Cross Gray combines indie folk with dreamy, ambient pop in his upcoming 5-song EP, In All That Concerns It.
Set to release on October 22nd, In All That Concerns It follows Cross’s last single release, “Light Wash.” The songwriter first captured the attention of listeners with the release of his debut track back in 2019, a unique rendition of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” which generated over 400k streams and was featured on Amen Worldwide’s best of 2020 lineup.
At its core, In All That Concerns It is about the highs and lows of life and Cross’s journey with faith. The record, which he recorded in his living room, explores topics such as doubt, anxiety, human struggles, mental health, and coping with sorrow, all important and relevant themes in today’s social climate.
On songs like “Valley” and “Rain,” Cross expertly mixes folky acoustic melodies with lush, ethereal vintage synths and dreamy, syrupy vocal layers. His unique brand of dream-pop feels right at home with the chill-wave artists like Washed Out and Panda Bear as well as indie folk artists like Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes.
Hailing from Shreveport, LA, Cross has been making and producing music since his youth. He grew up on a farm in northern Louisiana, teaching himself how to play instruments and record music at a young age using his mothers work computer, and was largely influenced by artists such as Bon Iver, Jon Bellion, Vance Joy, and Peter Gabriel. With its lush, ambient production and hazy vintage synths, In All That Concerns It is an exciting step forward for a promising young artist.
We got the chance to ask Cross some questions about the upcoming EP and much more.
What made you want to start making music, and are there any early influences that were particularly formative?
I love making music so much, I don’t think I can handle not being able to. I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember. A lot of the music my dad played in the car when I was really young definitely influenced me. It was a lot of 80s progressive rock, and so much more. I guess my own influences come from phases of stuff I’ve listened to growing up, just like whatever was playing on the radio or some artists I’ve discovered myself over the years. Jon Bellion is one of those, and Justin Vernon from Bon Iver is still one of my biggest influences.
Your first release was back in 2019. Do you feel like you have changed or evolved as a musician and songwriter since then?
Definitely. I was in a completely different spot in life then. I was still in college and I was trying to figure out my sound and what direction to take my music, and honestly my whole life. I still am, but back then it was new territory. I was a lot younger in skill and frame of mind. I consider myself a completely different person now in a lot of ways. I definitely approach songwriting a lot differently now than three years ago. I’m not so dogmatic about the “right” way to do music the way I do it anymore. I’ve gotten way better at writing lyrics and producing. I’m way more confident at it too. I just know that I need to focus on making great art, and my subject matter will fall in place the way it needs to.
How would you describe your sound and style to someone who is unfamiliar with your work?
I like making acoustic sounds and electronic sounds clash with each other. I definitely sound real indie, with a lot of folk instrumentation. I have a thing for folk melodies with trumpets. But I also like synths and 808s and using my MPC to track drum samples too. Call it what you want. I just like making big sounds.
What does a day in the life of Cross Gray’s creative process look like? Did the pandemic affect your usual process at all?
It’s always different. I don’t really have a blueprint to make songs. If there’s a right way to do it, I definitely don’t know how to do that. I’m just driven by what I hear. So it usually starts with me sitting down and sort of just jamming on my piano or guitar, sometimes for a few hours. If I find a melody or a progression that I dig, I’ll track it really quick and record some vocals over it, which is just me singing gibberish at first. But then as I keep working on the song I start forming lyrics and building a concept around it, just from that sound that I came up with. COVID definitely screwed up a lot for me, like it did for everyone. It ruined some shows I had planned, but my songwriting and recording didn’t really change that much. It actually gave me some more time to work on it.
How does faith play into the songwriting and sound of your new EP, In All That Concerns It?
I actually think that’s what the whole project is about. My faith, and the lack thereof. I’m always wrestling with doubt and trying to see how God is working in my circumstances. I’m the most problematic character in my life. I have so many regrets and flaws, which means I have so much need for grace, which sometimes I want to be in the form of stronger faith. This is just me putting music to that struggle. I needed to make something with enough energy to give it justice. There’s an intensity to what I’m singing about. I think each song has its own sound that reflects that.
Were there any specific artists that influenced you when writing your new EP?
Yeah, I try to channel Vance Joy a little bit on a few songs. But then I also kind of tangle it up with stuff that is a bit more aggressive sounding, like Dermot Kennedy. My friend told me there’s a part on the EP that sounds kind of like Kings of Leon, which I’m not mad about at all.
The EP has some seriously lush synths and clean production. Where did you record the EP and did you produce it yourself?
Yeah, I record and produce it myself. I’ve done it all in my living room, which I pretty much use as my recording studio. It’s great. Having friends over to make music where you live is unbeatable.
What is one thing you’d like your fans and listeners to take away from In All That Concerns It?
That it’s OK to doubt, but don’t just do that. Doubt your doubts. Don’t give fear any advantage. And know that God is in control and is irrevocably invested in you. He works everything together for the good of those who love him. He’ll crush your doubts and fears.
What do you have lined up to close out the year? Any shows or light touring?
I’m actually already working on new songs that I’ll be releasing when the new year hits. So I guess people can just expect a lot of music more frequently. I’ve got some plans to play live then too, but right now I’m just chilling. I’m excited for people to hear the EP.