Interview: Suffs Star Grace McLean Celebrates Her Album Release at Joe's Pub

Learn more about the May 6th album release show

By: May. 02, 2024
Interview: Suffs Star Grace McLean Celebrates Her Album Release at Joe's Pub
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Grace McLean is currently appearing as President Woodrow Wilson in the Tony Award-nominated musical Suffs. She’s about to release her debut album, My Lovely Enemy, on May 10th. We spoke about her upcoming special album release show at New York’s iconic Joe’s Pub, which you can catch on May 6th at 9:30 pm. (Tickets are available on Joe’s Pub’s website.)

McLean is “musically complex, dramatically abstract and intensely intimate in style” (BroadwayWorld). She was a writer-in-residence at Lincoln Center Theater where her a Vivace Award for Musical Theater, the American Theater Wing’s Jonathan Larson Grant, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’ Emerging Artist Award. She’s also appeared in Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 and Bad Cinderella.

For a taste of the upcoming album, you can stream the first four singles on Spotify. Read our conversation about the show and album below.

How would you describe your upcoming show?

My first full length album of original music, My Lovely Enemy, drops Friday, May 10, and this concert is an anticipatory celebration of that!  I’ll be performing music from the album, as well as some special songs I only do live and with my vocal looping station. I’ve released a few singles over the past months, and I’m excited by the response they’ve received from listeners around the world!  My band is just excellent (Justin Goldner on bass and Hiroyuki Matsuura, or Matsu, on drums) and I love collaborating and performing with them.  My Lovely Enemy is a breakup album, but not a sad boohoo breakup album - it is a “look the loss in the face and make friends with it, celebrate it, question it, poke at it, ignite it, and use it as kindling” album.  I wrote many of these songs during the reconstruction era after a breakup and they contain the searching, yearning, and fervent meaning making I found myself chasing during that time. The music on this record is a raucous wake for a love well lived and a celebration of the barriers pain breaks down that we might rebuild better, and different.  I love playing at Joe’s Pub because it can feel both intimate and totally rocking, which is exactly where my band loves to live.

 What has it been like being a part of Suffs?

I’ve been working on Suffs for about seven years and am so freaking proud of Shaina Taub.  I’ve known her since college, we were in the same a cappella group, and I’ve always admired her incredible talent and work ethic.  To finally arrive on Broadway with this piece in this moment feels really satisfying.  I love working with this group of people, telling this astonishing story, and honestly, it’s so fun to be the villain.  Although it’s also terrifying to have that many powerful voices raging at me in “Fire & Tea” in the second act.  Thrilling and terrifying!

What was the process of putting your album together like?

We honed a lot of these songs together for live performances, getting to know how they flowed in front of an audience, before recording them for the album.  Then Justin, my bassist and also producer on this album, really got to have fun orchestrating and fleshing out the music for a different kind of listening experience.  It’s normally just the three of us, but for this record we hired amazing musicians from string players, to horn players, to vibraphone to tabla. And when getting the recording in front of this amazing mixer, Jack DeBoe, he tastefully and elegantly continued to shape the sonic story with us. Mixing is an art and Jack pulled out so many rich colors in the music, I’m really excited to share the work with everyone!

What have you been listening to lately?

There’s a British artist I love, Cosmo Sheldrake, who has a new album out. Cosmo uses a lot of field recordings of things like birds or rolling pennies or knuckles cracking or stones being hauled up a hill, and then uses them in his music in a melodic or rhythmic or textural fashion, and, I tell you now, you never knew a barn owl had such funky sass.  I also saw Stereophonic recently and Fleetwood Mac feels extra fun to listen to!  

What’s coming up next for you?

I have a couple of exciting things coming up! First, I’m doing a reading of a new musical I’m working on, hag, with my collaborator Kate Douglas (who just had her New York debut as a playwright with The Apiary at Second Stage earlier this year) at FreeFest with The New Group in June. hag is a horror comedy about a woman turning into a wolf. That’s all I’ll say for now! Next, I’ll be doing a concert of Penelope, a solo show whose book I co-wrote along with composer Alex Bechtel and director Eva Steinmetz, and which just finished an amazing run at Signature Theater DC starring Jessica Phillips. I’ll be doing the show at Joe’s Pub on July 1 and am so excited to sing Alex’s beautiful music again! I’ll be at New York Stage and Film in early August with my collaborator Adam Chanler-Berat working on our play with music featuring Marin Ireland and Kyle Beltran. And I’ll be releasing some more music videos for songs from the album throughout the rest of the year and I’m continuing to work on writing and recording new music too. Lots to do!

Learn more about Grace and where to follow her online on her website.


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