Begin To Look Around

Begin To Look Around

“I had no idea of what it was going to become when I started writing it,” Gretta Ray tells Apple Music about her debut album. “I’d wanted to make an album since I started writing songs. I would sit in the back of the car with a journal, sketching potential album covers and writing out imaginary tracklists. I was so obsessed with the idea of it.” The singer-songwriter emerged into the public eye in 2016, when she was in Year 12, after winning triple j’s Unearthed High competition. She honed her craft over the next few years, recording, touring, and learning as much as she could about her own artistry and approach to songwriting. “I would work with new people to essentially throw paint at the wall and see what stuck,” she says. “I was just so fixated on needing to learn about songwriting.” Her debut album is a coming-of-age story of sorts, covering travel, growth, heartbreak, and self-discovery—but that wasn’t necessarily what she’d planned. It just kind of fell into place. “By pure coincidence, my personal life just happened to be quite eventful while I wrote the album,” she says. “I knew travel was going to be a theme, because I was moving around a lot for work, but I didn't know it was going to have a devastating heartbreak episode, and then rediscovery of independence. It was a bit of a win-win situation.” Below, the Melbourne artist talks through each track on Begin to Look Around. “Becoming” “I really wanted the album to have an intro. We actually used a stem from each song on the record and pitched it all to D major. There's little elements of ‘Paris,’ a string arrangement from ‘The Brink,’ backing vocals from ‘Human.’ It quickly touches on everything that you're about to hear. I hope it serves to invite people into the world of Begin to Look Around.” “Bigger Than Me” “I wrote it about my relationship with creativity. I was more in love with music and my job than ever before. I had just been on tour with Mumford & Sons; I had a lot of amazing opportunities at that time, which I'm so extra grateful for. It’s a love song to creativity, and also about how it holds me hostage, it's something I can never switch off. I'm always thinking about it. I'm always feeling inspired.” “Passion” “I was really enjoying writing love songs or songs about intimacy while not necessarily being the high school student anymore. I'd stepped into my twenties, and I was really enjoying being able to incorporate maturity into those songs and talk about the all-consuming nature of romantic relationships in a way that turned the heat up a notch.” “Happenstance” “The earliest ideas for ‘Happenstance’ came at the end of 2017, ages ago. It served an important role on the tracklist, because it spoke about a time with a particular relationship where I was thinking, ‘Everything's going absolutely amazingly, everything’s sunny and happy.’ Considering where the narrative goes afterwards, it was important for people to hear the moment where everything was okay.” “Human” “I had a weekend away with my partner at the time, and I was feeling incredibly loved up. I was noticing how the appreciation you have for nature can be as powerful as the appreciation you have for your partner. I wanted to draw on those similarities. It’s just a very warm love song.” “The Brink” “It’s the turning point. I wrote this song in a pretty shitty week of my life. I didn’t want to go to the session with [producer] Chris Collins, because I was such a wreck. But we spoke about what I was going through and channeled it directly into the song. The lyrics were falling from the sky into my lap, just because I needed it so badly. I felt super vulnerable, like my whole world was crumbling beneath me. It was an alarming moment, because at that point in my life I hadn't known my adult self outside of a romantic relationship, and I hadn’t clocked how codependent I’d become. I wanted that comfort, I wanted that security.” “Paris” “That song idea came about after having lunch with my cowriter, Kyran Daniel, and we were talking about things that we'd done and places we've been. He’d said he was based in Paris for a moment in his life, and he’d had a rough time there, emotionally. Then I really naively said, ‘Oh, but was it fine because you were in Paris?’ He was like, ‘No, it sucked.’ It got me thinking—why did I say that? The way we perceive Paris is so romanticized, but there are two sides to it, and two sides to the process of heartbreak. One minute, the newness is very daunting, you’re scared, you just want to be comfortable again. The next, you're like, ‘I'm Miss Independent, I'm living, I'm at the start of a new chapter.’” “Cherish” “I wrote it in the same week as ‘The Brink.’ I wanted to write a crying-in-the-club song about knowing that it was best to step out of a situation that was no longer serving me, but not being able to because of how much you love them. I think that's one of the toughest things about concluding a relationship—realizing, ‘This just isn't my person. I really love them, but that's not enough.’” “The Cure” “‘The Cure’ is me in a song. I wrote it in London—I woke up one morning and was like, ‘I don't feel like writing about my devastating heartbreak today. I think that I can feel myself turning a corner.’ I was going to sessions every day, spending time on the tube, walking through beautiful parks and being like, ‘How grateful I am to be able to process my heartbreak in a city I love so much.’ It’s that whole silver-lining concept: Everything's pretty shit, but some really good things are going to come out of this. Maybe I'm actually okay on my own. One of my favorite lyrics on the album is ‘Maybe I'm okay without your advice.’” “Readymade” “It’s another love song to creativity. It was inspired by coming back to the apartment I was staying at in London. The living room was filled with all of these instruments, and one day I had this realization: ‘This is how it's always going to be, isn't it? This is just a big fat metaphor.’ My relationship with music is a lot more than this project. I've always grown up immersed in it; it's been a really important part of my upbringing. In the same way someone would feel that way about their partner, or maybe just a really great housemate. Music is that for me.” “It's Almost Christmas in Philly” “I wrote this about being on tour with Gang of Youths at the end of 2018. I was traveling with my manager, Sam, who's based in the UK. We hadn't gotten a lot of actual in-person moments, so this was the big thing we were doing together. When you're on the road for that long, the car is such a confessional space. We started opening up to each other about things we were going through or things we were reflecting on emotionally. One day, we had a couple hours to ourselves in Philadelphia, and we were walking up and down one of the main roads past all these shops playing Christmas carols. A wintery Christmas wasn’t something I'd seen before leaving Australia. It just felt very magical. I really wanted to capture that time.” “Worldly-wise” “It’s a letter to myself to just go out into the world. I just happened to be on tour with Gang of Youths when I was writing this album and moving through a grief period. So to have their songs as a soundtrack to that time in my life was amazing. They really put things into perspective. Dave [Le’aupepe] has a big brotherly role in my life, and I wanted his voice because the chorus really needed those layers and that richness to it. I was like, ‘I need your bass, lower octave. Can you sing this?’ It was so perfect and fitting for the song.” “Learning You” “I avoid talking about this song because I wrote it trying to convince myself that everything was okay. I think it was my last attempt of ‘It's fine,’ but then it fell apart again for what felt like the millionth time. The whole process just taught me more about who I was as a person, what I could and couldn't handle, what I did and didn't deserve. It was just definitely one of the songs where you can hear my mind changing.” “Love Me Right” “This is my big pop-girl moment. Initially, it was about reuniting with a lover, and what you expect of them now. It turned into ‘How do I want to be loved? What is being loved right to me?’ Finally, it got to a point where it celebrated solitude. It’s not me pining for what could be, it’s me fully knowing my worth, which was not something that I knew at all at the beginning of writing the album.” “Care Less” “Ariana Grande’s album thank u, next is this really heavy record, and then it ends with ‘break up with your girlfriend, i'm bored.’ She was like, ‘I love that I wrote this really heavy thing, and then we just wanted to end up with something fun.’ I wanted 'Care Less’ to serve as that thing. The record is so emotionally dense, and this is a shrug of a song. It’s really fun for me to explore that as a writer—to not go as deep, to have a bit of fun. It was just a nice little calm album concluder.”

Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada