Gracie Abrams Is Ready To Share Her Secrets

In late April, Gracie Abrams and Audrey Hobert went to Webster Hall in New York City to support Malcolm Todd, Hobert’s brother. This was common practice. Abrams and Hobert have done everything together for a decade-plus, and New York is littered with ghosts of adventures that now exist only in their memories. On this night, they had a secret. Abrams would shout it to the world in approximately ten hours, but the best part of having a secret is trusting it to someone first. The Secret Of Us, Abrams’ sophomore studio album out now via Interscope Records, blossomed from that deep-rooted principle.

“Making things with Audrey felt like this stamp of validation on all feelings,” Abrams says over Zoom, sitting in the Los Angeles home she has shared with Hobert for 18 months. “Together, we created this space where the most dramatic and embarrassing feelings were okay to express as loudly as we wanted to.” She waves her hands around and smirks, adding, “These walls hold our secrets.”

Back at Webster Hall, Abrams didn’t want to withhold The Secret Of Us anymore. She recognized Lucy, 18, and Stella, 19, two of her most loyal fans since early 2020. Lucy and Stella didn’t expect to run into Abrams, but an unlikely run-in with your artistic hero is always possible when tackling a New York night together. It was reminiscent of what Abrams and Hobert used to do five or six years ago — back when Abrams studied International Relations at Barnard College for a year, and Hobert was an NYU student. After Todd’s show, Abrams chatted with Lucy and Stella outside of Webster Hall for 20 minutes before grabbing them by the shoulders and whispering in their ears, “We’re announcing the album tomorrow.”

“Being able to share that moment with her is one I will forever cherish,” Stella says. “It is still crazy to me that I got to be excited about my favorite artist’s new music but with her — in person.”

“The fact that she trusted the two of us with such delicate information is still hard for me to process,” Lucy adds. “What made that moment extra special was the fact that Stella and I met and became best friends through Gracie and her music.”

After the announcement, The Secret Of Us produced “Risk” as a ubiquitous, viable lead single, and the shamelessly exuberant album closer “Close To You,” which had been kept as a demo for seven years and became Abrams’ first-ever Billboard Hot 100 charter by debuting at No. 49. Abrams’ headlining The Secret Of Us Tour, with Role Model as the opener, sold out entirely in hours. So it was already a successful album before release day, but The Secret Of Us is a special album because it’s a culmination of friendship rooted in music — not results.


Abrams and Hobert met at Abrams’ fifth-grade graduation. Hobert stopped Abrams as she left the bathroom because Abrams had on white high-top Converse sneakers with orange neon laces, and Hobert, a year older, declared she had worn the same shoes to her fifth-grade graduation. They had another best friend, Clem, in common, allowing Abrams to trust Hobert. They were inseparable throughout their adolescence in Los Angeles — sharing an iPod on the school bus to middle school, practicing the piano, and singing together at every opportunity.

Abrams grew up recognizable as the daughter of acclaimed director J.J. Abrams (Alias, Lost, Star Wars) and former political aide-turned-producer Katie McGrath, but Hobert loved her as Gracie, her intensely curious and creative best friend. Hobert had always trusted Abrams, but she realized Abrams was her favorite person to share secrets with during the one year they were both college students and, as Hobert says, would “drink two milkshakes each and watch music videos” on most nights.

Since Abrams and Hobert moved in together, they’ve spent infinite nights like that, unknowingly planting the seed for The Secret Of Us.

“Living with my best friend, you go downstairs, and you’re having a sh*tty day and you’re talking about it immediately rather than hiding in your room,” Abrams says. “There’s something that’s really almost inherently generative about sharing space with someone.”

Last August, Abrams and Hobert’s unfiltered running dialogue led to co-writing “Risk,” co-produced by Aaron Dessner, who also co-produced Abrams’ 2023 debut album Good Riddance. The delightfully manic song illustrates impressive growth in the 16 months that elapsed between Good Riddance and The Secret Of Us.

“[I] know myself better, which just comes with time, obviously, but I have a better grip on how I feel that I am in relationship to myself and relationship to others,” Abrams says. “Not in a way that’s declarative, like, ‘I know me!’ But I just feel grounded in my body these days.”

Abrams had always been a viscerally vulnerable songwriter — likely since she started writing at eight years old — but writing like this? Frantically scribbling down her romanticized, outsized fantasies, knowing it probably won’t work out but imagining anyway how fun it would be if it did? That was new.

“One of the gifts that I got from the process of making this album was having a partner in laughing through a lot of the heavier, more confusing, or embarrassing feelings,” Abrams says. “Not to discredit the severity of them, but laughing because you don’t have to go sit in a corner. There’s another option. To kind of introduce a lightness around it all was a huge relief because I used to do the opposite. I was always a go-it-alone person before, where I wouldn’t talk about it with anyone and would go down multiple different spirals of self-loathing or judgment and feeling crazy and then alone in the crazy.”

Abby Waisler

After “Risk,” the songs poured out. Abrams shed her self-critical, introverted tendencies just enough to indulge in extroverted, fun impulses. Abrams and Hobert “kept writing and writing every time we sat down to talk,” Abrams says.

“I will forever treasure the memories made these past 10 months, getting to spend so much time with Gracie and just laugh, laugh, laugh all day, getting to know Aaron Dessner and [recording engineer] Bella Blasko,” Hobert says. “I didn’t know that I liked to write music before I started writing songs with Gracie, and now I’m addicted beyond compare. I don’t know how soon I would’ve discovered this passion of mine without Gracie.”

Hobert directed the playfully unhinged “Risk” video, and she’s a credited songwriter and background vocalist on six of 13 songs. The album was born at home with Hobert, eventually including Dessner and recorded at Dessner’s Long Pond Studio near Hudson, New York.

As The Secret Of Us unfolds, Abrams toys with hypothetical possibilities and brilliantly reconciles the inevitable gut punch when reality doesn’t match fantasy. Really, the album has a strong argument as pop’s most compelling pros and cons list.

The hushed, repetitive opener “Felt Good About You” establishes this dichotomy (“Felt good about you till I didn’t”). Abrams boldly laughs in the face of danger in the “Risk” chorus (“God, I’m actually invested / Haven’t even met him / Watch this be the wrong thing, classic”). In the acoustic-based “Blowing Smoke,” her rumination turns toward excruciating torment (“Tell me, is she prettier than she was on the internet? / Are your conversations cool? Like, are you even interested?”). Through “I Love You, I’m Sorry,” “Let It Happen,” and “I Knew It, I Know You,” Abrams fixates on her perceived inadequacy. The pristine duet “Us” featuring Taylor Swift — yes, Abrams listed it as Track 5 on purpose — immediately crystalizes what Abrams has explained about the benefit of core-dumping with Hobert. Abrams’ vocalizes angst (“Wonder if you regret the secret of us”), and Swift lends steadying perspective (“What seemed like fate, give it ten months and you’ll be past it”).

The slow-building, melodic “Free Now” is the payoff. I suggest to Abrams that “Free Now” is the bookend to “Risk,” due to lines like “It was harsh ’cause I lost what I wanted.” She’s visibly elated, blurting, “You’re right! I love you. I’m so relieved and happy right now.” It’s a spontaneous, throwaway exchange, but it also offers an authentic glimpse at Abrams’ newfound comfort in uninhibited extroversion. The album ends with Abrams restarting the cycle, undeterred by heartbreak, as “Close To You” captures her ready to daydream again (“I burn for you, and you don’t even know my name / If you asked me to, I’d give up everything”).

The Secret Of Us is an unedited letter to past crushes, but, as Abrams confirms, it’s also a love letter to having Hobert as her platonic soulmate.

Abrams repeatedly describes Hobert as her “rock,” particularly of late. Abrams opened on Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour Tour in spring of 2022 and one-upped herself by opening on Swift’s ongoing The Eras Tour from April to August 2023. She also headlined her Good Riddance Tour and staged The Good Riddance Acoustic Shows with Dessner. Then, she became a first-time Grammy nominee (Best New Artist) and attended her first-ever Met Gala earlier this year. Sure, she was seen — highly visible, in fact — but she didn’t feel truly known.

“But isn’t it true of every sort of parasocial relationship?” Abrams says. “You don’t know these people; you do, to an extent, but not fully.”

Taylor Swift Gracie Abrams Eras Tour 2023
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At the 2024 Grammys, Abrams closed the loop on perhaps her most precious parasocial relationship. She met Joni Mitchell, her biggest inspiration. Abrams has “River,” her and her mom’s favorite song, tattooed on her arm.

“I tend to get nervous when people show me tattoos related to my music because I always think, Well, what if you don’t like me in five seconds? What then?” Abrams says, her endearing self-deprecation creeping in, even if sarcastically. She deeply appreciates when fans show her their tattoos inspired by her, especially “Camden”-related ink, and enjoys the idea of her fans drawn toward “Free Now” tattoos.

“The sentiment of ‘Free Now’ is one I appreciate a lot,” she continues. “I think it’s kind and sincere, and there’s an acceptance of many things being true at once.”

Abrams’ multifaceted sincerity won over Lucy and Stella four years ago and recently won over writer Zoë Rose Bryant, who nearly lost her voice scream-singing “Risk” alone in her kitchen and quickly developed an all-consuming infatuation with Abrams’ discography. “I, too, am such a hopelessly romantic, delusional lover girl, and I think it can be so embarrassing to admit that or speak those feelings aloud, but here was this song that said them all,” Bryant says.

The irony is not lost on Abrams that her album driven by unrequited affection led to an entirely sold-out headlining tour because her ballooning, fiercely devoted fan base adores her that much. Abrams grew up attending shows at The Greek and can’t count how many times she’s been flustered by the mere sight of New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, so she won’t bother predicting how she’ll process the immense rush of performing four September shows at The Greek and three October dates at Radio City. Abrams has learned firsthand that, sometimes, reality outwits the imagination.

Still, Abrams admittedly pondered how to better occupy iconic venues when opening on The Eras Tour last year. She was overwhelmed by the vastness of the stadiums that Swift so effortlessly commanded. “The infectious energy that just exists in those stadiums, I was craving music that matched it better, so the tone of this album was totally influenced by [Eras],” Abrams says.

She adds, “I’m pretty sure I experienced Taylor’s show from every possible angle. I got to see it, what, three days a week for four months? It never got old. I’d sit in the stands with all of her wonderful fans, and then I’d get on stage, and I remember occasionally feeling like I was watching myself, floating a few feet above my body, in complete awe of even just being in the room. I felt like a fan first on that tour. I couldn’t help it.”

Bryant, Lucy, and Stella represent hundreds of thousands of fans excited to similarly give themselves over to The Secret Of Us Tour. Bryant can’t wait for the chance to belt, “God, I’m actually invested.” Lucy snatched tickets to five shows, including opening night in Portland on September 5, while Stella plans to attend at least six. But before Abrams embarks on her headlining tour, she and Hobert staged The Secret Of Us at The Echo in LA on June 17 — an intimate performance akin to when these songs were their little secrets in the living room.

“Writing this album with Gracie has completely changed my life — no lie,” Hobert says. “Working with her has only affirmed the things I already knew about her. She is kind, talented, brilliant, smart, hilarious. I like to picture her and I in our 70s, drinking tea in a breakfast nook and reminiscing on this time in our lives.”

This time in their lives is about to get even richer. Abrams will return as an opener for Swift’s second The Eras Tour North American leg, sweetening a fall already booked with bucket-list venues. She’ll warmly embrace new faces and chase new adventures with Hobert. Abrams won’t think twice about how she fills space because she is full.

“When I think about this album, it does remind me so much of the energy that Audrey and I have together, and that’s such a big part of my life; the tone of this album — all of its wistful qualities, all of its petty qualities, all of its judgmental, nervous and also madly in love qualities — paints a fuller picture of who I am day-to-day, I suppose,” Abrams says. “I don’t really think about how I want to be remembered, but this album shows a different side of me, and I like the idea of being known. Not widely known, but known better. If anything, I would be thrilled for people to know me better through this album.”