INTERVIEW: Rachael Sage Talks Upcoming Reimagined Album, ‘Another Side’

Award-winning folk mastermind Rachael Sage is returning with an alternative version of her 15th Studio Album ‘Other Side’ newly titled ‘Another Side’. Rachael spoke to us about recording at her home studio, collaborating with Crys Matthews, drawing inspiration from Barbie and more…

You’re set to release a reimagining of your album ‘Other Side’, ‘Another Side’ on the 17th May – how did you come up with the idea for the new musical interpretation of the album?

I always envisioned these two records as companion albums, but rather than try to record them concurrently I was excited to create Another Side after touring the material for The Other Side for the better part of a year. This afforded me the opportunity to develop these new stripped down arrangements on the road to some degree, while also allowing time to bring in some really wonderful guests from the folk community I so love – including Nashville singers Amy Speace, Grace Pettis and Crys Mathews along with harmonica player Trina Hamlin and raising Americana duo Annalyse & Ryan.

Can you give us a glimpse into the creative process behind ‘Another Side’, and how you crafted a new sound for these alternative versions? 

I have a home studio I’ve affectionate dubbed “The Creek” as it’s located in the Hudson Valley in upstate NY. Most of these arrangements were conceived there and we recorded everything from percussion to acoustic guitar to harmonica in my living room, while guests swung by casually to harmonize after we’d hang out for tea or a meal. I’ve always wanted to do a record this way – off the clock, and where it was really a process of deconstructing pop songs and getting to the heart of the lyrics and the stories in not only a more intimate way, but in a way that distills the songwriting into sort of a documentary of the fiction in a sense. The fiction being the more produced, polished original album with everyone b it the kitchen sink – all my ideas – and the documentary being a kind of pulling back of that production curtain to reveal the essence of the songs. I think both albums genuinely reflect me and my process as a producer, but in a way Another Side is more vulnerable and maybe has more of a mood to it.

You’ve notably collaborated with a few artists on ‘Another Side’, including Crys Matthews and Annalyse & Ryan. What did you learn from working alongside these artists? 

These artists are good friends of mine now but when these their parts were recorded I was still just a fan of both of their work! Crys is a wonderkind, and a fast rising, prolific and constantly-touring folk singer who’s incapable of being anything but her authentically honest, open and courageous self. I adore her vocal quality and I really enjoyed hearing such a deep, low timbre against my higher voice. Annalyse & Ryan joined me on a tour last year and again, I’d been a big fan so it was fun getting to know one another and now I consider them to be dear friends and neighbors in Upstate NY. They are two of the hardest working musicians I know and what I continually learn from them is how to simply enjoy the process and keep things light and uplifted. They are joyful, confident and positive and it reminds me to always remember that making art should be fun, even if the material is reflective and serious.

With a set of songs previously written, did you find working on a reimagined album an easier process? Or did it involve more experimentation? 

I do think it was an easier process, yes. There was a freedom and sort of an absence of any pressure to have things be overly perfect because the concept itself was about reimagining and exploring. Experimentation was a given – but there wasn’t much left on fhe cutting room floor because the vision for the record was pretty focused.

Following the release of the reimagined ‘Deepest Dark’ and ‘The Place Of Fun’, what can listeners expect from the upcoming single from ‘Another Side’? 

“Albatross” is my next single and is probably the most lyrically ambitious of all the original songs on the album. Especially now – with so many disturbing conflicts and crises on the world stage, asking ‘what does it mean to be human / what cruel misdeeds cannot be undone?’ is necessarily a loaded lyric. I wrote the song a few years ago now but sadly, the word feels more violent and turbulent than ever, people from ‘opposing’ sides less and less willing to even have conversations with each other. In my own life, I do my very best to listen as much as I speak but conviction can also cause a kind of deafness where all you hear is on your own opinion and it becomes a kind of echo chamber that precludes genuine dialogue which in my view is the only hope for real, lasting change. I hope people hear this song and are reminded that every person is a universe, truly. We all bleed the same blood, love deeply, and feel pain. This should unite us and yet somehow it seems to do the opposite…but all I can do is try to shine light in the darkness and hopefully, honor the loved ones I’ve lost along the way by reflecting on life’s preciousness and resolving to take none of it for granted. 

Can you name three artists that inspired ‘Another Side’, and the reasons behind their influence? 

To be honest, I don’t really listen to much music when I’m recording. I really try to just delve into my own imagination and if anything, NOT be influenced by other musical artists. But I was making a lot of visual art during the process of creating this record and I’d probably say that the three painters I was most immersed in this past year were Klimt, Basquiat and Miro. The night before we shot the cover the photographer told me our plans to shoot outside would have to be decreed as it was going to rain; so I stayed up all night painting my room dividers and that’s the art in the background. I was trying to capture a bit of NYC graffiti in my own way, and also do sort of an inverse color scheme form The Other Side with the pink/black palette. Subliminally, Barbie may have been an influence as before that movie I never really loved pink! 

Ahead of your upcoming live shows, how have these new versions altered your live performance?

I wouldn’t say they’ve altered my live performance as much as captured it, more so than the fully produced pop arrangements of The Other Side. The reimagined versions are necessarily closer to what I do live because there’s no electric guitar or drums when I tour with rare exception. It feels gratifying to have new versions that fit more comfortably into the roots/Americana/folk niches as that’s the core of what I do and the music I love most – even though a lot of the time I release much bigger, more amplified records that earn me the “alt-pop” moniker. 

Following ‘Another Side’, what are your hopes and aspirations for the next stage of your musical journey?

I’m already underway recording my next record which will be quite different! I’m also very eager to tour Europe again and perhaps to venture to some of my wish list tour targets like Australia or South Korea. We’ll see!

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