WORDS: URSULA GLITCH
I first met the Bristol-based multi-instrumentalist Rachael Dadd back when I was a first year textile student and she was a talented and aloof third year with a penchant for open mike nights, felted piano keys and, if my memory serves me correctly, pretty things in jam jars. Rachael has a luminosity of spirit that stays with you long after she’s left the room. Her sound has a similar kind of intergalactic feel to it. It’s intrepid and earthy and cool and distant, ethereal yet grounded, a bit like snow. I caught up with her as she was busy promoting her second album, the aptly titled Bite the Mountain.
Describe your music in 30 words.
Drawing from many influences; [it] wells up from my love of sound and experimentation; it’s sometimes raw; it switches from instrument to instrument; it plays with lots of styles. Singing is maybe my favourite thing to do.
What have you been up to recently?
I’ve just come back from a tour of Europe. I really enjoyed East Germany, all the massive old buildings, the down-to-earthiness of it all. And Rotterdam was kind of a Dutch Bristol, which was nice to experience in the hot sun we’ve just had.
What inspires you?
I get inspired by something most days. Today was Liz Green and her bird head mask, her personality, her drawn story and her rhythm.
You recorded most of this album in Japan – why?
I have been spending a fair amount of time there recently, soaking it up, marvelling at it and meeting incredible musicians.
How have your travels influenced your sound?
The initial months there with so much time alone cleared a lot of cobwebs, so I could then feel quite brand new and soak up so much incredible culture – old and new – it’s bursting at the seams there in Japan.
What is your writing process?
Alone time, a series of notes or chords that give me a picture to describe or are sympathetic to a feeling that’s been brewing about something.
What do you wake up thinking about?
Good question! Sometimes, where am I? I’ve been waking up in a lot of different beds. Breakfast! That’s a common one.
If you could collaborate with any artist who would it be?
Which of your songs says the most about your life now?
A new one with no name, about Ichi [Rachael’s husband] making things in the attic.
You are a visual artist as well as a musician. Do they come from the same place? How do you decide what will become a song and what will become, say, an embroidery?
Oh no, they’re not from the same place. Music is a bit more conceptual, getting an idea to try a new rhythm or putting a thought or feeling to a song. Whereas my textiles are improvised drawings – detached and drawing from a similar place as I did as a child. But they’re very symbiotic; I can sing until I need to stop then I can sew till it’s time to stop, and they compliment each other that way. Like eating too much sugar, balancing things out with marmite on toast, then being quite up for something sweet again.
Rachael and Ichi will be performing on the 15th October at Middle Farm, Lewes, and at Mary Hampton’s album launch on the 16th October at Cecil Sharp House in Camden. Her album, Bite the Mountain, is available on Broken Sound Records.