Live From Gracie Abrams’ Bedroom

Culture

“The only thing that is planned is the set list,” Gracie Abrams tells me about her first ever tour, which has virtually visited cities from Berlin to Sydney so far, and is set to travel back to Europe in May. Abrams is speaking to me over Zoom from her Los Angeles bedroom, and I can see spaceship sheets, a mostly-vacant white bookshelf, and light coming from a window. Her father, the movie and TV director J.J. Abrams, or her younger brother, who is currently home from Sarah Lawrence College, could barge into her high-ceilinged bedroom at any moment, she warns. Other signs that Abrams is no ordinary 21-year-old living with her parents: Paul Mescal sports her merch, Rosalía recommends her music, and her Instagram comments house a collection of endorsements ranging from Succession soundtrack composer Nicholas Braun to singers Phoebe Bridgers and Post Malone.

Abrams’ bedroom decor is also familiar to the fans who’ve caught one of her Minor Bedroom Shows, which happen over Zoom, and to her 370,928 Instagram followers, who are privy to raw snippets of her life: unmastered layers of songs from her laptop, uncensored thoughts from a floating journal, and confessional selfies with short earnest captions. “Virtual tour starts Monday it’s gonna be a lot of me talking to myself,” she captions a photograph of herself staring into her bedroom’s microphone just after we finish talking.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on musicians, many of whom derive most of their income from touring —“If I lose the tours, I probably will lose my home,” David Crosby told GQ in March. The release of her 7-song EP Minor in July led to appearances for Abrams on traditional venues like the Jimmy Fallon show and a giant Times Square billboard–but her Minor Bedroom Shows, which she first launched in July, are a unique response to the impossibility of playing live right now. “After I did the first couple of shows, people were tweeting me, being like, of course your first tour is from your bedroom,” Abrams tells me, “and I was like… ‘that’s so true.’”

Courtesy of Vince M. Aung / @vinceaung

The shows, which are organized by city, entail signing up for a chance to “hang out” with Abrams over Zoom. Attendance is limited to 100 people, and the shows have become so popular that it’s almost impossible to get into one—after signing up online and requesting a song for Abrams to sing, only some are selected to receive a Zoom invite via email. Jie Qi, who runs one of Abrams’ longest-standing Instagram fan accounts from Singapore, tells me that fans have secretly started sharing the coveted links with each other—“everyone [in the Gracie fandom] is so sweet and sharing,” Qi says.

Abrams isn’t the only artist to adapt to the pandemic in innovative ways. Phoebe Bridgers launched her Punisher tour from different rooms in her apartment (and later launched her own music label), Travis Scott and the DJ Dominic Fike performed via avatar inside the videogame Fortnite, Role Model launched a talk show on Instagram, girl in red created a viral scavenger hunt,, and Billie Eillish just announced a global livestream concert. SVP of Universal Music JJ Corsini, who manages Abrams alongside Chris Hovsepian, explains that the most obvious reason why younger artists are flourishing right now is because they understand social media platforms on a visceral level. “I learn as much from Gracie as she learns from us or anybody on her team,” he says. “Gracie’s been in Southeast Asia for the past few days. Quick stop in Paris yesterday. Philippines next” he says, outlining the upcoming “touring schedule” for Minor Bedroom Shows.

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