IU 2022 graduate Grace Leckey, half of the local band GraceKellie, debuted as a solo artist on June 25 with the release of “Best Supporting Actress.” The album parodies women receiving praise for following the script men have given them.
Leckey said each word of the title has meaning. “Best” is the name of the Oscar awards. “Supporting” represents the realization that women are never the main character and how they often play second to men. She chose “Actress” to symbolize women acting in the role that was handed to them and only being praised for doing what they are told. The song “Best Supporting Actress” conveys this meaning as well.
“It's a coming of age song, and it's also a coming out song. It's both a metaphor for women anywhere who feel like the script they've been handed is not for them,” Leckey said. “More specifically, it's about heteronormativity and what that means to grow up in a world that's like, ‘Here's your really specific script that involves you wearing this dress, and you're going to kiss a man.’”
Leckey said the best part of the creative process was inviting other musicians, including Emma Walsh, Maya Toffler and Chuck Roldan, to help develop and elevate her music.
Leckey said her favorite song from the album is “Like I Have Lived A Thousand Lives.” The song is Leckey remembering her love for someone in her youth and watching things change as she grows older.
“It's simple and it also kind of breaks my heart to sing in a beautiful way,” Leckey said. “It's all about shifting childhood relationships and watching things change and watching people change.”
The album cover is inspired by different time periods in history. It’s meant to be a glamor shot of a woman accepting an award for following the script a man handed to her, Leckey said.
For the album cover, Leckey and her stylist, IU graduate Caitlin Pate, looked at photographs from past Oscar and Country Music Awards ceremonies and people from Dolly Parton to Audrey Hepburn.
Leckey’s hair is done in an old Hollywood style, but she said she wanted something about the photo to be off. With her purple dyed hair, she thought it was a queer addition to the photo that pulled from the current generation.
Other style details include the jewelry worn over the gloves, imitating Marilyn Monroe. The earrings, necklace and most of the rings are vintage, and Pate took a trip to Louisville, Kentucky, to obtain some of them.
Leckey is half of the band GraceKellie, which has a released album, “Like the Princess.” Kellie McGrew, the other half of GraceKellie, tracked and mixed the song “Love From Chicago” on this album.
“We definitely think about music the same way and appreciate it in the same way,” McGrew said. “We both wanted to be in a band really badly and realized that we could be in a band, just the two of us.”
McGrew said Leckey’s bravery is shown in her songwriting and they found the album emotional.
IU 2022 graduate Garrett Spoelhof has known Leckey through the Bloomington music scene for many years. He produced, mixed, mastered and tracked the album as well as played some of the keyboard parts.
Spoelhof said he has enjoyed working with this album as his first full length folk project, as he grew up listening to folk and country music.
“She has a very calming honesty about her that she's able to communicate through her music, and she's an incredible storyteller,” Spoelhof said. “I think she's really great at writing emotionally and thematically complex music and conveying that in a way that is not too much to digest for our listener.”