ARTIST INTERVIEW: Saving Grace

Saving GraceA saving grace is often viewed as a desirable trait or feature that redeems something from being entirely worthless. So what does Saving Grace redeem us from? They lift our listening experience out from the mediocre and tantalise our ears with their moving emotive music.

While the last twelve months have seen Saving Grace go from strength to strength, the launch of their debut EP River Road late in 2006 has been one of the band’s most memorable music experiences to date. ‘Our EP launch was an unbelievable experience for all of us. It came at the end of an enormous year for the band so it was the perfect way to wrap up the proceedings of 2006. It had also been the result of all the hard work, time and money we had put into the initial recording, mixing, mastering, design, marketing, publicity and finally practising for the debut EP. We had a brilliant crowd of at least 500, great supports and in all, a perfect night.’

Sometimes it is easy to forget that musical releases are so much more than the end product; they are the result of a whole lot of time, money, angst and hard work. While such a process can seem overwhelming, Saving Grace seems to take the challenges in their stride. ‘We really had no idea how much work it would be and how long it would take. It was good to spend a lot of time on just the five songs because it meant we were able to hear all the little intricacies involved in each of our parts. It was a long process and a very demanding one at that. It also came at the end of the year which meant not only the biggest gig of our year and trying to create as much hype as possible but the winding up of everything else in our year as well. I think we would do some things differently next time but not too many.’

As a significant milestone in the life of any band, a debut release not only makes it easier to reach a wider audience of listeners, it can also be a life changing experience. ‘We are definitely maturer as a band and as a group of friends. I think we’ve all shown each other and our fans that we have a commitment to the band and our music that we all respect and that has been coming out at our gigs so far this year. We have set new goals and hope that 2007 is bigger and better. We feel as though we just need to keep pushing ourselves and enjoying the ride.’

While the process of releasing music is heavily resource intensive, it also requires some significant decisions to be made. For instance, deciding what songs to record, and then making the potentially bigger decision about how you want the songs to actually sound. Perfectionism can be a double-edged sword, it can result in a better product, but this is balanced against a huge input of time and effort. ‘I think the fact that we have all had a very musical up bringing and having studied at the Con means that there is a slight desire for perfectionism in all of us. We found this when we were recording and having to do endless retakes for minor imperfections. I think we all know that each player’s part is important but it’s more about what the role of that part is within the song as a final product that is more important. We all want to bring out the meaning of the lyrics and create what the music is really about.’

The life of a musician is based around many competing priorities like recording, promoting and performing, while also trying to live a life and make time for everything that comes with that. ‘Time is something that a musician has to work really hard against all the time. It’s about being able to manage everything perfectly. Within the band we are able to be flexible with each other but the fact that we all have our own jobs within the band means that everything gets done and everyone’s always happy. The greatest advantage for us is that performing, recording and writing are all our favourite things to do so we can make the most of our time.’

Balanced against the structured process followed when recording music, is the spontaneity and interactive nature of performing live. ‘I think the most rewarding thing about our music is getting up on stage and seeing people smiling, moving and really enjoying what we’ve have created as a group. That connection is what it’s all about in the end and that’s definitely what fuels us to keep going.’

Saving Grace are known for their soulful music and heartfelt lyrics which really connect with their audiences. The inspiration for such moving lyrics can come from many sources, but for Saving Grace’s Adrian Leung it seems the world around us offers plenty of source material. ‘The songs I write are always driven by a real life experience, usually one big enough to inspire me to write a song. That being said, sometimes the songs aren’t physical experiences but instead visions or dreams or ideas I imagine. I always try to write honestly because I feel that if I am I can write something different and unique to the next person. Songs are so important to my expression as a person and it’s definitely always a reaction from an experience that has had an impact on me.’

Looking back on what the five-member band has achieved to date shows just how far the band has come, especially in the last twelve months. ‘We have all worked really hard to get to this point but I think we are still doing amazingly well. We’ve picked up some great gigs including headlines at the Basement, Vanguard and Hopetoun not to mention our debut EP in our first full year together. And with a stronger management team this year we can only hope that it keeps getting better.’

Speaking of the future, what does Saving Grace hope to achieve with the passing of the next twelve months? ‘Well we’re open to suggestions at the moment but we’re trying to hook up a distribution deal so that people will be able to buy the EP online. We have a stronger management team this year so hopefully a tour is on the cards and playing at some festivals would be a great! Other than that, we’re hoping to keep building a stronger fan base, gigging lots and continue to writing new stuff and adventuring with new sounds and ideas.’

I originally wrote this article for ‘The Dwarf‘.