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Grace Yourself


“We are the most unfamous famous band in the world,” says Grace Potter, front woman of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, over the phone from her room at the Rivington Hotel in New York (she was in town to perform at Christie’s auction earlier in the week). “It takes people a second to figure that out that they know us and then they will hear one of our songs and say, ‘Oh my God, that’s them?’ ” Gracing TV and movie soundtracks from Almost Alice (the companion soundtrack for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland) to One Tree Hill will do that for a band. Tomorrow, Potter and the Nocturnals take the stage for their Coachella debut, which should help put a face—and, as it turns out, a pair of McQueen heels—to the sound. On the eve of their debut, the fashion-savvy singer spoke with about stage outfits, crotch shots, and Tom Ford sunglasses.

What designers and labels are you especially attracted to?
I have been traipsing around in a lot of McQueen lately. I wore McQueen to Lollapalooza last year and McQueen shoes are actually really great for festivals—surprising I know, but comfortable. The guys in the band are big into AllSaints, it’s such a great no-brainer brand for us. AllSaints really fuels our fire. Also, I just picked up an Alexander Wang bag with rose gold accents that I am going to be rocking at Coachella.

What else do you have packed for Coachella?
I always pack too much for festivals for sure. You never know when the weather will change and you have to be prepared for anything, so you need everything from a raincoat to a bathing suit. This record we are coming out with is moving more in the direction of duality, playing against type. My look at Coachella, without divulging too much, is going to play against what people want to see at Coachella. They use Coachella as this opportunity to go crazy and wear feathers and look super weird. I love that because I’m a hippie, but I want to go for a more of Katharine Hepburn on acid look this year.

What does that look like, exactly?
I’m aiming for great lines and tailoring in blazers, lots of separates. Lanvin makes some really great pieces like that. Inevitably, you will get hot and you will want to take your clothes off and be naked. I love how Lanvin can deconstruct and look really elegant so it’s perfect for that. I also have this Wayne bomber-slash-blazer jacket—I chased it down after I saw it on the runway at the show in New York—and I plan on throwing it on when it gets cold at night. In terms of sunglasses, I am actually legally blind so I have a hard time with glasses because they don’t carry my prescription. But I am a Tom Ford sunglass girl, I can’t help myself.
Are your costumes generally custom-made?
A lot of my stage costumes are made for me because of the way I move. I am always dangerously teetering on a crotch shot but I guarantee you will never see the real thing though (I just got some great Alexander Wang knit shorts that are a perfect solution for that). What I have planned for Coachella might change. I have some ideas but I also know my tour bus is full of clothing and I have been in it for a while. That’s the thing about rock ‘n’ roll—you never know…we are insatiable people.

You have an album coming out in June. What can we expect from that?
It’s called The Lion, The Beast, The Beat. I don’t want to say it’s a concept album but it explores duality. Lyrically, it’s very tied into that. It explores the good and evil within people and their ability to do bad and how that affects how we live our lives. So many people perceived to be really wonderful are not and then someone who seems brooding can have a heart of gold. I keep seeing those scenes creeping up. It’s dark but it’s also dance-y. We are debuting the title track at Coachella and a couple of songs from it. That could change right before I go on stage though.

What acts are you excited to catch at Coachella?
Music festivals are like a class reunion for musicians, seriously. I haven’t seen the guys from the Black Keys since November when we wrote with them. Obviously, I have to see Radiohead. When we played Bonnaroo in 2006 and I saw them perform, it really changed my life and inspired me to dance and move on stage. It’s so real and it’s visceral. But really, it’s all about stumbling into a tent and discovering new bands.

Photo: Lauren Dukoff