Rachel Kern [rkern]
What do you do? What is your musical specialty?
Blues, soul, funk with touches of jazz, country and indie!
Do you work alone or in a group? If in a group, who are the others you work with?
There are 6 of us in The Rachel Kern Band- Me! then Andy on lead guitar, Andy K on bass, Chris on rhythm guitar, Wayne on drums and Zoe on backing vocals.
Is there a web address where one can listen, see, or read some of your work?
Please list any awards, competitions, or other acknowledgments you would like to mention.
We've been gigging since October and have headlined some major Manchester venues incuding the Academy and Night & Day. We've recently had this excellent review for BBC Online which has lead to some great things for the band. http://www.bbc.co.uk/manchester/content/articles/2009/01/1 (...)
I've personally done session vocals for artists such as Sugababes and Rachel Stevens while I was living in London.
Please list discography in which you have participated.
I have done backing vocals on Rachel Stevens debut album Funkydory and have credit acknowledgement on the CD.
As a band, we're recording our EP in the 14th and 15th Feb this year.
How did you begin making music? Who introduced you?
I started singing with my school Big Band when I was 17. The National Youth Jazz Orchestra asked me to sing with them at a school concert and then invited me to London to sing with them there.
What was your musical education?
I never studied music at school or college. I played the flute in High School and was in the concert band! Despite the head of music asking me to do GCSE music, I declined as I favoured Media Studies- I got an A! Then I pleaded with him to let me sing with the big band and he finally gave in- I stayed with them for 2 years.
People said to me for years that I should study music and get a basic theory and I finally gave in and enrolled onto the Vocaltech Dioploma in Pop Music Singing. It was one of the best years of my life. I was around people everyday who felt the same about music as I did. Singers, guitarists, drummers etc. Before long I was in a great band and all the students and teachers would come and watch us every week- it was amazing. Thats where I was spotted by a producer and asked to do session vocals for 19 management.
When did you realise that making music could be a way of life for you?
When I was asked by NYJO to go and sing with them, I decided not to go to uni and do journalism as I'd always wanted. I thought 'Lets see how this turns out'. I carried on singing with them for about three months- then gave up because I didn't feel like they were letting me sing enough! I've always strived to be in music and make a career out of it- its all I want to do- but it's tough!
What is your creative process?
I worked with producer NSK from when I was about 16. He would write drum & bass and hip hop tracks and I would write the lyrics and melody over the top. It's pretty much been like that ever since. I think of the tune first, composing on the piano and then write lyrics and melody to go with it. Sometimes Andy or Chris come up with a guitar track or song and I write the lyrics over that. My lyrics mostly come from relationships I or people I know have had and men that they've been with.
When do you have your most lucid moments, in the morning or night?
ooh- that's a tricky one! It makes me think of Total Recall. Err... I'd say the night.
Have you ever awoken with a melody created from your dreams?
Yes, but if I don't have a dictaphone handy, I forget it. Sometimes bits come back to me throughout the day, and I can write something from that, it's rare though. I write lyrics as they come to me on whatever paper is lying around!
How do you know when a song is finished or needs no more changes?
When I finish a song, I'm usually pretty happy with it and can never think of ways to add or change them because I've been composing them for days or weeks. So when the band want to add or change stuff, at first I'm always a bit dubious and protective, but I usually agree with their suggestions in the end!
What part of your job is your least favourite?
My job??!! I wish. If you mean what's the least favourite past of being in a band?- getting people to listen to you and give you a break! I think we're amazing, so do people who listen to us and come to our gigs. But it's the people who make the decisions and can help us who are the hardest to get to. We've had a couple of nice breaks, but it's hard. I've been doing this for ten years and my aim is to make a living out of my music and voice.
How often do you practice?
I practice every couple of days- the band practice twice a week.
How do you feel right before going out on stage?
I feel excited fromm when we get to the venue, and then we sit around and chill before the sound check. My personal experience is that the sound check rarely keeps everyone in the band happy- there is always one member who isn't truly pleased with how they sound or what they can hear etc. Before going on, I think of the set, think of who's in the audience and then get on stage and feel part of a band!
Which musicians or groups have been inspiring to your career?
When I was young, I used to listen to a lot of film soundtracks to 60's films like Stand By Me and Mermaids! Then I heard Tricky and everything changed. If I could work with anyone, it would be him. I used to keep my singing to myself until singing with the big band, so I'd stay in my room and sing along to whatever was in the charts- even Mariah! My favourite and most inspirational artists are- Jill Scott, Tricky, Rufus and Martha Wainwright, Prince, Springsteen and I also absolutely love Arcade Fire. Artists such as Ray Lamontagne and Nick Drake really inspire me through raw lyrics and vocals. NSK would come up with some amazing tracks for me to sing over and write to, so I owe a lot him.
List three songs that are key to your life.
I know it's a cop out, but I honestly couldn't say. New songs come along all the time and I wonder how I existed without them!
What should be done to stop piracy?
I'm not sure anything can be done really.
What type of music do you detest?
I do like most music, but I can't stand really bad- badly produced garage.
What time did you get up this morning?
8:00am, later than usual!
How do you sell yourself? What has been your experience with record companies and representatives?
I usually send e-mails to contacts I get from other people or websites with blurb about us and a few photos. I have sent demos to record companies and had response, but we don't have management so they usual politely advise us to get someone to represent us before they think about dealing with us! I have registered on unsigned websites and for competitions- we'll see what happens with that. I think most record companies have an idea of exactly what they want but I believe that if you put the effort and in are talented and have the goods- good things will happen. I have had a few negative experiences with producers and managers who promise you the world, but really just want to get you into bed. A cliche but unfortunately true.
What other things have you done to make a living?
I've been a vocal tutor and I'm also a qualified massaged therapist! I mainly work in offices and call centres as a temp though. I find there are loads of musicians working as temps, one office I worked in, loads of people were in bands, it was great!
Have you ever played on the street or in the subway? How much did you collect each day?
No, never. When I'm in LA, I enjoy being in Santa Monica, they have the best calibur of buskers I've ever seen. When I go this summer, I might see if I can perform there.
Who would you play with, without a doubt?
Ooh- so many people! Tricky, Jill Scott, Prince, Springsteen, Rufus Wainwright, Fat Freddy's Drop. Gogol Bordello would be fantastic too jsut for the sheer energy and fun!
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the business?
I believe that if you keep on keeping on, you'll get there eventually. A lot of it is who you know, being in the right place at the right time. Be wary of people who promise you things and never rule anything out. If you love music and can't imagine doing anything else and are prepared to slug it out, good things will happen!