Back in 2010, a video of a sixth grader singing Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” went viral. That sixth grader was Greyson Chance, who went on to perform his cover of the hit song on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and then release his first-ever studio album in 2011.& And now, after a bit of a break, Chance is back with a new single, “Afterlife” — and an upcoming EP full of self-written songs that each “hold a really specific story” to Chance.
Chance tells EW that releasing “Afterlife” in late October was especially nerve-wracking given his previous success as a young teenager. “It really is my coming back to the scene after being away for a while, and saying, this is a new me,” he says of the pressure he felt. “This is 18-year-old Greyson opposed to 14-year-old Greyson.”
The reception to his new single has left Chance excited to put out the full EP: “Not to totally pat myself on the back, but people seem to really like the record,” Chance says. “I’ve been in music for five or six years now and it feels like, these last week weeks, just seeing people actually respond to the song and actually be impacted by it, it makes my job so much easier.”
He’s already made his return to The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where he met Sam Smith — “you’re talking to someone and you’re like, man, how many Grammys do you have?” he says of the “awesome” run-in —and showed off his newer, more soulful, and more mature sound.
But just because he’s grown up doesn’t mean he’s rejecting his past. Although Chance says he hasn’t seen the “Paparazzi” video in a “pretty long time,” he still appreciates what being discovered on YouTube did for him. “I really embrace my past,” he says. “I was excited that the way I was discovered was me on the keys. I’m really proud of that kid. I’m proud to still be throwing punches in music and still recording.”
Chance’s EP, Somewhere Over My Head, comes out in 2016, but listen to “Afterlife” below.