By Izzy Cihak
“I grew up on the beach diet,” is not exactly what you’d usually expect (or like) to hear from an indie heroine who just released what you consider to be the year’s cleverest album thus far. “It’s always very bright and the sun is always out… or else it’s pouring.” That’s sounding a little more like it. Rachel Goodrich is describing her hometown of Miami, which she says is “Very vibey and not exactly what people expect it to be.” For instance, it has had a surprisingly notable indie music scene in recent years, comprised of acts like Awesome New Republic, Airship Rocketship, and Nick Scapa, in addition to Ms. Goodrich. Well… whatever nurtures their inner indie alien. I mean “Sunlight is the new Moonlight” might make a cute shirt… plus it would totally shit on all that werewolf/vampire crap… but I digress.
The ineffably quirky singer/songwriter’s speaking to me from LA, where she’s spent the last few months, playing gigs and getting intimately acquainted with the city. It sounds as if she’s recently made the city her home, or at least her extended stay hotel. She tells me she left Miami with no expectations and currently she’s just “going with the flow.” She seems unsure of where her latest release will take her and more than willing to go along with any ride she is presented.
Last month Rachel released her self-titled sophomore effort, produced by Grammy winner Greg Wells (Katy Perry, Adele, The Veronicas), on her own Yellow Bear Records. The brand of singing/songwriting found on the album proves to be a charming oddity, utilizing instruments such as the charango, pump organ, melodica, and kazoos. Although the album does display a somewhat more serious side of Rachel than her debut (with a few choice “delicate” ballads), Tinker Toys, it still often sounds like a folk funhouse of sorts. The album’s catchiest track (“Easier Said Than Done”) is largely driven by whistling and hand-claps. “I Fell in Love” sounds like Princess Toadstool strolling through a Spring meadow as she laments a bad relationship, and the 37-second “G-Dino” is comprised entirely of Rachel proclaiming “I’m a little gangsta dinosaur!” I asked Rachel about her somewhat “lighthearted” or “upbeat” approach to her songwriting and she got a bit defensive, underlining that the subject matter (ghetto Stegosauruses excluded) is often times quite heavy, despite the sunny delivery, going on to say “I just don’t like the drama. I think it’s important to get down.”
Despite those that Ms. Goodrich generally cites as her influences (Donovan, Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Joni Mitchell), she defines her sound as “Shake-A-Billy” (you know, like Rock-A-Billy… but with less rocking and more shaking) and critics often draw comparisons to subgenres of country and jazz. While these more traditional folk artists aren’t what would necessarily jump to mind when listening to her work, her non-musical influences reflect her aesthetic much more closely: “I love Dr. Seuss and that crazy little world he created. I love Disney and Ren & Stimpy.” She also tells me that she loves to draw, herself. When asked what kind of things she draws, she tells me “They come out these kind of crazy humans morphed into animals craziness”… that is just about what you’d expect based on her other artistic endeavors.
At the time of press there are no tour plans, but Rachel does hope to be back out on the road in the near future, although she sounds somewhat lackadaisical about it: “I thought about some touring… trying to put something together.” Perhaps she’s just enjoying her new locale a little too much to want to get right back out. Although here’s to hoping that she does make it out on the road because, even in her relatively short career, her shows have already gained a somewhat legendary status as spectacles of quirk. When asked what should be expected of her shows she replied “It depends on the lineup. I think that people expect some kind of tambourine in their hands. And a shout out to Wild Turkey… Wild Turkey and kazoos.”