Rachael Yamagata Talks Making Music, Collaborating With Jason Mraz & What To Expect Next
Let’s first make one thing very clear: Rachael Yamagata coined the breakup anthem long before Taylor Swift threatened to burn her ex’s picture on Nashville country radio. When Happenstance first dropped in 2004, Yamagata’s strong yet mournful vocals became a comforting companion to anyone who had ever been left hanging by the phone all night or broken up with someone and never quite gotten that necessary closure.
With that in mind, it is hard to reconcile that sad yet soulful young woman with the fierce, funny and above all happy force who graced the stage at Webster Hall this past week. Then again, why shouldn’t she be happy? With a new album set to drop in 2016, and a European tour beginning in February, Yamagata has quite a lot to be proud of. She took the time to talk to us love, music and some of the things she has learned along the way.
You have already had a pretty long career, what have been some of the best moments you have had throughout?
Getting to work with artists like Jason Mraz, and Liz Phair, just getting to be onstage with that kind of musical genius has been pretty incredible.
I saw that you have collaborated with some pretty cool people, Jason Mraz being one of them, what are some of the most important things you have learned through working with them?
Seeing people’s songwriting processes and learning how to handle the business on a professional level was a very important lesson. I have learned how to be more spontaneous onstage and off. I have definitely learned to laugh more these days. The lifestyle sort of strikes me as hilarious now. When things happen to you that you don’t expect, losing your voice onstage, just not being able to plan for certain things, you learn to just kind of go with it.
How has your music changed as you have grown?
Sonically I tend to change from record to record. The first album I released was very pop, whereas the second was a but more moody and dark. My new album is radically different. I have learned to just go with my instincts when recording so that you get something new and different every time.
Your past albums have been very much based around love and breakups, how does that compare to your music now?
My music now is not about breakups, it’s not even really about love. It’s more about my personal journey, learning to take charge of my life and being comfortable in my own skin. Sonically it sounds a lot darker and edgier but if you listen to the lyrics you see it’s actually a lot more optimistic.
These days pop stars get a lot of shit when they write about their relationships in music (especially female pop stars), as someone who has based a lot of their music around the subject, I wanted to know your thoughts on that.
The important thing when writing music is to make magic out of whatever inspires you. It doesn’t matter what it is. If someone judges you, so what? It’s ballsy just to put yourself out there and create something new. Artists have to stay away from internal and external judgment because when you overthink something, you lose it completely. When you can put those judgments aside and just create, I think that that in itself is pretty amazing.
What advice would you give to someone who is getting into music for the first time?
Write as much as you can, play live as much as you can and just be authentic. If you have an instinct, go with it. Don’t be afraid.
What is coming up next for you?
I’ll be going to Asia and then Hawaii and after that returning to finish my press campaign for the new record, which is coming out early next spring.
Any last thoughts for the fans?
Remember the joyous nature of life, every day is a gift to be experienced to its fullest.