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Why “GAGA” Singer Grace Gaustad Wants You to Talk About Mental Health

"I definitely know what it feels like to be in that place where you don't really see any type of out for yourself."
Grace Gaustad
Bakeup Beauty/Adobe. Design: Sasha Purdy/STYLECASTER.

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Trigger warning: This piece discusses suicide and suicidal ideation, which some people may find disturbing.

There are many reasons you might know Grace Gaustad. Maybe you’re a fan of their music, their star-studded videos or their viral single, “GAGA,” which Lady Gaga herself shared on social media. Or maybe you follow Grace and their partner, Katie Kelly, on TikTok. But if you don’t know Grace (who uses they/them pronouns), you will soon, because the 21-year-old is taking both the music and beauty industries by storm.

Earlier this month, I jumped on Zoom eager to chat with Grace, who I know as a co-founder of Bakeup Beauty, a celeb-loved makeup brand they launched with artist Jo Baker. Grace and Jo come up with the coolest, most creative makeup looks for Grace’s music videos, especially her latest one, “Disappear,” starring Mariska Hargitay. This song is especially important to them as its contents deal with mental health, something Grace knows is important to talk about—even if it isn’t always easy.

“I struggled at different points in my life with some really severe depression, which I’m glad to be on the other side of now,” Grace says. “But I definitely know what it feels like to be in that place where you don’t really see any type of out for yourself.” They feel lucky they had a support group of family and friends and doctors, but acknowledge not everyone has access to even a basic level of care. “Whatever I can do to erase the stigma and bring awareness with the art that I create, I definitely will do,” they say.

Music was a “safe haven” for Grace when they were in a dark place, which is why they create music to help people feel less alone. “I really enjoy listening to super upbeat music when I’m having sad days,” they say. This includes Lady Gaga, Madonna, and Taylor Swift. Though, of course, they aren’t immune to an emotional ballad: “I’ve also like sob to Adele like every other person.”

Grace enlisted longtime family friend and Law & Order: SVU star Hargitay to co-star in the video. “It’s a song that means quite a bit to me and there was just nobody else in the world who I felt could carry that message and that role better than Mariska,” Grace says. “We both feel very strongly about it. We definitely understand how important of a topic and a cause it is. We both gave it our all for that video.”

Grace Gaustad and Mariksa Hargitay
Mariska Hargitay and Grace Gaustad BTS of the Disappear video.Chelsea Lauren.

With May as Mental Awareness Month and June as LGBTQ+ Pride Month, Grace has a lot more on the horizon, including “Colors and Shapes,”. a song they wrote for Katie, and an accompanying music video. “It’s about our love story and how we view our love for one another,” they say. Their new album, PILLBX, also comes out June 2.

Grace and Katie also have a lot of content coming up on TikTok. Grace has 226.2K followers on the platform and Katie has 1.2 million, so they have a lot of eyes on their relationship. “We have a lot of fun making the videos,” Grace sys. “Everyone on the internet loves to see how other people interact in their everyday lives, especially couples because then you can look at your own relationship and be like, ‘we do that’ or ‘we don’t do that.'”


OUR BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!!! If you found the clue in Katie’s video, the clue in this video will CONFIRM it for you 👀🕵🏼‍♀️🫢 #announcement #surprise #couplecomedy #colorsandshapes

♬ Dandelions (slowed + reverb) – Ruth B. & sped up + slowed

TikTok isn’t always the nicest place for young people, especially right now in the LGBTQ+ community. Grace says the two haven’t really had any problems, but they still have experience dealing with hate online. After they released “GAGA” in 2022, they received criticism on TikTok even after, or especially after, Lady Gaga herself supported the song. “That’s what happens on the internet, the more something gains traction or the more views it gets, you’re going to have people who love it, but you’re also going to have a lot of people who don’t like it,” they say.

That’s one reason they don’t think social media is a great place for young people and they know from experience.

“It’s not a healthy place for that developing brain to be,” they say. “I know it wasn’t for me at all. I think social media is one big platform where everyone tries to show you how much better their life is than yours. And that’s just a recipe for disaster.” Of course, there’s also the side that gives diverse creators a platform. “I love social media in the way that creators can make content and artists can share what they’re working on and small businesses can work off of it,” they add.

Aside from their music, Grace uses social media to share Bakeup Beauty and all the amazing things they create with Jo. The brand consists of eyeshadow palettes, face gems and makeup removers. You’ve seen it on the likes of Olivia Wilde and Lucy Boynton on the red carpet. The brand is meant to work for everyone, whether you’re starring in a music video like Grace, hitting a movie premiere or just going to work or school. And they have some really fun stuff cooking for Pride.

bakeup beauty palettes

Jo might use Bakeup Beauty on her celeb clients for the Met Gala but for Grace, makeup is more theatrical. “I grew up loving MTV and these extravagant music videos and red carpet,” Grace says. “I think it’s always been a tool for performance in my mind.” In their everyday life, Grace is generally makeup-free. “I know a lot of people who wear makeup every day they love it,” they add. “It’s part of who they are. For me personally, though, I’ve always just loved to use makeup to enhance whatever story I’m already telling.”

For each project, Grace and Jo come together to figure out how they can “further a message” that they’re sending through art, as well as how they can “create something that people don’t feel any sort of pressure to use, they just can have fun with it if they want to and when they want to,” they add. This isn’t about contouring and changing your face. It’s about having fun with beauty.

Though Grace doesn’t wear makeup every day, Katie often does and they both love Bakeup Beauty’s makeup removers, like the Daily Meltdown cleansing balm ($32 at Bakeup Beauty) and Daily Wipe Out micellar water ($22 at Bakeup Beauty). These also help remove the face gems gently, which Grace says stay on throughout big performances.

Speaking of performances, Grace is playing at the Peppermint Club in Los Angeles on June 3 in support of their new album. If you can’t make it, there’s always TikTok.

If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

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