Rachael Yamagata’s music will break your heart, in a good way, and will leave you yearning for more of her intimate tunes with piano notes to give that extra somber; yet you’ll be wanting more of her tranquil voice and sound. Rachael’s music is quite profound and as such, that she’s contributed and worked with fellow artists, such as Jason Mraz, legendary Toots & the Maytals, Bright Eyes, Ryan Adams, and Ray LaMontagne. Her songs have appeared on numerous television shows, including Nip/Tuck , How I Met Your Mother, E.R., among many others. She has released three, full-length albums, and five EPs, and after initially releasing on popular record labels, she now produces her records through her independent label, Frankenfish Records.
We had the opportunity to chat with Rachael about her musical comparisons, the notable names she’s collaborated with, what it felt like to perform for the President at The White House, and much more! Read on to discover more about Rachael and her music:
You’ve been compared to the likes of Todd Rundgren and Carole King. How do you feel about those comparisons?
Rachael: It’s a huge compliment. I certainly feel connected to both of them artistically. The classic songwriters and storytellers of the 70s have always been a big influence to me.
You’ve worked with notable and legendary singers, producers and songwriters (from Liz Phair, R.E.M., Pete Townshend, Woody Guthrie, just to name a few). How did those collaborations come about and what did you learn from them?
Rachael: I did my first major tour opening for Liz and it really taught me so much. R.E.M. And Woody Guthrie were both tribute concerts that I was invited to be a part of. Pete Townsend and Rachel Fuller put on an ‘In The Attic’ series and asked me to play. It’s certainly a learning experience every time you get to be in the same room with artists like these!
How have your early years in music shaped and influenced your musical style now?
Rachael: My first musical experiences were writing songs on piano late night when I was feeling lonely. It was always a release for me and a way to feel connected to something. I suppose I’m still doing that now.
Why did you decide to release your recent records independently?
Rachael: It was the right move for me after 10 years on labels and having only released 2 records. I thought I could at least improve my own odds by taking over. The industry became super volatile and imploded while I was in the thick of it.
What was it like performing for President Obama (at the Cherry Blossom Festival), along with the First Lady?
Rachael: Actually, I performed for the President as part of a support campaign with Harry Reid. We were in Vegas and I was playing alongside Bette Midler and Sheryl Crow so the entire experience was incredibly surreal. The First Lady was speaking at the Cherry Blossom Festival when I played. It was so cold that day that I wasn’t nervous just freezing.
When you’re playing a show, how do you connect with your audience?
Rachael: I try to remain in the moment and not force a particular direction. I channel the moods I’m in and just give of myself as honestly as I can.
What was your first concert, and do you have a favorite?
Rachael: I think my very first concert was The Beach Boys at the Washington Mall with my parents. Favorite concert – I saw Martha Wainwright somewhat recently play a stunning show – just herself. It was magical.
Do you have a guilty musical or TV pleasure?
Rachael: Anything and everything HGTV.
Thanks so much, Rachel, for the opportunity to interview you! Have a GREAT show at Vinyl!
Catch Rachael perform at Vinyl in Atlanta Friday, July 5 and grab tickets below!