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Exclusive Interview With Rachael Sage

Celebrating the release of her 15th studio album, 'The Other Side,' Rachael Sage talks to HATC about her style, live show prep and much more.

Exclusive Interview With Rachael Sage

Thank you Rachael for answering our questions. How are you doing today?
I’m doing great! I just went to see Willie Nelson with my Dad for his 82nd Birthday, which was incredibly inspiring as Willie is 90 years all and sings and plays better than ever. I no longer have any excuses to feel tired, on the road!

We’re half way through the year, how has it been for you so far?
It’s been an incredible ride so far releasing and promoting my new album “The Other Side “. I poured my heart and soul into this record and am so honored to have collaborated with so many amazing musicians on it, including my childhood idol, Howard Jones! Last month I toured throughout the UK with Nell Bryden, a wonderful singer-songwriter, and it felt great to be back on the road again. I’ve been doing shows in the US lately but we’ll be heading back across the pond in a week and playing a bunch of album release shows along with a handful of festivals. The summer is flying by!

What is keeping you busy these days?

My album just came out a week ago, so it’s a very busy time with be being on tour, promoting the album, running my label MPress Records and of course I’m always looking ahead to my next project - writing new material and chipping away at recordings that I already have in progress, whenever I “touch down”. We also just signed an amazing artist to MPress, James Mastro…so we’re working on setting up his new record, which is exciting! 

What do you have planned for this Summer?
I’ll be on tour throughout the UK for all of August, and also making two music video for he songs “I Made A Case” and “Deepest Dark” from my album “The Other Side”. I love being in England in the summer and ca’t wait to get back to my home away from home!

What is your favourite part of touring?
My favorite part of touring is meeting all different kinds of people at each show, and getting a chance to hear their own stories, and how music impacts them on a personal level. There’s always a bit of magic after each gig just hanging out at the merch table – and whether it’s a new fan or someone who’s known me for ages, or a fellow cancer thriver telling me about their current challenges, it’s always meaningful and reminds me just how lucky I am to do what I love!

What would you say is your signature tour feature?
I think my signature tour feature is that I tell colorful stories every night between all the songs that thread them together with humor, in a way that’s almost like a one-woman show. That - and my very sparkly, vibrant wardrobe!

How do you choose your stunning wardrobe for concerts?
I think it more accurately chooses me! I’ve been known to spot sequins in a shop window from several blocks away – ha! I guess I just have a sixth sense for anything colorful, shiny or confusing to my parents lol. I used to walk out the door in one outfit in junior high school and then change into another in the bathroom once I got there. I’ve never really cared about fitting in, thankfully. It allowed me to follow my own instincts when it came to fashion which eventually became my style as a performer. These days I decorate a lot of my clothes, which is something I’ve enjoyed doing for many years but especially during lockdown I painted and embroidered a lot of my wardrobe which is a fun way to walk through the world, onstage and off.

How do you prepare for a live show, do you meditate, do you prefer being alone to get in the zone?
I do meditate, and stretch and do yoga. I also warmup my voice and apply my stage makeup – generally at the same time. It all gets me into “the zone” and ground me mentally and physically. 

You’re about to release your new album ‘The Other Side,’ what are some themes you’re touching upon in this project?
A lot of the songs on this record contain lyrics about transcending challenging circumstances, and triumphing over some kind of obstacle. Others confront issues surrounding around boundaries, standing up against what’s wrong even when it’s not comfortable. 

How do you writing sessions look like? 
I don’t really do “writing sessions” typically. I’ve only ever done 2 cowrites in 15 albums and they were somewhat spontaneous. Generally I write songs quickly when there’s something that moves me deeply and just wants to come out in the form of a song or poem. OR, when someone commissions me to wrote a song – like “Rebecca” on the new album, which my friend asked me to write for his wife’s 50th Birthday.

What is your favourite track on the album (if you can choose) and why?
My favorite track on the album is the title track, because it’s very positive and forward-looking; I think it captures my naturally optimistic attitude and also seems to prompt an audience-sing-along at the live shows, which is always fun!

At Head Above The Clouds, we always like to give a platform to people to speak up about their mental health issues, were there any particular struggles that you had to overcome (if you don't mind sharing)?
I am grateful that through the years I’ve always had music, poetry and visual art as creative and emotional outlets for whatever I may have been feeling or struggling with. In general I’m a very upbeat person but when I went through a cancer experience five ago, I was also simultaneously navigating my way out of a toxic relationship so that was a double-whammy; thankfully I found some modalities - like yoga, acupuncture and meditation - that ultimately allowed my own instincts to come to the fore, and to bolster my mental and physical health enough to finally draw some boundaries and also enlist friends and family to help support me. As someone who others have always looked to for leadership, there is a lot of shame that comes along with asking for help when you find yourself “in over your head”; these days I try to be kinder to myself and when something doesn’t feel right, I am able to take a step back, meditate on it and be less of a people pleaser rather than protecting my own well being. 

What helps you stay positive in moments when that's the last thing you want to do?
Music always helps me stay positive! It really is as close to magic as anything I’ve ever discovered in this lifetime. I also am very fortunate to have a handful of very close friends whose encouragement and laugher are the best medicine! We lift each other up, and I know our love for each other is unconditional which is something I never take for granted.

What are your main coping mechanisms?

Painting, crafting, poetry, songwriting, long walks, meditation, watching movies…and once in a while, a good massage!

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