Rachael Yamagata takes charge of her career


Earlier in Rachael Yamagata’s career, she found herself sitting pretty—or she thought—signed with a major record label.
The label’s  now part of Rachael’s history. Rachael’s on her own. And she’s bringing her music to her fans herself and the fans are responding by opening their wallets.
Right now, she’s in the midst of a PledgeMusic campaign, where fans can make donations at various levels, to help her tidy up her latest album.
Rachael comes to the Mohegan Sun Wolf Den on Nov. 13 for a free show.
Rachael, calling from Portland, Ore. said this is the second time she has reached out to fans for a PledgeMusic campaign. She did it for her last album, “Chesapeake.”
“It was a really good experience.”
After she left the major label, Rachael said she formed her own record label. Now, she controls every aspect with her career. She has complete creative freedom. And with a PledgeMusic campaign, she’s not stuck taking out a loan from the record label with an onerous interest rate.
Plus, with the crowd funding approach, Rachael said she’s much closer to her fans who “get” her.
The record company never really “got” her anyway, said Rachael. They expected her to be a modern Carole King. However, she turned out to be more of a female Nick Cave.
At the time of the interview, Rachael said she was pleased with the fan response for this latest round of crowd source funding. For the “Chesapeake” PledgeMusic campaign, Rachael said she wasn’t certain of the response. So she set the goal lower than she needed it, she said. This time, she said, the goal is more realistic and she was confident it would be reached.
Although the PledgeMusic campaign was still in process at the time of her interview, Rachael said recording has already been underway for the new album. In fact, she and her band had been recording songs right up until the day they left for the current tour, Oct. 3.
“We still have some work,” said Rachael of the album. While she’s on the road, she has had a chance to test drive some of the new songs before the audience, so she may go back and tweak them when she gets back to the studio.
As for the music contained within the record, Rachael assessed in two succinct words.
“Totally weird.”
Rachael explained the songs are dark as well as romantic. It’s a diverse record, she said, because she’s never been one to tie herself down to particular genre. “I’m definitiely into a strange Mazzy Star, Tom Waits, David Bowie territory.”
Rachael said she and her band are trying out all sorts of off the wall recording techniques for this album. When it’s released, fans should listen for the drummer performing percussion on a 20 foot ladder or an ironing board. The sound of rain also has seeped into the mix.
“It’s a more mystical experience,” she said of the new album.
But, despite all of the experimentation, she said there’s still a pop sense in the songwriting.
Her description of the record made one think of musical version of a David Lynch movie. It was an assessment that Rachael felt was apt.
“I think it’s brilliant,” said Rachael of her new album.
On some stops of the tour, but not in Connecticut, Rachael has been celebrating the 10th anniversary of her debut album, “Happenstance,” by performing the record from beginning to end in her concerts.
Rachael said fans like the album because of its joy and youthfulness. For some, the record proved to be an important part of their lives.
Looking back on the songs from the album a decade ago, Rachael was asked what she thought of them through the looking glass of time.
Rachael said, “There was a lot of angst, emotion, and heartbreak.” But she added, “Still there is a hopefulness, that I feel is still there (in my music today).”
The Rachael of today, she said, experiences an “inner civil war,” trying to find a way to balance the struggles of her life with happiness and joy.
“The theme of my music today is more positive,” said Rachael. “The lyrics are optimistic despite the darker music.”
Although “Happenstance” won’t be performed in its entirety at the Mohegan Sun show, Rachael said she will be performing selections from that album. She also will offer up some of the new songs as well as selections from the rest of her career.
Rachael’s music does lend itself to a solo performance. However, she said, she’s heading out on the road with her full band for this tour.
Rachael Yamagata performs at the Mohegan Sun Wolf Den in Uncasville on Thursday, Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. The show is free but the Wolf Den is first-come, first-serve with its seating so plan accordingly.
For more information, or to participate in the PledgeMusic campaign, go to RachaelYamagata.com. For more information about the performance go to MoheganSun.com

Rachael Yamagata is coming to the Mohegan Sun Wolf Den next Thursday.
Rachael Yamagata is coming to the Mohegan Sun Wolf Den next Thursday.