Musician ‘Grimace’ encourages students to develop their own careers – SCAD District
Written by Dylan James, Courtesy of Sawyer Harris, Hayley Hollis and Moe Kite
Flourishing talent is abundant in the age of streaming, with young artists creating plays and expressing their world views on a daily basis. We, the students, absorb what we discover and share it, for the benefit of the artists and ourselves through a multitude of absorbing works. At this time, it doesn’t take status or age to inspire.
Take, for example, nineteen-year-old singer and songwriter Sawyer Harris from Birmingham, Alabama. Harris releases songs under the name “Grimace”, emotional independent tunes that one could play on a late night car ride or maybe like a good old-fashioned post-breakup serenade. At first glance, Grimace comes across as a sort of reincarnation of Bowie, minus the English accent. Independent androgynous, non-binary singer-songwriter from the suburbs of Ala, Harris ‘perspective and emotional intelligence can provide insight and resonance into students’ own creative processes.
Still on the cusp of releasing their latest single, “Moschino,” last week, Harris speaks enthusiastically about their music, their genre and their place in this world. Grandson of a dedicated high school orchestra teacher, their first record was mixed on GarageBand at the age of fourteen. The genesis of their current situation came later, however, with the release of their single “Please Don’t Call”, preceding their debut EP, “Holding Hands with Wicked People”, a concept album of disenchanted youth.
“I realized that all of the songs were a catalog of where I was in my life,” Harris said. “And they all sank together. It was the first experience where I realized that I had done something that I considered art. I felt so connected to it. It was very stimulating. “
Harris does music for therapy. Like autopilot, as they say; they turn it on, and it must start and stop at its own pace. They create for themselves, and by the time other people receive it, Harris feels like it’s “theirs.”
They will embarrassingly admit that often their best song on Spotify is theirs. “Once you’ve finalized something and released it to the world, it’s better to embrace it than curl up. Harris said.
Harris used the COVID-19 quarantine to tap into more personal elements of their life and work. They identify as non-binary trans-feminine and speak openly about maintaining their presentation. So why the name Grimace? Harris explains that this is a juxtaposition. With long dark hair, a floral dress, and an infectious smile topped with a shimmering silver tooth, empathy is evident in this dynamic young person. Their songs speak to the deepest emotional desires of young people.
The choice of stage name could be due to a humiliating atmosphere. Harris acknowledges that the Birmingham suburbs are a difficult environment for gay people, especially young people. They keep a tight-knit group of loving LGBTQ + friends, some of whom are other musicians, to stay afloat.
When asked what they would share with the queer artists at SCAD, Harris had some personal advice. “Over time it has improved and will continue to improve, as long as trans people are here and we support them and build community. Everyone is worthy of love, friendship and compassion for one another. Everyone will find a home.
A juxtaposition of walking, speaking, singing. For many who feel foreign or just plain different, Grimace’s music is a validating note. For those who are afraid to explore and express our true selves, the words of Sawyer Harris can be the engine of acceleration.
Grimace’s music is available on Apple Music, Spotify, and SoundCloud.