Breaking Barriers: The Poignant Power of Grete’s sophomore single, ‘How Long’
Following on from her debut solo single, ‘With u’, released September 2023 – a romantic, emotional ballad – Grete strays into a darker emotional territory with “How Long”. The Lithuanian-born singer-songwriter has been captivating audiences since finding her voice as a toddler and hasn’t stopped since – chalking up an impressive résumé over the years, she’s performed on some of the biggest stages in Lithuania, taken part in television productions, musical theatre, international concerts, and notably, reaching the finals of ‘The Voice of Lithuania’.
‘How Long’, released 15th December, marks Grete’s sophomore solo offering. It’s a deliciously cosmic intermingling of shimmering dissonant chords – Matthew Still-Blundel’s biting guitar leads, and slow piano stabs from Charlie James rise like solemn declarations in a quiet room, rippling and cascading gently to deliver a feeling of tension and apprehension as the track ultimately finds its teeth just after the two-minute mark. This musical metamorphosis is further driven by Samuel Cooper’s heavy drums and rhythmic bass from Daniel Orchard, which lay the foundation for Grete’s soaring vocals.
Her voice, a blend of power and vulnerability, navigates the intricate terrain of the song’s themes, delicately capturing the emotional impasse of being confined by the invisible barriers constructed by a partner in a relationship. Her song artfully illustrates a poignant yearning for a breakthrough, a longing to shatter these walls to reveal the potential of what lies beyond. Rather than surrendering to the urge to retreat, the lyrics paint an evocative fantasy of liberation and connection. As the melody progresses, it mirrors a crescendo of frustration and tension, which ultimately resolves in a cathartic denouement – an acceptance of reality as it is.
Those who favour boldness of experimentation, and raw honesty of emotional lyrics will find home with Grete’s song writing. With ‘How Long’, Grete continues to carve her path as a gifted vocalist and storyteller whose narratives will undoubtedly resonate with many a listener. Her journey is one of continual transformation, giving listeners the opportunity to find pieces of their own stories within her songs. We’re delighted to have caught up with Grete to talk about her latest single and plans for the future. Let’s get into it!!
Hi Grete! I’m MC, and stoked to have the opportunity to chat with you – thanks so much for taking the time, and congratulations on the release of your latest single! Shall we start with a bit of background? Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hi MC! It’s an absolute pleasure! I am a singer-songwriter originally from Lithuania, now based in Manchester. I am in my final year in RNCM, studying Pop music as a vocalist. And I can’t begin to describe how amazing it feels to finally release my own work!
I guess it’s been a long time coming… you’ve been singing since you were three!! Thinking back to those childhood days, what would you say are your fondest musical memories from growing up in Lithuania?
I would have to say I really miss the thrill of performing in competitions. Me and my mom have traveled all around Lithuania and a lot of Europe during my teenage years, it was such a fun time that I miss.
Listen to ‘How Long’ by Grete on Spotify
I (obviously) checked out some of your performances from The Voice on YouTube. That must’ve been an incredible experience, and just one of many you’ve had over the years. How have these experiences influenced your development as an artist?
With every competition or concert I learned something new and kept growing not only as a performer but as a person as well. But I think the experience in The Voice was the most life changing. It showed me how important it is to stay true to yourself, not let anyone else shape your personality or image on TV, because they like to do that. It taught me to stand up for myself more and not just agree with the people that “know more”.
Speaking of change and growth – moving from Lithuania to the UK is a HUGE deal, not just for your career but personally as well. How has adapting to a new culture and environment impacted you on a personal level, and what have been some of the most memorable or surprising aspects of living in the UK?
I definitely had a bit of a cultural shock in the beginning. People are quite different, not in a better or worse way. Just different. Which took some time to get used to and change my own habits and manners. I love the English language and always dreamed of speaking it everyday. It took a minute for my personality to come through in a different language but I think after almost four years I can say I am confident and happy with myself in the UK and planning my future here.
When you’re not creating music, what’s your favorite guilty pleasure or a hobby that might surprise your listeners, and maybe even those who know you personally?
I LOVE cooking, the whole process of it (shopping, making lists, following recipes, trying it out), I also love skiing, but I don’t get to enjoy it too often. This year I started learning to play bass guitar, it’s so hard and so fun and takes a lot of my time now.
Grete, performing ‘Alive’ on The Voice
Ah, a fellow cooking enthusiast! Mashing together ingredients to create something delicious is something I can relate to, and it’s a bit like creating music. Speaking of which, your songs are known for their rich vocals and harmonic complexity. Could you describe your recipe for composing a song from concept to completion?
When I started writing I had a very little understand of theory. I’ve been taught a lot about it and if I spent time on it I would get it, but I was never interested in it. When I’m creating, I just play whatever sounds beautiful and interesting to me, “With u” and “How Long” are the best examples for it. But with time it started to make me interested, what is so complex about it, what exactly makes it sound like that, so me and my keys player started analysing the harmony in my originals and that made me want to understand more and do it consciously rather than just by ear. Most of the time I start with that, some sort of harmony, a base to layer some vocal ideas and lastly lyrics.
Your latest single, “How Long” transitions from a romantic ballad to a darker, more twisted space. What inspired this shift in tone?
I think the song progresses like that because it represents my feelings and emotions getting darker and angrier. In the lyrics you can hear it as well, it’s the growing frustration, because you can’t be with someone. My songs are usually quite emotional so I feel like it translates to the listener even more when you can hear the emotion in the instrumental, not only lyrics or voice.
The lyrics of “How Long” reflect a deep, personal narrative. How do you translate your personal experiences and emotions into your songwriting?
It’s all from my personal experience, the whole EP that I will be releasing soon is all about the frustrations in my life, usually some love drama. It’s affective when it’s your own story, people connect with it more, I think.
Official music video for ‘With U’ from Grete, on Youtube
Aside from those personal experiences, you’ve cited artists like Halsey, MARO, Yebba, and Jazmine Sullivan as some of your influences, each renowned in genres spanning Indie Pop, Electronic, R&B, and Soul. Could you share what elements from these genres and these artists’ styles resonate with you and how they have shaped your own musical expression?
These and a couple more artists and genres are my personal favourites. But the elements that I would say resonate with me the most is the rhythm of R&B, the feel/groove of Soul and R&B and how these artists use melody over the chords, connecting with the strong lyrical messages of their music.
Apart from musicians, who are some non-musical figures or personalities that inspire you, and how do they influence your approach to music and life?
It just has to be my mom, my biggest hero, strongest person I know. She never gave up and always completely believed in me every step of the way and encouraged me to get to where I am now. I am thankful for a lot of personality traits that I inherited from her, including the drive, dedication, self-discipline and confidence.
Respect to your mother!! And, speaking of personality traits, how would you define the essence of ‘Grete’ as an artist? What core message do you aim to convey through your music?
It’s really important to not blend in in today’s music industry, I think I prioritise my music sounding the way I feel it and like it, not the way the majority would. It’s not commercial pop music, which is harder to get on the radio or get people to discover it, but it’s really important to me that I stick with what I like – sometimes weird sounding chords and harmonies, harsh and chaotic sounds and vocals.
Staying true to your own musical instincts in an industry that often favours commercial trends is commendable. and gives your music a unique identity. This makes me wonder about the contributions of your fantastic band members. How does each member help shape the overall sound of your music?
Yes, they are amazing musicians, I am so thankful to have a team like that. They are incredible at their instruments, they have amazing ideas, they communicate it super well and we’re all good friends which makes it so fun to work together. A lot of instrumental arrangements are created by them, I try to give them some freedom in their parts to feel it out and spice it up, but there are definitely times when I can get very specific about even tiniest details.
Looking forward, with your debut EP in the pipeline, what are your aspirations for the future? How do you envision your career evolving?
Of course everyone wants every one of their songs to succeed, blow up and be the next sensation, but this is my first EP, I’m happy for it to be out and be there for people to discover and hopefully fall in love with. I’m working on the next project at the moment, most probably a second EP. I can hear my sound changing and improving and I guess that’s what I am expecting from my career. Everyday learning more and more about the business makes me feel more confident in what I am doing. I just need to keep it up and I am sure something beautiful will come from that in the future.
As someone who started young and has navigated a cross-cultural music career, what advice would you give to aspiring artists?
I keep getting encouraged from other female artists to produce more and believe that what I create is just as good as any male producer would do. This really resonates with me, there’s not a lot of female producers, because we always feel like some other more experienced male producer can make our songs much better but we need to trust that our ideas and work are just as good, if not better! So my advice for female singer/songwriters – believe in yourself and your ideas! My advice for any starting musician is as long as you keep working hard, believe in yourself and have supportive people around you something beautiful will come, like I said before, maybe not in a year or even 10 but as long as you are doing something you love it will be great no matter what.
Great advice for aspiring artists, particularly female singer/songwriters!! Ok, last question… looking back on your own career so far, what are some of the highlight moments that have defined you as an artist?
Just being able to share my work and receiving honest love from people is already so amazing! Meeting my band and enjoying every minute, writing, recording and performing together. Honestly, doing music for a living is a highlight in itself, everyday brings something new.
After ‘How Long’ I will be releasing one more single in a few months and after that it will be time for my debut EP release! I am super proud and looking forward to it! I’m hoping people will connect with it and want to hear more!
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences with us, and we wish you every success, Grete! For readers anticipating what might come next, why not drop a follow on Grete’s social and music platforms – and, If you enjoyed this, check out more reviews from IAMUR here… You might just find your new favourite artist!