After such a long year, marked with monotonous days working from home, punctuated by civil unrest and a relentless media cycle of COVID-19 updates, it can be hard to find the time and energy to look for the good in every day. Singer-songwriter Sophie Gray related to that beaten-down feeling that we’ve all experienced at some point or another in this prolonged crisis. However, when she searched for the things that kept her going every day, she didn’t have to look for too long before she realized her support system was a big part of what keeps her afloat. Her new single, “Better with You,” is a dedication to the people in her life that have lifted her spirits in the middle of these lonely and uncertain times, and a reminder to all of us to appreciate the people in our lives that do the same.
As part of her self-care, Gray keeps gratitude journals, carving out intentional time each day to take a moment and pen down the things she’s thankful for every day, no matter how big or small. It’s through this practice that she’s found how to make room in her life to allow good things to influence her rather than letting the bad constantly affect her. “It’s so easy to stick on the bad parts of your day and just get so stuck on them,” she explained. “I found that if I can sit down and find even the most stupid thing — like, ‘I’m really thankful for like chocolate chips today’ — something about that makes me smile.”
One of the things she found that brought her comfort and solace were phone calls with her friends and loved ones. “We couldn’t even see each other, but we were still reaching out and still showing love and caring for each other,” she described. “That was just so important to me.”
Gray was so inspired by the positivity her loved ones brought into her life that she created her single, “Better with You,” as her own love letter of gratitude to those individuals. She decided to release the song on New Year’s Day, marking the end of a tumultuous year and beginning a new one by acknowledging the people that got her here and sharing the love.
In the spirit of appreciating others, the single was entirely a collaboration, co-written and co-produced with Ben Lohle and Taylor Macres of REDLANDS and Aaron Rothe. With this being Gray’s first time co-writing and producing, she wholly appreciated having a team to bounce ideas off of and create with.
“‘Better with You’ sounded like a thousand different songs before we got to this version — I love that. That’s so fun because you feel like you’ve exhausted every possibility. That would have never happened if I didn’t have other minds to work with. It brought me so much joy. My days would feel like just going through the motions, and then I would go there. We’d be stomping and clapping and yelling into a microphone. It was just something that I haven’t really ever experienced before.”
The single is new territory for Gray, even beyond the collaborative nature of the song. As Gray continues to grow and evolve as a person, her music does so with her, and she’s clearly enjoying experimenting with new styles of music. The beginnings of her music career were inspired by acoustic, folk-rock before she moved into a distinct pop sound. Her previous single, “Girlfriend,” then explored a darker, electronica-inspired side. With “Better with You,” Gray adds a classic rock n’ roll sound to her repertoire, creating an anthemic feel to the single.
In 2021, Gray is planning to release her new EP where she will continue the exploration of her sound. Though some of the songs are still taking shape, Gray teases some jazz-influenced songs, and even a possible foray into the simple, lyrically-driven, “folklore”-esque sound that’s been inspiring her through 2020. With every new release, this 17-year-old singer-songwriter is the example of an artist coming into her own, and it’s a unique experience to be able to witness and track her evolution song-by-song.