Cliché readers, we’ve been catching up with Courtney Graf. Two years have gone by since the singer-songwriter graced the cover of Cliché. Since then the artist has been up to a lot, including writing and recording new music and modeling. We talked to Graf about her latest single “Give Me Freedom” and how her music has changed.
Cliché: What have you been up to since we last spoke to you two years ago?
Courtney Graf: Since we last spoke, I opened Courtneygraf.com LLC and have been managing my own career. All of my music, acting and modeling runs through my company now; makes things a bit less hectic to keep track of. I recently put out a new single called “Give Me Freedom” and am about to release “Hands Up”; both were produced by The Heatmakers, who really helped me shape my soul/pop sound on these two records.
I signed with Silver Models and have been making strides in the fitness modeling realm; working towards branding with fitness to shape my artist image. I’m hoping to build one of strength, empowerment and positivity. I received my personal training certificate so I could know exactly what my body was doing and the benefits of exercise. It speaks to a life of power and taking charge. I feel my lyrics speak to the same.
I also signed with Fenton Moon Modeling Agency and was able inspire my clients at KMS and Goldwell to use my single “Give Me Freedom” to open their hair show tour around the US this year. Their cinematographer, Alec Watson, is also filming my music video in the process. I’m thrilled about this opportunity and can’t wait to share what we create with you all!
In writing your music, what is the sound or vibe you’re going for? What would you want the listener to feel?
The sound or vibe of my music is something I’ve been working on since I was 5 years old. It’s such a personal experiences and expression. You have to really know yourself. I can’t say if I’ll ever fully find it; growth is an endless journey. However I believe I’ve seen a glimpse of what I’ve been searching for in the Soul, Pop genre. My two new singles, “Give Me Freedom” and “Hands Up”, are the first of my works to embody it. To me, my sound has become a fusion of all the music I was raised on- Creedence Clearwater Revival, Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson, Jill Scott and everything 90’s.
Have you changed your music writing process over the years, and what would you say influences your writing?
My process has pretty much stayed the same. I’ll play or hear a chord progression, sing from the heart with the voice recorder on, find a central theme and write as I freestyle.
My struggle to find my way as an artist in NYC is always a good topic of discussion. However I will say I am a strong believer in the power of a positive message. Regardless of what direction my heart is pulling me I force myself to see the light in each situation. There is no lesson learned if you stay down on yourself; although it is important call yourself out on your mistakes. Whatever life throws your way the challenge is to find your way out; not let it jade you with your regrets.
How many songs do you think you have written altogether?
Well, I’ve been writing since I was 10 and I really stopped keeping count. It’s more about writing something, anything, every single day. Allowing your self to feel something and express it in words. If there’s a lot of thought backed up in my mind I’ll write two or three a day.
“Give Me Freedom” seems to have a different sound from your earlier singles, “The Good Life” and “Deal With It.” How would you as the writer and singer describe the differences you made when recording?
“Give Me Freedom” was one of those records I wrote to make myself feel empowered and strong. I was about to leave for the airport for a KMS/ Goldwell hair show in Nashville. I had this overwhelming feeling of wanting to do and be my best in all aspects of my life; yet my weaknesses seemed so prevalent. This song is really about allowing yourself to accept your flaws and free yourself by embracing your strengths.
What is your immediate future plans? Any upcoming performances or albums?
I’m opening for the KMS/ Goldwell hair show tour with my song “Give Me Freedom” all around the US this year. They’re shooting my music video in the process as well. KMS is all about freedom of style so it was a great fit. (It’s somewhat ironic that I wrote that song the morning of my first show with them in Nashville.) We recently shot the first show in Seattle. Next stop, Miami.
I’m working on a “We Follow Her” video for Yogasmoga as well. They’re a great company with such wonderful people in it. Another one of my musician meets model moments. I’ve been very lucky with what I’ve been able to pull together through my access as a model in NYC.
I also perform every Wednesday at the Carlton Hotel in restaurant Millesime from 9-11pm. When my drummer can make it he plays the last hour with me. It’s a beautiful venue and a great place to try out songs I’ve recently written. I’d say its a very unplugged an personal version of my performance. Great place to have a drink or dinner; hang out with me and the music!
Photos courtesy of courtneygraf.com