For nearly a decade now, Rachael Yamagata has seduced and charmed audiences with her gorgeous vocals and rare ability to encapsulate love and heartbreak in a 4-minute pop song. Her exceptional voice and songwriting have won the hearts of everyone from Rhett Miller to Ryan Adams (both of whom she’s collaborated with), not to mention thousands of fans worldwide.
In 2011, she formed her own record label, Frankenfish, and released her third studio album, Chesapeake, to critical acclaim. Now, just one year later, she’s already released a new EP, Heavyweight, and is hitting the road to support it. I rang up Yamagata in advance of her Friday “Free at Noon” performance—to talk community, Rocky, and why once this tour is over, she could really use a nap.
The Key: The new EP is called Heavyweight, and “Heavyweight” is also the name of the first song. Tell me about the idea behind it. Is the song about someone in particular? What does it mean to be a heavyweight?
Rachael Yamagata: It’s actually very silly, the idea behind it—I was in this serious relationship at the time where [my boyfriend and I] were constantly battling…and actually I had read somewhere that our two different personality types combined was like two boxers constantly trying to knock each other out [laughs]. I’m also a big fan of Rocky; I used to run on the Ben Franklin Bridge constantly and listen to the Rocky soundtrack, and so I kept thinking about Rocky, and the idea of this person existing solely on braggadocio, and approaching the world with this blustery strength and suppressing vulnerability…and just the kind of burden they hold as a result. It’s such a tenuous position, because once you’ve become a heavyweight champion….you know. What happens if you lose the fight? There’s always that vulnerability creeping in. And so in this song, and also in this relationship, there’s the idea that I’ll stand next to you no matter what, even though I know this about you. Continue reading
Rachael Yamagata is playing XPN’s Free At Noon this Friday, December 7th. On Friday evening, she performs an intimate show at the First Unitarian Church, that you can buy tickets for here. Yamagata is touring in support of a gorgeous new EP, Heavyweight that you can purchase here. Tonight, Rachael is playing two sold out shows in New York at Joe’s Pub. Starting at 9:30 p.m. EST, you can watch the show in full on Livestream here. Sign up to see Rachael at XPN’s Free At Noon this Friday here. In case you missed our featured My Morning Download, download “Falling In Love Again” here.
Singer-songwriter Rachael Yamagata is out on tour and is playing the First Unitarian Church on Friday, December 7th. She’s got a gorgeous new six song EP out called Heavyweight that she’s selling at her shows and on her web site here. There are few confessional singer-songwriters who are as good as Yamagata at capturing the essence of broken hearts and finding redemption in lost love. Her singing on this record is as emotionally intense as ever, the piano playing as lyrical as her story telling and the string arrangements on the EP are stunning. The EP is out on her own Frankenfish Records, and she gets some help from Liz Phair and Madi Diaz on the song “Has It Happened Yet.” Rachael’s made yet another excellent collection of songs and in the context of the singer-songwriter continuum Heavyweight</em> is about as blue as Joni Mitchell’s Blue can get. Below, download “Falling In Love Again.”
Electronic-pop outift Gracie lent some songs to our Key Studio Sessions series this week. Andrew Balasia, the man behind the moniker, stopped by the studio on his way to a show at Johnny Brenda’s and recorded three tracks off of his upcoming Bleeder LP. Download the Key Sessions rendition of “Creature Pleaser” (the album’s first single) below and check out the full session here. Gracie has hinted that he will be back for a show in Philly before the month is finished, so stay tuned for more information on that and the release of Bleeder.
Heartrending, nomadic singer-songwriter Rachael Yamagata is touring chamber-style this fall – with promises of intimate venues, string sections, and wine. For her local show, the onetime Philly resident will play in the sanctuary of the First Unitarian Church on December 7 (more information here). This week Yamagata released a free mixtape through Noisetrade.com in anticipation of the tour; listen to it, or download it in exchange for your email address, in the player below. Continue reading