Music is a passion to you, what first got you into it?
Well I’ve always loved listening to music. It’s always been a therapy for me, any time I’m upset or going through something it’s important having that as my backbone. When I most seriously got into writing and music was during a really long break up actually. I was a little sad, a little hurt and a little frustrated and I started writing songs. And it escalated from there and I just never stopped!
It must be very cathartic to get your feelings out like that?
Absolutely. There’s been a lot of positives from it so it’s definitely a good thing in the end. It’s better than writing in your journal or talking to a counsellor in my opinion cause you get to sing those lyrics over and over again, especially when you’re recording an album. I’ve written quite a few songs, 200 or 230 and while I can’t possibly record every one, they’re certain songs that when you go back to them, the more you feel those emotions. That’s how you’re really going to get over whatever that song was about.
The songs you’d be most familiar with like “Don’t talk” or “sneakin around” I feel like I’m nearly singing about someone else, because I’ve completely healed from those emotions so its fun to watch that progress. Once you’ve rehearsed a song so many times, it’s almost like you’ve opened up your diary to the whole world and they’ve accepted it and you’ve accepted those feelings and you can move on from that.
Of course also being an actress lends itself to the theatrical nature of song writing. Do you enjoy embodying a song?
I do, I relish it a lot. Before I became an actress I thought actors were emotionally crazy! But Annalynne (Rachel’s sister) taught me a lot and we used to sit down and do little sessions, read lines and whatnot and I learned about what actors do when they portray characters. You’re taking on their emotions and it helps you deal with feelings much more than non-actors would. You get so into a character that you can really embody it. So it’s really helped me write things that might not be a personal experience but through it, it’s like experiencing a different life.
Is there a slant of autobiography to your songs?
Each song is a specific piece of me. Like a listener can hear a song and say that’s exactly where I’m at and you feel the music is speaking to you. You might laugh, you might cry but either way you’re getting those emotions out. There have been times acting where I’ve done a scene and then gone back to my trailer and cried, where it really hit me hard. Each chapter, each song is just another piece of me.
Acting and music are very different passions of mine, both challenging in their own ways, cause music is just an expression of what you’re feeling at that particular time but acting is totally embracing other feelings and its something you must pull yourself out of and sometimes afterwards I just need to get away. I spend time with my little dogs or my sisters and it’s this kind of quiet calm because it can be quite exhausting.
Speaking of your sisters, is it nice having them there as fellow actors as sort of a support net?
My sisters are like all I really have. I feel so lucky to have these two amazing women. I’m the baby and have them to look up to and fall back on and they’re both so different. We all have different characteristics but we complement each other. Living in the same house I can just walk down the hall, if they’re home (laughs) cause they’re always on the go! But we can talk and cry or whatever because they go through the same things I do. They help me through the same insecurities cause they’ve both been there.
Who would you cite as primary influences for your work?
Alanis Morissette, she’s incredible. She has such versatility with her music. But when it comes down to slower ballads, something that has been a bit of a struggle for me, I turn to James Blunt who I think is amazingly talented. But it’s not just any one person, I’ve had a lot of diverse influences and that’s what has gotten me to where I am today and the different ways I sing.
Will Thompson, my producer is based in Atlanta, and is with Vigilanti records and he works on every song with me. He’s very very talented. We actually met 3 years ago through a singing coach I had and even though I can write songs, and have a vision for the music I’m not a producer! So I showed Will some tracks and we both had similar ideas for them. He helped get them to where they are today.
With the large number of songs you’ve written how did you decide which ones you wanted to record?
I actually don’t want to say I’m only going to do this style of song or that style. One of the most important things to me is to be genuine with my fans. I’m in a place where a lot of people can be fake or whatever and I’m very straight forward and honest and want that to come across in the music. I can’t lie to myself or my fans. At the end of the day if you love an artist and if you’re involved with an artist you have to know the whole person, not the image they might be putting out there.
So the songs in production are the ones that are the most real. I can go into the studio and have all these plans for a song but on the day just not be feeling it and I might write a new song on the spot. That’s something more genuine, more me. I’d pull lyrics from my big notebook full of song lyrics and random writings. Believe me, its very disorganised to everyone else but to me it’s perfectly fine! I have to be true to myself in my music and every time I step behind that mic I have to believe in the song. I’m a lot of different things, I’m fun and goofy and I have all the same desires that every girl would have and I think it’s important to have that in the music.
What next for Rachel McCord?
I’m working on the album and having made the move to Hollywood has thrown up its own challenges with finding producers cause it’s hard to get back and forth to Atlanta. I’m also doing the acting thing. So my days are filled with events and auditions. I’m very blessed for having all that but I’m looking forward to getting back in the studio, revamping some of the old songs and showing all you guys some new stuff!
Check out Rachels music at her myspace page: