On May 20, Kalamazoo’s Grace Theisen Band kicks off the second Local Spins Fest in downtown Grand Rapids. Today, Theisen answers seven questions about her musical journey and her favorite artists.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Six dynamic Michigan acts will perform at the day-long Local Spins Fest on May 20 at Studio Park in downtown Grand Rapids, celebrating Local Spins’ 11th birthday. View the schedule below and get tickets, $20, at themidtowngr.com. We asked all six acts to answer the same seven questions in a Q&A format to give readers insights into what makes them tick.
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Today, Kalamazoo Americana/blues artist Grace Theisen takes her turn in the interview chair. View other band Q&As here and scroll down to watch a recent Theisen music video.
Local Spins Question 1: What’s one thing about you that most folks might not know?
Grace Theisen: Throughout my twenties, I co-founded and ran a nonprofit down in Nashville called Songs Against Slavery. We worked to fight sex trafficking in the United States through benefit concerts and musician partnerships. Most of my job was booking all of our artists and venues for our shows so when I moved back to Michigan in 2019 to pursue music full-time, I knew exactly what I needed to do as an artist from a business standpoint. What I did NOT know how to do and have had to learn on the fly was the whole “being a performer/leading a band” part of the job.
Local Spins Question 2: In your wildest dream, which famous, internationally renowned artist or band would you most like to tour with or open for?
GT: Oh hands down, Brandi Carlile or Larkin Poe. But also Jake Wesley Rogers is right up there, mainly because he just looks like he would be a blast to tour with.
Local Spins Question 3: What’s the best record you’ve listened to in the past year?
GT: Amanda Shires, “Take It Like A Man.”
Local Spins Question 4: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in your music career and what advice would you have to artists making their way in the business?
GT: Not speaking up in situations where crass or inappropriate jokes were being made or being in situations where I didn’t feel comfortable, but felt pressured to stay or “go along with it” because I didn’t want to rock the boat or seem “high maintenance.” As a female in the industry, more often then not you are in rooms full of men and it can be really hard to speak up and say what you think. Now, at 31, I hold integrity as my highest value and standard both on and off the stage. I want to be able to go home every single night and fall asleep knowing I did my best and stuck to my values in my songwriting, stage presence, interactions with people, etc. My advice would be: You won’t always get it right and you WILL make mistakes, but choose to learn from them, be quick to apologize and keep moving forward. Not everyone is going to like you and that is OK. What matters most is if YOU like you.
Local Spins Question 5: What’s the best concert you’ve ever seen (and when and where did it take place)?
GT: Taylor Swift’s 2018 “Reputation Tour” at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. That woman knows how to put on a show, and even with 69,000 people experiencing the same show at the same time, she still makes you feel like you are her best friend. It was a true masterclass in performance and audience connection.
Local Spins Question 6: Complete this sentence: In the next year, Grace Theisen …
GT: … will release a full-length record for the first time ever.
Local Spins Question 7: What can fans expect from your set at Local Spins Fest?
GT: Brand new songs and a fully revamped show.
VIDEO: Grace Theisen, “Master of Fire”
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