Interview: Rae Radick
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I have always been drawn to music since I was a child. There are many videos of me dancing and singing in my basement at a young age and my parents realized my passion. They enrolled me in dance classes when I was 3 years old, singing lessons when I was 12, and guitar/piano when I was 14. This might sound cliché but I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life except performing. Whether it be singing, songwriting, or acting— I love influencing people with a beautiful story. If I had to really stretch for an alternative reality and never had gotten into performing, I may have become a dentist because I love smiles.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
When I’m not playing music I’m working in the shop with my dad bending sheet metal. Working in the family shop may seem like tough work, but it’s incredibly creative and fun! When a client comes in with a pattern, it’s up to us to figure out how to make it and I enjoy that part. I like working with my family and working with my hands.
In terms of what influences my creativity: everything! As an artist we have a responsibility to be open to things, experiences, and people– here is where we draw from for inspiration. All of my songs are written from personal experiences or people I know, and that’s what makes it truthful, enjoyable, and relatable.
How long has music been your career?
I released my first album when I was sixteen but since I was in high school I didn’t know how to market or what to do with it. Once I graduated college I moved to New York and immediately began working professionally in the music and acting scenes. I like to include the time I spent when I was sixteen because that’s when I first learned about songwriting/producing/branding which makes it 16 years in the industry.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I’m based in New York City and sometimes travel to Nashville to record, write, and perform. I wanted to live in New York because I am an actress as well, and wanted to live in a city that allows me to do both. Many people ask me about LA or Atlanta and my response is: LA is too far from home and Atlanta is a possibility in the future but not at this time.
New York definitely gives my sound its spirit and attitude. There’s a quote I heard from someone who said, “New York is where you go to become a craftsman and artist.” I one hundred percent agree. I love that NY is unapologetically real.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
The best show I have ever played was at the North Carolina Balloon Festival where people were singing along to my songs, and afterwards told me they cried to a few of them. I love interacting with the crowd and seeing their vibe to something I wrote. Afterwards, I sold all my CDs and numerous young girls came up to me saying how they enjoyed my songs. When someone tells me how much they like my work and how it changed their life is the best compliment I could receive.
The worst show I have ever played was in New York when no one came and I played to an empty room. It was early in my career and usually there’s a few friends who pop by to support, but this particular night no one came. The venue was not happy that I brought in zero customers. I hated that feeling, although it does happen to artists starting out so you can’t take it personally.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I love playing at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC. It’s incredibly intimate and all about the music. Most people who play there are incredibly talented and I love the vibe. I would love to play Madison Square Garden as well as Whisky A Go GO and Troubadour in California.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
This is a fun one! If could do a show with anyone on the bill it would be:
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into music?
BE YOURSELF! There’s so many unique qualities about each and every person and it’s important to highlight those aspects. If you only write, dress, and act how you think others want you to then that’s a recipe for a breakdown. When you know who you are and what you want to say, there’s no one or label that can manipulate you.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
It’s important to be able to play an instrument. Not that it’s mandatory, but it’s helpful and faster when it comes to writing a song and communicating with musicians and producers. When you play an instrument it trains your ears, and allows you to experiment with different types of sounds. You don’t have to actually play it on stage if you’re not very good, but knowing your way around a piano or guitar can be extremely helpful in finding what you want to create, sound wise.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
This is a loaded question. The one that makes my heart heavy every time I sing it is, “The Soldier and the Bombshell” because it’s about my grandparents. However, “In A Memory” creeps into this category as well. They both came from a deep, vulnerable place when I was writing it.
I remember the first time I wrote “The Soldier and the Bombshell” there were tears all over my notepad. I wanted to write a song for veterans because I have a history of performing for them and wanted to give them a gift. However, when this song was finished I realized it wasn’t specifically about veterans but instead intertwined with my grandparents and the life they built after my Poppop returned from the Air Force. I am very close to my grandparents and reflecting on the life they created for our family, mixed with the deep love and appreciation I have for veterans came “The Soldier and the Bombshell”.
“In A Memory” is one I wanted to include in this answer because when I sing it I feel my body tingle with each line. It’s about a couple who never stopped loving each other but life was pulling them in different directions. This came from a personal experience and is a subject that means a lot to me because it’s something everyone can relate to. It was the hardest lesson I had to learn— sometimes love isn’t enough. Although love plays a crucial part in a relationship, if life has different plans for you two then you must surrender to the breakup.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
The songs that are requested the most are, ”Keep ‘Em Guessing,” “In A Memory,” and “Circle Game”.
“Keep ‘Em Guessing” was the first single released from my EP and is certainly a fun, toe tapping song. I can hear most people singing in the crowd along with me. “In A Memory” seems to be a crowd favorite because of the sexy melody and relatable lyrics. “Circle Game” was a song that surprised me how much it’s being requested. I like the song but it’s not exactly in my top 3 favorites. But I think people like this song because it’s about social media and how it affects mental health. I wrote Circle Game to call out society on our dependence on it (myself included) and how it causes anxiety and depression.
“Mission Back Home” from my first EP is a frequently requested song amongst the veterans because it’s about returning home. I originally wrote it when I was going to college and returning home from winter break, but this song can be interpreted as returning home from service as well.
What is the creative process for you, and what inspires you to write your music?
The creative process is the most enjoyable for me. I always write late at night, when the world is asleep and not get interrupted by calls, texts, or work emails. Usually I light a candle, make some tea, get my guitar and just begin writing. If you sit down and tell yourself, “I’m going to write a great song now” you’re doomed. So I approach it like a therapy session. I ask what did I see/observe/experience lately and what do I want to say about it? How do I want to approach this from a storytelling perspective? This approach makes it more enjoyable for me because it comes from my heart, yet it also allows me to be tactful in the way I’m presenting the song.
In terms of what inspires me— anything and everything! I get inspired by personal experience, observations, even movies. Many times I’ll be moved by a movie or TV show, and write a song based on what I experienced from what I just watched. As an artist I must be open to experiences and how they affect me, so from that source is where I go when writing.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
It depends on what I want to put out. For example, “Keep ‘Em Guessing” is about women empowerment and the beauty of how women can be both mysterious and independent. I also purposely wanted to put out a catchy single that encompasses women's power.
I suppose the current themes that run through my songs are nostalgia, finding yourself, relationships, and family.
Do you ever have disagreements when collaborating and how do you get past them?
I am very lucky to work with incredibly talented musicians and my production team is the dream team. When I approach them with a song, or we collaborate together on a song, I feel like we’re very clear with what we’re trying to accomplish and what influences we are working off of. I have never had a disagreement with my production team— maybe a discussion of using different sounds instead of the ones they chose, but never a disagreement.
When songwriting with other artists, there’s always going to be different opinions on things. The way I navigate those situations is through give and take. If something is very important to me and I cannot let it go, I will voice my opinion and tell them how strongly I feel about it. If they let me have my way on that thing, then they must get what they want on something they feel strongly about. There have been collaborations in the past when both of us couldn’t find a middle ground and the songs never made it— that’s something that is a reality of our business.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
I am very excited for this upcoming season! I have two new singles out and music videos in the works that will premiere in the spring and summer. I have some tours and festivals all across the US. Right now I’m focused on expanding my following and performing as much as possible.
Keep ‘Em Guessing-
In A Memory-
Sorry’s Not Good Enough-
The Soldier and the Bombshell-
When It All Goes Down-