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Q&A: Meet sultry singer Rachel Ann Weiss

by Angelica Catalano   Oct 30, 2013 14:06 PM EDT

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Singer-songwriter Rachel Ann Weiss has a smooth, rich voice reminiscent of her influences Adele and the late Amy Winehouse, making a strong case for the next wave of anthems from strong women. In "Carry You" she sings, "I will carry you till your strong enough on your own." And in moments when lyrical vulnerability meets the quivering of her voice, there's a faint tug from one of her biggest inspirations, Jeff Buckley. Weiss's original songs and accompanying guitar has her popping up on the music radar, but she hasn't been blinded by the spotlight yet. There's buzz of the debut album Dear Love, and her artistic roots -- Weiss's mother is actress Kathleen Turner. Weiss has recently played shows on both coasts and gave us a glimpse into what a budding music career is really like. Get in on the ground floor.

MT:  Is there an ideal setting you imagine people listening to Dear Love in?

RW: Since one of my favorite things, and something I believe to be a genuinely cathartic activity, is driving around, listening to music, and singing along at the top of my lungs, I think my ideal place for someone to listen to "Dear Love" is while doing just that. If possible, outside of a city, just rolling around with no decided destination and singing their heart out.

MT:  Amid writing, singing, playing guitar, performing live in general...do you have a favorite part of the process?

RW: My favorite part of the process would probably be working out new songs with my band members, Jacob Colin Cohen and Dominic Fallacaro. They're truly spectacular musicians and sometimes I'll go to them with a song I'm not very satisfied with, a tune that I have some good ideas for but that I'm struggling to articulate in the music, and we'll talk it out, play it through, play it another way, and talk it out some more. By the end, we'll have made something new, something we're all happy with and proud of. That's a really fantastic feeling.

MT: What's evolved most in your sound since starting?

RW: My voice, my confidence and my ability to perform. That's sort of all one thing, I guess. I certainly take more risks vocally than I used to. I respond more to the cool and interesting little things my band does on stage and I'm learning to work with it, vibe on it, and feed off it far more than I was able to do before.

MT:  Do you notice the responses are different depending on where you perform?

RW: Oh, definitely! Everywhere is different and every audience too. I mean, sometimes you're playing a set late on a weekday in a place where fewer people know you than you're used to, it's raining, and there's a drunk guy in the back talking loudly over everything, and it feels like you're playing to a brick wall. But at those times I just do my best, do my job, and rock out and have fun with the guys on stage. Other times, the audience is paying attention to everything, cheering at the end of every tune, there are people staring up from the front and singing my lyrics with me, and that's one of the greatest feelings ever. It's all about making things work, and doing what you can to enjoy every show regardless of what's happening around you.

MT: Which artists are you following now? 

RW: Well, frankly, too many to properly list here, but a few of my top favorites are Flearoy, Town Hall, Emily King, the Lascivious Biddies, Punch Brothers, Stefan Weiner, Anais Aida, EMEFE, Hollie Smith, Frank Ocean, John Mayer, and Bernhoft.

MT: What's your "dream rider" item?

I don't really have a "dream rider," but I think it would be great to have an old rocking chair, I guess. I mean, those are the best chairs ever and if I could request one, I think I would. 

Hear Rachel Ann Weiss on Bandcamp, songs produced by Mason Jar Music.

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