Grey DeLisle

Grey DeLisle
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The Graceful Ghost is a labor of love in every sense of the word ... it was written while DeLisle and then-boyfriend Murry Hammond were engaged in a long distance romance. “This is a record of our courtship and what that turned into,” she explains. “It’s Murry and I singing together for the first time. All the songs were written to him in their way: we were on the phone every day working on them, he in Nacogdoches, Texas, and me in Los Angeles.” Reflecting the couple’s passion for old time music, The Graceful Ghost is a collection of tender, bittersweet ballads. “Any songs I’d written that had a modern feel to them I left out,” De Lisle attests of (she wrote every song except Kitty Wells’ “White Circle”). “I wanted to evoke the atmosphere of pre-Civil War. I wanted the album to climb across all eras, be universal and relevant. There’s something that happens when you hear that old time music … you feel like you’re somehow remembering something you haven’t experienced. There’s a sense of loss and longing, which you either relate to or you don’t.” DeLisle’s affinity for songs of heartbreak, loss and occasional redemption—“It’s not interesting to write about people everything works out for,” she quips—may be traced back to her childhood in San Diego, CA. After her parents’ divorce, DeLisle’s musician mother struggled with drug addiction and alcoholism before being born again as a Pentecostal. DeLisle’s anchor through that turbulent time was her grandmother, Eva Flores Ruth, a vocalist who performed with salsa legend Tito Puente. “She pretty much raised me. I was an only child on welfare and in charge of amusing myself. I performed in plays, did voices, wrote and recorded songs from a young age. After my Mom became Pentecostal there was no secular music allowed in the house—we had a bonfire to burn my Cure and Depeche Mode cassettes, possibly saving me from a lifetime of bad goth music—and I couldn’t wear pants or make up. They cast out demons in my living room. It was intense.” Pursuing her dreams of performing, DeLisle moved out of the house while still a minor and found her way to L.A. with the ambition of kickstarting her career by any means necessary. She performed in theatre for a time before finding work in voiceovers—if you’ve watched Nickelodeon or the Cartoon Network in the past few years you’ve heard DeLisle on “The Fairly Odd Parents,” “Clifford the Big Red Dog,” “The Powerpuff Girls” or “What’s New Scooby-Doo” among others—and with that she was able to commit extra resources to her budding music career. DeLisle was writing and recording her first album when a serendipitous twist of fate introduced her to Marvin Etzioni, initially brought aboard to play mandolin on some songs. The two hit if off so well he immediately became a producer, collaborator and friend, and Etzioni has produced each of her three previous self-released efforts. Strong relationships with her band members are part of what elevates DeLisle to musical heights. “I call Marvin and Murry and I ‘the triad,’” she smiles. “The songs are just better with the triad. It’s a nice little recipe between us.” The loose atmosphere—and DeLisle’s desire to capture the song in one take (mention Pro Tools and she winces)—means there are inevitable “imperfections” in the sound. That’s just the way she wants it. “Mistakes are great!” She enthuses. “I welcome them. Some records want to show off their technical prowess…that’s cool but that’s not what this record is. John Hartford said, ‘Style is based on limitations.’ My style is based on limitation. I’m certainly not a virtuoso, I’m more heartfelt.”
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