Gracie and Rachel are a study in duality: light and dark, classical training with a pop sensibility, Californians in New York. Their music pits anxiety and tension against an almost serene self-assurance on their self-titled debut, and their live show is equal parts fierce drama and delicate intimacy.

Their music is a compelling juxtaposition of Gracie’s piano and lead vocals and Rachel’s violin and voice, augmented with stark percussion. The nine orchestral-pop songs on the duo's self-titled debut record tell a story that’s rooted in the truth —their truth — but retain an enigmatic air that makes them relatable to anyone who has ever found their heart racing with doubt and pushed forward regardless, or triumphed in subverting expectations imposed from without.

“I think that’s representative of how we feel as human beings,” Gracie says. “It is our story, but we’re working to express a duality that’s open to everyone.”

Their story begins when they met in high school in Berkeley, California, in a dance class, and were assigned a musical collaboration that took hold. After attending music schools in different parts of the country, they moved to Brooklyn where they built out a loft space to be their studio and home. That’s where they started writing the songs on Gracie and Rachel, “living, working, breathing every moment together, and making music in that universe,” says Gracie.

Their close-quarters creative process lends a sense of urgency to their music that cascades through the rollercoaster arc of the album. Baeble Music hailed opener “Tiptoe,” with its eerie ghost tones and taut percussion, as “beautiful and unsettling,” a description that applies to the spacious piano and sympathetic violin on “(Un)comfortable,” or the hammering piano part on “Go,” all the way to the ringing vocals that build to a defiant crescendo on “Don’t Know” to close the record.

“We tiptoed into this not sure how to make our mark, and by the end of the album, hopefully, you’re feeling a lot more anger and confidence and empowerment,” Gracie says. “

“It all comes from the intimacy of Gracie’s piano and voice and my violin and voice,” Rachel says, and it’s no accident that the effects are often physical. “We try to hone in on the body experience as well as the mind experience.”

The women have become so attuned to one another that they seem to instinctively know where their songs are going without having to discuss it. “There’s just an understanding of what’s going to work,” Gracie says. “She’s classically trained, and I had these verse-chorus, verse-chorus tendencies. We both helped each other break away from certain constructs at the beginning to find our own sound. It’s taken some years, but there’s almost no verbal conversation about it now.”

“We’ve gotten more trusting as we’ve gotten older,” Rachel adds. “We can anticipate the other person’s inclinations.”

Gracie and Rachel pair their music with a strong visual aesthetic that emphasizes the ways in which they complement each other, even as they contrast. It’s evident in their striking black-and-white videos that play with light and shadow, and in the photo that graces the album cover, where Gracie, dressed in white, covers Rachel’s eyes with her hand while Rachel, dressed in black, covers Gracie’s mouth.

“Sometimes Rachel says she’s my ears, and I’m her eyes, and I think that’s true in our music,” Gracie says. “Sometimes there’s something I see in the world I want to comment on, and she knows how to express it through sound.”

Though they make music as a duo, Gracie and Rachel together far exceed the sum of their parts. Like their stylized color palette, their instrumentation appears simple and spare at first glance. But there’s a powerful prism effect at work in their music that brings us back to the concept of duality: their songs are intimate and expansive, introspective and also inviting. “Using black and white, we don’t want to only make gray,” Gracie says. “We’re working to find different ways to make more colors come out from just two entities.”

The duo's latest single and music video, "Only A Child," premiered April 14th, 2017 on NPR Music with Bob Boilen

PUBLICITY

There’s a terrific tension in the sound, an underpinning of mystery set against a baroque, but modern, pop foreground.
— Bob Boilen, NPR Music
Gracie and Rachel: Intimate Orchestral Pop

Dark and light constantly fuse, diverge, and unite in Brooklyn violin-piano duo, Gracie and Rachel. Their newest single “Tiptoe” (which we premiered a few weeks ago), from their forthcoming debut album Go, begins with a single haunting note. Pizzicato violin from Rachel Ruggles and Gracie Coates’ piano ebb and flow together in a rocking orchestral rhythm, while Gracie’s milky vocals add a delicate layer of gothic pop on top.
— WNYC Soundcheck Session with John Schaefer (August 27, 2015)
With the turbulent strings of Regina Spektor paired to the orchestral chamber pop of Bat for Lashes, “Tiptoe” is both beautiful and unsettling...and that’s just the track. The gorgeous video finds the pair engaging in a ritualistic interpretive dance which fits the dark shadows of the black and white video. File this video under “stunner.”
— Baeble Music (November 4, 2015)

DAYTROTTER August 24, 2015

Set list: Tiptoe, Up Side Down, (Un)comfortable, Don’t Know

What do doe-eyed vixens, melodically-driven indie pop and Brooklyn, New York have in common? Gracie and Rachel, of course. This up and coming piano/voice and violin duo are stealing hearts from coast to coast with their original music and inspiring outlook on the act of creating art.
— Amy Poehler's Smart Girls
A mountainous piece of shrill piano presses, thick string plucks, and violins that skitter only to soar, “Go” by Gracie and Rachel is simply beautiful. “Go” awes in its ability to make technical mastery into something moving and potentially transcendent.
— The Deli Magazine
Gracie and Rachel can’t release [their] debut album soon enough... Kate Havnevik, Regina Spektor, Sia, Tegan and Sara, and Frou Frou all come to mind when listening to Gracie and Rachel but they definitely have their own stylish sound.
— Examiner.com

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