Grace Leer was once that girl that spent her childhood days singing country songs into the mirror above her bedroom dresser, dreaming of the day that she would be the one in the spotlight.
"I grew up with a hairbrush in my hand," remembers Leer, 30, during an interview with PEOPLE. "I can't tell you how many hours I spent singing Chicks songs dreaming of the day that I was going to be the one in the music video."
And with the release of the former American Idol favorite's new music video for her already much-loved song "Ones Before Me," the California's native's day in the music video spotlight has finally come.
"There was a lot of thought from a lot of creative minds that went into this whole video to make it something fun because the song itself is so fun," says Leer of "Ones Before Me," which she originally recorded back in October of 2020 and performed for the first time just one month later on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium. "The song is about celebrating country music and these country legends that I looked up to as a little girl and that I still take into my music and my songwriting today. It's my favorite video that I have done to date."
Alex Ferrari Grace Leer
Indeed, the first piece of the video takes viewers back to the '70s and features Leer in a somewhat seedy-looking basement in East Nashville for the ultimate "basement hang" featuring velvet couches and Playboy magazines.
"I love to dress up, so I knew with the video that I wanted to do that and almost hint at some of my favorite artists growing up," says Leer of the video for "Ones Before Me," which will be a part of Leer's self-titled EP slated for release on Sept. 14. "That's why the first look is that Dolly Parton kind of vibe."
From there, the video takes a trip through the decades with Leer showing off some major '80s vibes. But through this visual time warp, Leer kept it classy.
"I wanted to take those little pieces from the past and give them some modern trendy vibes," she says. "We just had so much fun putting the styles together with my stylist."
Making the shoot even more authentic was the decision to use actual cameras that would have been used in each of the decades displayed.
"It was genius," Leer explains. "So, the first scene used real film, which was sort of crazy because we only had a limited number of minutes of film, so we had to make sure we got it right. Actual film is so expensive too, so it was a lot of pressure to get the lip syncing right."
Perhaps the craziest part was that there was no way to see how the scene looked until the film was developed.
"I was waiting on the edge of my seat waiting to see how it all came out," she laughs of the video, whose '80s portion was filmed using a VHS camera. "I grew up making home videos on VHS cameras. The cinematographers had this tiny little screen that would show what was going on and that's how we watched the first playback. It was exciting."
Alex Ferrari Grace Leer
And then, of course, there was the big hair.
"My hairdresser at one point wanted to try some wigs on me, but I decided just to tease the crap out of my hair," Leer explains with a laugh. "'Tease it to Jesus,' like the song says! Those are the kind of lines people giggle at. And if you're a country fan, you know every single reference I'm making in this song."
And for those who may not know the legends she pays homage to in "Ones Before Me," they just might find out.
"I'm reintroducing this classic traditional country music that will always be iconic," she concludes of the song written by Madison Kozak, Andy Skibb and Catt Gravitt. "It will live on forever. It's timeless. But now, I get to introduce it in a Grace Leer kind of way."