INTERVIEW: Rachel Ana Dobken

Hi Rachel, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hey guys! Thank you so much for having me! I have been well, just busy. It never seems to stop but I keep being told that’s not necessarily a bad thing?!

Can you tell us more about your latest single “Always”?

Sure! So “Always” is a groovy, guitar heavy, love song. I joke that it is what Levon Helm would write if he wrote an Indie-Rock song. It’s about the unquestionable feelings of finding genuine love and knowing that desire is mutual. In a day and age where you have to sift through more BS than ever, it’s about that moment when it all clicks and you can finally say, YES! On the track I’m playing drums, guitar and singing.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Yes! Meeting my boyfriend and the journey we’ve taken together these past two years. I started writing it at the beginning of our relationship in particular.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

We are currently working that out. The record comes out in it’s entirety in October, so we’re discussing what single will be next and potentially what single I will shoot a video for.

The single comes off your new album When It Happens To You – what’s the story behind the title?

The title of the album actually came to me in a poem I wrote. But in a nutshell, it’s about the feelings of experiencing things in life that finally click for you.  You go through the motions (relationships, struggles with yourself or others, etc.) where people give you advice, and say “oh but you won’t really know until you experience it yourself.” But when you do, there is the “a-ha” moment, and you know what it means, “When it happens to you!”

How was the recording and writing process?

When it comes to writing, different parts of songs come to me at different times. Sometimes if I’m lucky within a week, other times it can take months. Usually I can do an intro/verse/chorus in one sitting. Then I put the song down and come back to it. Tracking was a pleasure, we recorded at Cedar Sounds in Oceanport, NJ. It was a ton of work being that I played guitar, drums, piano and sang and also self-produced this baby (yes, because I’m crazy).

Going into tracking, I had all the songs completely written (from start-finish), but I’d say about 60% of the songs were totally complete. Meaning, we had played them live with the band, every instrument knew what it was doing and how it fit. The other 40% of the songs had arrangement work to be done while tracking and mixing, one of which was actually “Always.” There was a lot of trial and error that went into the lead guitar part, and also much thought behind the bass and drums parts the verse/chorus’s. That is what holds the song together. As you get more involved listening to my music, you will come to realize that every instrument plays a very specific and intentional part.

What role does Asbury Park play in your music?

I’ve been asked this question a lot lately. Asbury Park is an incredibly loving and supportive scene where people value art/music greatly. That has given us musicians the opportunity to get up and perform constantly (more than half the battle). It has also helped me blossom and find the right people to play with (aka my bandmates)— Dan Haase (bass) Andy Jackle (drums)… sometimes Joey Henderson (guitar, keys), Mark Masefield (B3 Organ) or Ryan MacLean (guitar- who I played with in college).

I also have to give major thanks to Rock & Roll Photographer Danny Clinch, who has given me (and our community) so much in regards to advice, opportunities and photos (He shot the album cover- I am still pinching myself over this!).  Danny is my boss at his Transparent Gallery down here, where I am the musical director. We have transformed the space into a collaborative music hub that allows for magical musical moments that could not exist in other more structured venues.

You listed My Morning Jacket and Lake Street Drive as influences – what about their music has inspired you?

Lake Street Dive is a band I get compared to a lot, I think vocally mostly to Rachael Price because we have a similar sound and tone to our voice. That “jazzy”-ness.  I love their new record, it is brilliant. I think their music is brighter and lighter than mine, but it has a similar vibe in certain ways. I love everything about My Morning Jacket. If I had to say certain things in particular, it is the emotional sentiment behind their music and their epic guitar tones and arrangements. The riffs and textural pieces here and there…another huge influence of mine is The Band and I know Jim James in particular is a huge fan of their’s.

You are known for combining different genres – how do you balance them?

The key to understanding HOW to do this is to not think about it at all. I simply just allow the music to exist on it’s own free of thinking or analyzing. I do what is honest and true. I don’t care if it sounds like something from 1999 or 1969, as long as it’s me and has it’s own unique nature. I also spend a lot of time listening to all different kinds of music and subconsciously absorbing what I love. For a person who is a such a control freak, and spends so much of her time analyzing, this is the one thing I know I never think about, I just allow my brain and body to produce whatever makes sense at that time.

Sure, I am extremely conscientious of the fact that music exists CONTEXTUALLY so once I have the basis for a song, then I can decide (through tones, textures, parts, etc.) what would make sense FOR THAT SONG because I know the sound I am going for. So in that sense, I think about it. But I’d say 80% of it is just letting a song live and breathe without thinking about it.

Where did you find the inspiration for lyrics on “Always”?

The lyrics are directly related to the “feel” of the song, the pulse of the bass and drums. I realize I tend to do this a lot, and I think it’s because my heart lies with the drums and I can’t ever get away from the groove. But in regards to inspiration, it was my boyfriend who inspired me, and all of the exciting emotions you feel when you are in a new relationship. That energy is palpable and it’s what I tried to capture in the lyrics as well as the music itself.

Any plans to hit the road?

Working on it! Yes we would love to, just a couple of things to figure out first (it always feels there are a couple of things to figure out first)?!

What is happening next in the Rachel Ana Dobken world?

Right now I am doing what I can to help the Danny Clinch Gallery continue to thrive down here in Asbury. We are swiftly approaching the Sea Hear Now Festival which Danny has co-produced so that is exciting and consuming our time. I am continuing to push promo hard for the 2 singles and for the upcoming record, potential next single, and working on some show dates! Hope to see you guys soon, and please follow me for any updates, shows and new music! There will more coming soon!!! Spotify is best—

Listen here








Twitter: @rachandob

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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