Thursday, February 6, 2014

Interview with Rachael Price of Lake Street Dive

This is a snippet of an interview I did with Rachael Price from Lake Street Dive. You should buy their music and go see a show. Look for the rest of the interview in my book on how to practice.

Interview with Rachael Price

Put simply Rachael Price, lead vocalist for Lake Street Dive, is one of the best singers I’ve ever heard. When I caught a Lake Street Dive show last month I couldn’t believe my ears. The lead singer  could switch her style from soulful singing one second and then suddenly inflect her music with jazzy sophistication. She can outright rock and roll one minute and be a sweet and sensitive balladeer the next. She seems to have no limit to what she can do with her voice.

 I think its safe to say that Rachael was born to sing. As you’ll see in the interview Rachael started at a very young age. You won’t find many 5 years old who were interested in learning how to sing like Ella Fitzgerald the way Rachael Price did. Aside from such natural talents (or perhaps because of them) Rachael Price is completely dedicated to her singing and has clearly worked very hard to get where she is at with her voice.

Rachael was kind enough to grant me an interview on a crazy muddy day at a backstage tent at Floydfest a mere hour before they took the stage for sound check. The interview was very enlightening, and it was a pleasure to hear Rachael’s thoughts on how she developed her amazing voice.

If you haven’t heard Lake Street Dive you need to go out and buy some of their music right now!

BC: So how did you get started with music.

RP: I started singing when I was little. My dad is a choral director and I started singing that way.

BC: You were singing from a very young age I guess. As soon as you could talk?

RP: Yep.

BC: As a choir director, did you dad have a lot of vocal training?

RP: Not really. He’s not a singer but he understood how singing works to a certain extent.

BC: So he was a your first teacher? What sort of stuff were you learning?

RP: I sang in choir and sang a variety of choral music. And I sang gospel too and then I started singing jazz when I was 5 or 6.

BC: Did you have a jazz teacher?

RP: No. I didn’t have a teacher until I was around 15 years old.

BC: How did you go about music as a 5 year old?

RP: I would just copy recordings and listen to people like Ella Fitzgerald. I started with her and just straight up copied it. I would sing along until I could just sing it.

BC: Age 5?

RP: Yeah, I started at 5 and could probably do it by age 8 or 9. There were certain songs I could sing.

BC: And this was all of your own desire?

RP: I don’t know how it happened. I think I got into it and then my father encouraged it. But he played guitar so he would sit and play the songs with me. But pretty much it was just me and recordings. I just sang along with recordings.

BC: And you were going for all the details in the music. You were getting all of Ella Fitzgerald’s inflection?

RP: Exactly, and after Ella Fitzgerald I moved on to Sarah Vaughn. I worked on Doris Day for a while and a lot of the big band singers from the 40’s I was into. This was all at different times. I would focus on a singer and copy them.

BC: Would you work on all this after school?

RP: Every day.

BC: How many hours would you do this?

RP: I didn’t know it was practicing, but I would say when I was little I could do it for 2-3 hours a day without even noticing the time. I don’t really remember how old I was exactly when I was doing that, but I did this a lot.

BC: Did you feel like you were a good singer back then?

RP: I knew I could sing.

BC: Did you have a burning desire to sing?

RP: Yes.

BC: Did your dad push you to do it?

RP: Yeah, he pushed me but I always wanted to as well.

BC: So prior to taking lessons was there any instruction in regard to vocal technique?

RP: I had a fair amount from singing in choirs. I knew how to warm up properly.

BC: What kind of stuff would you do at that point for warming up?

RP: The basic vocal warm ups like singing scales. Warming up parts of your face. Rolling your tongue and warming up your mouth. Singing different vowel sounds with scales. Stuff like that.

BC: Were you performing at that point?

RP: I started performing when I was eleven.

BC: Were you happy about your performing at that point?

RP: I was pretty happy about it. There were vocal things I wanted to do and didn’t have the range for, but I was comfortable working with the range I had at that age.

BC: Would you practice by listening back to your own recordings at that age and try to improve things?

RP: No I don’t think I ever did that. (Laughs)

BC: When you got to be 15 years old and started taking lessons were you studying with a vocalist?

RP: Yes.

BC: What sort of stuff would you do with that teacher?

RP: That was great in expanding my range. It really taught me how to access certain parts of my range. That was kind of the main thing that came out of my lessons. I learned to sing in a way that I could work on the sound that I wanted.

BC: What sort of technique stuff were you working on?

RP: Very specific sort of warm ups that you could do to expand your range.

BC: Would you work on that everyday?

RP: Probably not everyday, but more like a few days a week.

BC: So you were a sophomore in high school?

RP: Yeah, I would learn things in a lesson and then I would sing a lot too. And I was mostly focused on jazz. I did some soul and pop too, but mostly I was singing jazz. So I would work on things when I was singing whatever songs I was working on. I wouldn’t do a ton of warm ups all the time.

BC: I must say that I don’t know a whole lot of kids who were 6 years old who would dive into singing jazz. Do you have any idea what attracted you to that music at that age?

RP: I think I watched a lot of  musicals around that time. You know, old musicals. I think that had a part in it. There was a theatrical element to it as well that I always enjoyed. I’ve always enjoyed performing, but otherwise I don’t know why I like it so much.

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