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Grace Mitchell on Portland Food Carts and Her Bucket-List Trip with Fiona Apple

Grace Mitchell makes music without borders. (Photo: Will Nixon)

Grace Mitchell says her music can live fluidly and without borders. It’s definitely testing boundaries and speaking to her generation with the frustrated youth anthem and grunge-tinged “Kids (Ain’t All Right)” and the viral pop-rock hit “No Lo.”

Marriott TRAVELER caught up with the Universal Music Group artist before her performance at Coachella 2017, where Marriott Rewards is a sponsor, to talk about the indie music vibe in Portland where she’d travel with one of her favorite ’90s music icons.

How would you describe the music scene in Portland?

The music scene there is really tight-knit. It’s filled with individuals that are always trying to make progressive sounds. There’s a lot of indie influence there that a lot of national artists look to and try to develop. It was great working there as a musician because I had a great support system. There are a lot of creative people in Oregon especially. People are just really inspired.

Where do you love to go listen to live music in Portland?

One of my favorites is a place called the Crystal Ballroom. I love it there. I saw Schoolboy Q there and he broke the floor because it’s a sprung floor. People were raging so hard that the floor broke and a beam shattered and the fire department had to evacuate everyone. So that’s my favorite memory at the Crystal Ballroom.

What should a first-timer to Portland do like a local?

I always say that the locals do food carts. They don’t really tend to go to restaurants, so if you really want to have a local experience in Portland, go to the food carts. There are some on Powell, on Division Street, Hawthorne. They’re everywhere and you can find food under $9.

You live in L.A. now. Where do you hang out there?

I like to hang out in Eastside a lot, in Silver Lake and Echo Park, because I like the vibe out there. It’s very family-oriented, but a lot of musicians live out there. I like to hang out downtown and in the arts district, where there are lots of cool breweries and other food carts down there. There are lots of different arts shows happening downtown.

Where have you been recently that impressed you musically?

I definitely loved Kansas City, Missouri. It’s my favorite pace to tour to. The crowds there are so appreciative of artists, young artists, developing artists especially. I think that K.C. is a really cool place for up-and-coming musicians to travel to.

If you really want to have a local experience in Portland, go to the food carts.

What’s your packing aesthetic? Do you overpack or are you a minimalist?

I would like to think that I’m a minimalist, but I end up taking way too many things. For Coachella, I brought way too many things and I just ended up wearing a t-shirt and pants everyday.

Who are you listening to when you’re on the road? Who’s in your headphones?

For this Coachella trip, we were listing to a lot of Beastie Boys, a lot of Nicholas Jaar and we listened to Jan Hammer.

If you could travel with one of your music icons, who would it be? Where would you go?

Probably Fiona Apple because I feel like she’d want to go somewhere kind of eccentric and obscure. I’d love to travel with her to India. That’d be interesting.

That’s on your bucket list?

Yeah, travel to India with Fiona Apple is now at the top of my bucket list.

Are there any other places that you’ve visited that you’d love to visit again?

I went to Stockholm once and it was my favorite city that I’ve ever traveled to. It’s so aesthetically beautiful. The people are wonderful. I love the Swedish and I’m always writing with them in the music industry, because a lot of pop songs are written by Swedish people. I would also like to go back to Austin, Texas.

Your latest song is called “Now” and it’s all about living in the moment. How do you apply that to your travels?

You’ve got to just take it one step at a time and make sure that you aren’t getting ahead of yourself by trying to make things happen that aren’t going to happen. When I’m on the road, I just make sure that I’m doing the best that I can do and if things don’t fall into place, I just surrender.

Where to Find Grace Mitchell:

Twitter: @GraceMitchell

Facebook: @iamgracemitchell

Soundcloud: @iamgracemitchell