Grace VanderWaal is opening up a fresh, new chapter. If you know the now 17-year-old singer for her 2016 America's Got Talent win at age 12 or for her debut album, Just The Beginning, the following year, that's only the surface of what she has to offer — and her newest music is proof that we should anticipate digging deeper.

VanderWaal's first release since 2019's Letters: Vol 1 EP, singles "Don't Assume What You Don't Know" and "Repeat" are ushering in a rock-focused era for the young star. She's traded her famous ukulele for a bass to explore a sound she describes as "alternative-infused pop," with experimental visuals that reflect a more daring sensibility — pixie cut and all.

Ahead of VanderWaal's lead role in the Disney Stargirl sequel, PAPER checked up on the entertainer after a year in isolation as she finishes her forthcoming project.

What's the first thing you do when you wake up?

The first thing I do when I wake up is brush my teeth and then pour a cup of coffee.

What's the last thing you do before you go to bed?

I hate to admit, but normally the last thing I do before going to bed is go on my phone.

Have you texted an ex yet in isolation?

Yes.

Who's the last person you hugged?

My mom.

What's your go-to delivery order?

McDonald's 10 piece nugget combo meal.

What was the last concert you attended?

My own? Probably?

Where is the first place you'll travel once the world opens up again?

New York! I want to visit all my friend and hang out with them again.

What website do you visit the most?

Probably Pinterest or YouTube.

What's one thing you've learned this year that you didn't know this time last year?

That I actually like waking up early

How have you managed to stay creative in quarantine?

It's been really hard to stay motivated. I like to do creative things that are fun, but also can be really really chill when you just wanna stay in your bed like small drawings and poetry.

How has the state of the world impacted your music-making?

It's been difficult to make music safely, especially because most the time when I go into the studio that requires some travel. I did a lot of at-home production collaboration and studio sessions for most of 2020. I've learned to do lots from home.

What is the role of a musician in 2021?

I've always considered music an escape for me and I think in 2021 a lot of people need that. I want to radiate happiness in my life, and I want people to come to my world and my music to escape and feel peace. that's the role that I feel for 2021.

Stream Grace VanderWaal's latest singles, below.

Photos courtesy of Grace VanderWaal

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