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Julkaistu 22. 5. 2011 Teksti Umami Ei kommentteja Kulttuuri

Rachael Sagen haastattelu

Rachael Sage on amerikkalainen, New Yorkin osavaltiossa syntynyt  laulaja-lauluntekijä, joka on lapsesta lähtien säveltänyt pieniä, melodisia lauluja. Hän opetti soittamaan vanhempiensa pianolla ja äänitti laulujaan Bar Mitzvah-lahjaksi saamallaan neliraitanauhurilla. Lapsena musiikkia enemmän huomiota veivät kuitenkin baletti ja teatteri. Teini-iässä Rachael opiskeli tanssia American School Of Ballet:ssa ja  nuorena aikuisena draamaa Stanfordin Yliopistossa sekä Actors Studiossa. Ensiesiintyminen näyttelijättärenä oli vasta vuoden 2009 Edinburgh Fringe-festivaaleilla, jossa lehdistö piti hänen “Sequins and Shpiel”-esitystään yhtenä vuoden yllätyshiteistä.

Musiikin saralla tämä synnynnäinen ja värikäs esiintyjä, jonka ei pulppuavan musiikki- ja runosuonen ansiosta koskaan tarvinnut opetella muiden kappaleita, on ollut huomattavasti toimeliaampi. Vuonna 1996 Rachael perusti oman MPress-nimisen levy-yhtiönsä ja julkaisi samana vuonna debyyttilevynsä Morbid Romantic. Yhä omalla yhtiöllä vuonna 2010 julkaistu Delancey Street on yhdeksäs. Ensimmäisen akustisesta ja folk-vaikutteisesta soundista on kuljettu Kate Bush-tyylisen taiderockin pariin. Rachael on läpi uransa pitänyt langat tiukasti omissa käsissään ja on nyt asemassa jossa hän voi auttaa sekä uransa alkutaipaleella vaeltavia artisteja että muita apua tarvitsevia. MPress julkaisee New Arrivals-sarjaa, jonka levyillä vakiintuneet taiteilijat vuorottelevat vähemmän tunnettujen kanssa. Levyjen tuotto lahjoitetaan aina ennalta valittuun hyväntekeväisyyskohteeseen.

Rachaelin teatraalinen tyyli on vuosien varrella herättänyt paljon myönteistä huomiota sekä mediassa että muiden muusikoiden parissa. Legendat laulaja Judy Collinsista tuottaja Tony Viscontiin ovat tunnustautuneet Rachael Sagen ihailijoiksi.

Yli 150 konserttia vuodessa Yhdysvalloissa, Euroopassa ja Aasiassa soittava Rachael on soittanut samoilla lavoilla mm. Ani DiFrancon, Sarah McLachlanin, Judy Collinsin ja Eric Burdonin kanssa. Näistä kaksi viimeksi mainittua ovat myös toimineet mentoreina tälle artistille jonka Uncut-lehti sanoi olevan ”yksi osa Elton johnia, toinen Kate Bushia”. Myös John Lee Hooker ja Colin Hay ovat vuosien saatossa toimineet Sagen opettajina musiikin ja siihen liittyvän teollisuuden koukeroissa.

Palkintojen ja muiden huomionosoitusten lista on todella pitkä, mutta merkittävimpiä ovat John Lennon Songwriting Contest-voitto, kaksi palkintoa Independent Music Awardsissa, kolme OUTMusic-palkintoa ja maininta Performing Songwriter Magazine-lehden ”One of the Top 100 Independent Artists of the Past 15 Years”-listalla.

Rachael vastaili Umamin kysymyksiin seuraavasti:

What is your best summer memory from your childhood?

My best summer memory from my childhood is when I attended the School Of American Ballet summer dance program, in Junior High School. It was very intense auditioning for it – and not every young person’s idea of ”fun” I imagine – but for me, being accepted and having the opportunity to study with some of the greatest dancers and teachers in the world was a dream come true! Plus, I was only 11 and I felt very grown-up for the first time, going to classes in New York City, meeting all kinds of people from all over the country and generally realizing that this would be the amazing, diverse city I’d eventually choose to call home…

-What is the must to do in the summer?

Well, I’m not really a beach person and I’m not very sporty, but I think my favorite thing to do in the summer is to tour the places that are ordinarily very cold, the rest of the year! That’s why I decided to tour the UK and the rest of Continental Europe, right now! I love playing Festivals too – I love the dynamic of a very large, outdoor venue and how often there crafts-people selling beautiful, artistic things they make like clothing, jewelery and even musical instruments. I guess my favorite thing about summer, being a travelling musician, is that my suitcase is so much lighter, because you can wear less clothing! And also, I love going to have a picnic with a friend in Central Park in Manhattan, which is just gorgeous this time of year.

-What must be avoid in the summer?

I really avoid getting too much sun. I’ve never really understood the appeal of lying on a beach all day long and just ”baking”, to begin with, but for me, I just don’t like how I feel if I get tan or sunburned – it saps my energy. I wear a lot of hats in the summer, and like to sit outside in café’s under shady awnings and write in my journal though…

-How would you spend ideal summer?

My ideal summer would be touring lots of festivals for a month or so, meeting all kinds of people in a new country where I’ve never been (perhaps like Finland!), and then at the end of all of that, going into a cabin in the woods somewhere for a few weeks to write lots of songs, with no internet and no phone and basically just retreating into my own imagination entirely. I’ve never had that experience unfortunately – of just cloistering myself like that, in nature. I’m a city girl and also run my own business so it’d be challenging to carve that time/space, but I do fantasize about it!

-What is the best summer meal?

I really love this Italian salad I find at some New York restaurants in the summer, it’s got watermelon and feta cheese, which seem like they wouldn’t go together but it’s very refreshing! I also love any kind of Middle Eastern Food at all, like couscous, hummus, etc. and just generally love a great spinach salad that’s very fresh, along with any kind of fruit sorbet for dessert – rasberry, strawberry, peach – which I don’t feel as much like eating when it’s cold in the winter. I think summer tends to make me want to eat healthier in general because I’m more active, whereas in the winter all I seem to want to do is eat too much chocolate!

-The best summer music? Why?

Well, I really love pop music and can appreciate a catchy tune as much as anyone else, but for some reason I just tend toward classical music in the summer. Maybe it’s because the weather’s so much nicer and I pay more attention to setting a mood and have all my windows open – which brings in a lot of city/traffic noise as I live in NYC – but listening to classical music in the summer just makes me feel very relaxed and like I’m on a mental vacation, while I’m at home. Plus, it’s a great contrast to what I’m hearing on the road – which is basically a lot of my peers playing folk, alternative and rock but I really listen very deeply to lyrics so that’s also why classical is a nice break for my brain!

-The best summer movie? Why?

I love movies all year-round but I never have time to go to theaters and see them, admittedly. However, my sister is a film-critic and has been able to get me some copies of older DVD’s through the years, and one I always enjoy watching is ”Little Darlings” – with Matt Dillon, Christy McNichol and Tatum O’Neal. It’s sort of a coming-of-age movie about teenage girls at sleepaway camp, so it’s very nolstalgic, and also very funny!

-The best summer book? Why?

Right now I’m reading ”21st Century Troubadour” by Irish singer-songwriter/poet Andy White. It’s one of the most insightful, witty accounts of what touring is actually like, that I’ve every read and it’s been great reading in the tour-van thus far! I highly recommend it to anyone though, he’s like a modern-day Kerouac and really captures the romance, adventure and also the inevitable unwelcome surprises of life on the road…

-The best summer city? Why?

I think Edinburgh, Scotland is an amazing city in the summer! Firstly, it’s just a gorgeous, historically fascinating city and the architecture is beautiful. But moreover, they have the Edinburgh Fringe Festival happening – where I’ve performed twice now – and there are endless opportunities to see innovative, compelling theater artists, dancers, commedians and musicians. Plus, the weather’s not too hot, it’s just right.

-3 best things that has happened to you during this year?

So far, 2011 has been a great year, so it’s hard to only pick three things, but at the very top of the list was an experience I had working with a charity called The Dragonfly Foundation – which helps bring joy to children undergoing treatment for cancer and blood diseases. They heard one of my songs and asked me if they could use it for their campaign, and of course I said yes. Then, they flew me out to Cleveland, Ohio, had me play my music for children at the hospital there (which was incredibly moving), and also concerts for the medical staff and their families, as well as several fundraisers. The whole experience was both humbling and inspirational, and the courage and resilience these children have was just amazing to see, firsthand.

Also, it was exciting to have the opportunity to sign another great artist to my record label, MPress Records; her name is Melissa Ferrick and she’s a phenomenal singer/guitarist whom I’ve admired many years, and now have the chance to work very closely with on a regular basis. Her new record is fantastic, and it will be released later in the Fall.

Lastly, I recently was able to perform in Israel – in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem – and it was very special for me. Obviously it’s a very ancient, holy place and meaningful in different ways to all different kinds of people, but I hadn’t been there since I was a child with my family, so it just felt like a full-circle, playing my music there and also having a chance to explore both cities as an adult, when I could actually appreciate it more.

-3 things you hope to happen during this year?

I hope that I’m able to play some bigger venues – both in the US and Europe – that permit me to bring a full band, or at least strings. I love playing with other musicians but of course it’s very costly as well as logistically challenging, so it’s not always possible…

I also hope that I’m able to find a violinist who sings, to tour with and work with in the studio, regularly. It’s always been my favorite instrument and for a decade after college I had a violinist in my band – but I’ve played mostly solo or with drums and trumpet since then; so it’d be great to get back to some of where it all started for me, in terms of the inspiration of classical elements like I heard as a dancer while growing up. I love mixing orchestral instruments with rock/pop so I just thing it’d be great to find that uniquely talented string player who can also sing harmonies and help me reapproach the music in a new way.

Lastly, I really hope an Olympic-hopeful – whether a skater or a gymnast – hears my music and decides to use it for their routine! It’s always been one of my dreams to have someone perform at that high a level to my music, and I think it does lend itself very well to that kind of discipline. So if anyone reading this would like me to compose something for them, instrumentally, or use one of my prior arrangements for their skating or gymnastics routine, please visit and get in touch with me!

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