Following her recent multi-city tour with rockstars Gang of Youths, rising music star Gretta Ray caught up with photographer Lilli Boisselet at A More Perfect Union Festival – performing alongside Arlo Parks – in Hobart to talk about song writing, post-pandemic performing and early hotel lobby wake-up calls. In Boisselet's images, we find ourselves transfixed by Ray and Parks, their stage presence exuding from the photographs taken. Moments in time, transporting us vicariously to the event. Here, Ray and Boisselet unpack the joys of touring and how the singer works the crowd.
There’s a lot happening for you right now: what are you most excited about?
I am most excited about my next project that I am working on! It’s been a fun couple of years promoting and performing my debut album, Begin To Look Around, but I’ve been writing quite a lot of new songs too and am ready to start fully focusing on what’s next.
Can you talk about your songwriting process?
My songwriting process often involves other top liners and writer-producers. Since 2019, the majority of my music has been written in sessions with one-to-two other people, which has been incredibly creatively rewarding and inspiring. I usually take in an idea for a concept or lyric that I’ve been thinking about for some time, and discuss it with my collaborators to see if we can translate that idea into a song as a team. I love building something from the ground up, and leaving a session with a new song knowing it didn’t exist at the beginning of the day and now it does. It will never get old.
You’ve recently been touring with Gang of Youths: what is your favourite part of being on tour?
The best thing about being on tour is getting to connect with my audience - my favourite thing is spotting people in the crowd who I’ve maybe spoken to online a few times before, and they’ve brought their friends and signs and are overall just having a great time. It fills me with joy.
"I love building something from the ground up, and leaving a session with a new song knowing it didn’t exist at the beginning of the day and now it does."
It looks very glamorous from the outside but I’m sure there’s also some tough parts?
The worst thing would probably be the lack of sleep. Sometimes you have to wake up really early to fly to the next place, after having a show the night before… if I haven’t had a decent amount of sleep I’m not a very pleasant person, so early lobby call is definitely not something I like about being on the road!
"My favourite thing is spotting people in the crowd who I’ve maybe spoken to online a few times before, and they’ve brought their friends."
You definitely know how to work a crowd. How do you feel when you’re about to walk on stage?
Nervous and excited. I take deep breaths, continue doing vocal warm ups and have a cute little pre-show huddle with my wonderful band, and just try my best to settle any nervous jitters. Once I’m up there I’m usually pretty ok!
How does it feel to be touring again after the pandemic?
It’s truly the best thing ever. I am having the time of my life getting to do my job again, and it’s so lovely to see how happy people are to be experiencing live music again! I feel particularly addicted to playing shows post-covid, and I hope next year will be a super busy one.