LEAVING York behind her, singer-songwriter Rachel Croft is kicking up a Hurricane with her stormy new single, released today.
Combining an ominous fusion of indie-rock attitude and bluesy Americana energy, the track pairs dark, rootsy swagger with thunder-and-lightning vocals, painting a picture of an artist who will not be tamed.
“It’s a risk-taking anthem about straying from the beaten path, highlighting the force-of-nature pull felt by dream chasers everywhere, embracing who you are at any cost,” says Rachel, who moved to London in early 2022.
She has spent a year honing her sound, venturing deeper into the Americana genre heralded by her 2021 EP, Reap What You Sow, for her most energised song to date, written just before her relocation to pursue her musical path in new waters.
“York has been my home and safe space for so long, and I’ve loved living there,” says Rachel, who first moved to the city to study at the University of York. “Throwing myself into a new place has been at the same time intimidating and liberating.”
Here, Rachel discusses her London move, her new single and the path ahead with CharlesHutchPress.
What made you take the leap from York to London? Had lockdown given you the chance to reflect on the need to move on to new ground for fresh stimulation and new experiences?
“An opportunity came up for a chance to live in the capital, which I never thought was going to be possible for me as a full-time indie artist. I had to take it or I wouldn’t have forgiven myself.
“It was terrifying but so exciting at the same time. Certainly lockdown gave me itchy feet, the stagnation, and lack of evolution – it felt at the time – caused so many people to be bold in their lives, and I was the same!”
How has life choice become a powerful motivator for your song writing?
“Thinking about my journey and choice in life to be a creative person and independent artist has been something I dwell on a lot, whether it’s the right path. But I am so glad I chose to take the chance.
“The move has really supercharged me, giving me a new energy to grow and explore my creativity. Hurricane is for anyone who ever dared to stray from the beaten path, and the torn feelings about that, which come with you many steps of the way. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.”
“Where’s the folk?”, as you said at the outset of your Forty Five Vinyl Cafe gig last year! Hurricane represents the strongest shift yet, embracing indie rock as much as a natural progression to bluesy Americana. Discuss…
“Folk was my starting point into music; I grew up around it but I’ve always been inspired by heavier music, lots of different genres in fact. I found folk and singer/songwriter styles only showed a small part of who I am, and lockdown gave me the go-ahead to say, ‘you know, stuff it, I’m going to try and make the music that I love but never thought I could’. This has always been me. I’d just not shown it during my folk era!”
You have embraced jazz, folk, blues, now Americana…
“I allow my songs to speak to me, and follow my intuition. This release shouts Americana all over, but the song I’m working on next steps in a slightly different direction. It’s so empowering to truly explore the sounds I’m inspired by and find what feels totally right for me and true to each song deep down, without compromise. I can’t wait to delve even deeper.
“What remains a strong trait is the cinematic feel of my compositions. I’ve always loved soundtracks and songs which instil clear imagery in the mind of listener. I want to transport people, and really make them feel something when listening to my music.”
Do you consider yourself to be a force-of-nature dream chaser? Does that strengthen through the years, despite the harsh reality of your song We Are’s expressions of being “so tired”?
“Ha-ha, that was someone else’s quote! I would say, though, that I’ve been relentless in pursuing my career (and dream) of being a full-time musician. I haven’t had another job since deciding on this path a good few years ago, and I’m proud of that achievement when I think on it.
“it’s been extremely tough to withstand the pressures it comes with for so long, especially independently. I would say now I feel pressure to keep growing, I don’t want to plateau – so I suppose the desire to keep going is stronger now to deflect the doubts that come and go on my journey.”
How have you settled into performing on the London scene?
“I’ve really loved it, and I was amazed at how welcoming people are here, so open and full of new possibilities that have really helped my drive to continue what I’m doing.
“I’ve played so far at St Pancras Old Church, The Green Note, Pizza Express Live Holborn, and I’m headlining at the legendary Troubadour on Saturday, August 6. So, a bit of a flying start really. I hope I can keep it going!”
Is there anything you miss about York?! Playing with Karl Mullen on Phoenix jazz nights, for example?
“Yes, of course, it was my home for so long and I do consider it the place that made me into a musician. I’ll miss Karl – he’s practically family – and the musicians and creatives and just the general amazing community I was so lucky to have there.
“It was time to try something new, though, as easy and lovely as living in York for the rest of my life would have been! Plus, I’m always back around so no-one has chance to miss me, ha-ha!”
When are you next playing up here?
“I’m arranging a show in September in central York. I’ll add everything onto my socials and live tab of my website though when I can announce more details.”
What will be the other tracks accompanying Hurricane on your upcoming EP?
“That’s a bit of a secret, but so far Hurricane and the next single, set for autumn, will be on there.”
Any plans for a new album?
Any tips on whose music we should be discovering?
“I have a recommendation! One of my favourite bands and a big inspiration for me when switching genres was Kaleo. Totally underrated. They are as good live too; I saw them in Manchester just recently. Check them out, so good.”
Hurricane is available everywhere for sale and streaming. Smart link for streaming from today: https://ffm.to/rachelcroft-hurricane