A Conversation with Rachel Chinouriri

By Ceceli Riffo-Drecksel

Rachel Chinouriri

I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Rachel Chinouriri to talk about her music, her vision, and her goals as an artist. You can stream her music here (Spotify) and follow her on TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter (@rachelchinouriri) 

The interview will air this Saturday 2/19 at 2:00 pm but you can get a sneak peak and read it all here: 

I am so excited to be here with Rachel Chinouriri! If possible could you tell me how to pronounce your last name. I don’t know if there is a specific way to say it. 

RC: Its Chin-ooo-ree-ree

Really? Yay! I was saying it correctly. 

RC: You know, whatever country you’re in, depending on your accent, it can be said anyway, I’m pretty easy. 

First off I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about yourself. More about where you are from, maybe when you got into music. All of that 

RC: I am 23. I am from London, like Breton. London, was born in a place called Surry. But yeah, I have lived in London since I was 2. I went to a performing arts college called the BRIT School when I was 16. And did musical theater. And then when I was 18, I started songwriting and getting into the industry. And yes, since I’ve been 18 I’ve just been writing. I’ve been with the same team since. Um, what else is there about me? Musically that’s probably about it. I’ve just been writing, chugging along, trying to get my songs out.

That’s awesome. I haven’t actually been to Europe but London is definitely one of the first places that I want to hit when I finally make the trip. 

RC: If you come down call me and we can go for a party 

That sounds like a dream! My next question is more about your music and your sound. How would you describe your sound? I’ve seen that you have recently touched on that via social media but I was hoping you could elaborate a bit more on how you would classify your sound. 

RC: So, I think it’s taken some time to figure out exactly what to call my style, because lots of artists are genre bending all the time. Like, even now, you can’t even  define specific things sometimes. And I call myself indie alternative pop because I am always between the three. So whether its indie pop, or its alternative indie, or just indie or its just pop or its alternative. I’m just always just in the mix of those three, so I just call it indie alternative pop or alt indie pop. 

That’s a really cool way to classify it. I always tend to gear towards that genre well, not really genre but that style of music. 

RC: Yeah. I think there’s kind of an issue with playlists and artists I think cause racism and unconscious bias is very looked over where I think in America it’s very outspoken about but iN the UK if it’s happening it’s very brushed under the rug. But obviously, it affects everyone’s day to day life. So it’s just, it needs to be spoken about more. Definitely from a UK standpoint.

I agree that it is something that needs to be addressed more. Piggybacking off of that, I wanted to talk about some of the artists I saw that resposted your tweet. I am a huge Arlo Parks fan and saw she had reposted it. I was wondering, are you guys friends? 

RC: I met her when she had just released Cola. So she was really, really brand new. Like she was, she was brand new. And obviously, I was doing my own indie alternative thing. And she was like, the only other black girl who I’d seen doing like that indie alternative thing or in that realm.. She’s more indie. Like, very. Yeah. I was just like, whoa. And I met her a couple of times. And she’s lovely. But I think when you’re working in the industry, you’re always like, let’s meet up and then you do so much stuff that the next thing has been like two years and it’s like, whoa, so I would say that. We’re friends. We’re cool. We just, we just haven’t seen each other. Obviously, she’s shot off in that kind of amazing way. So she’s obviously very, very, very busy. And I’m very busy and I’m not even as big as her. I’m just like, no one’s gonna see her again. But we’ll probably see at some point, but she’s incredible and one of the nicest girls you’ll ever meet. 

It is so cool that there is someone else out there that you can kind of share this with. I love that. 

RC: And she would understand it as well, im probably sure that in her early days as she was figuring her stuff out she probably had similar things and which is even madder because her sound is so so indie but she probably remembers certain things where people are saying it is this and no you cant even put that onto Arlo, not categorically So yeah

I was wondering if you could walk me through how you kind of make a song? Is there a kind of formula that you follow? I would love it if you could walk me through that process

RC: Um, I would say when I write a song, it’s always with my friend, Dan. So I’m currently in LA and my friend Dan brought him along for the trip. But he understands me a lot musically. And it always starts I feel like early days, it always started with guitar and vocal and getting the core of the song. But as I’ve started branching into like the alternative electronic sort of world, I get very invested in the production. So it’s, it’s either we sit and play guitar and write the song and then produce it up. Or we’ll sit and make the rough chords to an extent, then and I’ll throw out all my ideas. And then while a producer’s working on it, I’ll start writing small things and melodies while they’re writing while they’re producing sorry. 

That’s awesome. Getting more into that, what would you say is where a lot of your inspiration comes from when you are making music? 

RC: Inspirations. I always say it’s like Coldplay, Daughter. I would say Lady Smith, Black Mambazo, a South African acapella group. So I always point those as my three main influences and inspirations because early Coldplay daughters with their ambiance and their electronic and how poetic they are. And lady smith is definitely like the harmonies, I kind of mix all of those together, then I love people like Sampha for like samples, like incredible. So yeah, I’d say those are like my, my early influences.

I am a huge Coldplay fan as well. I totally grew up on that. Somehow I just like know all of the words and I’m not even confident in the name of the song but it’s something that I just kind of know. 

RC: Exactly. Our spirits just know 

Oh yeah exactly. So what would you say is your favorite song you have created if you do have a favorite? 

RC: I always say Plain Jane is my favorite. I think the process of making that was a lot of fun, started as an acoustic guitar song literally like a little guitar tune. And then when we took that to the studio, I just didn’t expect it to turn out that way. But I always, it’s like, it’s my dream of what I wanted it to turn out as. And I worked with Adi Basten, and he’ll be the producer I’m always with, and literally the beginning that dun da dun. Like he just started playing that and I was like, right. It was just such a fun song to produce up. We are all  just in the studio, just being creative, adding noises, reversing sounds, and I just loved it so much.

That sounds so fun that whole process. I am not a musician myself but I would love to know how all of that works ya know behind the scenes there. 

RC: It is kind of mad cause like with music, definitely in your early days music is always creativity first, find the life experiences first it just so little pressure. And then as it starts to become your job and you start to not forget but you start to drift out of that. And that’s what sometimes leads you to writer’s block. So you have to go back to being creative, etc. so that for that moment and making that EP was just a lot of fun and I really loved it 

I love the way you put that because I could see how it would be hard to remember that at times. Keeping what you just said in mind but also moving forward. What would you say are your goals as an artist? As you are growing and all of that. 

RC: Um, I would like to meet Coldplay as much as anyone could say anything. If I met Coldplay, I will be ready to retire. And then apart from meeting COldplay, I think I just want to be able to have projects that are so clean and the story is so clear within them that when I look back when I’m older I can be like I was really proud of this album. I want every album, every EP, every project to be a pinpoint where I can remember it like my first Ep, I remember that I was, you know, a bit confused about myself but made something which was my four happy songs and four degrees is a whole story in itself. My next project I want to be a story in itself and so far it’s been going good and everything has been what I want. And I know that a lot of artists sometimes have to compromise that because they have to make hits, they have to make money, etc. And I feel very lucky that my team is very, obviously you have to think of those things. If you’re in the industry. They’re very, they put what I want creatively and artistically, first always so yeah.

That is definitely a big type of issue within the industry so that’s really special that you have your creative freedom. Thinking about future trajectory, where do you see yourself in a year?

RC: In a year’s time, I want to,  well it’s weird cause a goal for myself was to hit half a million monthly listeners by the end of this year. Because last year when I started on Tik Tok, I think I had like 90,000 And I was like, I want to hit 100,000 and then in December I went from like 200,000 to half a million within like the space of one month so I’m like wow. I think my goal would be to get a million monthly listeners by the end of this year. I want to be able to sell out a gig  quicker than what I sell them out as I want to be able to hit a point where it’s like taking a day or two to sell out. Yeah. And I want to go on tour with cool artists. I don’t know what artists yet, but I want to go on tour with very cool artists. Because I haven’t done that yet. But I might have one in the Woodworks. So yeah.

That’s exciting. So with live performances do you have a specific show that you did that you would say was your favorite or you are most proud of?

RC: I’ll say my most recent one actually.  Roundhouse in London. It was for a festival called Brick in the Wall with Hak Baker. And Round House, I don’t know if you know, but it’s like an incredible venue in London. And the sound in that space is like incredible. Usually very big artists perform there so the fact I got to perform there was very very lucky and yeah the space was just incredible. The crowd was incredible. The sound was the best I had it,  even with my ears. I felt confident and then the crowd was really receptive of the show. Yeah, it was kind of like a train

I am not familiar with it but now I am going to go look up pictures of it. I’m dying to know 

RC: it’s literally a massive circle and even when you’re like backstage like all the corridors are curved and all the rooms really sick

That’s awesome. Do you have a favorite song to perform?

RC: Either if only, so my darling or darker place probably in that order. If only I get the crowd to sing back. Yeah, so my darling always goes down well. You always got people crying. You don’t want them to cry but they’re crying and that’s a good reaction. Darker place get people clapping along for darker place. Always Always. Always fun. Yeah. 

Darker place actually was the first song I heard of yours. It showed up on my discover weekly and normally I just go through and just like start it from the beginning and then kind of listen and when I hear something I like I tend to look deeper. I heard your song and began to look through your whole discography and was immediately like woah, who is she? I need to meet her and I want to hear about everything. 

RC: and here we are 

Yes! Here we are. So do you have any projects you are currently working on? I guess since you are in LA right now you probably do but yeah do you have any exciting plans for the future ya know within like this next year. 

RC: So I’m going on my first tour this year. I’m doing a couple of festivals in London. Obviously it’s my first time in LA. So this was an Exciting start to the year. And then I’m writing an EP. I’m releasing an EP first but I’m in LA to write hopefully for an album, just get more songs,. meet more people, obviously meet different people. I always work with the same groups of people. So meeting with people in LA, and seeing their approach to writing and stuff is really cool. So yeah, hopefully I can write towards like an album or bigger project. But yeah, currently working my focus is my EP currently.

That is so awesome and I can’t wait for that to be released. Going back to venues, do you have a dream venue you would like to perform at? 

RC: The O2 is always one that would be killer. That arena is killer. If I could ever sell that out. My brain is like I could never but I’m like, I know so many sweet friends of mine who started music and they were like, I could never and now they’re selling out and now they’re doing it so I’m like it’s possible but we shall see but I’d say that’s like a in my life if I could ever perform there in whatever capacity it is that would make me very happy 

That would be so amazing and I really hope to see you do that one day. I don’t have any more questions for you but do you have anything else to add?

RC: Anything to add? Um, well LA is really lovely and I am a very happy girl. 

I am really excited to see where you keep growing and I am excited to see you hit that 1 million. I’ve sent like literally all of my friends your music cause i told them I am interviewing you and told them they have to listen

RC: Yay! I love hearing that. When you come to London we can hang out. 

I am looking forward to it and I know you are very busy creating and whatnot so I won’t keep you any longer. But thank you so much for doing this it was seriously a pleasure 

RC: Hopefully we see each other at some point. Thank you so much! 

Thank you Rachel, Bye! 

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