RACHEL M: ARTIST OF THE WEEK

Written by on 15/04/2018

Rachel M is the ARTIST OF THE WEEK of Mclennon Radio. She’s a talented singer and songwriter from London. Let’s discover more about Rachel and her music:

When did you start writing songs and what inspired you to make music?

I used to write what I thought were poems from about the age of 8 or 9. I later realized that these were songs. I even had a little band with my two best friends in primary school and I was the lead singer. We sang in the playground but I was always on the stage at Glastonbury in my mind. As I got older I sang in theatre and various shows, later becoming the front woman in a rock band on the south coast of Spain, mainly singing covers. But it wasn’t until abut 3 1/2 to 4 years ago in my late 20’s that I really started seriously writing and recording my own songs. When you ask what inspires that, it could be anything. Many things that I hear about or see in my life or read or watch in a movie can inspire me to make music but definitely the fact that I grew up in a house where music was always played over watching television and I was privy to such a range of artists from Chopin to Iggy Pop. Music is just part of who I am and making that feels as natural to me as making a cup of tea. Creating music is my meditation and in that space I feel most at ease.

What genre of music do you consider your work to be? Who are your major influences? 

I always get asked this and really struggle to answer because I grew up listening to so many different styles of music and admired so many different kinds of artists I have eclectic taste and tend to look at the mood and story behind a particular song I am working on to create an ambience or draw on an emotion. Though I know my music has been categorized as trip hop, avant garde and experimental rock in the past. I work in different styles but I am definitely a rock chick at heart. I actually just completed work on my third LP which is what you might call a psychedelic rock project. It is a conceptual album that I collaborated with my musical partner Ceri Davies on and we will be releasing that into the world imminently. It is very different from what I have released thus far and a lot darker.

Influences. I could list quite a few but the big one would have to be David Bowie. I loved lots of musicians growing up but it was listening to his music that made me want to MAKE music. He also created within so many different genres and was so skilled at that. I would say that also set an example for me,  in the terms of that it was ok to really experiment and you don’t have to choose one particular style. I have also been inspired and have a great admiration for other female artists that have done the same so eloquently such as Kate Bush and PJ Harvey. I guess I am inspired by great and experimental song writers. And I have always been in awe of singers like Joplin and Otis Redding. That can just literally pour their soul into a song and just breath it to life.

I grew up in the 80s and 90s but often listened to music from the late 50s to mid 70s. I always felt more connected to that time so many of my influences are sadly no longer with us but what they created remains. That is what is special about a great song, it is timeless and will always be relevant to someone, somewhere.

“I used to write what I thought were poems from about the age of 8 or 9. I later realized that these were songs.”

Which songs do you perform most frequently? 

Right now we are planning a mini EU tour and to showcase material from both my recent release – 50 Shades of disEASE and the new project, Rehabilitated. I have had quite a bit of airplay for the songs So Sorry Child and In Search of Haight Ashbury from 50 Shades so at the moment it seems that is what people want to hear.

Do you ever play any covers?

I have performed quite a few covers in the past but always avoided recording them. Wanting to be recognized  more for my own work. I wouldn’t feel inspired to record a cover unless I love a song and then I tend to think why touch it, it is already great. Recently though I was listening to Cillian Murphy on his radio show and he played a few really great covers, very different from the ov’s and they caught my ear. He has pretty cool taste in music, quite similar to mine and that definitely did inspire me to think about attempting a cover. Of course if it happens McLennon radio will be the first to hear about it.

 

Could you briefly describe the music-making process? 

Though I do play a bit of guitar and have a bash at other instruments thus far all of my recorded work has been in collaboration with other musicians. I worked on and released my first ever single with David Bowie’s pianist Mike Garson, who is just a legend. I was so inspired by Bowie’s album – Aladdin Sane [the album that really saw the start of a lifelong collaboration between the pair]  to create with Mike was just a dream come true. I have also worked with some other very cool and experimental artists such as Singaporean guitarist Randolf Arriola and I now have a new musical partner in, London based multi instrumental artist and producer Ceri Davies.

I can never plan to sit down and write a song. I will either be in bed or doing something like washing the dishes when a song starts to come to me. I work from the inside out. I always have a very clear melody in my mind as I channel lyrics. I then record the vocal with a melody. I sometimes add ambient sound or effects, little intros etc and then  will work with Ceri and add in the instrumentation. I will often know whether I want a song to be piano or guitar based and the mood of the song and Ceri will work from there around the initial vocal and melody. He is very intuitive and we work very productively together. He plays piano and guitar as well as being an extremely talented electronic artist. I am really loving this collaboration right now. Since we met in late December we have already created two very different EP’S together.

What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs?

I guess like the title of my recent album 50 Shades of disEASE , now you mention it. I can see a common theme of being slightly dissatisfied with something or some unjust situation.  I guess am often writing about longing for something or some place else but I think that is a common theme in life these days and probably in times past due to a dis-ease with society and day to day life. How our countries are being run [I could go on but I don’t want to get too political, in this interview at least]

“Influences? I could list quite a few but the big one would have to be David Bowie”

How has your music evolved since you first began playing music? 

I understand more now about the process so I do not get stressed thinking about how I am going to create something, I just do it. I also used to record and re record vocals trying to get them ‘perfect’ because I never use any auto tune or pitch correction. Where as now I tend to keep my first or second take, I do not scrutinize little sounds or tones and enjoy hearing a voice that sounds human and if there is a little strange note or something gets slightly off key I actually appreciate that. So much of what we listen to now in the mainstream sounds unbelievably processed and unnatural and it is harder to relate to that. That is probably another reason I love to listen to older recordings of music. I am also less worried about whether people ‘like’ a song or not so that means I tend to just go for it, whatever the ‘it’ is that is needed for that particular track.

What do you feel is the best song you’ve released and why?

I don’t think I could choose one I guess I can be quite critical of my work but more than ever at the moment I am enjoying making the music I am making and listening to it but the favourite changes. At the moment I might say An Ode, from the album 50 Shades which is actually a real fusion of my own and Ceri’s styles. The song is quite poetic and inspired by my love and empathy for the late Oscar Wilde. I am also super proud of the track, In Search of Haight Ashbury which came in at 28 in the Scottish new music charts. My manager John Morrison actually played guitar on that and Ceri added in his usual magic with the percussion and pad. The idea and spirit behind the song and video really come from the heart. The video is about to be aired on several big  music stations in the US and EU which is very exciting. You can watch and read more about that visual and the song on youtube at the link below.

 

Which musician you’d like to collaborate with next?

A tough one. I definitely want to work more and for a long time to come with my musical partner Ceri Davies and I also have a little folk rock project planned with my manager Glasgow based John Morrison but I guess I have always been interested in working with Trent Reznor as both an artist and producer. And since recently being described by a music reviewer as a demonic hybrid of Marilyn Manson and Kate Bush I would like to put it out there that I would be curious and open to that particular ménage à trois.

If you had one message to give to Mclennon Radio listeners, what would it be? 

Listen to my new album 50 Shades of disEASE , a lot and not to sound really cliché but follow your dreams whatever they may be. It is not an easy path but it is the one worth walking. Anything is possible if you put your heart and mind to it. I am saying that today because I have recently been in debate online supporting Brian Eno’s suggestion to artists to not get a day job but find a way to do what you want to do in life. If you want to work in an office or a shop great, do it. But only if you want to. If you want to do something else then do something else, there is always a way.


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