Grace Cummings Takes the Lead on ‘Ramona'

Grace Cummings Takes the Lead on ‘Ramona'

By Erica CampbellMar 20, 2024

Grace CummingsRamona has been described as intoxicating. Delicate soundscapes, swirling world-building, a voice with a depth that can be almost feel, as if your senses are moving from hearing to physically touching. The album, much like the song by the same name, which visuals are premiering today on PAPER, sees the Australian artist wadding in scenic sonic territory, enlisting her poetic lyricism and singular vocals to pull the listener into somewhere new.

“I wrote this song and this album such a long time ago to me now,” Cummings tells us. “But I still question what “Ramona” means to me and why I made the decision to use this name. I suppose Ramona is a name that I have given myself, or rather, given to the parts of myself that are uncomfortable for me to think about or express, that might be sad or ugly. But this song I suppose is kind of taking ownership of that kind of truth and wearing it proudly.”

Below, Cummings talks to PAPER about Ramona (the video, the album, the song and the persona) and why she’s looking forward to sharing her with the world.

Your album Ramona is out next month on April 5. How are you feeling ieading up to the release?

I couldn’t be looking forward to something more. I am so proud of this album for so many reasons. It’s my favorite thing I think I have ever done, and it was created at a time in my life when I didn’t think I was capable of creating anything at all. The release of the album also means I get to tour it around the world, which makes me feel at home, and like myself. I can’t wait for that.

You recorded the album in Topanga Canyon with Jonathan Wilson. What was that experience like? How do you feel working with him there impacted the final sound of Ramona?

Recording the album with Jonathan and his buddies in Topanga was one of the greatest pleasures of my life. I was so lucky to be such good mates with everyone and nobody was a dickhead ever. This meant that we all pretty much just hung out and had a good time and did whatever we wanted to do. Every day that I left that studio I wanted to be a better musician. Every single person that worked on this record is incredible and I am in awe of them all. I can’t wait to do it again. Working with Jonathan made the record big and grand and dramatic just as I had dreamed of it being in my bedroom when I was writing the songs.

You said you wanted the album to be “as big and dramatic as possible.” Why did you want that to be reflected in this album? What emotion(s) were you hoping to convey?

I kind of reckon why not? The only chance you really get to express life as it really feels is on the stage. Life is big and grotesque and devastating and ecstatic; it can be dreamlike and fantastical and frightening and nightmarish. We kind of play the lead characters in our own little melodrama all the time. Why not make it real?

My other answer is that it is probably that it is selfishly cathartic and easy for me to process real-life things if it’s a piece of theatre.

You’ve also said that the album’s title track was written at a time when you felt others saw you as a “weak little bird” — can you expand on that feeling? How did you transmute that experience into the song?

I think that everybody can be a weak little bird at times. I suppose it was difficult for me to overcome that feeling. I thought about ‘To Ramona’, the Dylan song, and how somebody had once said it was if it had been written about me. I hated that. I hated being sad and I hated being weak so I just decided I wouldn’t be anymore, even if it was just for a short time.

How do you hope listeners feel when they have a chance to listen to Ramona in full? What do you hope they walk away with?

A friend of mine said recently that when she was a child she used to sing to keep herself company. I feel the same way about music, I play music and write music to keep myself company, or rather, feel less lonely in the world. When I listen to other peoples’ music that I love I feel the same way. It takes hold of my hand and keeps me company. The one thing that I hope this album could do is make maybe at least one person feel less lonely.

Photography: Tajette O'Halloran