New York-based contemporary soul singer Rachel Rose is finding inspiration in isolation. On March 29, the 23-year-old dropped the acoustic video for her song “About Me,” which features her and four other musicians performing together via video call to create a collaborative masterpiece that proves that, while we may currently exist in separate places, we are all “connected by the same beat.”
On “About Me,” Rose takes us along for a slow, soulful ride, blending her own deeply rich vocals with the familiar acoustic sounds of guitars and violins. Rose has perfect control over her own voice, and she effortlessly glides between the song’s lower and upper ranges to create something both harmonious and, at times, joyfully unexpected. Just when you’re settled into the syrupy warmth of Rose’s breathy chest voice, she flips into a dazzling belt, climbing up the vocal scale with flawless precision.
All the while, Rose’s accompanying musicians—Will Rosati, Justin Slosberg, Marc Malsegna, and Julia Hoffmann—masterfully maintain the slow-jam energy of the song with perfect intricacy, bouncing between satisfying chord progressions and fluttering string interludes. The stripped-down video call format of the music video allows viewers to not only listen to, but actually see the different musical layers of the song come together visually. This, married with the fact that the video was created within the restrictions of self-isolation due to COVID-19, proves that social-distancing may not actually be restrictive at all, but rather a space for imaginative and fruitful collaboration.
For fans of JoJo, Daniel Caesar, duendita, or any other of your favorite contemporary soul and R&B singers, Rachel Rose is a must listen. “About Me” is the best new song to add to your quarantine playlist, providing a soulful sound that will leave you breathless at Rose’s undeniable talent and comforted by the video’s expression of music’s innate connective properties in times of strife.
I asked Rachel a few questions about her, the song, and her upcoming EP. Here’s what she had to say:
LA: Tell me a little bit about who you are and how you got to where you are today:
RR: My name is Rachel Rose, and I’m a soul contemporary/alternative vocalist currently living in the Lower East Side. Music has been a congenital part of my life for as long as I can remember. I grew up listening to sounds of all types as my dad shared a profound love for the Grateful Dead (he would play the guitar and I’d try my best to keep the wah wah in beat), Carly Simon, and Dave Matthews whereas my mom was a John Mayer, Citizen Cope, and Rachael Yamagata fan. I especially garnered a profound interest in music from my grandma, who would always play Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, or Jonathan Schwartz’s renowned channel on the radio. These stark exposures allowed me to build a vast repertoire of artists that I adored and constantly sang their songs. Throughout my early development, I sang in choir and performed these complex choral pieces in ensemble groups at school. This ignited my passion to delve further into the music world, and I set to move to Austin, Texas in 2014 to pursue my music career and attend university at the University of Texas at Austin. During college, I became a member of an Ensemble group run by Gary Powell, whose scoring works include productions for Walt Disney’s storybook. This group allowed me to refine my skills as a musician, and I was able to hone in on the idiosyncrasies of my sultry, deep voice. From here I had the opportunity to perform at SXSW unofficial parties and was booked at established Austin venues, including Spiderhouse, Hole in the Wall, and the Cactus Café. Once I graduated school, I moved back to New York in 2018 to pursue my own solo record as an established artist. My time in Austin and New York alike has taught me so much about stage performance and my contributions as a vocalist to the rich, global musical community.
LA: Why was it important for you to release the “About Me” video now and in this format?
RR: Today, we’ve had to face unprecedented challenges. Artistry has been forced to take a backseat to safety. Tragically, these two philosophies were never contrasting, they were always harmonious, congruent with one another. Although we are physically isolated, we are not creatively, musically, nor spiritually isolated. This video validates our need to innovate in times of crisis, that music will always be communal, interconnected, and all-embracing. We hope that wherever our audience is, whether neighbors or faraway, that they’re taking care of one another, making time to connect with the people around them, and reaching out to those who aren’t.
LA: Is collaboration an important part of your music process?
RR: Absolutely! Music has and always will be a collaborative effort. In order to properly emulate and recreate the beauty around us, it takes multiple perspectives. I try to journal as much as I can, so my lyrical influences come from my cognitive rants. But I love collaborating with other individuals that specialize in what they do. I told each and every musician on this track to bring an element that makes them “truly themselves” as an artist. I believe the individual eccentricities each musician brings allows the piece to feel whole and complete.
LA: Could you give some insight into the song’s lyrics and what they mean to you?
RR: The song speaks to the resounding pain of indifference. It calls upon our deepest desire to rationalize rejection, and to right a capsized ship.
LA: When did you first become interested in soul music? What other musicians inspire you?
RR: My grandma first got me interested in soul music. She was a Turner Classic Movies fan through and through. It was a little tradition of ours, every time I’d frequent her house, we’d watch something. She adored Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, Nina Simone, Ray Charles, and Miles Davis, to name just a few incredible jazz musicians. I was completely fascinated with the soul in their voice, how they could move mountains with just the slightest croon. That kind of music touched me the most. From there, I delved into the world of jazz. Today, I find inspiration from the likes of Lianne La Havas, Emily King, Hiatus Kaiyote, and Brittany Howard, but I’ll always be inspired by the idols that first turned me on to the genre.
LA: Your debut EP is set to be released in September. Can you give us any insight on what we can expect from the EP? Where can we stream it when it comes out?
RR: This EP, “100-10-1,” speaks to the cyclical experiences we face in life. There will be upbeat jams that make you want to dance, and there will be some downtempo ballads for you to break down to. But one thing’s for certain, the EP should be listened to from start to finish. No jumping around in between (if you can help it). You will be able to stream/download it on all platforms!! Also keep an eye out for single and music video drops along the way!
Check out the “About Me” acoustic music video below: