KATIE GREGSON-MacLEOD – ” White Lies ” 

Posted: December 7, 2022 in MUSIC

With a melancholic breakup ballad turning into a global success, Inverness native Katie Gregson-MacLeod, was little known outside the Scotland folk and indie scene. On 4th August, Gregson-MacLeod posted a one-minute clip of herself singing a stripped back piano ballad called “complex,” a song she’d written in an evening about the strange dysmorphia that comes with wholeheartedly loving someone who will never quite love you back the same way. The next day, the snippet had received the full TikTok treatment, generating thousands of views by the hour. By the weekend, she remembers, “it was very clear everything had changed.” The world was singing the words along with her—everyone from teenagers making duet videos to the likes of Gracie Abrams and Adam Melchor—crowning Gregson-MacLeod as the next writer in line for the throne of social media’s favorite sad song anthems.

“People were just listening to it over and over again,” she recalls of “Complex” first blowing up. But while this kind of virality is thrilling, it can also be an overwhelming amount of pressure. “When I released the (demo) version, I got messages and comments telling me that I said certain words different and breathed in different ways from the original video.”

“It just happened that the song that blew up for me was one that I was very proud of.” She says that she’d only written “complex” a few days before posting it after a fresh wave of emotions about a previous relationship caused her to revisit that period in her life. As is the case with so many of the best songs, she remembers that writing it was a blur, the words pouring out of her quickly. Though she had no plans to release it—maybe, she concedes, it could have been a deep cut on an album a few years down the line—the Internet had other ideas. Three weeks after the initial clip, Gregson-MacLeod released “complex (demo),” a one-take version of the track featuring just vocals and a soft piano, recorded at an Edinburgh studio in her native Scotland.

Gregson-MacLeod’s rise has been stunning, but it’s also been extremely well deserved. “Complex” is in and of itself a stunning piece of song writing, but perhaps most important is that the song’s success came on the heels of years of hard work from Gregson-MacLeod that put her in all the right places once the right time came.

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