INTERVIEW: Rachael Sage

Reporting from Galway, Ireland, New York City-based artist Rachael Sage takes a few minutes out of her busy schedule to bring VENTS up to speed with everything. You may wonder why she is all the way in Ireland? Sage is on the road supporting the legendary Imelda May on her UK/Ireland tour.

Just before Sage packed up her bags and flew across the pond, she surprised her fans with a new release, ‘Revelation Ground,’ the first one after a two-year break. It is a whimsical Brigherton soundtrack-worthy masterwork.

During our chat, Sage feels rested, refreshed, and ready to embark on new endeavors, saying goodbye to feeling shame and insecurities and projecting more confidence and being less apologetic.

Read on for more insights into the Rachael Sage world.

Hi Rachael, thanks so much for speaking with us today, how are you doing?

I’m doing great! Currently in Galway, which is such a fabulous and interesting place. I’ve been here before but it’s been awhile so it all feels very exciting!

We know that you’ve been a quite a long tour with Imelda May, how has that all been?

It’s been wonderful to be a part of Imelda’s “Made To Love” tour! She is such a lovely and generous person on top of being among the most powerful and soulful voices I’ve ever heard, so it’s a huge honor! The audiences have been brilliant, and so keen to really listen and embrace live music after so long without. I feel very fortunate and am really trying to savor it all!

How did it all come about?

I was on a shortlist of folks to possibly support Imelda quite a while ago – just before the pandemic pushed everything forward – so once things started picking up again and her dates were rescheduled, her team came back and asked if I’d like to do it. Needless to say, I didn’t hesitate with a yes as she’s long been one of my favorite artists. I admire her talent and craft as a songwriter and performer so much, and could not be more thrilled to not only have met her but now we have become friends and she has truly made me feel welcome among her band and crew.

We listened to your latest single ‘Revelation Ground‘ and thought it was beautiful! Could you tell us a bit about it?

Thank you! It was the first song I ever recorded without an engineer, since my early days as a kid using a four track. In a way it started as a demo I would say, but of course these days with programs like garage band that are digital, it’s really a small leap sonically to making a record and I had so much time I was able to really teach myself properly to edit and mix in the computer. So what you hear is a combination of my voice, guitar, hand percussion and layered cellos that my wildly talented cellist Dave Eggar contributed.

The lyric is essentially my version of “Turn, Turn, Turn,” inasmuch as it explores the seasonal nature of human suffering vs. eventual healing. The words reflect the struggle for racial equality and justice against police brutality that has been such a prominent issue in American culture and which came to a head at the height of the pandemic. My hope is that the song serves as kind of balm for so many woes and so much tragedy people have been experiencing and witnessing these last couple years even as we’ve been reminded of our collective humanity and vulnerability. I think it’s a perfect song for spring, and for maintaining a spirit of resolve, even when hope feels elusive.

How do you think your other project Poetica will play a part in your own solo project?

I’m honestly not sure yet how/of Poetica will impact my recording or writing process under my own name – but my suspicion is it stretched so many muscles in terms of my production sensibility that I’ll likely just be a bit more adventurous, musically-speaking.

For any of our readers that haven’t quite discovered your music yet, where is a good entry point into the world of Rachael Sage?

I think my albums Choreographic and Myopia are equally reflective of my larger body of work, and my eclecticism as a songwriter. I usually tell folks to look at the artwork and see which cover resonates more. I design most of my own imagery so its all part of the larger story and in theory, is an extension of the musical content.

It was quite a while ago that you put out your first release, is there anything you wish you could tell yourself then that you know now?

I would tell myself to be more confident, less apologetic and to not care so much about the opinions of others. The world doesn’t benefit from any of us shrinking who we are for whatever reason, and yet I wasted a lot of energy on shame and insecurity. I remember worrying way too much what other people thought about every little detail of my art, my appearance, my skills. At the end of the day it really is true that no one is every going to believe more in your creative work than you so giving anyone the power to bring you down with an unkind or careless comment – however “experienced” they may be – is almost always a trap. 

Our childhood sense of wonder and play is so precious, and many times in my early years I believed various criticisms to the point where it definitely held me back. I think there is a big difference between being an outsider artistically and leaving your best ideas outside the room, because you’re afraid or don’t feel worthy. You can share your art and insight confidently without being arrogant and that’s something as women we often struggle with.

Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell or Nick Drake?

Leonard Cohen, 100%!  Best concert I’ve ever been to was Leonard Cohen at The Beacon. I still dream about it – and listen to his music all the time.

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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