On Sunday 19th May, I joined my talented friend Rachel Elliott for a stroll through Highgate Woods. We both share a love for music and photography, so whilst there we discussed music, Rachel played guitar, and I took photographs (please see below). Rachel is a multi-instrumentalist. she studied classical music at Reading University but is currently branching out and finding her own style as a singer/songwriter.
What inspired you to start playing music?
I don’t think it ever occurred to me not to, because I grew up in a music-filled household, for which I’m really grateful. My dad has always been in bands, and there were always instruments and gear in my house…
…Our front room did have a dining table in it somewhere but it was mostly used as a recording studio, and the downstairs toilet next to it had an XLR socket under the carpet as it had good acoustics. To me that was just normal! We had a piano, I think there was a guitar around, and my dad had a drum kit at one point, so I suppose it was natural to just have a go on them…
…I think I used to sing a lot and am told I sang the tunes before I could say the words, like lots of little kids do. My mum taught me some tunes on the piano- perhaps that was the first thing I learned?…
…And I remember writing a song about the New Year, which I happen to remember was 1983 (because that was the only lyric in the song), and I still cringe that I did a solo performance to my gramps once in his kitchen.
First time on stage?
I’m not sure, I was in a kid’s choir at church, so maybe it was then. Or playing the recorder in school concerts? I used to cry my eyes out all the way through them when I could see my mum in the audience. Very emotional child!
What instruments do you play?
Piano, guitar, a bit of bass and singing. I used to play the oboe, but it has been under my bed for years. I really want to be a drummer – my dream is to sing lead vocals while drumming – one day I’ll get there.
Current involvement with music
I do a lot of music at my church. And in the last five years I’ve been exploring songwriting. I love it! I’m learning it needs discipline, like any art, which doesn’t come easily…
…I find writing words difficult, as I am a girl of many words and thoughts, and can’t express them succinctly. I’m trying to be more disciplined though, and occasionally a whole song pops out quite quickly.
Current musical influences?
SOOOOOOOO many….don’t know where to start. It’s different every day. Today: Luke Sital-Singh, Martin Smith and Iain Archer.
What inspires your songwriting?
I’m not really sure yet, as I still feel quite new to it. I’m always trying to find new music to listen to, and try and get to as many gigs as I can, and of course that’s really inspiring. The key is to not then think ‘that’s so amazing, I could never write anything like that’ and give up – which is easy to do…
…The process of creating something (music or otherwise) feels so good, and so I try and make that my motivation. I seem to always be wanting to express what I consider to be mysteries of the universe (or at least for me) as those strangely seem to be on my mind quite a lot (!) but it either then sounds like I take myself far too seriously, which isn’t really the case, so then I find myself wanting to inject humour into it…
…I need to learn to just keep it simple. Words never seem to be enough though, they can never express the deep parts of us, in my experience – or perhaps I’m not very articulate. I find it very frustrating!
Future singer/songwriting plans?
Just having a go and trying to get better and learning from other people – I know so many great musicians and writers, and they’re all so gifted! I love performing though, so I’d like to do more of that. I was such a shy kid, but nowadays it turns out that perhaps I like the stage after all!
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