Matching her contemporaries at the tender age of 16, Rachel Cousins hits her stride with her new release This Fire
Sixteen is a number you will see associated with Rachel Cousins quite a bit these days. Natural, that, since the fiery singer-songwriter clocks in at a mere sixteen years of age at the time of this article.
You’d think her but a novice to the industry. But would you be shocked to find that Cousins has been singing, in some shape or fashion, since the age of two?
You might say it’s pre-destined, in her blood, but since the wee days Cousins knew music was the end-all-be-all of her life. She’s been performing since the age of five and has gone with the notion that looking back is a poor way of moving forward since that time.
Poise & Passion
In advance of her newest release This Fire on August 31st at Exile at the Jag Hotel in St. John’s, Cousins sat down with The Herald, where the emerging songstress displayed poise and passion well beyond her years.
“I started co-writing a few months before (recording the album),” Cousins explains of the record coming to shape. “After I did my demo with two originals and a cover I kind of said I wanted something with all original material on it. All of these are co-writes which are super awesome and I think it’s a great thing. I think if you don’t want to pressure yourself into writing by yourself co-writing is a great opportunity for your first EP because you meet all of these people who are on the same path as you are.”
Classic Rock Vibe
You could say that Cousins assembled quite a fine-crew for her forthcoming record. Writing credits belong to notables Kellie Loder, Chris Kirby and Chris LeDrew, who also served as the album’s producer.
“We went with it and we didn’t give me a genre,” Cousins explains. “I don’t really know what my music ‘is’ yet, I don’t know what my sound is and I don’t think I need to know that right off the bat. That will come with it. We went in and wrote whatever flowed out, a lot of classic rock. This Fire, the title track, is very much a Bryan Adams classic rock vibe.
“I kind of had that expectation that everything would go as planned, but when you’re working with emotions in your work it’s such a weird ground,” Cousins adds of her studio experience on This Fire. “If you’re in studio and the team gets frustrated with each other or someone gets burned out because you’re doing 30 electric guitar solos, that is a frustrating thing. But it’s also something that you love to do, so when the team gets frustrated you take a breather. That’s something that just kind of goes along with it. When you go in and you have a great day and you question oh no it went so well, am I forgetting something? That’s something people feel and everything you feel in studio is totally acceptable, because you’ll feel just about every emotion you think you can humanly handle.”
Building Her Portfolio
A persistent songwriter, Cousins has saw her infatuation with the art of crafting new material grow in recent years. She has ticked off the boxes of the basic must-have’s all musicians require and is slowly but surely building her portfolio with invaluable experiences as winner of Sing NL 2017, and a stint at the 2016 ECMA’s in Sydney, Nova Scotia.
“I do a lot of songwriting. I have setlits and do a lot of covers because covers are still quite important, but I write a lot of scrap material kind of stuff,” Cousins said. “As a songwriter I’m always writing and my notepad is always full, voice memos are full. I wrote July and had a music video for it and that was kind of the big thing that sparked my songwriting. Ever since then I’ve been writing every single day. Guitar isn’t really a strong-suit but I play electric, acoustic, piano and ukulele, all of the basics that you need for songwriting. I dabble in everything.”
As far as the art of live performance goes, Cousins explains it is on the stage where she is truly at home.
“Someone actually said to me recently that I look really at home now when I’m onstage, which is such a big compliment because I have been doing a lot,” Cousins says. “I am really comfortable on stage – it’s my happiest place. I’m more nervous in general public than I am up on stage. It’s a different kind of rush and it’s so hard to explain. You’re so anxious to get up but the feeling and adrenaline rush that you get is something I don’t get anywhere else as a musician. Nervous? I mean everyone gets nervous. I believe if you don’t get nervous than there’s something wrong. You need to be nervous. It just means you care.”
Perhaps surprisingly but Cousins has already mapped out the game-plan for a followup release to This Fire. She takes the future steps in her career, and her life, with serious and professional consideration, and aims to forge ahead without watered-down or haphazard shortcuts.
“I’m already thinking about my next full length album,” she says. “The minute I finished writing This Fire, the last studio day, everything just kind of clicked for me and I realized what I want to do for the next album and I already have that planned out. I know what I want to do for post-secondary and I want to go back to Toronto because Toronto is definitely my happy place. I want to go to Ryerson and study music engineering and production and all of that stuff. It’s what I’m really into. I know what I want to do afterwards and I don’t plan on slowing down at all.”
Rachel Cousins releases This Fire on August 31st with backing band Chris LeDrew, Barry LeDrew and Craig Follett and special guests Emily and Thomas Conway and Bailey Jordan-Neil. For more information visit rachelcousinsmusic.com