Artist: Rachel Maxann
Hometown: Memphis, Tennessee
Latest Album: Black Fae
Personal nicknames (or rejected band names): Fickle Hellcat, I ended up making it my last album name instead.
What rituals do you have, either in the studio or before a show?
I absolutely adore my producer and although this isn’t necessarily a ritual, we tend to fall into a pattern when recording. We sit and talk about our lives for a while and generally catch up as friends while I sit in his massage chair. Sometimes I’ll have a glass of wine while he drinks his favorite new cocktail concoction. Then we’ll dim the lights in his studio and we’ll proceed to record whatever we want to work on that day. I’m excited for the next round of songs that we do! I don’t think it would be the same result if we didn’t have such a good friendship.
What has been the best advice you’ve received in your career so far?
Putting my own name on my music first and foremost. I’ve had a fairly long career with many different formats, some of those being bands. In the past, I would be insistent in creating a new band every time I got new players. An old friend gave me the advice of putting my name out there first, because while different players come and go I’ll always have myself and my songs. It really changed the way I presented myself.
Which elements of nature do you spend the most time with and how do those impact your work?
Wood and the water have a profound effect on my mental health. The album cover of Black Fae is actually at my favorite park in Memphis that is close to my house. On good weather days, I’ll take a run or walk with my dog and just enjoy the shady greenery. Though I love water in all its forms, I feel most relaxed at the beach, and if the ocean is not available I spend time by the lake. “Remember the Stars” was written on a month-long solo trip with my dog in Mexico. Every day I would pack my guitar, a book, and my notebook and sit by the beach and just be.
Since food and music go so well together, what is your dream pairing of a meal and a musician?
I would love to pair my music with comfort foods. The lyrics have a lot of difficult topics and emotions, I would want the listener to be in a warm, safe space in case they are triggered by any of the songs. I have a history as a therapist, and whenever I had a client face an especially difficult feeling I would encourage them to have their loved ones nearby as well as their favorite comfort items. It can ease someone in and out of the process. If it were for myself, I would pick up a vegan oxtail meal from my favorite local Memphis chef, Camri McNary AKA The Vegan Goddess.
How often do you hide behind a character in a song or use “you” when it’s actually “me”?
I wouldn’t describe it as hiding behind it, but rather morphing my experience into a way that is more relatable to the listener. In some cases in the process of writing the song, it becomes more of a message to others rather than about myself, because often what I’m writing about is universal experiences even though they’re deeply personal. With “Last Cut” I first wrote it when I was in a dark place and having suicidal ideations. Shortly after having completed the original version, I lost a friend to an overdose which shifted my focus from my own grief to those of my friends and his family. When I sang it later, it naturally evolved into a story of my sadness into a message of awareness as well as encouragement to those that may be having similar feelings.
Photo Credit: Lucia Lombardo