Can you talk to us more about your single “Jackal ii”? Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
“Jackal ii” is a song about the loss of a close friend, the devastation I felt about his death and the things I told myself to cope. It involves a lot of self-talk and was really a meditation on how to regain control of my life in the wake of such despair. Just like the intro says, I was sitting in the floor of my ridiculously bare room when I wrote it–I found a lot of peace in minimalism at the time. I pulled out an old toy Casio keyboard from my closet that my grandpa had given me, and every word just poured out. In some ways, the song was an assessment of what exactly I needed to keep surviving, and writing it helped me voice my psychological game plan, as well as suss out a lot of emotions I had tried to suppress.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
Definitely! There’s a video in progress now, and it should be done in a week or so.
The single comes off your new album Popular Music For The Wholesome Families – what’s the story behind the title?
The title is actually “Popular Songs for Wholesome Families.” I realized I’d been writing a lot of songs about my family, and it made me think about how I filter my experiences. Everything I do, I can trace back to childhood experiences that shaped me. This album is a collection of songs that illustrates how I was shaped by my family’s mythology. The album’s title is kind of a throwback to 1950s and 60s era albums and values, and the actual record presents a nice juxtaposition to the title.
How was the recording and writing process?
I wrote a bunch of songs and brought them to my friend Lucas Oswald and said, “Let’s make a record.” He’s a really talented songwriter, musician and producer, and I knew the songs would be in very capable hands. We’re close friends, and we’ve worked together a lot in the past. We recorded it at Centro Cellar Studio in Columbia, MO, and at Good Danny’s in Austin, TX.
What led you to seek for a new direction this record?
I had been doing the Americana thing for a few years, and though my loyalties really reside in that rootsy, folky vein, there’s only so much a musician can convey with acoustic instrumentation. I wanted my sound to get weirder and more multi-faceted, and it wasn’t attainable without selecting a new palette of sounds.
Any plans to hit the road?
Definitely. I’ll do a few tour dates when the album drops and then hopefully do a more extensive tour this fall.
How much did dreams and sorrow get to inspire the songs and lyrics on this album?
If you mean literal dreams, I do include a lot of my dream imagery in songs. I’ve always believed that the best lyrics are the ones that tie a sentiment to a lasting image, and dreams provide bizarre, ethereal and sometimes profound sequencing of images and scenarios.
Sorrow is necessary to make compelling art because it’s an emotion that implies an understanding of joy. It’s a massive part of human existence; it covers everything. My goal is to allow myself to fully feel sorrow without being defeated by it.
What else is happening next in Rae Fitzgerald’s world?
After the album’s released, I’ll take a little time to focus on other types of writing—mostly poetry and non-fiction—that I haven’t had time for. Then it’s on to the next musical phase. I’d like to record an EP this summer that serves as “supplemental songs” to the full record.
How would you classify your music? My music is loosely Americana, folk, singer-songwriter, and I …