Rachael Sage is one of my favorite things about current music. Her latest album, Choreographic, just dropped and it’s a powerful testament of what music can be. The fresh and exciting sound has a positive vibe, partly inspired by the dance community’s embracing of her music over the last few years. Rachael graciously caught up with us via email to satisfy our curiosity about her latest work. Here’s what she had to tell us….
Interview by Mark Fisher
Also be sure to enter for a chance to win Rachael Sage’s Choreographic form 1340mag.com!
How are things in Camp Rachael at the moment?
Great! I have a bit of downtime in NYC now between tours, so…
Let me start by saying that Choreographic is amazing! I have always loved your music but this one sounds particularly exciting. I know that you had some specific goals when writing these songs, would you mind telling our readers a little about them?
Firstly, thanks so much for the positive feedback! It’s not why I do it – ha! – but it’s certainly always nice to hear. My very distinct goal when embarking on this process for “Choreographic” was to create an album of songs that were both inspired by dance, and to inspire dance. To that end, I really enlisted my ballet background to help me visual dance while I was composing, singing and certainly, arranging the record.
It’s been incredibly exciting to see dancers like Kaci King and Andrew Nemr bring my music to life visually, via my video for “I Don’t Believe It”. I have several more dance videos in the works, and plans for a full-on “ballet pop” live show down the road, that will combine choreography with live music and essentially, tell the story of how both Dance and Music have informed my life, as a creative artist.
How did the lyrical dance community, and their connection to your music, first come to your attention?
Honestly, they brought it to my attention! Dancers who had performed to my songs for competitions started emailing me via my label, or messaging me on YouTube, sharing videos with me and generally letting me know – which was very gratifying, obviously. Eventually, a very enthusiastic fan of mine actually alerted me to a video of Maddie Ziegler dancing to my song “Birthday”, that had leaked on YouTube. The caption indicated it would appear on an episode of “Dance Moms” which I didn’t actually believed, but hoped was true…from then on, the show proceeded to use 16 of my songs, which has really been an unbelievable gift. We recently connected with the girls on the show while we were all on tour in Ireland, and most recently, the cast attended my cd release party in Los Angeles, which was a huge thrill. The dancers on the show work incredibly hard, and are all very sweet and down to earth, in spite of their celebrity. I credit dance itself – it’s so challenging, it’s inherently humbling!
At what point did you decide to gear these songs towards those who might be inspired to interpret the lyrics through dance? Since you have a ballet background, is there any chance we may see you do this yourself for a video?
Actually, I never made that decision. It all happened very organically, and without my being the least bit aware! It’s been kind of magical that way – the way my music has spread from various studios and choreographers within the lyrical dance community, and every time it continues to happen, I’m equally excited!
We did recently run a contest inviting some schools to create dances to a few of my brand new songs – but that’s the first time we’ve ever actually reached out proactively to the dance community; it was time to say thank you.
I did dance a little bit in my “I Don’t Believe It” video – and yes, I’m sure I’ll do more!
Do you feel that having a specific audience and goal in mind for this album challenged or changed your songwriting this time around? If so, in what ways?
I think it just helped me focus, to have a theme. I have ADD so without some kind of structure I tend to get easily distracted or derailed, and that was definitely helpful! I wouldn’t say I had a specific audience in mind though, even though I envisioned dance as part of the end-goal. Everyone loves dance – so I always hoped the audience would be wide, diverse and surprise me!
“I Don’t Believe It” is one of my favorite songs on Choreographic. Would you mind telling our readers a little about that song and the inspirations behind it?
I wrote “I Don’t Believe It” as an anthem to instill confidence and empowerment, and to encourage anyone experiencing naysayers, haters, bullies etc. to rise above that noise and negativity, and prove those people wrong. I experienced severe bullying in my youth and continue to encounter young people and also adults who open up to me about their similar experiences. I will also admit that some of the hyper-competitive, strict teaching methods I’ve witnessed both in my childhood and on reality TV also informed the song. The strength some of the young people on these dance shows has in the face of adversity and criticism is truly inspiring! I always cheer for the “underdog”, inevitable…
Could you tell us a little about the dancers in the video for “I Don’t Believe It” and how that connection came about?
The dancers in “I Don’t Believe It” are all personal friends of mine, except our lead dancer Kaci King who I discovered on Facebook. She’s 3-time National Champion from Indiana, who blew me away with her musicality and ability to improvise. She and her mom heard my music on “Dance Moms” and reached out to me. It was meant to be! Andrew Nemr, our tapper, is a professional dancer who also runs his own tap co., “Cats Paying Dues”, and he often performs at my shows. Jeremy Peters, our ballroom dancer, is a friend I made in Jury Duty who has danced professionally all her life and now teaches; our ballerina Mipa is a friend of my best friend and she studied dance at NYU. Our tutu-clad modern dancer Alyson Greenfield is a dear friend and collaborator who also directed my video for “Invisible Light”.
Is there a particular song that makes you say “Wow! That is Rachael Sage 2016!”? If so, which one and why?
Yes: “Try Try Try”. It’s very upbeat and positive, and relates the idea of resilience and persistence with love and relationship, along with letting go of fear. I think it’s very emblematic of where I am right now – plus I played electric guitar on it which was really fun and now I do it live with my big blue Gretsch guitar, and it’s when I really let loose and get out from the keyboard. It also seems to be many people’s favorite new song, live!
One of the most impressive things about your career is your independence. How do you feel when you look at MPress Records so many years later? Not many people were running indie labels when you started out…
I feel tired – ha! But in all seriousness, I suppose I feel grateful, foremost. Grateful for people who opened doors for me – both physically and mentally – including teachers, mentors and peers…and also simply for the fact that I somehow have had the wherewithal to not give up. I’ve worked with a great team at MPress for many years, and of course it’s a gift to work and grow one’s vision alongside like-minded, talented people!
What’s next for you?
I’m gonna do my laundry, and clean my apartment, and pay my bills. These are the things I procrastinate above all creative endeavors, so if I say it to you, maybe it’ll happen! And then I’m gonna practice for my next show, and finish a new song…
Thanks so much for your time. This is an amazing album and I hope it gets the attention it deserves. Do you have any parting thoughts you would like to leave our readers with?
Love each other, and don’t deny yourself chocolate! #lifeishortmakeitsweet