As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 5
Rachele Lynae was not long out of high school when she packed her possessions, her guitars, and her dreams, and left home for Nashville. With her goals set on the music industry, she traveled across the country on her own to attend Belmont University.
Although young, she was no amateur by the time she arrived in Tennessee. Lynae was born in Kodiak, Alaska, and grew up in Lynden, Washington, where she was surrounded by country and Christian music. She began singing in her church choir when she was five and was writing songs by age 12. She performed in musical theater as a teenager and recorded her original material in a local studio. Nashville was the obvious next step in her trajectory.
After graduating from Belmont, Lynae put all her efforts into learning the inner workings of Music Row while pursuing a career as a singer-songwriter. She recorded a five-song EP and scheduled appointments with industry professionals, where she presented her demo and expanded her knowledge and network.
Her music caught the attention of Momentum Label Group and singer-songwriter Jamie O’Neal, who produced Lynae’s self-titled debut album. Shortly after its 2014 release, she was opening for Keith Urban, Kelsea Ballerini, The Band Perry, and others, while enjoying chart success with “Fishin’ for Something,” “Whole Lotta Nothin’,” and “Quicksand,” which became a Number One top trending video on CMT.
It comes as no surprise that Rachele Lynae’s career took off so quickly. As a singer, songwriter, and performer, she can hold her own next to established artists in any genre — her voice is that powerful and her message equally strong.
But achieving success and generating hit singles is not enough. There is a spiritual component to her work, and that means walking in faith and gratitude and using her talents to do more than entertain. During the 2017 holiday season, in the wake of the California wildfires, she partnered with Music for Relief to raise funds for victims, gifting her song “Guy In The Sky” to donors. On June 25, 2018, she officially released the single and lyric video.
You have a new album in the works. Can you tell us anything about it?
I’m still narrowing down the songs. I’m a songwriter, and the sheer number of songs I have for this project – there are so many. The last time I counted, my list was at about 20, so I have to make some hard decisions. I’m in the thick of it. It’s more likely that we’ll do an EP, but I can’t promise right now because the music will determine that. Once you get into the studio, there’s magic that happens. The songs take on a life of their own, and you just know.
You’ve been signed for six years, and you’ve been singing and performing a lot longer than that. When you look at the timeline, beginning with the demo EP you recorded after college and until now, what do you see?
Early in my career, straight out of college, before I started working with Jamie, I needed something that I could take to meetings when I was asking people to coffee to pick their brains and learn and grow my contacts. I was such a baby in this whole thing. I think my songwriting is one of the biggest things, but I’ve grown in every way. I’ve learned to go a lot deeper. You learn the rules so that you can break them with time and experience.
Living in Nashville and working with the songwriters is like going to songwriting school or camp. You become a better writer. I’m glad that I did have to learn “This is what you do,” and how to fit in that box of “Nashville songwriting,” because now those things are second nature and I can play with them.
As a vocalist, when I came to Nashville, I had minimal vocal training. I had lots of experience. I’d been singing since I was little, I sang in high school and in college, I toured and did a lot of Christian music, and I sang in church, as many of us have done, but I didn’t have a lot of training. When I went to Belmont, I worked on being able to open up my voice and sing more freely. With age and experience, from performing all of the time as opposed to a lot of the time, I found that your voice
“Sometimes the guitar picks you,
and that’s what happened
with my Martin.”
continues to mature. You think that at 21 you’re an adult and your voice is mature, but it keeps changing. I’m able to do more the older I get, and the longer I keep using it.
“The box of Nashville songwriting” — what is that box? What is Nashville songwriting, and how does it differ from other types of songwriting?
Before I came here, I didn’t co-write. I wrote what came naturally to me, and some of it was a bit more abstract. There’s nothing wrong with that, but with country songwriting, you’re focusing on the story. You want people to understand what you’re trying to say. You need to capture the specifics because that’s what makes the songs universal.
Song structure, of course, is huge, and that’s part of it — the verse needs to be like this, don’t take too long to get to the hook or the chorus. The way you structure a song is part of those rules — or the box if you will. Also, not reusing words unless it’s the hook or chorus. It’s like learning grammar. If you’re writing a piece, you have to understand sentence structure and paragraph structure and how to formulate the whole thing, but once you know that, you can take your creative spin on it and break those rules sometimes and do something cool.
I do some songs that don’t have your traditional chorus, or the biggest hook is in a different spot than the beginning or end of the chorus. There might be places where it is cool to repeat words a lot. Until you know what those rules are, you don’t know how to twist them in a way that grabs people and works in a cool way.
In addition to writing and singing, you also play guitar. What do you use in the studio and onstage?
I have three guitars. I rarely record with them. I’ve been playing guitar a long time. I play in all my shows and at songwriter events. And when I’m writing, it’s crucial to me, but there are amazing studio guitar players in Nashville, and part of being a good musician is knowing where your strength is.
I have a Breedlove Cascade Series that I take on the road with me. It’s got a great sound and feel, and it’s a sturdy instrument. I have a 1980 Martin M-38 that I love, but I’m nervous every time I’ve tried taking it on the road! So, it’s one that I write and record my demos with at my home studio or that I bring out when we’re with friends. It’s so warm-sounding. I got it when I was still living in Washington. I was looking for a guitar, and I needed something sturdy and smaller because I’m a small person, and when I play guitar, it tends to swallow me a little. But that didn’t happen. I picked up this guitar and started playing it, and oh my gosh! Sometimes the guitar picks you, and that’s what happened with my Martin. There is a pickup that has been put in this guitar, but it doesn’t work so much. It needs to be miked. So, I got the Breedlove, which has a pickup and has been great for me onstage.
I also have a USA-made Fender Telecaster and a Fender Pro Junior III amp that go on the road with me. I don’t use pedals because I play more acoustic than electric. At this point, I don’t travel with a guitar tech, so all the switching around is time between songs. So, I try to keep it as simple as possible with just my amp and a tuner.
Your husband, [drummer] Tim Creedon, owns 11 Productions Studio, where you are an artist and vocal coach. Is this where you are recording the new album?
I’m recording with David Dorn, who plays keyboards on a lot of sessions here. [Note: Dorn coproduced “Guy In The Sky.”] We’re at his studio. Tim and I work together when we can, but he’s also a lighting director, and he’s currently on the road with Maren Morris.
When did you begin coaching?
I work with vocal production. When people come in to record with us, they may or may not have a lot of studio experience. For me, I like having someone who can say, “Try this,” and “Do that.” I learned the value of that when I was working with Jamie and when I recorded with Chip Westerfield in Washington. When someone is giving an emotional delivery, sometimes you need to be told about your technical delivery. My husband is not a vocalist, so as a singer with a degree in commercial voice, I’m able to help people find those little tricks to get them where they want to be in the studio.
How has being part of a production company helped take you to the next level as an artist?
I think it stretches you whenever you do something new. When we start to get comfortable in any aspect of life, we tend to want to stay in that place. If you don’t stretch and try new things and grow, you can get stagnant. When you push yourself to do something new, it affects every part because you’re training your brain to know that you can hit a note better, you can do it better, you can play a song better. When I try something like working in the studio or coaching, it’s not totally different, but it helps me to try new things. I’m still growing, and when I approach something else, I’m learning.
Your faith is foremost in your life. How does it guide you personally and professionally?
Oh, man. In every single way. This career path is not the one you choose if you’re looking for security in your life. It’s always all over the place, and there’s no such thing. Even the people we think of as the most successful are still thinking about the next project. There’s no guarantee. It’s constantly changing. So, to know and to believe in something that is not constantly changing, and to know that no matter what those changes are, I’m at peace and I’m OK and I’ll be taken care of — having that is huge. It opens up my creative process because I am free to not waste my time worrying. I can spend that time being inspired and fostering positivity.
On the business side of things, creative people are very passionate and therefore very emotional, and there’s bound to be times when you don’t see things the same way. Knowing how to love and respect people, and understanding God’s heart for loving people, has really helped me in situations where I’ve seen people lose their cool. I’ve managed to remember who I’m representing, and remember God’s love, and remember that I can be loving, even in a difficult situation. When I remember that, it has made every difference. I’ve seen working relationships, as well as friendships, fall apart, where I’ve been able to hold on to those because of my faith and because of the one that’s guiding me.
Let’s talk about “Guy In The Sky” and the importance of using your talent as a means of giving back.
There’s a concept that I try to live by. I sometimes succeed, sometimes don’t. It’s giving your first fruits to God. Some people think of that as giving money to the church, and that’s definitely a part of it, don’t get me wrong, but our talents are some of the most valuable things we have, and I feel I’ve been so blessed to have music in my life.
With the fires … I feel so lucky that I have never dealt with the loss of a home. I feel comfortable in my living situation; I have a roof over my head, all of my things are here, and we’re blessed with so much. How can we not want to help other people who are going through something? And to use music — music is something I always think of as a therapy of sorts, and I hope that my songs help people in that way. But with “Guy In The Sky,” I wanted to do something over the holidays to raise money through music to help people that were displaced and in this horrible situation.
This song being so emotionally deep, and a song about faith, a song that is noticing that we’re asking God for a lot — when we find ourselves in those desperate situations where we need something, we’re always crying out and saying, “Help us, and if you do this, I’ll never do this, I promise.” The way He does come through and continues to help us, we’re constantly treating God a little bit like a vending machine. It’s a song meant to inspire thought, but also to say that in spite of everything, God keeps coming through, through the love of other people, through the love of people who are willing to give back. And I want to be that person. I want to be the person who can be the hands and feet and who can be there delivering something.
It’s important that I take opportunities to use the music not just for therapy, which is a great thing, but also in a logistical way. With this song, we encouraged people to give and gifted them with the track. I want to do more of that in the future. I’ve done singing for benefits and for St. Jude, and in high school I worked closely with World Vision, getting kids sponsored and things like that.
It’s always been really important to me, giving of your first fruits, and that includes the gifts and talents that I have, and so I need to give those back as well. People always think of finances when they think of charity, but sometimes it’s our hands and feet. You’ve got to get in there and do whatever you do. I’m a musician, and I can give songs.
Do you have words of advice for young women who aspire to work in the music industry?
Gosh, if you ask me at any time of day, my answer would be different because there’s so much I could say. For young women coming into any area of the entertainment industry, you need to surround yourself with people who understand everything you have to offer and who don’t try to
put you in a box as a woman. I believe I am seeing women be a little bit more supported and the attitudes changing, but still, if someone is saying, “As a woman, you can’t do that,” don’t listen to this and don’t internalize it.
Sometimes even people with good intentions might say things that are “rules,” because they think that’s how it has to be, but it doesn’t. You need to be you. If anybody tries to say that you need to be something else, then they don’t get it and move on. It’s OK. They don’t have to get it, but you find what makes you the most you, let that totally shine, and surround yourself with people who get that. There are so many constraints put on women. You need to be bold and do it for yourself, because nobody else is going to do it for you — and they shouldn’t, because the most awesome things come from you knowing who you are and being unfazed to be that person. When you find the people that get it, you’re not going to run into a lot of issues.
If you come to a town like Nashville or L.A. or New York and you’re looking for your team, be very cautious about what someone’s intentions are for you and what their intentions are behind helping you. What are they trying to get from you? We can all work together and get mutual help. There are relationships that make sense, and that’s business, and that’s good, but you need to make sure they are on the same page with you before you let them have any say over your career.
I know girls who have been told, when they had an opinion about their business, their band, “Just focus on singing and going to the gym.” I’ve had people say, in a nicer way, similar things to me. At that point, you have to realize that people get stuck in their head and what they perceive the limitations to be, and you’ve got to realize those limitations do not exist. Whether it’s some man that does not understand the power of a woman, or if it’s someone who just doesn’t understand the power of you, you bring more to the table than just your talent, your look, or whatever. You have something to say, and that’s why people want to hear your music. You’ve got to hold on to that. In the words of Taylor Swift — everything else, just shake it off.
Photos provided by Bozeman Media