Rachele Lynae’s first memory of music was running around her Alaskan home as a young girl singing all of songs from ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘Aladdin’. Along with those epic masterpieces, Rachele was greatly influenced by her father’s post dinner country music sessions. Thanks to her father she was introduced to and instantly fell in love with the likes of Willie Nelson and other country greats. Rachele would eventually go on to discover the music of Reba McEntire, Shania Twain, and Leann Rimes. It was these artists who inspired her to put pen to paper and begin developing her own musical talent. By age twelve Rachele had successfully written numerous songs and by age seventeen she would take those songs out on the road and perform them to riveted audiences. In what would prove to be one of the best moves of her budding career, Rachele packed up her bags and headed to Nashville to attend Belmont University. It was there that she would impress musician Jimmy Murphy with a five song EP, which he immediately shared with his well known daughter, country music singer Jamie O’Neal. The pairing of Rachele with Jamie ignited a fire that shows no signs of slowing down. Armed with a new EP and her new single ‘Fishin’ For Something’, Rachele is poised to explode upon the country music scene. Steve Johnson of Icon vs Icon recently sat down with the golden throated singer-songwriter to discuss her influences, what keeps her inspired, the success of her new single ‘Fishin’ For Something’, and her recently released ‘Party Pack’ EP.
Tell me a little about your first memories of music and how it came into your life.
I was told I started singing about the same time I started talking. It was really early on. I’m not exactly sure! [laughs] From a young age I started singing all of the Disney songs. That was probably the first memory. I would sing the music from Aladdin word for word. The Little Mermaid and things like that. When I was a kid, after dinner my dad would pull out the guitar and start playing country songs. He would sing Willie Nelson, Dan Fields, and so on. From a very early age, it was a huge part of my life.
You just mentioned a couple of great artists. Who would you cite as your greatest influences?
When I was younger it was definitely Reba McEntire, Shania Twain, and Leann Rimes. Leann was a big influence just because she was still young and I was young. I was like, “Hey! If she can do it, I can do it!” [laughs] That was really inspiring to a young girl. As I got older, people like Gerry O’Neill. Jason Aldean and people like that who took country and added a bit of rock to it.
Why did you decided to pursue music as a career instead of going a different route?
I always wanted to be a singer since I was very little. I think when you’re really little you don’t necessarily understand why you have one career over another. Sometimes I would be like, “I want to be a singer and a policeman!” [laughs] When you get older you realize you have to pick one career. That was an easy choice.
What has kept you inspired as a musician through the years? Is there something in particular that fuels your creativity?
I don’t know if there’s any one thing. As a songwriter, I can get inspired by anything. You could be walking down the street and see something that inspires you. I have a song… A friend of mine had a Jeep and it was the summertime. It was hot and my hair was sticking to my lip gloss. That ended up being the beginning to a song. It’s the little things that you see, the stories that I experience in my life, or my friend’s stories. It can be almost anything.
For people that haven’t heard your music, how would you best describe it?
I’m a country rocker. It’s country with a little bit of that classic rock feel. I’m a songwriter, so a lot of my songs are stories that come directly from my life or from my friend’s lives. When someone comes to a live show they are going to see a really energetic show. There will be a lot of jumping around and skipping around. It’s really energetic and fun!
Do you think you have evolved any as a musician since starting out?[laughs] Definitely! The first time I was in a studio, I was ten years old! So, I certainly hope that I have evolved! [laughs] It’s kind of a never ending process. I hope that when you ask me in a couple of years from now, I certainly I hope I have! Every time that you put out an album or you’re on the road for a certain amount of time, you’re growing and evolving. You’re constantly growing. I pull things directly from my life for songs. I’m going to have different stories to tell and I’m going to have a different perspective to put on them as the years go on and as my life story evolves.
You recently released your ‘Party Pack’ EP. How has that been received so far?
So far, so good! We’re working on a full album that is to be released. It’s been really cool to see people sing back lyrics at shows and to get the comments on Facebook and some reviews on iTunes. There’s one song that has been put up on iTunes that they tell has had the second most downloads next to my single. It’s called ‘Loaded Gun.’ It’s funny because that song, for whatever reason, I’ve been like, “Everyone’s going to love this song!” For some reason it’s taken some stirring to get some other people at the label excited about it. Even my co-writers thought it was cool and they were happy and proud of the song, but I was really excited about it. It’s been really cool to see that my instincts were correct on that. It’s been exciting to see how people receive it.
Tell us a little about the writing process for the EP. How did it initially come together and play itself out?
When I first came to Belmont, I was used to writing by myself. I was very happy writing by myself. [laughs] I had a professor that was like, “You really need to start co-writing. That’s how you network in this town and you’ll also pick up tricks from other writers. It’s a good thing to do.” I was like, “That’s really going to throw off my schedule.” I was really ornery about it. He finally pushed it enough to where I started co-writing a little bit. I have come to absolutely love it. You get two sets of ears, two sets of eyes, and two brains working on the same song. It’s really cool. You’re connecting to other, you just don’t have to go out! [laughs]
What can you tell us about your typical songwriting process?
Normally when I sit down to co-write, I have three or four ideas I am looking at to pitch to whoever I am writing with. They will usually has a couple of ideas as well. You kind of start out like, “What kind of mood are you in today?” You kind of feel each other out. We may feel like writing something upbeat that day or you could be in a really moody place where you want to write a ballad. Then we will narrow down the ideas that we picked and say, “I have this idea. It goes like this so far.” Then I’ll play what I have or explain the concept. They’ll be like, “That’s cool. That’s cool. Well, I have this.” You then figure out which idea you are both in a place mentally and emotionally to write on that day.
Jamie O’Neal produced your EP. What’s it like working with her and what does a talent like her bring to the table?
What does she not bring to the table is the question! [laughs] Jamie is an amazing writer and singer. I was a fan of Jamie before I ever got to meet her personally because of her album Shiver that had ‘When I Think About Angels’ and ‘There is no Arizona’ and many other songs. Every song on that album could have been a single. That album came out right when I was getting serious about songwriting. I studied that album. She was the first person I was a fan of as a singer and a songwriter. I stood in the fan line. I got the picture. I got the autograph. Years later when I graduated from Belmont I was looking for my next step. I made a list of people that I knew in the industry and one of them happened to be her dad. So we sat down and I had an EP I worked on in college. I was like, “If you listen to this and you get it and you believe in it, then help me out.” He called me right after that and was like, “Rachelle I had no idea!” He set up the meeting with Jamie. From the time that I stepped into her house, I was nervous that I was going to be nervous! [laughs] I was so excited to meet her and to be able to play music for her. She welcomed me with open arms. I’ve always been sort of fearless and she brought out a new level of that by being so encouraging of my creativity. We just clicked right away. As far as the writing process, there’s this fearlessness that she bring further out of me. Whether it’s in the recording studio where she hits the playback button and is like, “Hey! You should probably do something like this.” Then she sings this ridiculous lick. I’m like, “Oh my gosh! I don’t know if I can do that!” [laughs] She hits a cord and you’re like, “OK!” [laughs] She pushes me vocally to do things that I didn’t realize I was able to do and I was. In the writing stage she really taught me how to be comfortable just throwing out ideas. Honestly, when you’re writing you can’t be afraid of something being stupid. Half of the things you say are going to be stupid, but the other half are going to be brilliant. If you don’t just say them, then you’re never going to know which it is. So that’s been amazing. Jamie has really been a mentor to me on pretty much all levels. She taught me how to go shopping and do the girly artist stuff. [laughs] She’s been helpful in every aspect.
Were there any challenges to putting together the music on this EP?
I’m so close to all of the songs that I can’t pick one song over another. That’s another place where Jamie came in and was really helpful. I have so many songs that aren’t even going to make the album. I would not have been able to pick one song over the other. For me that was the hardest thing, letting go of the songs that didn’t make it and picking some songs over other songs.
You’re new single, ‘Fishin For Something’, is doing amazingly well. Tell me a little about how you put the song together and are you happy with the success that it has had?
It’s still early on for ‘Fishin’. I’m really excited and hopeful that it continues to grow. I wrote that with one of my best girlfriends, Hannah Bethel. We enjoy writing together because we know each others thoughts in our writing process so well. It’s just easy to write together. We had scheduled to write one day and she came in with this idea of combining fishing with being out and being hit on. [laughs] You know, fishing for something that ain’t in the water. It was perfect for us because she and a number of our friends like to go out line dancing. We like to have a girl’s nights. We’ll get all dolled up and what not. We’ve found that it’s almost inevitable that at least one person in the group is going to be approached by some random guy that we don’t know around midnight or something. [laughs] He’ll be like, “Hey! Whatcha doing later?” [laughs] They’ll be like, “Thanks, but no thanks!” [laughs] So we were like, this is a funny way to respond to that.
I know it’s relatively early on for that song, but how has it affected your career? Do you see it pulling in a lot of new fans?
I do. It’s cool. I try to be really active on social media and respond as much as I can to fans on Facebook and on Twitter. Some of them are like, “I just heard you on Sirius/XM! Oh my gosh, you’re amazing!” Some of them will follow up and learn more about me and be like, “Oh my gosh! I love this song too!” I see a lot of fans that are coming in from hearing the song on the radio and being excited about it there and then doing their research and discovering who I was. That’s so cool, when your song is connecting with someone so much that they want to figure out who you are. That’s really cool!
You’ve mentioned a full length record. When might that see the light of day?
We’re hoping to get it out by the end of the year, but we don’t have a solid timeline. That side of things isn’t really up to me. I do my side of it, than kind of rely on the label. It’s a matter of how ‘Fishin’ does and where everything in the market is, but we are hoping to have it out by the end of the year.
What can people expect when they come to see you perform live?
A lot of energy, fun, and sass! [laughs] For some songwriters it’s really important for them to stand out in front of the band and be distinctly different. Everyone kinda stands in their own places. With my live show, I like the guys to be rock stars. It’s their show too. All of us are having a great time on stage. There’s the running around. There are guitar wars going on sometimes. [laughs] It’s a lot of fun.
Would you consider that the best part of playing live or is there something else that you would consider the best part of being live on stage in front of people?
I love every aspect of performing live, well aside from technical difficulties! [laughs] The most powerful thing is when you see your songs affecting people. When you see people singing the words back to you, it’s amazing! As a songwriter, I am writing down my stories knowing and hoping that those stories will connect with other people who don’t necessarily have a means of communicating themselves. Not everyone can write songs. Not everyone can sing. I want to help give them a voice, so they can communicate their story. To be able to see people singing back to you and you are all sharing this connection, it’s really magical.
Where and when can people catch up with you on tour?
The best way to figure that out is to look at my website. As things get closer I post them on Facebook, but the best place to look is my website. Right now the focus is radio tours. I go around and I visit radio and we sneak in shows wherever we can. [laughs]
Country music has changed quite drastically throughout the years and many people claim it has become to pop driven. What are your thoughts on that and what would you say to people who claim the genre isn’t what it used to be?
It’s not. Country music isn’t what it used to be, especially some of the newer stuff. Every genre of music is going to evolve. I fall somewhere between. I don’t like it when things are too extremely pop. When you’re like, “Where’s the country in this song?” [laughs] At the same time something really cool has been happening. Country music has been drawing in a lot more listeners because they hear something a little more like what they are used to hearing and they’ll start checking out the rest of the genre. Even stuff that may be more straight up obvious country. They’ll be like, “Oh! I actually do like country!” While I understand the complaints with that change, I think it’s been really positive to expand country music.
Is there anything that you consider the defining moment of your career so far or are you still waiting for that moment to happen?
I guess I would lean toward the second, but there have been a lot of little ones along the way. The moment where Jimmy and Jamie approached me and said that they had a dream of starting their own record label, and they’ve been waiting for somebody that they could believe in and push, and they thought that was me. That was huge! Getting to open for a legend like Leon Russell was mindblowing. Sitting down with John Marks over at Sirius/XM and having him tell me that they decided to add the record. That was life changing. There were so many moments along the way. [laughs] I’ve had a lot of those little moments, but I haven’t experienced one ultimate moment yet.
Do you have any advice for anyone who might like to get involved in the music industry?
It depends on what part of the industry they want to get involved in. First of all I tell everyone you have to be passionate, whether its on the business side or you want to be an artist or a musician. If you eat, sleep, and breathe it, then I encourage you to step forward. If you don’t, you should find something else. It’s not easy. It’s very challenging. There’s a misconception about that out there. So that’s the first thing I say. If someone’s like, “No! This is all I really want!” I’m like, OK! You have to jump in with both of your feet!” If you go into the business side you are going to have to be looking for internships and things that don’t necessarily pay a lot, but places where you can start to get to know people and start networking and building relationships. If you’re willing to be the go to guy, then you are going to start to become the go to guy. That’s how you get involved on the business side. As a musician or a singer you need to take every opportunity that you can have to perform. If someone asks you to sing, sing. No matter where you are, if the gig is ten people or ten thousand people. The point is that you’re getting your name and your music out there. You never know who’s in that crowd. There could be five people. If one of them is the head of a major record label and they are excited about you, that’s all you needed. You never know.
That’s all I have for you today Rachele. Do you have last words for your fans out there?
I call all of my fans Rachele’s Rebels. I just look forward to meeting them all at shows. I’d like to thank them for all of their encouraging comments and their efforts to share my music with other people. They have been amazing to me and they continue to encourage and inspire me every day.
We wish you all the best out there and hope your career goes well! Maybe we’ll catch up down the road to see how you are doing.
That sounds good! Thank you so much!
For all the latest news and dates for Rachael Lynae, visit her official website at www.rachelelynae.com!