We had the good fortune of connecting with Rachel Norman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rachel, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
It never felt like a formal decision, it was always the automatic choice. As soon as I started taking voice lessons in the fifth grade, every direction I went in was in pursuit of music and entertainment. Although it’s my career, it never feels like a job to me because I love every second of it. I’m also very business savvy and skilled at admin work, but I’ve chosen to utilize those strengths to support my own creative career as opposed to someone else’s.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I write a lot of pop/rnb music but am also super influenced by indie/folk genres. I’ve noticed that my lyrical content feels very indie, but then it’ll be backed by a more produced and polished sound. You’ll always be able to recognize one of my songs though by all of the stacked vocal harmonies and layerings. I’m a vocalist first, so that’s at the forefront of everything I write 🙂
I officially made the decision to start recording my music professionally in college. In addition to being a musician, I’m also an actor, which I absolutely love and went to school for. Something all actors can relate to though is being at the whim of a casting director in order to practice your craft. In the face of a lot of rejection, I decided to turn to music since I had full autonomy and agency over when/where/how/what I could sing. That led me to releasing a 6 track EP, titled ‘Resist’, in time with my graduation, which I was then able to perform and promote along the east coast post-grad.
This past fall of 2021 was certainly one of the most informative seasons for my career. I had the opportunity to compose and perform a modern pop version of “It Had to be You” by Frank Sinatra for the Neiman Marcus national holiday campaign “Celebrate Big, Love Even Bigger”! Working with brands is such a rare opportunity for rising independent artists, so I definitely didn’t take it for granted. The best part though was getting to create the track with my producer Mike, since it felt like a huge milestone for us as collaborators. In the same month that I finished working with Neiman, I also released the title track of my debut album “Coming Home” and got to perform it for what felt like a million people (500 people!!) at House of Yes in Brooklyn. The performance was sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts, as I was awarded the City Artist Corp Grant. That was soo wild, because my manager and I finally had the resources to pull out all the stops for that show. Choreography and background dancers, costume changes, the works! The House of Yes concert was the first time I’ve ever been able to perform my music the way I want people to receive it. Complete pop girl antics, all over the stage.
The first release of the new year is my latest single, “Ready for Change”! Officially out now and available to stream everywhere!! It’s all about re-prioritizing, centering and protecting your energy, and celebrating yourself. Reflective of the mindset I’m bringing into 2022 🙂
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I got you with the Bushwick and Williamsburg recc’s! The day would start out at one of my favorite local spots, Millie’s Cuban Cafe. We’d of course grab a Café Con Leche and any one of their empanadas or bowls. Then spend the day shopping at every thrift store imaginable off the L train! You got Buffalo Exchange, L Train Vintage, Monk…pick your poison. For a little sunset happy hour, we’d grab a bottle of wine and hit up Domino Park. It’s one of the most beautiful views by the water, especially during the summertime. For dinner, I love going to Sea Wolf right next door for their muscles and fries. Sea Wolf has two locations, but the Williamsburg waterfront spot is definitely my fav. If you’re up for a party, I’d then take you to House of Yes back in Bushwick! Hopefully you got something sparkly while thrifting, because you can’t just show up to HOY, you have to show. up. I promise you’ll dance your face off and leave drenched in glitter.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d love to dedicate this shoutout to my producer, Mike Abiuso, owner of the raddest full service Brooklyn recording studio, Behind the Curtains Media! We’ve worked together for the past six years now, and he’s become one of my strongest collaborators and teammates. I’ve learned so much from Mike about production and engineering, and he’s most significantly helped carve out my sound. Each song is a new opportunity to try something I’ve never done before, and challenge my thinking on what my “sound” even is. Mike creates such a safe and supportive creative environment, can tap into any genre imaginable, and will always take your ideas and run with them.
Other: TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@rachelnormanmusic
Starr Callahan Dominic Betances