Mckenna Grace on Her Recent Single “Post Party Trauma” | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, December 7th, 2022  

Mckenna Grace on Her Recent Single “Post Party Trauma”

Telling Her Story

Aug 01, 2022 Web Exclusive
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Mckenna Grace has co-starred in big hits like Ghostbusters: Afterlife. But instead of rubbing shoulders on red carpets, the 16-year-old Emmy nominee (for her role on The Handmaid’s Tale) would rather strum away at one of the 40 odd demos she’s been working on. Her talents aligned for the 2021 Ghostbusters reboot’s soundtrack, for which the actress (who plays Phoebe in that movie) contributed the song “Haunted House.”

During a lunch break on the set of her latest project, the Peacock true crime limited series Friend of the Family, Grace went straight from shooting to her trailer for a Zoom interview with Under the Radar, still in makeup and costume that included a fairly elaborate wig that the cheery emerging star repeatedly poked fun at. She told us about bonding with co-star Colin Hanks over a surprising sort of musical instrument in between takes on that current shoot, about impressing Ghostbusters: Afterlife director Jason Reitman by taking a long shot with “Haunted House,” the red carpet angst that inspired her latest single “Post Party Trauma,” what it’s like to be a Gen Z Radiohead diehard with a Swiftie mother, and more.

Kyle Mullin (Under the Radar): How did it feel to recently put out “Post Party Trauma”?

Mckenna Grace: In general, I’m excited to put out music. It’s not just fun to share that part of the work, but also share that part of myself with people. With acting, I can hide behind a script. Or a wig, for instance. [Laughs and points at the wig for her role.] But through music, I get to tell my story.

Tell us about what music means to you.

In 2020 we all had crazy year. What really got me through was music. I listened to a lot of Conan Gray, and loved the lyrics on his album Kid Krow. I got obsessed with that album, and would listen to it all day, then try to write songs. I also love the sound of ’90s punky singers like Alanis Morissette. Gracie Abrams is also brilliant. I take inspiration from a lot of different artists. I listen to different things and write different things.

What was it like to write a song for a big popcorn movie like Ghostbusters: Afterlife this early on in both your music and film careers?

You know what’s funny: I didn’t write it for Ghostbusters. I came up with the metaphor of how a ghost never leaves a haunted house, just based on some things I was experiencing in everyday life. I wrote it several months before the movie came out. I sent it to Jason, with a lighthearted joke: “Oh, haunted house. Ghostbusters. This could fit well!” I assumed he wouldn’t get back to me about it, because he’s such a busy guy. But he told me he liked the way it sounds, and asked me: “Could we use it for the movie?” I rhetorically answered: “Could you? Don’t play with my emotions, Jason!” And then it was in the movie! It all happened so fast.

It must’ve been surreal to hear your song during the end credits of such a major movie.

It was really cool to hear. Especially because it was my musical debut. I was with [costars] Celeste [O’Connor] and Logan [Kim] and told them, “Guys, that’s my song!” Nobody knew, and it felt so cool to surprise everyone and exclaim: “Everybody! That’s mine!” I have so many songs that I’m ready to release. At least 40 demos that I’m ready to put out. I started with an EP, and later I’m putting out an album.

How do your acting and songwriting processes differ?

The logistics are so different between music and film. It’s fun to do even though it’s challenging, but that comes with anything. Like trying to find time to break for lunch right now! [Laughs and pokes at a salad off camera.]

Can it be difficult to balance music and acting?

Whenever inspiration strikes, I write. I’ll always bring an instrument to set. Colin Hanks has a setup that looks like bungalow. He has this huge ukulele in a holder next to his chair. Sometimes I’ll get inspired and start strumming!

How did you first become passionate about music?

At first I was really into ’60s French music. Then I went on a big Radiohead kick. It would be fun to encapsulate more ’90s music, like Alanis, in my work.

Is that something you and your mom bond over?

[Shakes her head.] No, she likes Taylor Swift. That’s the extent of your knowledge! [Says loud enough for her mother to hear off screen; her mom can be heard laughing.] And you like Gracie Abrams, right mom? My dad listens to Metallica. Nirvana was passed on from dad on his guitar—he would play to me when I was little.

Do you have a favorite Radiohead album or song?

My favorite thing is making playlists. I have three to four with certain Radiohead songs. [Checks phone.] I’d probably pick Ok Computer, especially “No Surprises,” because it was the first song I learned on ukulele. I also love “Paranoid Android.”

How has the release of your new song “Post Party Trauma” been?

Putting it out was scary. I’m a very positive person, and try to be upbeat about what I do. I want to bring light to the darkness. But my music is not very happy. I’m trying to make what people can relate to. Music really helped me get through horrible times. I’m hoping to be able to do that for other people. That’s my bottom line. When people can relate, it makes me feel seen.

What dark emotions did you tap into for “Post Party Trauma”?

It’s about feeling anxious at parties, which I do. I’ll let you in on secret: I’ve never been invited to one! I’ve only been to birthday parties or events. It’s anxiety inducing to talk to people, when everyone is dressed up fancy and they’re well known actors. I’ll wonder: “Why am I here?” I went to a couple of events like that, and cried all the way home, thinking: “I don’t belong, nobody likes me! They probably thought ‘Why is this kid here?’” So I just wrote about how it feels to not belong. A lot of us have felt that way, especially during COVID, when social anxiety has become more of a discussed thing, after we were all stuck at home for so long. It now feels like we’re reintroducing ourselves to the world.

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