Check our exclusive interview with talented Rachel Shaps, who is a singer/songwriter with a flare for the creative. She combines her folk-style storytelling with a Pop/Alternative sound. Rachel’s vocals are incredibly unique, with a hint of New Orleans soul, of which she certainly inherited from her grandmother, the legendary Eartha Kitt. Much like her grandmother, Rachel was born an old soul, which she clearly conveys through the depth of her lyrics. Her ability to connect with people through her music is astounding, and you can hear the rawness of her emotions in every word. She started writing music when she was just 12 years old, and is self-taught on both guitar and piano.
In the last 5 years, Rachel has grown a loyal and engaged social media presence with her love of fashion and beauty, and her creative content. Her energy and passion for life are infectious, and are sure to bring her great success.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
If I had to describe myself in three words, I’d probably say that I am passionate, kind, and insightful.
How all started?
I grew up around music. My Grandmother was the legendary singer, actress and activist Eartha Kitt, so it was kind of in my blood. I’d travel with her and my Mom to all of her shows and sets. I loved the theatrics of it all, and I fell so madly in love with music. I’ll never forget when I first heard “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys. I wanted to do that… I wanted to be that. When I was about 11 years old, I starting writing my own music. It was always an amazing outlet for me growing up, and as I got older and life became more complicated, it became my therapy.
When was it that you first realized that you wanted to pursue music as a career?
I started to go down the more traditional route. I went to college, got my degree, and started a full-time job and I have honestly never experienced such bad anxiety in my life. I was so unhappy and unfulfilled. But it was a perfect example of the fact that everything happens for a reason, because it pushed me to really dive into my music. It was my escape, and I started write more about real life and found my songs to be more relatable and have more depth. I knew music was what I was always meant to do, but this was the push I needed to really go for it. It felt like the perfect way to pay homage to my grandmother – to follow my passion and live my truth the way she had always encouraged me to. I barely made it 7 months before I quit my job, moved home and started pursuing music full-time.
Did your family support this decision?
Thankfully, my family was so supportive, and it made all of the difference. I think it was a little easier for them to wrap their brains around partly because of my grandmother because they had seen music and creativity manifested into a sustainable and successful career. But they have always encouraged me to do what makes me happy, and they saw how happy doing this made me.
What is your musical background?
I’ve done little things, like I did a handful of school musicals, a few acting camps, choreographed for a couple of plays, and took a songwriting workshop in high school, but I really have no formal training. Music has always been something I did on my own for the most part until recently. I didn’t work with vocal coaches, or study music theory. I was singing since before I can remember and I always just had a knack for it. My gift was that I could sing a harmony immediately after hearing a melody. My grandmother actually asked me to teach her how to do harmonies once, but I couldn’t explain it, it just happened.
Describe your sound in 2 words?
Soulful and powerful.
What kind of music do you listen normally?
I mostly listen to Pop music… Top 40, alternative, electro-pop… but I also love R&B, folk, and classic rock. I grew up listening to Bruce Springsteen and The Rolling Stonesbecause my dad was a huge fan, and my mom was always playing country music. But I was also in middle school during the Disney “heyday” of Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers, and Demi Lovato so now my playlists range from Shawn Mendes to Alicia Keys to Dan + Shay to The Revivalists. My favorite thing about this time in music is how much artists are blending between genres and collaborating with artists in different music realms. It’s a really exciting time for music and it’s awesome to be part of it as an artist and a fan.
Tell us about your single “Learn My Lesson?”
You know they say, “old habits die hard.” Mine was constantly making excuses for behavior that I had seen and not liked before in a relationship, and yet still chosen to ignore. Then, (shocker), I’d end up hurt or disappointed, and wondering what went wrong. But, I was getting sick and tired of writing love and breakup songs that always blamed the other person for all of the damage they caused. In reality, no one can make you feel any way, only we can. I wanted to write a song accepting responsibility for the part I played that lead to the demise of those relationships.
Where we can see you next?
What music influences do you have?
Major influences for me have been Alicia Keys, Adele, Christina Aguilera, Demi Lovato, and Miley Cyrus. Most recently I’ve been really inspired by Alessia Cara, Julia Michaels, and Billie Eilish.
What is your next goal as a musician?
I’d love to start touring as an opener for other musicians. I love performing live and traveling, so it’s a perfect marriage of both of those things.
What is your own definition of happiness?
My definition of happiness is living your truth. Being 100% authentic to yourself, whatever that means to you. It could be chasing a dream, traveling the world, being a parent, helping others… just as long as you’re being genuine and true to who you are.
What are the five things you can’t live without?
1. I genuinely couldn’t live without music. I think I’d go insane. It’s always there for me regardless of what’s going on in my life, and I can always find a way to relate to it.
2. My family’s love and support. I don’t think they even know how much I appreciate it. Without it, I’d be nowhere.
3. Sushi. Spicy tuna or salmon… I’m seriously obsessed, and also slightly shocked I haven’t gotten mercury poisoning by now.
4. Social media. I know it sounds cliche and so ‘millennial’ but that’s not how I mean it. I could care less about the pretty photos, likes and followers, but what social media has done for me has changed my life. The platform it’s given me to connect with other artists, creatives, fans, and like-minded people is amazing. The reality is, it’s the way of the world now. And while that may come with some negatives, it also provides a lot of amazing opportunities for people in a seriously life-changing way.
5. My dog, Tubbs. He’s a big black lab with a gigantic head and we’re just completely obsessed with each other.
Best advice ever given?
My dad always loved to quote Wayne Gretzky’s, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” I live and die by that philosophy though. It’s the old, “you never know if you don’t try,” because it’s the truth. And it applies to every facet of life… if you don’t go for you what you want, you’ll never even have the chance to get it. I’m constantly reminding myself when faced with potential rejection, “the worst thing they can say is no,” and then you move on. Thank u, next.
Do you get nervous before a performance?
I get the normal “pre-show jitters” but it’s mainly just excitement. I love performing so much so I might be nervous for 30 seconds, but once I start, I just lose myself in it.
What is next for Rachel Shaps in 2019?
I’m making the move out to LA, so that will be really exciting and hopefully open the door to a lot of collaboration opportunities. But I have a lot of new music in the pipeline and some fun performances planned.
Any advice for upcoming singers?
There are two key pieces of advice that have been given to me that I love sharing with other artists. 1. Be open to criticism and advice. I promise, it will make you better. Some of the best, most influential people you’ll work with might be the toughest on you, but it will only push you to grow. Even the greats are still learning. 2. Don’t be afraid to make a bad song. You might make 100 song and only like 4 or 5 of them, but that’s how you find the ones that are special, and unique.
If you weren’t singing, what would you be doing?
I would still love to be a songwriter if I wasn’t singing, but I really just love to be creative. If I wasn’t in music, I’d probably be in film or fashion.
Something people don’t know about you?
The only 2 continents I’ve never been to are Asia and Antarctica
What would be the dream holiday, and who would you go with?
My dream holiday would be to go Island hopping in Greece with a few friends or significant other.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would love to have met Sigmund Freud. I’m terribly fascinated by the mind and was originally studying to be a psychologist in college before changing my major to communications. I always found the brain and the way we interact with each other and with our environment to be so interesting, so I would’ve loved to sit and down and hear from the father of psychology himself.
What is your favorite healthy food?
Sushi! I love raw fish, and I am so happy that it’s healthy because I’m not sure I could handle eating salad all of the time.
And your favorite cheat food?
I have a long list, but I’m a sucker for Italian food, so I’d have to say either a pizza or pasta.
What would be a deal breaker on a first date?
There are definitely a few deal breakers, but I think the overarching theme of them is arrogance. I hate when people think they’re better than everyone else, so talking over me, making the whole conversation about themselves, or being flat out rude… thank u, next.
Which project is still on your bucket list?
Releasing a debut album and then touring it is still on my bucket list. Keeping my fingers crossed that it happens soon!
Idea of a perfect Sunday?
Sundays are my favorite days to curl up and watch a movie or read a book at home, but honestly I always end up finding my way to the piano or picking up my guitar and writing. As long as I don’t have to change out of my sweats, then I’m happy.
Do you support any charity?
Absolutely. The charity I’ve been most invested in as of recently is Everytown for Gun Safety. We absolutely have to make a change, and reform our gun laws to stop these horrendous attacks. You can learn more and find out how you can help at everytown.org.
Any exiting news you want to share with us?
The music video for ‘Learn My Lesson’ is coming out this week! I’m so excited, I had such an amazing crew and location on this shoot. It looks awesome!
What does fashion mean to you?
To me, fashion is a way to express yourself, and it’s all about individuality. Fashion is whatever you want it to be and that’s what makes it so beautiful.
How would you explain your fashion style?
I love how New York street-style has this European influence, like the elegance of Paris and Milan, but with a New York fierceness and edge, but I also love the West Coast more relaxed and comfortable, but still put-together vibe. I’d say my style meets the two somewhere in the middle.
How important is Social Media for you?
Social Media is so important to me. Like I said, not because of the likes or the numbers, but because of the opportunity it has created for myself and others. The platform and the voice it’s given to people who might not have otherwise had one is unbelievable. It’s introduced me to some of my favorite artists, connected me with friends and creatives alike, and given me an audience that I never had before.
Where we can follow you?