more questions for you. What’s a question you never get asked in interviews that you would love to be asked?

ABRAMS: Oh, fuck me.

GERBER: [Laughs] I know. It’s kind of annoying, but it also can be stupid—or something very deep.

ABRAMS: What would you say to that?

GERBER: It used to be, what are you reading right now? But I just started asking myself those questions.

ABRAMS: That is the best question.

GERBER: But being friends with you means an endless supply of incredible poetry recommendations. So what are your desert island poets?

ABRAMS: Oh god, Mary Oliver; Robert Bly, sometimes. Marie Howe is up there right now. Jane Hirshfield. And actually—no I won’t say that.

GERBER: [Laughs] I’m going to ask you again after this.

ABRAMS: Okay. Yay. Thank you for the interview.

GERBER: Thank you for letting me do this. Slumber Party Sunday.

ABRAMS: Okay. Love you. Bye.

Gracie Abrams

Dress Miu Miu. Shoes Prada.

Gracie Abrams

Dress Miu Miu. Shoes Prada.


Hair: Tiago Goya using Oribe at Home Agency.

Makeup: Sara Tagalo using Gucci Beauty at Home Agency.

Nails: Sreynin Peng at Opus Beauty.

Photography Assistants: Kurt Magnum and Sandy Rivera.

Fashion Assistant: Isabella Manning.

Production Coordination: Cecilia Alvarez Blackwell.

Location: Milk Studios.