Grace Mitchell is pop’s newest star

If you’re a fan of alternative-indie pop, you should add newcomer Grace Mitchell to your “new discoveries” playlist. The Oregon-native and rising popstar might still be too young to buy a beer, but her songwriting skills showcase confidence and wisdom beyond her years. From her refreshing cover of Hall & Oates’ 80s classic “Maneater,” on The Secret Life of Walter Mitty soundtrack to the club banger “Jitter,” it is evident that Mitchell will continue to gather momentum. At only 18 years old, she’s on the fast-track toward the music career she wants.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” the singer-songwriter told the Daily Trojan during a call from Hollywood, California in early March. “I feel really privileged, while my classmates were doing academia stuff I was making music. I’m really thankful; my experience has been really great.”

Mitchell was in town for a couple days, opening for synth-driven pop band St. Lucia at the Fonda Theatre.

“I’m really excited, I feel really honored,” Mitchell said. “They’re a great crew; their music is infectious, exciting and fun.”

Mitchell moved to Portland to pursue a music career after growing up in the small town of Cottage Grove, Oregon. After being signed to Republic Records in 2013, she constantly drove 10 hours back and forth from Portland to Los Angeles.

“Big city, big mentality,” Mitchell said. “Los Angeles is a lot more urban, more cosmopolitan [and] people have the same ambitions.”

For a while, it was nice to be in Oregon, but she doesn’t believe it’s necessary to make it a part of her image anymore.

One week prior to moving to Los Angeles, New Zealand award-winning radio DJ Zane Lowe, called Mitchell’s single “Jitter,” a “world record” when the song premiered during his Beats 1 radio show.

“This might be the song of the year so far, honestly,” Lowe said on the broadcast.

“Jitter” is the lead single of  Mitchell’s EP, the five-song Raceday that followed Design, her first EP. Design was her first attempt in establishing her place in the prestigious pop world. Her raspy vocals have drawn comparisons to the likes of Lorde. But Raceday has Mitchell experimenting with various strands of hip-hop and pop. For instance, “Breaking Hearts,” is an electronic-pop track influenced by the sounds of Charlie XCX and Chvrches. “Jitter” on the other hand, is a hip-hop-heavy title track. Combining stuttering electro-pop and hip-hop, Raceday is quirky yet genius. Mitchell is on her way to enter the world of pop radio. So far, the single “Jitter” has made an impression within the pop blogosphere over the past months.

Mitchell is currently working on a full-length debut album with a targeted summer release. Mark Foster, the leader of indie-pop band Foster the People, co-produced Raceday along with record producer Rich Costey of the Foo Fighters, Interpol, Muse and Sigur Ros. The singer has continued collaborating with Foster the People and Costey on some new tunes that could possibly appear on her in-the-works debut album. Since a young age she’s followed the career of singer-songwriter and pianist Tori Amos with great reverence. She claims working with Amos “would be a crazy collaboration.”

In the meantime, Mitchell has opened for The Weeknd at the Apple Music Festival and performed at the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas. Yet her most memorable performance is an intimate show at the A&R Music Bar in Columbus, Ohio.

“It was a fun [experience]. That night, me and all of the headliners all hung out after the show,” Mitchell said. “It’s weird when you go to a city and you don’t know your way around — it’s always an adventure to have fun, you know?”

It seems that Mitchell has smartly decided to avoid committing to any direction too specific. Her sound and execution are assuredly her own and both are extremely exciting.

Mitchell is scheduled to perform at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre at Chula Vista on June 5 and 6.