Moon Child Grace Potter Talks Dark to Light

Karin McLaughlin
By Karin McLaughlin / January 20, 2020

​​Grace Potter is a majestic being who can command the stage entirely and even do it barefoot.  The incredibly talented musician has the ability to make both men and women swoon and fall in love with her songs as she moves about from instrument to instrument at shows.  ​After a short and much needed hiatus from the music scene, Grace is back and we couldn't be happier about her return. Coming back to DC, a city she loves, we got to talk about what has been a driving force in her return and why she needed to step back from the spotlight for a while.

​Karin McLaughlin: Grace, thanks so much for talking with me today, I'm a huge fan and so are pretty much all of my girlfriends.  When I told some of them I was going to interview you, everyone was really excited!

Grace Potter: Oh, thank you so much!  That​ makes me so happy!  You know, DC is kind of one of my tried and true experiences and I meet a lot of fans in DC.   I get stopped on the street or​ on the metro or when I'm shopping or walking around looking at the sites and I've never had a bad experience there. It's so interesting how many incredible people come to my shows there and you and your girlfriends are obviously counted among them!

KM: Well I'm glad you enjoy it here too! ​So jumping right into it. We are glad to be having you coming back and especially with a great new album. We went from Midnight to Daylight - I know the journey was long and hard. Is there something you can tell me about it - a little bit more insight for people as far as how that journey came to be.

GP: It came to be because it wasn't meant to be.  It was not something I was ready to do.  I really wanted to be free of the constraints and anxiety that comes with - I guess expectation is kind of the wrong word because I think my fans know better than to set expectations for me - but I think I needed to sort of emancipate myself from my own expectations in a way.   That's what it really started with, was the process of removing myself entirely from the conversation and putting music not just on the back burner, but like completely off the stove for a while there, right?  

You know, I wouldn't have written this record if that didn't all happen.  The music and the lyrics that came out are reflection of all the fallout and beautiful turns of events, but also painful events, that happened right after Midnight or during Midnight really, because the band was​ in the studio with me recording that record, but things really fell apart with the band.  Then ultimately, ​with my marriage, it revealed itself as something else where my heart was being pulled in a new direction and it took a long time to recognize that and sort out.  What that meant as far as music, where I was going out being on stage and performing,  swaggering around like a superhero, it was not what I wanted to do at that point. Really, I was hurting and other people were hurting and it just didn't feel like the time to parade around and honestly, make money off of it - it's just not right.  Nobody, who writes songs about their personal life and shares anything, should be doing that with any expectation that the​y're going to yield a profit.  

I think, in a way, what my life was and what was left of me that the public knew, I just saw so many disparities.  I just thought I needed to get with me and really sit down with who I am and who I want to be before I do anything else. Midnight was an album full of the real me.  It really was my absolute favorite studio experience I've ever had.  It was because I was opening myself up to more than just the music, but what it means to be able to do more than one thing and to be able to move through the world without expectations and sort of defy people's expectations of you.

So that record was all about other people's expectations, being a little bit the reference with my fans and my fans expectations and then Daylight was was more about me, my own expectations -really going in deep.

Associated Album

Associated Album

Associated Album

KM: You touched on quite a few other things that I was going to talk about actually.​  ​How have your expectations changed now, as far as what you're expecting out of the music world, getting back into it?  We've seen your tour schedule  and it's busy - you're already booked out through ​July.  What expectations do you have that are different now or how have they evolved and changed - what are you hoping for ​with this tour?

​GP: It's a profound shift, and it's something that I've been really tuned into because I wouldn't be doing this if it doesn't feel right to me anymore, I just don't have the bandwidth and there's too many other things that I love to do.  If this music thing isn't serving my soul and it's not kindling the fire properly, then it just goes away.  I really had to reassess music in my life.   The reason why these tours are so concentrated and so gung ho is because I wanted it to become my life. I wanted my family on the road with me and I really wanted it to not be just getting on a plane and flying somewhere.  

I didn't want to be Grace Potter for the day and then go back to my "real life".  I don't want that.  I want to be, I want to exist and I want to live and breathe in the body.  That is me, friends.  The second I wake up in the morning and go out and play with my son all the way through the show to when I get off stage and crawl back into my bunk at the end of the night with my husband.  The difference, I think, is a primal desire to make my whole life as true and real and honest as possible. ​It makes it much easier. 

KM: Do you feel like a lot of that desire came out of obviously not only this huge transition and change in your life, but also from motherhood?

GP: Definitely, yeah, I mean, that is ​the prime ingredient here, my priorities changed. I don't have to prove it to music anymore, I know my work.  I have this very stabilizing force and it's not just ​​Sagan, it's Eric, it's my family.  My mom and dad are actually out on the road with us right now and the joy it brings me to watch them chasing my son around on a bicycle - it's makes my heart actually leave out of my body -  poopy diapers and all, the entire package feels right and feels more true.  It's honesty that I never invited in before because it seemed kind of ugly and rough around the edges and complicated and messy. I was really overextending myself ​or burning the candle at both ends or whatever.  Now, it's the opposite and it's far more sustainable.

KM: Speaking of other things - you have two new loves in your life and those are huge other things, but you said you want to make sure that you've got a lot of other things going on. I know that you also started way back when, at craft fairs and farmers markets - did you pick up any good recipes or arts and crafts skills back then?

GP: Oh, yeah - you should see our craft box, we have one on the road.  I'm actually block printing and making t shirts today. I mean, ​my main skill set was was construction ​and ​home renovation, so that was the beginning of it, but I'm really into pottery, which is huge.

KM: RIght, because doesn't your mom do pottery?​

​GP: Yeah!  She's retired now, but she had a very famous company called Peggy Potter Bowls, which is now Colbalt​ something I think.​

KM: Funny story - ​the founder of DC Music Review -  when I told him I was interviewing you, he said, "One of my most prized possessions is a Peggy Potter bowl that I own that I didn't know the correlation until years and years later."  He sent me a picture of it and I was like, "Oh my god, I'll have to tell her that's so cool."

GP: (laughs) That's incredible. ​ I would always be by mother's side at craft fairs and and obviously the music was just the background in the art and craft world, which is a massive thing, especially in Vermont where people are really do-it-yourself hands-on.  I grew up around it so I've got ​lots of craft projects.  I want to believe that I could learn how to knit someday.  I've tried.  I'm trying to knit a scarf now for my assistant who is really crafty but it's not easy.​

KM: ​​Yeah I tried my hand at knitting and I've had a half-knit hat for three years now - it's never made it to the top (laughs).

GP: Yeah there are some things I'm just not good at and knitting is some next level crap.  ​I'm working on embroidery these days too. I really like the tactile stuff, like I love dying clothing. ​ I'm a maker - I make furniture and whenever I can put paint on something, I will paint.

KM: That's awesome. So, I wanted to ask only because I feel like you have a strong influence ​of stuff like this, and it's a total assumption on my part, so tell me if I'm wrong but as far as you and spirituality -are you more on ​the natural side of influences, like by the Sun and Moon and star signs and things like that?  Is that accurate to ​say?

​GP: It is and it isn't - it's an interesting dichotomy and it's a really fun argument I have with my husband because you know, our son's name is Sagan.  Funny because Carl Sagan​ used to bemoan the fact that people would refer to him and say he's a famous astrologer​, ​when he's an astronomer. ​  

​They say where Jupiter is when a baby's born has less effect gravitationally and electromagnetically, etc, than the midwife in the room delivering the baby.  So, there's a scientific reason that, I'm sure is very viable for why we shouldn't pay attention to that, but there's just so much evidence and so many patterns of our world and how humans are energetically around one another, that's very much related to when you're born and where you're born and who surrounds you in your constellation.  So yes, I'm very spiritual. I'm not religious, but I am spiritual in many directions.

There's a really beautiful place, one of the first dates that Eric and I ever went on was a place called Lake Shrine, right on the coast in Malibu. It takes all of the different sort of creeds and religions and places them all together and in one space with lots of places to sit down and meditate. It has a beautiful lake with swans swimming around in it that you can just go to gaze at without any expectation of committing yourself to one belief or another. I love that cosmic intersection and that spiritual intersection.  I think that's really the best representative of how I respect and appreciate my own spirituality and also everyone else's. ​

Having said that, my music has always been drenched in gospel influence and I can't help it, it's just the best sounding chords put together in one place and it's the most stirring, essential bone chilling part of it.  I think you hear a lot of that on Daylight because because I wrote with (Michael) Busbeewho is a very, very religious person, a devout Christian and really worked that in.  I think a lot of his calling in life was to bring that love and that feeling of Jesus into every room he was in until he sadly passed away actually, about a week after the record came out.  ​  I think the chords that he incorporated into the songs that we wrote for this record are so appropriate ​to the feeling that I was having and to the fact that the universe, however we choose to put it together in our little scientific mind, will always be more vast than anything we can control or categorize.  Buuuuuut - it's pretty nice to have a star chart too, just to kind of guide me.

KM: Agreed! I've been reading more deeply into mine so much lately and it's mind blowing! Alright, well I know that you're limited on time, but I want to do a couple rapid fire questions if you've got just a couple more minutes. 

GP: ​Sure - absolutely!

KM: Okay, so I know that we just talked about this ​in relation to astrology and also the correlation between the albums Midnight and Daylight too - do you think you're more influenced by your moon sign or your sun sign?

GP: ​Right now, it's my sun sign but from the age of 14 to 26 or 27, somewhere in there, when there was a shift in my solar plexus there was just this white hot, pool of amber light that started. coming through my body in my late 20s and then finally emerged out the crown of my head when I was 33.  well I mean I yeah that's not a rapid fire answer - that's a whole nother interview (laughs).

KM: Yeah, I could spend like three hours talking about all that but we won't go there. What is your go to comfort food?

GP: Oh good one! Macaroni and cheese.

KM: What do you have a weakness for?

GP: Mac and cheese (laughs) but legit mac and cheese - like comes out of the oven  and it's covered with a layer of bread crumbs and baked. 

KM: Crispy corners all the way!  If you could have been born at any other time and location, where would it be and when?

GP: ​Oh god - probably the South of France in the 19 mid-teens so I could've experienced the roaring 20s.  Either that or Ancient Greece, just because I think those Greek people were freaks!

KM: 100%! Who is your biggest style icon?

GP: Diane Keaton is one I love, but I would never wear what she wears.  Diane Keaton and ​Barbarella we'll say.

KM: Okay, second to last question is what's  one word to describe where you were at the last time you went on tour and one for where you're at now heading out on tour again?

GP: Word for the Midnight tour was driven and the word for this tour is settled.

KM: Interesting - that's exactly the word I was just thinking​.  Ok, one more.  I just want to say, personally, the things that I'm going through right now - your music is helping me through a lot of it and and getting me in a space to let some cries out and also giving me some inspiration that it'll all be ok.  I know that your music has always helped people, as music tends to do, a lot - what is music that gets you through tough times?  Who are two artists that you always have on a playlist that you play when you're feeling a little down or just need to get the emotions out?

GP: Mozart and Frank Sinatra.

KM: Oh wow, those are good.

​GP: Mozart ​is where I go to reflect and to reinvigorate and maybe reinvent myself for the day and to  just to sort of escape.  Also to really, you know, recognize that, that I know nothing about music because Mozart is just that good, right. Frank Sinatra when I'm ready for a cocktail and some good friends, surrounding myself in all those warm, fuzzy feelings, you know, and eating mac and cheese (laughs).

KM: That's awesome. Well, I'm very excited to see you back in DC and I actually have seen you're going to be on a couple tours that are festivals like 4848, which had their first year, it's an amazing festival so I was so excited to see you on that one. 

GP: Oh great, yeah looking forward to it.

KM: You also have Austin City Limits, Bonnaroo, you've got Floyd Fest, so we are so glad to have you back in the full swing of things and festivals and looking really forward to seeing you more in 2020.  Thank you so much for taking the time, it was really a pleasure to get to talk to you.

GP: Yeah, and I wish you the best on your journey and just want to say, whatever transformation you're going through, I feel like I'm honored that I can be a companion for you in that and you're gonna get there in any way you need to.

KM: Thank you. Enjoy the rest of your day!

GP: Absolutely. It was awesome talking to you. Hopefully we'll see you in DC.

KM: Yes, definitely.​




Performance Details

Performance Details



​Saturday, January 25, 2020

Doors: ​6:30 PM

Show: 8:00 PM

$​45  - General Admission

$​75  - Super Excellent Seats

About the author
Karin McLaughlin

Karin McLaughlin

Karin has been a live music junkie all her life, however is a fairly new fan in the world of jam bands and bluegrass. She grew up on hip hop, classic soul, motown and classic rock but has found a new home in the festival world and that is what, in part, had brought her to DC Music Review. Karin produces and hosts a weekly radio show in the area called Karin's Calendar, where she talks all about 'Where to be in the DMV'. She is very excited to be starting down a semi-new road with us and hopes to use her interview skills and write ups of shows to contribute even more to DC Music Review.