From the humble beginnings of studying musical theatre at The BRIT School; Croydon singer-songwriter Rachel Chinouriri decided to record an EP in her bedroom using her laptop and a £20 microphone. After uploading the 'Bedroom Tales' EP onto Soundcloud, Rachel rapidly gained attention, and just four years later, she finds herself able to pursue music as a full-time career.
Since the release of the official debut EP 'Mama's Boy' in 2018 – which is both a magically meek and effervescent look at love – Rachel has felt quite a positive response to the songs. "The songs I made before 'Mama's Boy' were very sad and very slow acoustic guitar music. 'Mama's Boy' has a bit more of a kick to it, and the [eponymous] song was a bit more upbeat." Rachel believes that progression in her music from the Soundcloud days to the official debut allowed listeners to understand the journey that she went on in the run-up to the release.
Social media was incredibly significant to her musical inception, and Rachel is understanding of how necessary it is to maintain a strong presence on her own pages. "It's a blessing. It's free! You can do it yourself, and you can find so many people to support you as well. I think social media is vital nowadays. I love it in a way. I message people a lot on my Instagram. It kind of breaks the barrier between a fan and [their] inspiration." Given that the ways of the music industry have shifted to be so internet-focused, these connections are humanizing and easy to maintain – especially as a young artist who is always on social media.
If you follow her on her socials, you'll see that Rachel is incredibly light-hearted and wholesome. This is reflected in her favourite meme of 2019 being the "look at us!" clip of Paul Rudd reaching the finale on the YouTube series Hot Ones – where celebrities answer questions while eating chicken wings (or alternatives) that have absurdly high Scoville ratings. How would she fare if she was to give it a go herself? "I don't like losing things so I would seem very confident but actually really scared inside. Even if something was really spicy, I would try my absolute hardest not to show it in my face, so I think I'd do alright. Nah, actually, probably not. At Nando's, I get Lemon & Herb, so…"
If she was to describe herself to a new listener, she would say: "Two words [to describe me] would be sarcastic, and serious. I'm really sarcastic [and] joking all the time. My music would be heart-warming and sad. As a person, literally, I meet people, and I'm like: my music is sad, but I'm actually a really happy person – quite the opposite of what the songs are. I think it's because I'm someone who likes to let things out." Music is an all-encompassing form of expression for Rachel, which is why she likes to get as immersed as possible.
Speaking of her directorial debut in the music video for 'Riptide' she explains: "I've always wanted to go into the directing/editing sort of world, so when it comes to visuals I know exactly how I want to put stuff out. Hopefully, in the future, I can put more into it, but music is so hectic that I think, for now, I have to focus on one thing." This idea of constantly dipping her toes into numerous aspects of the creative process at the same time is something that seeps through everything that Rachel does, but there is a protective element about not sharing anything until it is perfectly crafted.
So, about the prospect of a new EP or maybe even an album: "I kind of keep myself one step ahead of things, so by the time the first EP was out, I'd already written the songs I wanted for the second one. I'm already in the process of what I want for the third and fourth project right now. I'm always trying to keep myself a step ahead with creative stuff, so I can't say the second EP is [going to be released] soon, but it will come when the time is right, and the songs are in the perfect place."
By collaborating with producers such as Preditah, and Subculture – who Rachel praises for taking her songwriting to a new level – we've seen an amorphous quality to her vocals. Given that she cites her influences as Daughter, Coldplay, RY X and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, it is no surprise that she would want to delve into a plethora of styles. "Music is something where there's so much within it. You should feel free to do all the genres and try out everything."
What makes Rachel such an interesting artist is her juxtaposing influences and a high degree of flexibility when it comes to working with different styles of music. By not succumbing to a set genre, and being open to experimentation, it means that the future is an ambiguously optimistic place. Does this mean that she may one day release a heavy metal project? It isn't something that she rules out: "You never know! I used to do screamo a bit when I was younger. It was a phase that I went through – or a few months – so you never know."
Taken from the December 2019 / January 2020 issue of Dork.
Featuring Girl in Red, Inhaler, Beabadoobee, Blaenavon and more.