RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW LONDON ARTIST RACHEL HILL
Hiya folks, thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today. Grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide to become a soloist?
I performed my first solo when I had just turned 8, it was ‘Colours of the Wind’ from Pocahontas and I had just joined a new school. Since then I’ve performed as a soloist in a variety of genres, from opera to pop, but I always love connecting with an audience as a vocalist, it’s such a unique connection.
How would you describe your musical history?
I always wanted to become a singer, and for a long time I thought I wanted to be a classical singer (not your average 11-year-old, announcing that they want to be an opera singer when they grow up!) It was only once I was studying classical music fulltime that I realised I had more of a connection with songs I was writing myself. I loved the technical challenges that classical training had to offer, but I don’t think anything can compare to singing a song that you have written yourself; it brings with it a whole different level of connection and people pick up on that when they listen as well.
What’s one question you’re sick of being asked when interviewed?
What is your genre! I ask other musicians this question all the time so it’s very hypocritical, but I’m not ready to put my sound into one box yet, labels can get a little limiting. It’s much easier to think outside the box if you don’t know where or what the box is!
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?
Did you buy anything you didn’t need during the pandemic?
A lot of wool… I had a go at crochet for about 2 days and then decided I would become a pro… now I just have a lot of wool lying around.
Do you have a useless party trick?
I can do the Mexican wave with my eyebrows (true story)
What is the most fun you have ever had on stage?
The first time I managed to pull off some audience participation was on the day Ice Cubes was released. It was such a heart-warming moment, hearing everyone sing my lyrics back to me (especially since the lyric was ‘It’ll be OK’ – a good one to calm any performance nerves!)
What was the worst experience on stage?
When I was 14 I entered a local talent competition and got through to the final. When it came to my turn to perform my own song, I had a little introduction prepared. I managed the introduction fine but then forgot how the song started. Every. Single. Lyric. I played the guitar introduction about 8 times and then had to stop and leave the stage! Thankfully that experience hasn’t repeated itself!
Tell us something about yourself that you think people will be surprised about.
My favourite animal is a pigeon, and I have a song specifically dedicated to pigeons. It’s one of my favourites to play and I nearly always perform it at my live gigs.
If you had to describe your music to an alien, how would you describe it?
A sound that makes you a little bit happy, and little bit weepy, and a little bit calmer, all in equal measure.
What makes you stand out as an artist? Entering the world of pop music from a classical background gave me a lot of imposter syndrome initially. However, I’m learning to love the unique parts of my voice and my compositional style that I gained through so many years of classical music education.
Right now, what’s pissing you off the most? (Can’t say the virus)
Being underestimated, particularly by men in the music industry. It may only be a few people, but you can bet everything that they are the loudest, and the ones that can pull the most strings. Being underestimated is thankfully something I thrive off though, and it’s given me a lot of inspiration for my upcoming album!
What’s your favourite song to play live and why?
There’s a song I wrote called ‘Hate Me’ and it always seems to move people. I wrote it as an apology to my boyfriend for being a toxic partner, and it always resonates with someone in the room, who comes and mentions it to me after my set. We all have our toxic traits, and sometimes being truly honest about our weaknesses can make the most relatable lyrics.
I hear you have a new single, what can you tell us about it?
Yes, it’s called Ice Cubes and I’m super proud of it. It’s the first track I’ve released in a couple of years and it’s been great to start putting music out there again.
Talk me through the thought process of Ice Cubes.
I just write songs about anything and everything I go through or come across in other people’s lives. That sort of method doesn’t necessarily mean there is much of a train of thought between my songs, but it is interesting to sometimes see a recurring message. I’ll suddenly look back through a couple of recently-written songs and think ‘oh – THAT was what my subconscious has been trying to tell me!’ Ice Cubes started out with quite a quirky opening line, and then I thought ‘this could be a really interesting metaphor, what am I actually trying to say here’. I don’t like to dictate how people should interpret my music, but for me, the single describes craving that moment of relief, or some sort of numbness when everything becomes a bit overwhelming.
What was the recording process like?
Since beginning my masters in Commercial Songwriting and Production at Tileyard, London, I have been able to work with producer Vittorio Tondo, who makes the process of recording so easy. I’m such a fan of layering harmony after harmony, and I barely have to ask nowadays, Vittorio will just make a new track for me as soon as I’ve finished the first and start labelling it ‘harmony number…’ we can do as many as 10-20 vocal layers. You can hear all the harmonies kick in towards the end of Ice Cubes – the voices hit you like a wall, and that’s probably my favourite moment in the song.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the single?
I really wanted my voice to sound as close to the listener as possible, and we played around with so many vocal effects in the post-production, especially for the last section. In the end we just decided to keep the vocal at the end dry and compressed, so that it sounds like I’m right in your ear.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
This is probably the first recoding ever where I can listen to it back and not think ‘ooh I should have changed that’, or ‘that’s a bit pitchy’, I’m really proud of it and that’s a lovely feeling to have.
What are your plans for the year ahead?
I’ll be spending the next couple of months preparing my next single, which will be released on the 27th of May. After that, it will be full steam ahead for the album later in the year. No half measures in 2022!
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
My favourite quote is taken from ‘The Help’ by Katheryn Stockett: ‘you is smart, you is kind, you is important’.