Multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter and performer living in Oakland, CA. Releases to date includes Lark After Dark (2014).
“My music is weird and fun and people seem to get a kick out of it,” reads Rachel’s mission statement on her Facebook page. And that while’s that a fairly accurate sweeping statement, it’s always important to delve into these things and get the bigger picture. After all, nothing is more important than getting a kick out of something.
“I call my sound ‘singer-songwriter-step’,” she explains. “It's song and lyric-based, but it draws on the textures of electronic music.” And while she has an eclectic list of influences – “Fiona Apple, Joni Mitchell, King Crimson, Camille, Broadway Musicals (if you really need me to list them I will), Tori Amos, Janis Joplin, Portishead, Cake, Manu Chao” – she isn’t short of a few contemporaries too. “I feel a lot of kinship with other live-electronic explorers. St. Vincent, Imogen Heap, and others are making music that is still based on solid songwriting but utilize timbres that sound at home here in the futuristic robot-land of the present.”
It’s been something of an interesting musical journey to date. “This project started with a toy piano,” she recalls. “I had the idea to make a whole project based around a toy piano. I started busking in BART stations with my toy piano and realized I needed something rhythmic so I strapped a tambourine to one of my feet and a shaker to the other. Then I got the idea to stand up and put the toy piano on a table so that I could play a toy drum kit at the same time. I played with my heels; a kick drum behind my left heel and a hi-hat behind my right. Then I realized I needed a bass sound so I put a microkorg XL synthesizer on top of the toy piano. Then I realized I wanted harmonies so I took a few weeks and learned live-looping on Ableton and started making my own beats, using the vocoder and the microkorg. Pretty soon it was pretty much a purely electronic set-up.”
As for the highlights and lowlights she has encountered along the way? Well, there are a few. “Dan Savage just blogged about my songs and said he's "in love with me." That was pretty cool and made me blush and feel special. Weakest moment? Hmm. Probably just that I mess up onstage kind of all the time. People don't seem to mind, and it helps me to push myself. So, I'm not that ashamed. But sometimes I get off stage and just think, "wow, that happened. yikes." Actually, come to think of it, my stage debut started with a fuckup. I was 5 and in my kindergarten play I only had two lines. I stepped up to say my first line and instead said my second, realized what was going on half-way through and then just shook my head and started over. Everyone who came up to me afterward applauded me on how I "just kept going." Looking back on that, I think that I might have taken that positive reinforcement a little too seriously.”