By Andrew Hamlin
Northwest Asian Weekly
Hailing originally from Arlington, Va., singer-songwriter Rachael Yamagata started her professional musical career with a group called “Bumpus” in Chicago. She went solo in 2001. She’s released three full-length albums, five EPs, and several singles. She played at the Crocodile on Oct. 20th, and she took some questions over e-mail.
NWAW: Have you played Seattle before? If so, which venues and what kind of reception do you get?
Rachael Yamagata: I’ve been playing Seattle for years now – audiences have always been super fun. Definitely have played Tractor Tavern and Crocodile Café a lot. I’ve been lucky to have a returning audience that seems to follow me here.
NWAW: What are your favorite towns and venues to play, and why?
Yamagata: There are too many to count. It’s tricky to find time to explore when you are on the road, but certainly the venue crews, sound systems, and general vibe of the place make a big difference. Seattle is always my favorite coffee spot and when we can get down to Pike Place, it’s always a blast.
NWAW: What kind of impact has being part Asian, and biracial, had on your life and work? How did your various heritages shape you?
Yamagata: I think I can relate to a broad scope of people beyond cultural differences. I grew up with four parents, all with different backgrounds and learned love without boundaries. My Japanese side of the family may be less open on the outside, but have just as much sensitivity and heart as my very extroverted Italian side. I’ve always appreciated what connects ourselves to one another at a core level and that’s what I look for when I’m writing songs.
NWAW: You’re becoming big in Korea! How does performing and interacting with fans in Korea differ with fans stateside and elsewhere?
Yamagata: I’m always so delighted that my fans in Korea are very interested in my lyrics and the emotion behind a song. They are moved very deeply by the music and are incredibly supportive.
NWAW: Out of all the instruments you play, which is your favorite and why? Do you compose on more than one instrument? If so, how does composing vary between instruments?
Yamagata: I love the guitar because I’m the least knowledgeable on it. Not knowing an instrument well can force you to write very atypical progressions and really tune into your intuition on a song. Piano I love because of the many notes to a chord that you can cover at once. I’ll write with anything that has the right ‘sound’ for a track. I’ve got a new one that started with the sound of rain falling on a metal stool…
NWAW: What can we expect from your new album early next year? Do you have a title picked out? Which new directions have you found?
Yamagata: I’m still playing with the title, but I’m very excited for the new songs. They are gritty in a new way and lyrically more optimistic, but sonically more creepy. I’ve had images of a tightrope walker running through various themes, as well as a healing sweat lodge experience ‘vision’ of sorts. Haven’t quite figured out how to explain what the album is becoming yet, but it’s shaping into something mystical and dreamy.
NWAW: What else can we expect from you in 2015?
Yamagata: I’ll be staying on the road for a big part of next year. After this tour, I’ll be returning home to finish the record and record an acoustic version of my first record ‘Happenstance’. I’m hoping to release the new record in February or March to coincide with a run I’m doing with Josh Radin, in Asia in the late spring I believe. It’s gonna be busy and fun! (end)
Andrew Hamlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.