Rachael Lavelle never appears rushed and subsequently there’s a healthy dose of patience engrained in her worldview. Coupled with her spellbinding high notes and ethereal soundscapes, her music has the ability to effortlessly capture a crowd’s attention, almost pausing time at will. So where better than the magical setting of Other Voices in Dingle for her to showcase her otherworldly sounds.
Blowing away the previous night’s cobwebs we drove to the water’s edge with Rachael to explore the quieter spaces outside the main town. Being met by the slow, hypnotic rotation of waves and a calm breeze, it couldn’t have been any further removed from today’s hectic music industry.
In a modern climate that’s more relentless than ever, the impatient, dopamine-driven demand from fans for tracks can contribute to artist’s insecurity in a very real way. Musician’s constant presence on social media frequently plugs the gaps between records, but often comes from a place of insecurity or fear of being forgotten about.
However, like the breeze Rachael was calm and assured in our brief encounter on that Sunday morning. It proved to be the calm before the storm in the final day of madness at Other Voice’s.
She’s not been immune to those aforementioned pressures but has largely remained composed throughout her career, understanding when it’s necessary to take a break.
Having burst onto the Irish music scene around 2015 with her ‘Superman’ EP, Rachael had bloggers and fans alike in awe at the beautiful tones of her voice and the maturity of her lyricism. So it came as a surprise to many when she took an almost three year hiatus from releasing music and removed her catalog from streaming services.
Our encounter in Dingle was cut short due to her early afternoon shows in The Marina Inn and An Díseart and I was left meditating on her choice to take a self-imposed break from releasing music. Following the festivities in Dingle I tried to no avail to locate her previous material. So the first question in a post-festival catch-up was an easy one, why had she gone for a fresh start?
“I ended up putting out an EP pretty fast and then I studied music tech and I kind of went in a different direction,” she explained.
“I think I started writing when I was 20 and put out the EP at 21 and then I started studying music tech and that opened new doors for me.”
Continuing she said, “I wanted to start fresh again cause i’ve been working on all this new material so that’s probably why you can’t find it online.”
It made sense, she trusted her instincts and there was no doubt she benefited from taking a step back. Similarly she noted leaving the city and getting out of your usual surroundings can bring the same therapeutic benefits.
“Dingle definitely resets the old batteries, just getting out of Dublin and getting to meet other people doing the same things as you.”
“It’s just nice to get out really,” she said.
Rachael has a knack for creating immersive sounds and speaking on her latest single she noted the influence of Kate Bush’s theatricality.
“My music feels theatrical, with ‘Perpetual Party’ it is related to the celebration of desire and movement. There’s a lot a movement, but I can understand why it feels visual but for me it’s all about feelings.”
I imagined that these sonic landscapes Rachael has routinely created over the years are highly dependent on doses of inspiration. She confirmed this notion and spoke of some of her formative experiences that brought a creative spark to her work.
“Creatively I’ve actually done a few stints away, I did a residency away in Lisbon like 2 years ago for 5 weeks,” she recalled.
“It was really nice and just across the river in an old fisherman’s factory that was renovated and an artist took it over. So I went there for 5 weeks and had a little studio there.”
“It was just amazing… Just the experience of getting out of your mindset if you hate your job or something, you can go away and come back better.”
“Its definitely good to reset. Getting away is really important even if it is just like getting the train or dart to the sea, or sometimes I go to Connemara as well and do some riding there. There’s something holy and sacred about going to places like that cause you can be at one with the thing you are doing.”
Rachael admitted that she had still been working whilst she took a break from releasing however, the pause was needed not just to reset, but also wrap her head around a new way of composing.
“When I started studying music tech… it was very intense and I had never really thought about music in this way and I think it kinda fucked up my head a bit for song writing,” she told me.
“Suddenly this whole new world of sound opened up and I think it took me a while to get back into song writing but I was always making music, whether it was instrumental or whatever but I maybe think the words came a bit later.”
Confessing to overthinking at times, I got the feeling that this in part may have contributed to her break.
“It can be really horrible [laughs] because then you are overanalysing it and you’re like ‘oh is this good?’ and then you expect everything to be amazing… and it’s not.”
Through this pressure and critical thinking, there was an element of self-discovery. Coming to trust her gut, Rachael shared her personal growth.
“I think I’ve gotten a lot better about it in the last year. I’m definitely a lot more guided by my instincts which is all well and good for the creative part but in terms of releasing it and working out how to edit it, thats something I really struggle with.”
“But in terms of actually finishing things I’ve got way better at that and tend to know if emotionally feels like it is working then it usually is working.”
Spread across three days and nights in beautiful Dingle, Other Voices showcased over 70 artists in over 30 venues as part of the Dingle Gin Music Trail.
We partnered with Dingle Distillery to capture the magic of the weekend.
For more information on Dingle Gin click here.
Photography: George Voronov