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Music |

Interview: Rachel Brown

Tuesday 05 January 2016

We caught up with Rachel Brown after her show at Ginny’s Supper Club in Harlem over the holidays and what an impression her performance left on us. Rachel’s music is a mix of soul, R&B and a distinctive sound that she says relates back to her Ethiopian, Bermudan and Southern musical roots. We chat to her about her song writing process, ambitions in the film industry and what it’s like to grow up surrounded by fashion and creativity.

 

Congratulations Rachel on your show at Ginny’s Supper Club in Harlem. The atmosphere that yourself and your band created was the perfect fit for the speakeasy/twenties themed venue. Tell us about your experience performing with your band and do you feel most comfortable when performing live?

Thank you! It’s always important to me to have a good time. If the audience is having a good time, the band is having a good time. Honestly, even if the audience were having a bad time, the band would probably still be having a good time! We just have fun together – no egos, everyone plays off of each other.

rachel band
We absolutely love the songs on your latest EP ‘The Band’, but we were so excited to hear your cover of ‘Santa Baby’. We know you’re influenced by old classic artists like Sam Cooke and Smokey Robinson. Who are your favourite artists to perform cover songs of and why?

It’s always fun to take a song that’s wildly different from what I do, and reimagine it in a way that sounds like me. Often I’ll take a hip-hop or R&B song and flip it. I always pick songs that I love, regardless of genre.

rachel 2

Tell us about your writing process and when you first started writing music?

It turns out I had been writing songs in my journals since I was a little girl, but it wasn’t until after high school that I bought a guitar and started taking it seriously. I had always loved trying different art forms (painting, drawing, writing, knitting, etc), as a way to express myself, but song writing was the one that really stuck. I couldn’t stop. I would draw from personal experiences, stories I heard, or blend the two and create a new world.

rachel band 2

You studied film at Harvard College – do you plan on sticking with music for the long haul or is film something you would venture back to in the near future?

Music is hands down my number one, but I do miss film a little bit. The good thing is that it certainly plays a role in what I do now. I conceived my last two music videos (“Santa Baby” and “You Got Me”) as well much of the editing for recent performance videos. My background was mostly in documentary though, and I haven’t been able to engage as much as I’d like. There have been so many experiences that I wish I could document, but now I’m a participant, not an observer.

rachel 3

Finally, we’re all about fashion and emerging designers here at Spindle. We noticed your look is very glamorous and classic and know that fashion design runs in your family. Who was your dress by and who is your favourite designer?

I tend to gravitate to things I like, regardless of designer or brand. I wish I had a favourite though – it would be so much easier to knock it all out in one punch! As much as I appreciate fashion, I hate shopping. I can handle one, maybe two stores before I’m done for the day. Being able to rely on my mom for dresses and fashion advice is pretty invaluable though. It’s always fun to dream up a dress for a performance, or figure out ways to individualize something I’ve purchased. Even if I’m out shopping I’ll snap a photo from the dressing room and group text it to her and her design team – “Does this work?” “Hip or tacky?”

 

  • Check out Rachel Brown’s video for her song ‘You Got Me’ from her latest EP ‘The Band’.