a full-time job

q&a with musicians clyde and gracie lawrence

Recent graduate Clyde Lawrence ‘15 and his younger sister Gracie—a to-be Brown student taking a gap year—are known faces, and voices, to many around campus.  Amidst a whirlwind of road trips, rehearsals, meetings, and recording sessions, the two took a couple of minutes to sit down with Post- to talk about Brown, their band, Lawrence, and the experience of doing the band full-time.

Post-: Could you tell me, in a nutshell, how would you both describe your band?

Gracie: We’re an eight-piece soul-pop band led by Clyde and I. Clyde and I are siblings.

Clyde: It’s kind of an intersection of a couple different genres: It’s soulful, poppy, funky.  It’s very influenced by the songwriting styles of motown, of classic American songwriting like Stevie Wonder, or Paul Simon and the Beatles.

Post-: How did the band come about?

Clyde: We’ve both been playing music together since forever.  I have been writing songs and playing instruments since I was a really young child.  I never really saw myself as a singer at all, and I certainly never saw myself as a performer, or an entertainer, or someone who would be in the spotlight in front of a band.

 Gracie: I’ve been acting and singing since I was really little, and I love performing.  In the same way that Clyde didn’t really consider himself a singer before, I didn’t really consider myself to be a songwriter at first.

 Clyde: It’s been a funny thing where I always was the musical brains behind the operation, and Gracie was the singer.  We’ve been playing together since we were ages five and two.  But as the band has become more serious… over time I’ve started to see myself as a singer and a front man in addition to being a songwriter, and Gracie has started writing a lot of music for the band as well. Music has always been a huge thing in our family.

Post-:  I understand that you’re taking this year to put all of your time and energy into Lawrence, is that right?

Clyde: Yeah, we are currently in the process of recording our first full-length album.  When we graduated, we took meetings with some different producers and we ended up deciding to work with Eric Krasno. We’ve been working all summer to start developing our album, which should be out in January.

Gracie: It’s a cool little story.  Prior to this year, at a Brown party, we met our current manager.  I’d been coming up to Brown almost every weekend to play shows in various locations — I was still in high school at the time, I just graduated — and Clyde had told me there was someone interested.  We ended up, I guess you could say, auditioning.

Clyde: Basically, this fairly prominent manager in the music industry approached us and said he was interested.  We told him about all these shows  we were playing at legitimate venues in Providence.  And he said, “No, no, no.  I want to see you guys in the most raw possible setting.”  We told him we were playing at this  “sweaty, disgusting basement in Providence for a Brown University party that will fit no more than 80 people and be super packed.” And he said, “That’s where I want to go.”

Gracie: You should add that right before the show happened —

Clyde: Yeah, all of the problems happened that happen at any other Brown house party: the power, the speakers blew out.

Gracie: Also, we were hoping that it wouldn’t get shut down.

Clyde: The next morning I went out to breakfast with them at Louis, and now we are with that management company.  Everybody in the band has quit their full-time jobs.  Every single person is doing Lawrence full time.

Gracie: Our weekly routine here in the city is that we practice all the time, and everyone in the band is always hanging out. We’re a very tight-knit group.

Clyde: One of the funniest things is the difference between Gracie’s SnapChat stories and all her friends’.  All of her friends are going through freshman orientation at college.  But all of Gracie’s SnapChats are of her in a van in Alabama with seven 23-year-old guys.  It’s a hilariously different experience.

Post-:  What would you say have been some of the greatest challenges and rewards as you’ve been “going for it,” so far?

Clyde: When I was at Brown I fully considered myself a full-time musician first and a working student second.  And frankly, even when I applied, music was the main priority in my life.  I went to try to grow as a musician, and to find a band.  As soon as I got to campus, that is exactly what I was doing. While I was there, I couldn’t wait to have the time to really do it full-throttle.  And, not to in any way belittle the education that I got while I was at Brown, but it’s rewarding, that feeling of all of those responsibilities lifted, and thinking, ‘Whoa this is my job now, and that’s awesome.’

Gracie: I think for me it’s similar.  I was in high school for the last 4 years and still really wanted to be a huge part of the band.  I think the most challenging part was showing up for everything logistically.  I live in New York, and I had to travel up to Providence almost every weekend.  I really wanted to be a part of, what I recognized then were the foundational stages of the band.  I think the most rewarding thing was seeing the rebrand take place, and taking a chance on this year.

Clyde: I have a funny little story about Gracie coming up to Brown all the time to show that she was starting to amass such a following of people at Brown.  I was in the Rock working and I heard these two girls sitting at a table behind me.  One said, “Oh, did you hear there’s a Clyde Lawrence show tonight?”  And the other replied, “Oh yeah, I totally want to go to that.” In my head, I was thinking, This is awesome. Then one asked, “Oh, is his sister Gracie coming up?”  The other one said, “I heard that she wasn’t making it up for this one.” The first said, “Oh, maybe we’ll just go to the next one.” (laughs) So I texted Gracie and said, “You have to come to all the shows, because I’m clearly not enough for these people.”

 Be on the lookout for new singles by Lawrence to be released before the full album release in January.  The band can be followed on Facebook and YouTube.