Monthly Artist Feature (July 2019) – Raechel Mitchell

Artist’s Name: Raechel Mitchell

Name of Brand:

Artist’s Age: 22

Artform: Songwriting, Singing and Fiction Writing

Why do you do what you do? When did you realize a passion for what you do?

Saying I love it is not enough, you know me, I always sing… I can’t not sing. I feel like there is a certain part of my energy that just does not exist without singing. Writing like singing is a general form of expression. I write (fiction) or sing/ write songs when I have nowhere else to go with my feelings or when there’s something in my head that I have to get down on paper. As a songwriter, I started writing songs because I felt like [certain things] needed to be said and I couldn’t find any other song that expressed that.

I think what it is for me with singing is that, there is a part of me that is always off when I’m not singing. You know? Your energy comes on different frequencies and for me there is only one frequency, my singing, that makes me feel whole. It’s also where I go when I need an outlet … I’m fully myself when I’m singing.

I realized that I had a passion for it in probably fifth or sixth grade. That’s when I wrote my first song.

What is your educational background?

I went to the St. Andrew High School for Girls. I focused on the Sciences up until sixth form. Then I went to UWI and majored in International Relations and minored in Psychology.

What are some of the challenges that you have faced while trying to pursue your passion?

Let’s start with the first one. A lot of the music that I want to make is not as well received in Jamaica. I know people will listen to different kinds of music, I do, but stage shows aren’t looking for it, managers aren’t looking for it … media houses aren’t looking for it. That causes a problem with publishing. Obviously, you can self-publish, but that causes a problem with resources cause when you’re doing everything independently … [it] takes money.

Right now I want to write a song with a young producer and we want to make some [content] to just put out and we don’t have a place to meet. You zimmie? My yard is too full of people and his yard is the same and we need somewhere quiet to work. We’d have to book a space really and that costs money, just to write the music and we don’t even know if it’s going to turn into anything yet. So, we haven’t even started paying for studio time … we haven’t started paying for the mix and mastering, or any of that stuff.

Then there is the whole getting yourself known. Not only do you have to get a gig(like meet people and network), but you have to be able to afford to go to all your gigs. This is compounded by the fact that a lot of times people will pay the musicians but they don’t want to pay the vocalists.. For example,  they’ll really want the guitarist to come and play and they’ll give them like a $10,000 – $20,000 to show up. However, they want the vocalist to do the show for free with accompaniment and if they do pay- they want to pay us less, even though we still have the musicians to pay.

Corporate events are different, if you go to sing at a corporate event for a band or like a penny concert, people will pay you for that. [However] those gigs are not necessarily the kind that get you noticed and get you featured.

Then you have the artist problem where sometimes you’ll just get stuck. There are times  with my writing, I’ll hit a wall and I’m like “what is the character doing right now?”. The same thing happens with songs where I’ll just be sitting at a table writing a song and I know what I want it to be and the words are just not coming out the way that I want or the rhythm is off.

Have you encountered people who have been skeptical about your dreams?

Girl, every day. Right now my boss does not believe that I do what I say I do. It’s the most frustrating thing.

I’ll hear my song literally playing on the radio and say “hey, that’s my song playing on the radio and I wrote it.” However, he then proceeds to call everyone else to write songs and I’m just like “I’m a writer, call me.” Then he says “well, women aren’t really doing very well in the industry right now, no one’s really pushing for them.”

How did you initially react to those people and how do you act towards them now?

I haven’t changed how I react to them. I look at them and I’m just like “alright, fair, point made … however …” [For example when] he said that women aren’t really being pushed in the industry and I’m like “Shenseea is the biggest thing ever, Koffee is the biggest thing ever …” You meet up on people saying “yeah you can sing, but can you make this a career?” That’s the biggest skepticism. I look at them and say “well, to be very honest, anything I want to do as a career is going to take work and going to take time. It’s going to be difficult to get to the place that I want. So I might as well put that effort into something that I care about.” Even if I wanted to be an accountant, I would have to put in the work, I would have to do better than other accountants; I would have to set myself up and still network no matter what I do. So I might as well just do that with what I love.

Saying these things to them kind of just helps me … it’s like it renews my passion. By defending it I remember exactly why I’m fighting.

What are some of the fears that you face even today?

My biggest fear is just not being able to make this a viable career option. I don’t necessarily feel like I want to be Beyoncé but I want to be able to do what I love, get paid and live comfortably. At this point in my life, I’m feeling like I’m getting too old, I missed certain opportunities, maybe it’s just not going to happen… You just start to wonder if it’s going to be viable.

How do you deal with those fears?

Bwoii, I don’t know enuh … I have to pray.

I guess it’s just making plans, concrete plans, and putting more of your energy into what you want. I have to make plans and tell myself , “yes, at the very least, we’re gonna keep trying… I’m not gonna stand still.” I have to give myself that pep talk and it also helps to have friends who tell you that you’re worth it.

Also, I do things to help me to better my talent. I just finished a vocal training course at the Avant Academy of Music. It really has helped my singing and I got myself a guitar and I started practicing because I thought “well, can’t afford these musicians so I have to become one.”

How do you work? What is the method to your ‘madness’ and how do you filter your creativity?

Sometimes I just have to, especially with my fiction writing, make myself do it. I have to sit down, take the time and be like “Raechel … let’s write this story. I don’t care what you write about.” Sometimes I have to do that with singing too. [I’ll think] “this is coming out, I want this new song, let’s start singing and see what happens.” So it’s about setting times to just keep working on whatever your craft is and being prepared…

I always have to be prepared to take voice notes of my songs and go back and listen to them. Sometimes I feel the song in my chest so I have to go to the bathroom or tell my boss that I need a break or something [because] I don’t want to lose it. I also like remembering moments that are best to draw from. [For example if] yesterday I wanted something and I wanted to cry [and I thought] “wow, I really should write about this. I don’t know what I’m going to say but I should write about this.”

What role do you believe “the artist” has in society? / How do you feel your artform has the power to benefit society?

I’ve always thought of music and reading as entertainment and connecting with others. That might seem really simple but I feel, especially in regards to  reading and writing, things like  character development and telling stories or when writing a song, these types of musings are what [truly] make us human. I feel like our ability to do this is what makes us different more complex than other animals and that music and stories not only reminds us of that, but keeps that part of us, as a collective, alive.

Out of all your work, which piece resonates the most with you?

Probably something I’m working on right now called “Wrought.” I don’t know what exactly it’s going to be, I really want it to be a novel. It’s dystopian type of novel

For my music, I’ve written quite a few things that I really enjoy. I think one of the ones that I’ve done recently that everyone really loves is a song called “Lazy Afternoon.” I did not put a lot into that song, it was actually a really lazily written song because I needed it for a performance. I really loved the way it turned out, the harmonies, the melodies and everything. And specifically for song writing a song I wrote in high school called “Deliriously”. It is to date the most poetic, intricately beautiful thing I’ve written.

Where do you see yourself going?

I’m going to France and I see myself continuing to work at it. My focus right now is getting content out. I meet people on a daily basis but I don’t have anything to make them listen to. I also want to have an actual demo to be sending to people, even when I get to France, cause there is a whole music scene in France … Coldplay’s publishing company is in France.

By what terms do you measure success or perfection? When do you feel like you can say that your work is finished and ready to be experienced by others?

When I feel,  after having written a song or a piece of work, that “Yeah, I don’t care what anyone says about this, I’m proud of it, I like it… this is good and I personally believe in it.

What elements of your career bring you the most stress?

Everything. The money, the pressure to create, the pressure to create on a deadline and the pressure to [completely] finish a creation: to get it published, get it recorded … performing, [and so on]. All of it.

What is some advice that you would give to anyone who is trying to walk the same path as you?

I would honestly say go after it harder. I’ve experienced a lot of struggles and I feel like it’s because I doubted my ability. From you know [what you want to do in life], like if you’re 20 when you figure it out, or 50 go after it. I know sometimes it’s sounds big and you don’t know what that means … but get rid of the fear and do it anyway.

Push harder for what you want once you realize what it is … even if it’s a small step every day, every week or every month, try; keep trying.

“… to be very honest, anything I want to do as a career is going to take work and going to take time. It’s going to be difficult to get to the place that I want. So I might as well put that effort into something that I care about.”

~ Raechel “Ré” Mitchell

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