On paper, Addison Grace is your typical 19-year-old, working a retail job — during a pandemic, no less — and, like many of her Gen-Z peers, figuring out what the future may look like for a recent grad.
On the internet, @graceful.addison is a singer-songwriter-personality with over 2.6 million followers on TikTok.
Inspired by DIY performers like Orla Gartland, Tessa Violet, and Cavetown, Grace’s double life began as a young teen, recording covers in her bedroom, which she’d share on YouTube.
As she posted her takes on the greatest Beatles hits, her following on YouTube slowly grew. Meanwhile, on Instagram, she’s an influencer-meets-Disney-princess recognized by her expressiveness, exaggerated by e-girl makeup and twee style.
All to say, Addison Grace is very much online. And what else is a Gen-Zer to do but download TikTok?
On a whim, Grace joined the reported 60 percent of American teenagers who have made the app into an indispensable platform for breaking trends, chart-topping songs, and viral memes.
A natural fit for a platform popularized by its quick format and adaptable hit-producing algorithm — it has become the go-to app for content creators looking to jump onto (or become) the next big thing.
Here, @graceful.addison didn’t have to choose between her bubbly personality or making music; rather, she’s able to be the sum of her greatest parts.
Unlike Instagram, where Grace felt her personality was separate from her content, and YouTube, which was often “too much of a chunk to bite off,” TikTok offered a platform to show off a little more personality along with her musical aspirations.
“It was kind of the perfect medium where I could share my personality and share my thoughts and share jokes, but not have to take the time to edit a 10-minute video,” she explains.
As her popularity grew, Grace landed an offer with music management agency Alternate Side, which helped launch her first single, “Sugar Rush” with Cavetown’s Robin Skinner. With over 750,000 streams to date on Spotify, the ukulele-driven love song recounts Grace’s real-life experience as a young bi woman crushing on a friend who hasn’t quite caught on. (Grace reveals that said friend still actually hasn’t realized the song is about her, though she prefers it that way.)
For Grace, “Sugar Rush” felt like the perfect beginning. It was not only a newer song she’d written, one that she felt she could re-establish herself with among her fans, but also shared a message that was both personal and universal. “It had so much meaning to me because, on top of it being about someone I liked, it was also about my fight against internalized homophobia and feeling like I wasn’t allowed to like girls,” she shares.
Her latest single, “Overthink,” is an upbeat, sparkling pop track. Primed for the next Netflix original rom-com, the song reflects Grace’s unflinching desire to spread positivity and perpetuate a gentler, more empathetic worldview.
“A lot of content nowadays tends to be on the negative side,” she says. “I think that the internet lacks the hopeful, happy side where you can be soft.”
Even with sunny daydreams and a rosy perspective, Grace’s head is anything but in the clouds. Like many musicians working, Grace has no qualms dispelling the image her success may suggest, often reminding her followers that yes, she’s still working at that “cute little retail job.”
Meanwhile, in between shifts, Grace is chipping away, making music that people can find a sweet comfort in.
“I always recommend being creative on how you’re using your song and see if anything takes off with it,” she says of her loose and carefree approach to social media. “Whether it’s using one of the lines, making a dance, or creating a common joke with it, I think you just have to be fast and creative.
Instead, if musicians can learn anything from her story, it’s that opportunity knocks for those who are ready.
“I was going through a rough patch,” she recalls. “I had been thinking to myself, ‘I’ll never make it, I should just give up and leave music as a hobby.’ Not even an hour later, I opened my email and everything turned 180 overnight for me. Never in a million years did I think I would actually be one of the people who could make it.
Addison Grace’s latest, “Overthink” — out now via Level.
This interview has been condensed and edited.