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Rachel Sermanni Interview March 2012

Lisa Ward


Ahead of her headline shows in April, MTTM caught up with Rachel Sermanni to find out more about her inspiration and to get to the bottom of Pirate Song.

MTTM: You’ve been on tour recently with Fink, do you find it hard to win his audiences over given that you’re musically quite different?

RS: His audiences have been great, it has been a surprise. Despite our differences, there seems to be a parallel and I think we work as a good team. I think I can quite effectively warm up the crowd for the boys which is good. I have loved playing for the followers of Fink. They seem to be a very creative and appreciative bunch. They listen well.

MTTM: Your Black Currents EP came out earlier in the year, what’s the reaction been and what do you have in the pipe line?

RS: There has been a wonderful reaction. We were top of the coalition charts for two weeks on first releasing the cd. THis is the only official reaction I know of but what I am consistently aware of is the positive things people say about the instrumentation and production around the songs. People are very impressed with the lovely friends and musicians I have around me. And I, too, am very content with the lovely family of musicians around me.

MTTM: Some of your music is quite dark, what inspires you to write your song?

RS: I am often inspired by dreams. I like the darker side of things although I really have no excuse to want to focus on bad things when my life is really rather sweet. I am fond of the concept of an adversary and also fond of the idea behind archetypes. You can create very extreme states of consciousness within a song. You can envelope everything around only one aspect of your being. This creates intensity. And at the moment I enjoy creating a bit of intensity that leaves you feeling a bit on edge.  I’m glad you notice that some are darker…

MTTM: You’re from the small town of Carrbridge, in the Highlands, how do you think that influenced your upbringing and your music?

RS: I don’t know how much it has influenced my writing exactly. I know there has been a lot of encouragement in the area to be creative. There were always traditional music lessons and school musicals to take part in. I was very much into performing from a young age. My writing songs became part of performing when I was in later school and was growing in confidence. I think the space up here has allowed my imagination to run. I am thankful for that.

MTTM: What is the story behind Pirate Song?

RS: Thanks for asking. I haven’t been asked about this one before. I wrote Pirate Song a few months after leaving school. Within months I had been thrown into a storm of exciting prospects and opportunities. It was all very thrilling. I had been to Glasgow and been to pubs with new friends, I had been taken to see jazz music, I had my first sweaty rock band experience in a tiny venue, I had been to London and properly recorded and produced a song with a member of a famous band…so much stuff was happening! But I was aware of how I must not lose sight of how good everything was… I came home and watched some Tim Burton then wrote a song about a girl who becomes a pirate and finds treasure but she forgets about the stars and how she came to be. Greed swallows her. She comes to a watery end because she doesn’t think she needs anyone but herself. It was a lesson for myself. A constant reminder.

MTTM: How would you describe your music in three words?

RS: (I’ve had this question before…I don’t think I answered very well) 1 = earful 2 = of 3 = nice

MTTM: On your blog your describe a couple of airport games, have you actually ever played them and if so, did you win?

RS: Yes. I have played the pilot game. It was fun. But I lost to my good friend Dougie Brown as we flew across to America. The other game was attempted but failed somewhat, I didn’t say so on the blog.

(Full instructions for the Airport Games can be found on Rachel’s blog)

MTTM: 10 years from now, where will you be?

RS: In a small wooden house on a hill with sheep in the garden.