It's no secret that I am a big fan of Rachel Sermanni. Since first hearing her support Admiral Fallow back in 2010 as a timid songstress, I've been encapsulated by her voice and songs. Last year I tipped her as an act to watch out for in 2012, and her debut EP 'Black Currents' which was released earlier this year did nothing to sway me from the opinion that she will become a bigger artist this year. With an album, 'Under Mountains', being released in the second half of 2012, we posed Rachel our usual questions. Have a read below.
Hello, how are you?
Fine. Thank you.
It's the question everyone hates, but could you tell us a little bit about your music and your influences?
It is a difficult question to answer. My music won't necessarily reflect my influences... but hey-ho. I was brought up in the highlands of Scotland so partook in the feis (traditional music residentials) and joined a ceilidh trailing band in my senior school years. I began writing and performing my stuff in secondary school but, when it comes to influences, I can only remember trying to keep up with whatever was cool on the radio. I had musical friends who were always stretching their ears and listening to people who I didn't get moved by until much later on. The boys in my class always encouraged me to listen to people like Bright Eyes, Sufjan Stevens and King Creosote. I once tried to sit through a whole Bjork song. But I couldn't. I was inspired by their independent thinking but wasn't ready for their music, perhaps. Only after leaving school did I find a resonance with these goodies and many more. I wasn't moved by much other than the stuff you can move to... ken. After school I was dropped into a big musical mixing pot and discovered a liking for all things a little darker. I read more. I would now state I get as much for my writing from words and poets and writers as music and musicians. I keep discovering more people to be inspired by and more to be scared and challenged by. I have a lot to learn.
What's your song writing process like?
I used to write late into the night in the safety of my bedroom; songs developed quickly. Nowadays, nights are spent singing in places other than my bedroom, entertaining people. I have to keep my imagination and fingers playing and I have to retain that sense of security wherever I go. I carry many notebooks, sketchbooks, novels, stories and poetry books in my bag. Musical ideas are becoming tricky to manifest. Even when you're in a hotel room on your own, you're still aware the walls are thin and someone might be trying to sleep. I think the process boils down to accumulating words and images, chords and structures and then developing an idea that feels like something truthful and present in me. Then you have to find a space to finish it all off. It takes time.
What could we expect to see from a live show?
I sing and play the guitar. If it's quiet then you're in for more of a treat as I think I work better in those environments... although I do like a challenge. You can expect me to say a couple ambiguous things that I didn't mean to offend by, and you can expect some silence in between songs as I like silences and settling into them.
If it were all to end tomorrow, what would you say has been your greatest achievement?
I am very proud of how things have gone. I am very much in love with the friends I have met through all that has been. One of my most favourite things was one of the first ever recordings that I did which was with my newly found friends in a bothy in a forest. We called the unofficial EP 'The Bothy Sessions' and it renewed me in many ways. It was all completely live, everything was imperfect and spontaneous and the night roared on with bagpipes and whisky and charcoal on faces and sunrise when the recording apparatus was finally switched off. I have been so pleased with all the releases. They have been a wonderful way to mark the progress.
What have you got planned for the second half of 2012?
This is the year of the debut album, 'Under Mountains'. It will be released after the summer and will entail a large tour of both the UK and Europe. I'll be touring solo for a good amount of it but sometimes will be joined by my good friends (I prefer to call them sisters) Laura Wilkie, Siobhan and Louise Bichan on the fiddles and Jennifer Austin on the piano. It will be mad. I am very excited.
At Scottish Fiction we focus on new Scottish music, how do you as an artist view the Scottish music 'community'?
It is thriving and seems to get larger and more colourful with each year. Everyone knows everyone. Everyone helps everyone. We are very well supported in many ways. Got some great festivals, got a lot of focus from blogs like Scottish Fiction that keep us present online. I feel a sense of pride when I read of fellow Scots when we're looking through festival booklets.
What other Scottish artists would you recommend to the Scottish Fiction readers?
Admiral Fallow, Miss Irenie Rose, Eugene Twist, Red Kites, Anderson, McGinty, Webster, Ward and Fisher.
Thanks for speaking with us, would you care to share a joke with us?
Pressure. ... No I can't think of one!
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