Back to Songs
<- Previous | Next ->

Don't assume what you don't know (Original)

Type: Official
Writers: Dan Gleyzer, Roland Spreckley, Grace Vanderwaal
Times Performed: 4
Play Official Video


Grace played a part of a Garageband production of the song live on Instagram in April 2020. This is how she presented the song then:

"Uhh – yo, this one! (laughing), bro – I don’t even know if I should play this one. I am getting goosebumps even thinking about this, ‘cause it’s like, half of me is like – maybe I should keep it as a surprise – you know what, there are only about 1900 people watching this, and I doubt a ton of people are recording and the people who are, are probably just going to post it once, it’s not going to go viral or anything, I am not Ariana Grande. Are you all listening close? Listen close! [Plays the song] I literally can’t breathe, dude. It’s so good … this song is so freakin good, it's like so punk, and I have never made a song like that before, and I am telling you!!! (Grace on IG live, April 15, 2020 – Performance 361)

In an interview with Ladygunn Magazine, she later told the genesis of the song like this: "I wish that I would have had a reality show camera because it was the coolest process that felt so good,” she says of writing the track with producer Mike Elizondo. “It was after a really long day; we were so tired and over it; we had been writing stupid ballads all day that were just turning into nothing. And he picks up the bass and starts playing that baseline, and it was literally like a movie. I grabbed this microphone that was plugged into Logic and started riffing on the lyrics, and we were like, ‘Wow, that’s a really good song.’ And then we literally just wrote it and recorded it."

Despite the bass-heavy track and the fact that Vanderwaal wields a bass guitar in her music video for her previous single, “Don’t Assume What You Don’t Know”, she admits that she doesn’t actually know how to play the instrument. “I’m happy that I was believable, but I don’t know how to play the bass,” she says. “Myth shattered.”

This first sneak peek of the song was later muted by the copyright holders (Sony) in the run-up to the release of the song. The early peak had much simpler production than the final version, which added more instrumentation, voice-overlays and effects. In her IG live up to the release of the song, Grace explained that the idea for the song came in a writing session when someone played the bass pattern which features prominently in the song. The song then grew from that.

The song was intended to be part of a Letter vol 2 EP, documented by a handwritten list of the intended tracks for Letters Vol 2. Grace posted back in 2020 when she was still at boarding school. (see catalogue page for Letters Vol 2)

"VanderWaal originally wrote its lyrics, which tell the story of a young person navigating the industry in Hollywood, as part of a writing session over a year ago. It was put on the back burner at first, but VanderWaal knew it was something special — after all, it was a topic she knew well. The song is all about the fantasies of Hollywood and how I’ve personally witnessed the debunking of all those myths. People put fame and beauty on such a pedestal as if that’s the answer to life and all of that. I want people to take away [from the song] that your life is awesome, and my life is awesome, and everyone just makes the best of what they have and can find their happy shit in their own shit.” (Interview with Lauren Mccarthy for Nylon March 4, 2021)

"It’s as much a statement as it is entertainment. ... VanderWaal steps up her game in a huge way. Her voice comes at you with attitude, swagger, and full of confidence. Her words are sharpened to a point and will not be dismissed. ... It shows the world the girl can rock." (Review in The Indiespot March 5, 2021)

"'Don't Assume What You Don't Know' starts softly enough, but it isn't long before the power chords kick in, and Grace lets her vocal break free as she finds her range. The arrangement works well for VanderWaal as the track flits between the stripped-back and delicate to a full-blown heavy Pop-Rock. On the evidence of her latest track, I think that Grace VanderWaal has done a brilliant job of re-inventing herself with a very credible, deftly conceived track to launch a fresh start." ( March 10, 2021)

Comments from Elton John
In an episode of Elton John's podcast “Rocket Hour” on Apple Music titled "Grace VanderWaal " (Episode 290 May 1, 2021, at the 35min mark), Elton John plays Don’t Assume What You Don’t Know and comments: "Seventeen years of age, Grace VanderWaal, best known for playing the ukulele on America’s Got Talent. I am glad she gave that up because this is much better. This is a much better direction to be going in, and she is going in it. I am very happy and will be playing that one again." (thanks to VanderVault member DenisPeloquin for this info)
The episode also covers other artists (Hen Ogledd and Rod Wave), and there is no obvious explanation for why it was given this name.

First full live performance
At the first full live performance of the song on June 7, 2023 at the Purgatory in Brooklyn, N.Y., Grace commented on writing songs that could be hard to sing live: This song is as hard as a fuck to sing. My least favourite thing is making studio songs that I can sing in the moment, like – oh yea this is awesome – and then I have to get on stage and like – fuuuck!


2020.04.14 At home Part of studio production played on computer
2021.03.30 Homemade 1 Minute of live performance posted on Instagram
2023.06.07 Purgatory
2023.06.10 Sleepwalk

Reviews, Reactions etc.

Type Comment Link
Song reviewNew Look, New Groove: Grace VanderWaal Grows Up!
Song reviewGrace VanderWaal Returns With Edgy New Sound
Song reviewGrace VanderWaal debuts her unforeseen ego change
Song reviewWhat Grace Don't Assume What You Don't Know Really Means
Reaction to songFable Nuclear Reactor - Reaction and analysis
Reaction to songVocal coach comments on song
Reaction to songGood reaction/analysis by a reactor Grace's age
Reaction to songVocal coach Michal Towber
Song related contentFirst video promoting the song
Song related contentPromo video 2 (grace with bass-guitar)
Song related contentPromo video 3
Song related contentGrace plays fragment of the song in her car
Song related contentInterview with Nylon about the song and Grace's new style and look. Most of the other media that reported on the release, piggybacked on this interview and did not add much new.
Use in movies, TV-shows etc, Use in TV Series "First Kill"


Release Date Record Type Track
2021-03-05Don't Assume What You Don't KnowSingle1


Covers and Remixes

Type Comment Link
Cover and Remixes of Grace's songs by other artistsJazzy piano cover