Brooklyn based thanks for coming (Rachel Brown) has quickly become one of my favorite artists. Their latest album, the last time before the next time, was the first album I had a genuine connection with this year. Rachel's sincere lyrics and warm vocals let the listener relate to every track on the album. We recently had the opportunity to talk to Rachel about music, quarantine, and fighting paddington. Check it out! I'm not sure if anyone reads these intros, but if you made it this far Rachel and I challenge you to a game of basketball.
1. What have you been listening to lately?
I started making playlists again. I hadn’t made a playlist in years, but something about quarantine inspired me to start making them and listening to them over and over. The most recent one is called “into sports again” and it starts out with “What is Love - 7” Mix” by Haddaway and ends with “Modern Girl” by Sleater-Kinney. I made it last week. The second half of it are all songs I’ve heard on the radio while I’ve been working as a PA on set. I heard “Ella Es” while walking down the street. I’ve been walking around without headphones recently too. I love listening to music that way. I feel like when you just hear a song somewhere randomly, it’s an even more magical experience than when you choose to put something on. Like right now there is this street fair happening in the park across from my apartment and they’ve been playing all the best 2000s pop hits. Songs I heard on the radio back when I was in grade school. Songs that played at the school dances. Songs like that. There’s something heartwarming about it. It’s like letting the universe decide what you need to hear at a specific moment in your life. Serendipitous.
2. Best artist or band you’ve seen live?
Sweet Baby Jesus. They’re always rocking it. The other band I’m in, Water From Your Eyes, went on a week-long tour with them and every single night I was still in the mood to dance. Not many bands make me want to dance every time, but they’ve got it.
3. What’s more impressive? Being able to dunk a basketball, or being able to do a kickflip perfectly every single try?
This is funny because I feel like I’m very publicly pro-basketball and anti-skateboard on Twitter. Being able to dunk a basketball is definitely more impressive to me. Being really good at basketball is a very impressive thing in my personal opinion. I’m trying to be able to make every single shot I take, but I haven’t quite gotten there yet. Also, I’m not actually anti-skateboarding, I just can’t do it and I’m never going to be able to because I’m afraid of getting made fun of by children.
4. What band has influenced you the least?
That’s a great question. Probably Supertramp. I love them but I can’t say that listening to their music has made me make any music that sounds like them. Breakfast in America is one of my favorite albums, I wonder why it hasn’t seeped in yet.
5. If we started a musical duo, what would we be called?
Hmmm… I think it really depends on the music. Although, I’d love to have a Sopranos themed musical duo… “Waste Management Consultants”
6. Which disney character would be the worst to have in a band?
I feel like Hannah Montana would probably be the worst one since she’s already a famous pop star. Just doesn’t seem like it would work out well in the band dynamics.
7. Who would win in a fight? A hatless Padington, or a shirtless Winnie The Pooh?
I don’t know anything about Paddington but it just seems like they would win in any fight against Winnie the Pooh.
8. If aliens from Venus invaded earth, what would be the first album that you show them?
I’m just hoping they zap me into thin air. But if I had to show them an album before that it’s probably be “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below” by Outkast.
9. What is the worst piece of advice you can give me?
Invest in coal.
10. Can you do a cover of the “Cheers” theme song?
Never watched Cheers in my life but if it was a life and death situation I’d make something happen.
Isaac Gutierrez for Born Loser Mag: To start things off, can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about you?
Rachel: My name is Rachel and I make music as “thanks for coming.” I live in Brooklyn but I’m originally from Chicago. As always, I am confused and looking forward to it.
Can you give us some of your musical background?
I started playing guitar when I was probably nine or so, I’m still not particularly good at it. I have no technique. I don’t know what it’s going to sound like until I’m playing it. I watch people just tap their fingers up and down the fretboard and I just don’t get it. I can’t even strum in different ways. I’m such a stunted guitar player. But I’ve been writing songs for about eight years and I’ve probably written over a hundred by now. I can’t keep track. Hopefully someone will go and count them all so I don’t have to.
Has it been difficult to find inspiration with how crazy this year has been?
I don’t think so. I mean it’s been difficult to find a place to stand without feeling like the ground is constantly shifting, but inspiration is everywhere. I’ve been feeling a lot this year. A lot of different emotions. Some personal, some global. I get that people weren’t feeling particularly inspired to make music this year, and to be honest I spent a lot of time doing things other than making music. It was really nice just reading books and listening to Debussy. That was my life for months. It was awesome. I’d rather do that than write music to be real.
What is something you’re looking forward to doing once or if this craziness is over?
I cannot wait to go eat inside of a diner. I’m so stoked to be able to go on tour and go eat at diners in the middle of nowhere. 2021, I’ll see you there.
What have you been doing to try to stay sane this year?
I think the most helpful thing I’ve done this year for my mental health is accepting that I have never and will never be a sane person. I’m completely neurotic. It’s nice knowing that though. I used to think, “What’s wrong with me?” But then I remembered that I’m anxious almost all of the time and it really put me at peace. Every time I can feel myself becoming paranoid or my head getting a little off kilter, I remind myself that that’s just how my brain works. I’m no longer trying to be sane, I’m just trying to chill.
Do you feel like you get a better understanding of what you’re feeling when you write a song about it?
Almost always. Sometimes I’ll write songs and months later I’ll finally understand what it’s about as if I had no idea the rest of the time. I’m really good at compartmentalizing things, especially my own emotions. It’s really helpful when I’m trying to stay cool, calm, and collected in a hectic situation but it is much less helpful when I’m trying to understand what I’m feeling. It’s like they’re all in there, but I can’t remember what drawer I put them in or I just don’t really feel like opening the drawer because I already put them away, what’s the point of taking them out? But then they’ll slowly rot me from the inside and I’ll have to figure out what’s happening and all of the sudden all the drawers are empty and everything’s out, and I guess in a way I always feel better afterwards, but that’s my biggest fear. I’m so afraid that I’m going to break and not be able to put myself back together.
Something that I’m horrible at is knowing when something is good enough to be shared. How do you know when a song is finished and ready to be put out into the world?
I don’t. I just finish the song and I don’t feel like doing anything else and I can’t really do music production because I just don’t have the skills or the desire to learn the skills and I just want it out of my head and into the world so that it’s no longer my problem. It’s like throwing paper airplanes, you just want to see them fly, and you don’t really care where they end up because you’ve got more paper to make more.
Do you have any songs that you’ve been working on or polishing up for a while and still haven't released?
I have so many demos. I have a whole Google Drive of demos I’m never going to do anything with. They’re just sitting in there. I am about to release another album. I guess not “about” to but I’m planning it with the record label I re-released “no problem” with. I was going to just put it on the internet but I figured it would be fun to actually put some thought into the release. I’ve got to make a music video now. It’s actually so much more stressful this way. I’d rather just put it online. But I made my bed and now I have to sleep in it. Hopefully it’ll be out before the end of the year. It’s a fun one.
Talk to us about your latest release “the last time before the next time”?
Those are all songs I wrote during quarantine. I had this whole revelation during quarantine that I was both the protagonist and the love interest in my own love story. I have this infatuation with being infatuated with people, and also this deep desire and understanding that it was something I was going to have to let go, and being alone in my apartment for months really helped me finally part ways with my desire for being desired. It’s a lot about just being alone and being so inconsequential in the world at a point where the people in power are just absolutely blowing it. I feel like it was a lot about accepting my emotions, particularly my anger as a part of myself. I’ve always been a very angry person, and I guess I was just denying it. Maybe not even my emotions, just myself. I was accepting myself. My past decisions. The things I’ve let go, or pretended to. My faults, the faults that have been passed down to me. I hadn’t been alone in a really long time until this year. In fact, I had been trying to be alone for years up until quarantine happened. I finally got to process my life, as an adult. I hadn’t really gotten to do that because I constantly surround myself with people and things that I’m doing. Even when I desperately wanted to be alone and doing nothing, there was always someone or something. These songs are very much me, explaining myself to myself. From a point of view that isn’t particularly influenced by anyone else. I’m sensitive in that way, everything I am is always according to someone else. Honestly, I haven’t listened to it since I released it so I don’t even really remember what’s on there. I’m listening right now hahaha. It’s just a collection of songs I wrote this year, I don’t really have much to say. It was going to be the last one I released this year, since I guess I released quite a bit, but probably not at this point.
Do you have any favorite lyrics from the album?
Hmmm… I mean I’m not going to say that I have any favorite lyrics, that’d be like having favorite thoughts and in my opinion all of my thoughts range from a little stupid to very stupid. Although, I think I did a fine job with “hymn for heretics everywhere” but who’s to say, definitely not me.
I really needed this album. I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve connected to music. When I first heard “my keys were in my pocket” I immediately felt connected to the song. Do you have your listeners in mind when you’re writing or is it more for yourself?
I’m a very selfish person hahaha. It’s me. Sometimes I think about the person I’m writing a song about. Even then, it’s kind of selfish because it’s almost like I want the conversation to be one sided and not actually have to hear from them on the matter. I mean I think it’s really nice that people listen to my music and connect to the songs, but I’m not looking for that. I’m looking for an outlet or a way to tell very specific people who don’t even listen to my music how I feel, and that’s still just me trying to give myself a pat on the back for communicating at the absolute bare minimum. It’s for me. It’s all for me, and if someone else wants it to be for them, then so be it. Once it’s on the internet it’s out of my hands. It’s like when I’m listening to music and the songs I’m listening to are suddenly about my life even though I’m positive none of the people I’m listening to are talking about my life specifically. But I don’t care, I’m listening to it, it’s about me and my very specific situation that vaguely relates to the lyrics. I hope that’s how people listen to my music because I don’t want people listening to it wondering what I’m talking about, I’d rather they just feel like it’s talking about them and whoever they’re thinking about.
Do you have to be in a specific mood or headspace to be able to write a song, or are you able to write on command?
Definitely have to be in a mood. I don’t ever force myself to write. It’s either going to come or it’s not. When I’m writing for other projects it’s different, but this is mine, so no one is asking me to do this, I just do it.
What advice do you have for music fans who want to support you and other artists since touring isn’t a viable option right now?
Buy merch. Buy music on Bandcamp. I don’t know. Financial support is great, but also just like… Saying that you like their music is cool too. Just sharing music with people is supportive.
What do you miss most about being on the road?
Diners! It’s also just nice driving around and smoking weed with your friends in random places where you don’t know anyone. I like looking at things. Especially from the window of a car. It’s also fun meeting new people, it’s super stressful, but it’s fun. Also just physically driving, I miss that. Nothing like being at the wheel of a car on the open road with your bandmates bumping some tunes, smoking cigarettes out of the window.
Are you constantly working on new music, or do you take breaks after releases?
It depends, I feel it depends. I’ll write a bunch and then I’ll take a long break. Or I’ll write songs every month. I don’t keep track anymore. It was easier to keep track when I’d just release the music immediately, but these days I don't even know where some of these songs came from.
To wrap things up, is there anything that you want our readers to know?
Capitalism must end in order to move forward towards a sustainable future. We have to let go of our consumerist tendencies and build communities up through connection and shared resources. We’re running out of time.