Written by Sophie Wyatt
Scotland-based singer-songwriter Rachel Sermanni uses her music to turn everyday topics into something deeply touching and instantly swayable. Since arriving in our playlists back in 2012, Rachel has continued to push both her musical talent and lyrical opportune to create relatable and stunning tracks. In her latest project ‘Swallow Me‘, Rachel touches on the topic of pregnancy, the doubts, excitement and mourning for her past life being the main themes touched on. We were lucky enough to catch up with Rachel to discuss this project, her journey through music and what is next for her and her music.
We kicked off the interview by deep diving into Rachel’s past. Being so in touch with her emotions, and having the ability to translate exactly what she is feeling into song, we had a feeling her first prominent memories of music were going to be wholesome. And we were not wrong. Rachel took us on a trip down memory lane back to when she first remembers experiencing music, and when she realised she wanted to pursue her passion as a career.
‘Most prominent and earliest memories are the following: 1) dad teaching me Twinkle Little Star on a little green penny whistle. 2) My little brother battering said green penny whistle with a hammer. The whistle would, years later, get me through my advanced higher music exam…
I have a note written in a journal from the era just before I was leaving school. When many friends were applying for further education or planning some gap year travels or working. The note reads: ‘Options: 1) Become well known for singing songs. 2) Become a hobo, a beautiful hobo I feel like both dreams were fulfilled. Though I can’t remember this moment, I feel like it clearly depicts some sort of point of awareness.’
As everyone knows, our beloved music events have been put to a stop over the past year and a half. Artists all over the world have had to turn their hands to creating from home, learning how to produce themselves and transitioning from live shows to live streams. We asked Rachel how she has dealt with the upheaval of her art during lockdowns.
‘I have felt fortunate during this past year. I was living out in the country with my young daughter and co-parent partner for the initial lockdown. I did Instagram Lives from the beautiful garden shed, recorded most of the EP that has just been released in that shed, and we grew a LOT of vegetables. I had already slowed down a lot, due to entering the realm of motherhood only the year before. So, in a way, it was nicely timed. It means I’ve taken an extra year of maternity life more than expected, I guess.
It’s also given me the chance to try out a load of other things that have always held interest for me: Studies in Menstrual Cycle Awareness, broadening spiritual understanding & education, entering the realm of being a creative mentor through podcasts, projects & workshops.’
Genre as we once knew it, is no more. With more accessibility to music creating, and a broader audience now ready and waiting, artists around the world are blending many different sounds to create their own unique work. So we asked Rachel to describe her music outside the realms of ‘genre’.
‘I love that you’ve said this. I agree. I wonder if everyone would agree. I will try and describe the music of the most recent release: Songbird woody-acoustic, honest-indie merged with a bit of vibey, grungy, jazzy, double tracked shadow…?‘
Consistently touching on subjects that may otherwise be overlooked, Rachel’s work is heartbreaking, exciting and entirely relatable. Using her own experiences of the world, Rachel makes these subjects into something that can be related to on an entirely different level. We asked her if writing with such explosive passion came from a place of catharsis.
‘Glad you think so. It is cathartic. I have been reflecting on what it is to reveal a lot of your personal life, either through your work or through talking about your work. I’ve decided that my life is very small and if I can express as much of it as I am able then 1) it probably doesn’t make too much difference in the grand scheme of things 2) maybe it’ll benefit someone to see their life mirrored in some way. But yes. If I get a bit narrow in mind or world, it can feel vulnerable and make me blush.’
‘Swallow Me’ is Rachel’s latest body of work which touches on many emotions, including a strong theme of emotions around the time of pregnancy. While many people would have you believe that it is all happiness and roses, there are some dark, confusing and often upsetting sides to pregnancy. Rachel went into a bit more detail about her inspiration and the work that went into this EP.
‘‘Swallow Me’ is my most recent EP. 4 Tracks that sing mainly about what my experience was to go through pregnancy. It’s a lot of trying to trust, mourning what was, looking ahead, looking behind, very liminal, slightly uncomfortable… The inspiration was a dire need to get feelings out of my body so that they didn’t spill over and stop me from being able to function. That sounds quite dramatic.’
Finally, we asked Rachel where she hopes the future will take her. As her discography and fan base continue to grow, we are fully prepared to be listening much more experimental, emotion-driven tracks from Rachel Sermanni in the near future.
‘Nice question. I think the future looks to be full of questions. But none of them too daunting. I feel very trusting. If my past few years, and all that I wrote about in this latest EP, is anything to go by. It won’t be what I expect, it’ll probably be better than I can imagine. And it won’t all be simple or easy.’