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 →