Scottish folk singer Rachel Sermanni set for greatnessOctober 4, 2012 - 7:00am
With an arresting voice and an ability to create ethereal imagery, Rachel Sermanni is an artist to watch. The Scottish singer and songwriter, who has already caught the ear of Mumford & Sons and has played support for Elvis Costello, plays Monroe’s Live this Saturday, October 6.
Rachel Sermanni’s debut album Under Mountains has just been released and the 20-year-old is pleased with the results.
“I’m really happy,” says the singer, whose writing is influenced by Scottish folk music and the poetry of Robert Burns. “It took a long time to get that stage. But when it came through the post and I got to see it as an entire thing, with the artwork, and each song tying in together, I was very happy.”
Recorded in Watercolour Studios, in the Scottish Highlands, the place that Rachel calls home, Under Mountain is a beguiling debut in which her her vocals and her songwriting take centre stage. The singer had just finished a lengthy tour when she went into the studio. In hindsight, she feels this mightn’t have been the best idea.
“The recording of it was really fun,” she says. “But when I went to the studio in London to do after-production, I realised that I’d been very tired during the recording process because of all the touring I’d been doing previously. The performance was just no, not there.
“Some of the vocals were re-done in order to give them energy,” she adds. “I’m really glad that happened, because it would have been a very different record. I meant what I said when I was singing it at the recording studio, but I was just on another planet. I was too tired.”
There’s a long list of musicians on the album, but a look through the affectionate thank-yous suggest that this was a record made with friends.
“I had lots of musician who were offering their talented selves and we started to jam,” says Rachel. “So I moved down to Glasgow and slowly became immersed in a pool of music students, and they’re all still my friends.
“I came a bit of a student without having to do the work!” she laughs. “But you’ve got to be careful as well about keeping the balance. When you’ve got your friends as a band, you hope everything continues to go well. It makes it personal, I suppose.”
Having this closeness with the players on her album made it easier for Rachel to put her ideas across.
“I’m just so happy with the sounds of the songs,” she says. “It’s only because we’ve been playing together for a long time, they understand my character. They just knew what I like and what I don’t like. And that just came from us sitting in a room going ‘what needs doing here?’.
“I never speak in technical music concepts,” Rachel continues. “In the likes of The Fog, instead of giving a part a musical name, we’ll just call it The Spider. It’s all very fun, it’s all very conceptual.”
There’s a song called Marshmallow Unicorn on Under Mountain – yet there’s no reference to such an odd creature in the song. Where did the title come from?
“I went over to Dublin for a week when I was just starting out,” recalls Rachel. “And I just thought I’ll do as many things as I possibly can. I looked up all the Open Mic nights and did one every night, or a few; played as much as I could.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.