Rachel Taylor Brown Interview For Wicked Spins Radio

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Rachel Taylor Brown Interview For Wicked Spins Radio

Cat loving summer hating Rachel Taylor Brown is a lady who makes music that is funky but yet very sensible.  The music creates the wonderful back drop for Rachel to tell us all about the beauty and horror this world has to offer.  Rachel has just released the wonderful album Falimy, Wicked Spins Radio got a chance to catch up with Rachel .


WSR – Thank you so much for giving Wicked Spins Radio this interview, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

Rachel – I grew up in a town called Boring in the state of Oregon in the U.S., I have red hair, I hate summer, I like cats (well, all animals), I always prepare for the worst and am therefore pleasantly surprised when something good happens.

WSR – Your music has a different but very funky vibe to it, when you started originally creating music what sort of music did you have an idea you wanted to create?

Rachel – No plan, really–just wanted to get out what’s in my head! That’s still my aim.

WSR – When in your musical career did you find your own definite style?

Rachel – I don’t think I have! Or, I guess I have, but it’s not any one style I can name. I’m certain all my songs sound like ‘me’ but they’re all over the map, stylistically. It’s probably clear what I like, though…I like dissonance and release, i like silent spaces, I like crude-sounding guitars played hard and not too perfectly, I like ugly noises and pretty noises smashed up together, and funk, yes. I like to make BIG songs, but I also like to make little, sparse ones. I like contrasts.

WSR – What sort of things are behind the music of your new album Falimy, what stories are there to be discovered?

Rachel – Oh, you know—just stories about humans and how we organize ourselves and what happens when we do that, the pride, the territoriality, the fallout, the great stuff too. Family’s a big word—it covers a lot. We’re the Family of Man, then we’ve got all our little families, our nuclear families, our families of friends, the families we choose as we get older. This album is about me struggling over the meaning of family in my own life. I come down on both sides. It’s a dangerous institution (like most) in that the powerful can usually act with impunity within that sacred structure, and that results in a lot of damage, damage that lasts lifelong and even from generation to generation. But it can be a life-saving institution, too. I grew up in a dangerous situation with family. But the family I have now—my husband and my sister—I’d be lost without.

WSR – You record with a man you describe as your audio midwife Jeff Stuart Saltzman and his cats, do Jeff’s cats appear in any way on any of your songs?

Rachel – Jeff’s cats Franz and Ida were definitely a part of the recording! They usually flanked me, whatever I was recording at the moment. I don’t think we caught any of their sounds on this record but they’ve made cameos on past albums. Franz died shortly before the album was finished. He was my friend and a key part of my recording experience for the past many years. I was (and am) heartbroken. I managed to work his picture (playing a MOOG and singing) into the album artwork. I’ll let you try to find him.

WSR – And what is it about Jeff that makes him the perfect audio midwife?

Rachel – Well, Jeff cares intensely about his work. And he’s obsessed with sound, game for anything.  And he knows so much. I can say to Jeff “this is what I hear in brain” and sing or grunt or clap or tap it, or say things like “I want it to sound like a foosball being dropped over and over again onto the table” and Jeff will figure out how to achieve that and often improve upon it. He’s also a talented though reluctant musician, so I like to rope him into playing on my albums. I have an impressively high coercion success rate! If you knew Jeff, you would appreciate this accomplishment. On this album I got him to play guitar, drums and xylophone, to sing and to clap. On past albums he’s talked, shouted and whistled. He’s figured out for me how to record an army of tap dancers and 50 people playing 50 pianos. He’s resourceful and curious and he means a lot to me, both as a collaborator and as a friend.

WSR – What is the most beautiful thing in the world that has inspired you to create music, but also what is the ugliest part of the world that has inspired you?

Rachel – Humankind, for both.

WSR – Do you feel that as a society we have evolved for the good or bad?

Rachel – My knee jerk reaction is that I want to say “bad,” but there are clearly reasons to celebrate not living in, say, the 1800s. I like to vote, I like having more freedoms and protections than previous women (in my world) ever enjoyed. I’m a privileged white woman in America, though–so not bad off. You’re getting a very narrow little account from the likes of me. We’ve progressed with a lot of civil rights issues—I think people overall are generally less racist, sexist, prejudiced, though there’s still a very very long way to go. I like that I lived to see marriage be an option for everyone. I like that I lived to see a non-white president. I hope I live to see a female president! Rachel-Taylor-Brown-2-pc-Rula-Van-Der-BergenI worry about the death of the middle class and that we’re evolving into a technology-worshipping, robot-labor, jobless society, and I wonder how people will live (apart from those with loads of money who don’t need jobs). I worry about the devaluation of the arts. I loathe that word—“content.” Blecch! I worry about overpopulation and our ability to ignore bigger problems and stick our heads in the sand, doing whatever suits or comforts us at the moment. I worry people are getting more and more self-absorbed and disconnected from thoughts of the greater good.

WSR – There are two songs on Falimy that are in some way interlinked and that is Robin and trade, what is the connection between the two?

Rachel – Hmm, well I think you just made that link! I like that you did. I didn’t write them in relation to one another, but you’re right—Robin leads into Trade on the album, they’re both about true love and family and hence they kinda go together…more generally than specifically, though.

WSR – In my life my family doesn’t really mean much bar the couple that have stood by me all my life and I come from a big family.  But for just over 18 years of my life there has been a man who was once my best friend but he has become more than that and I consider him a true brother.  Has there been anyone in your life whom when your family where not there that person was?

Rachel – I come from a big family too! Seven kids. I’m estranged from all but my younger sister Katie (who I’m very close to and who is very much there for me) and two others I’ve had a little contact with. I’m glad to hear you have that best friend/brother. When I was very young, I had friends but they were my age and not in any position to be able to help me with my family situation. It helped to know I had them, though I never talked to them about family. When I got older, I had a couple of dear friends who were true supports. But the person who’s unfailingly been there for me in a way I’d never experienced in my life ‘til I met him is my husband Jay, and he’s been a lifesaver. I know no one else in the world like him and I love him fiercely.


WSR – Why the different spelling for your album title, why not just call it family?

Rachel – I was just playing around with it and liked “Falimy”—esp. the way it sounds a little like “fallacy” and “fail” and “fall o’ me.”

WSR – What is your one true weakness in life, what one thing cannot you resist and what makes it so irresistible?

Rachel – Adding inappropriate mood-destroying lyrics to television and movie themes, and singing them every time I hear them.  My husband and sister hate it but I can’t seem to stop myself. It’s so satisfying.  I’m also a sucker for BBC costume dramas (the good ones, and fortunately there are a lot of good ones). And true kindness and care reduces me to a sobbing puddle.

WSR – And what truly makes life worth living for you?

Rachel – My—ta da!—family. And I love writing music–it brings me tremendous satisfaction and even moments of euphoria.

WSR – There have been some musical artists that tell stories, write poetry, paint pictures and do things like protest all with music like the greats of John Lennon and Bob Dylan.  Is there a musician past or present that you feel has great talent and may have inspired you in some way that most people may not have necessarily heard of?

Rachel –Charles Ives, who was ‘famous’ during his lifetime mainly for being a great insurance actuary and not as the mind bendingly original composer we revere him as now. With very little public support he followed what was in his head and kept at it. He stayed true to it. He must’ve experienced deep depression and despair–he apparently had multiple heart attacks. I greatly admire Charles Ives for keeping on, fueled almost entirely by his insides. And I love his music.

WSR – Thank you so much for giving Wicked Spins Radio this interview, is there anything you would like to add?

Rachel – Thank you!





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