Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ Rachael Yamagata

Rachael Yamagata

Rachael Yamagata is an inspiration. As a girl who loves to sing, I was overjoyed and left completely in awe with Rachael’s talent- not only with songwriting, but also how clever of a lyricist and vocalist she is. Her music has a real element of enchantment! Rachael took the time to speak with AMBY, so we had a chat about interior design, maintaining karmic balance, and good water pressure!

AMBY: Hello Rachael, how have you been and what have you been up to lately?

Rachael Yamagata: Doin well, thanks!  We’ve just spent the beginning of 2013 with some shows in Asia and I’ve recently returned to the Chesapeake Bay area for some time to write and plan the next U.S. tour this summer.

AMBY: You released your latest EP, the terrific Heavyweight last year. What are your feelings about it now that you’ve had time to reflect on it?

Rachael Yamagata: I was really happy to have those songs get released. They filled a bit of the ballad space that was as prevalent on my last full length.  Performing them with strings was really great on these last tours.  I released it on my own at first just digitally and now it’s been released worldwide and is in stores.

AMBY: What’s the story behind your beautiful song Heavyweight?

Rachael Yamagata: That was a co-write that I did with one of my favorite friends to write with.  It was inspired a lot by a particular relationship and the years I spent living in Philadelphia.  Philly of course is the home to ‘ROCKY’ and I used to run the Ben Franklin Bridge listening to the movie soundtrack.  It was a daily thing and I guess the idea of a heavyweight champion got ingrained in my psyche.  What I love about that character is the strength and sweet side – the fighter that is so open to love.  Also mixed in was this important relationship I was in that really involved someone who almost attacked the world around him so often in this confrontational way, but had such depth and sorrow and sweetness on the inside.  Living that way, approaching life that way – with such force rather than peace, always struck me as a ‘heavy weight’.  That song is a bit of my plea to let me help shoulder some of the pain and release that burden of feeling like life is a constant fight…

AMBY: Have you begun writing songs for the next record?

Rachael Yamagata: I’ve started the scribbles on random pieces of paper and the random melodies into the iPhone.

AMBY: Who influences you as a songwriter and musician?

Rachael Yamagata: I’m always drawn to words and a story that expresses universal emotion in a new way.  The classic writers of the 70’s seem to really have known how to craft a timeless song.  I don’t live and breathe other music in the way one might think, but when I hear the latest I’m usually first noticing the production on something and how much it evolves. Emotions, challenges, heartache, breakthroughs, the human struggle and great spiritual potential of us all – that’s what inspires my writing.  As a musician, I’m constantly inspired by those around me.  People can kick my ass on a musical level so I’m always craving more education…  Different instruments are so emotive in their own unique way as well.  I’m dying to learn cello or violin….

AMBY: Which three of your songs are quintessential Rachael Yamagata?

Rachael Yamagata: Elephants, Sunday Afternoon, Full On.

AMBY: What’s the funniest thing to happen to you at a gig?

Rachael Yamagata: I was a singer in the first band I was ever in and we had a gig where this one guy came straight to the front of the stage and just kept lobbing his beer at my white shirt while I was singing. I didn’t find it funny at the time, but the guys certainly did!

AMBY: Which artists have you been listening to lately?

Rachael Yamagata: Milk Carton Kids, Margaret Glaspy, The Dove and The Wolf, Ben Arthur…

AMBY: What do you do outside of music for fun?

Rachael Yamagata: I love interior design – even just rearranging furniture or painting a wall if the time allows.  HGTV is my downfall.

AMBY: What song could you live without ever hearing again?

Rachael Yamagata: Hmmm… Plead the fifth – maintain karmic balance?

AMBY: What has you excited for 2013?

Rachael Yamagata: Tours and records… I love that time when you just don’t know what something is going to become… World is an oyster kind of a thing.

AMBY: If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

Rachael Yamagata: On a lighter note – really good water pressure.  Let everyone start their day with an awesome shower.

AMBY: And last but never least, what’s something about Rachael Yamagata that nobody knows?

Rachael Yamagata: I’m really good at packing things into designated space.  Give me an overflowing garage or a bunch of gear and a trailer – indeed…


Thank you Rachael Yamagata, for giving us your answers!

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Alicia Atout

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