Rachel Reinert is no stranger to the country music scene. Having had a very successful career with country group Gloriana, Rachel along with Gloriana toured across the US and Australia supporting Taylor Swift, released three studio albums, appeared on the TV show Hart of Dixie , won CMT, AMA and ACM awards making them one of the most promising groups in country music.
Rachel left Gloriana not too long after the release of their third album Three to pursue a solo career. Recently, Rachel released her debut single Cool which we adore as do many respected publications, artists and of course fans.
We caught up with Rachel to discuss her new single, her time with Gloriana and much more.
If we can, I would like to rewind a bit and firstly ask, what made you want a career in country music, when did you know you wanted to be a singer?
I grew up watching music videos on tv after school, and I remember seeing a Shania Twain video – I think it was “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” and I was just absolutely mesmerized. That video initially sparked my interest in country music. I knew I wanted to be an entertainer from a young age, but it wasn’t until I started writing songs around my freshman year of high school that I knew I wanted to be an artist. My writing style had a natural lean towards country music, most especially because I’m so lyrically driven and I love the story telling aspect. I made my first trip to Nashville when I was 15, and I just felt like I truly belonged.
You had a publishing deal to start, what did that entail and was it rewarding?
A lot of learning. I was 16 and fairly inexperienced. I was lucky to be put in co-writes with other writers who really helped me and taught me so much about the art of songwriting. It was extremely rewarding for me, because I still carry those lessons with me about being vulnerable and fearless and speaking my truth when it comes to writing songs.
You joined Gloriana as you were about to leave Nashville and head home – how did that call to be a part of Gloriana come to be?
Honestly just timing and happenstance. I had a music Myspace page with some of my early recordings that somehow landed in the right hands, which led me to the Gossins (my former bandmates) and the Serletics (my former producer/record label/manager).
So you made an incredibly hard decision and left the band. How was life afterwards, did you know what direction you wished to go in career wise? What kind of artist you wanted to be?
Life afterwards was much slower than I was accustomed to, but in hindsight, I believe that was for the best. I spent 8 years of my life on a fast track, where everything was non-stop and instantaneous. So for everything to come to a screeching halt was terrifying and uncomfortable for me. But, it helped me to truly find myself and get clear on what my vision/sound would be as a solo artist. The long winded process ultimately had a huge impact on the songs I wrote for my upcoming album. I knew that I wanted the sound to be “California Country” – based on my California roots and the type of music my parents raised me on, but I didn’t know how to execute that in the beginning. There was a lot of trial and error in the songwriting process, but I eventually found the creative partners I needed to bring that to life.
You have just released your debut solo single “Cool,” which we love. Tell us a bit about the writing process, who did you write with (if anyone) and what was the story/influence behind the song?
I wrote it with Melissa Fuller and my producer, Davis Naish. I wanted to write a song about my first love/first heartbreak and how that relationship evolved into a friendship over the span of many years. It’s hard to be on good terms with an ex, but it’s those experiences that mold us into who we are and where we eventually need to be.
Were you nervous at all putting out the first single?
Absolutely! Especially because it is so different from what people have seen and heard from me before. I was nervous about the reaction and how people would compare it to my past. It’s the most vulnerable feeling in the whole world to be putting out a song that you wrote and love so much, hoping other people love it too.
How have Gloriana fans reacted? I can imagine they have been pretty loyal and very supportive?
The reactions from fans have been amazing. I feel very lucky to have so many of those fans embracing this new chapter of my musical career.
The response to the single in general has been very well received with mentions from Rolling Stone and more, how does that feel?
It feels so rewarding. It made every challenge and hardship through out this 2.5 year process completely worthwhile for me. This music is so reflective of who I am, so the positive response means everything to me.
Are you working on an album? If so, can we know anything about it? Who you have been writing with, what to expect from it?
I am! I’ve been working with my producer, Davis Naish, who I wrote a lot of the songs with. Some other writers include Melissa Fuller, Autumn Sizemore, Joe Pisapia, and KS Rhoads, to name a few. I would say to expect more of that 70’s Laurel Canyon feel, and for the subject matter of each song to be extremely reflective of me and my personal experiences.
How do you feel about the ongoing battle with country radio not playing enough women in country music?
I think there is some progress being made, but we’ve still got a long way to go. I do think it’s quite unbalanced, and we just need to keep fighting the good fight to get female artists the airtime they deserve.
Lets talk a little bit about Gloriana if that is ok? What were your fondest memories of being in the group?
There were so many “firsts” with Gloriana. The first tour bus, the first major tour (opening for Taylor Swift), the first red carpets, winning our first major award, receiving our first gold and platinum records… I hold those experiences very near and dear to my heart. I will never forget any of those moments and I am eternally grateful for the successes we saw over the span of those 8 years.
Tell us about some of the songs Gloriana released – what songs meant the most to you? What did you enjoy performing?
Our biggest hit, “Kissed You (Goodnight)” was probably the most meaningful for a lot of reasons. It was the first song we released when we unexpectedly went from a quartet to a trio, and to see that song be so successful after such a tumultuous experience was just so incredible. When you have a song that reaches people in a massive way, hearing it being sung back to you with such excitement and joy from others is the most gratifying feeling in the world.
Gloriana cut a few outside songs, especially on the debut album. Now that you are solo, will you be taking the opportunity to write more? I ask because most of my favourite tracks were ones you wrote together.
Thank you! I am extremely thankful for the amazing songwriters who contributed to our albums over the years, but being a part of a band means a lot of give and take and compromise when you are putting an album together and selecting songs. It’s a combined vision for all people involved. Part of me leaving and needing to branch out on my own as a solo artist was because I wanted to be in control of creating my own songs that are completely reflective of me and my writing style. It has been extremely important to me that I be a co-writer on every single song for this upcoming album, because I’m going to be the one performing them each night, and also because I have a specific and different sound and direction dialed in at this point.
We first saw you in the Fearless tour with Taylor Swift – tell us about that tour because it was you guys, Kellie Pickler and of course Taylor, you went around the US, Australia (sadly not UK). How was that experience?
It was the most incredible time. I learned so much from Taylor. She’s a master at her craft and I’m very grateful that we got to go around the world with her. Having the opportunity to play in front of her fans was like winning the lottery. That was where we gained a big part of our following.
You also had a Best Fans Ever party which we were also at – how important do you think it is to give back to the fans, and why do you think country music seems to be one of very few genres that does that?
It’s extremely important. Those are the people who make it possible for us artists to do what we do! Engaging with fans on a personal level will always be a priority for me. I think country music seems to be one of the few genres to do that because country music fans are by far and away the most loyal, loving, and dedicated.
Another thing country music is so wonderful for is its celebration of songwriters – do you get to do much songwriters rounds or go to see any?
I have definitely been in on quite a few songwriters rounds over the span of my career, and I’ve seen many at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville over the years. Its such a special experience to hear the stories behind the songs. I find it to be extremely inspirational.
Unfortunately, Gloriana never made it to the UK – I am hoping that this won’t be the case with you! Is the UK on your agenda?
Its funny because country music seems to have absolutely exploded in the UK since I left the band. I was bummed that we didn’t ever get the opportunity to tour there, but I’m excited about the possibility of performing out there in this new chapter of my musical career. I have visited the UK before as a tourist, and I absolutely love it, so it’s most definitely on my bucket list to come back and perform in the UK.
What is next on your schedule?
More music being released, finishing my album in the studio, and hopefully getting back on the road very soon.