Meet Rainlights, NYC singer, songwriter and producer
“When My Phone Dies,” the first single of NYC musician Rachel Chevat, aka Rainlights, hits you by surprise with its thoughtful lyrics and intricate production. The follow-up, “Mazzy Star Reminds Me of You,” dazzles no less: with a few strokes, Rachel creates a rich sonic picture of summer carefreeness.
Today, Rainlights releases her third single, “How Does It Feel?” Listen to the song below and learn more about Rachel and her music in our Q&A.
How did you get into songwriting and music production? What inspired you to do so?
I’ve been writing songs since I was a kid. Before I could play guitar, and before I even really knew how to sing, I would hum melodies and scribble lyrics down in notebooks. Lyrics have always been my go-to form of self expression. My relationship with songwriting has grown and changed with time, but there was never a period where music wasn’t around.
Initially I wasn’t interested in production, but I’m grateful to see it in a new light today. A couple of years ago my perspective changed, and now I love producing. It reminds me of painting— where the bare recording of a song is like a sketch, the production is the color, the texture, the shading. Once I realized how creative of an endeavor production can be, I gained a new appreciation for it.
You went to London to study sound engineering. How did that come together?
When I decided that I wanted to refine my production skills, I looked for ways to further study audio. I found a program in London which suited my interests, and applied right away. After getting accepted, I moved to London for two years. The program combined learning about production for music as well as sound for film, but I mainly focused on the musical aspects.
Your songs delight with a dense atmosphere both lyrically and musically. What do you have in mind first – the composition or the lyrics?
I tend to write the lyrics and the composition at the same time, usually on guitar or piano. Once the song is complete, I jump into Logic and shape the instrumentation. I love adding dreamy harmonies and synths to my tracks. I also like creating soundscapes— my friend Ryan told me that listening to my produced songs is like “sitting in a warm bath of sound”.
There’s something special about an acoustic version of a song that can’t be replicated, but on the opposite side of that coin, there’s something exciting about how synths and textures can completely transform a track. Lately I’ve been searching for a happy medium between the two.
What instruments and gear do you use to produce your songs?
I have a small studio setup in my room with mixing speakers, an Audio-Technica mic, a Stratocaster, and a keyboard. I use Logic to record everything. It’s fun to create your own studio space because you can really make it feel warm and homey. At university, I loved using the school studios and rented out their U 87 mic all the time for vocal recordings.
**Your latest single is a heartbreaking account of the sudden loss of a loved one. Do you want to elaborate further?***
Last autumn, I lost my father unexpectedly. It has been a grueling year, and words have been the only way to attempt to navigate the grief. My dad was an avid reader, and he wasn’t a musician but he loved music. It felt natural to visit him—and to try and pay homage to him— through song.
“how does it feel?” revisits the day he passed away with tenderness, and with a gentle touch that did not exist in that moment. We can’t change the past, but we can take fragments of time and put them in mental museums, and try to make sense of the heartache in the light.
Do you have plans for a live show in the near future?
I don’t have any shows planned at the moment but I would love to play live in 2023! I am definitely going to work on that this winter.
What is next for Rainlights?
Rainlights is just getting started 🙂 I’m going to keep recording and releasing new music, and see how it grows from there. And definitely live shows!
Along with writing songs, I also write a lot of poetry. I’m looking to share more of that in the coming year as well.
Thank you, Rachel, for the insight! We wish you lots of strength and self-compassion to make it through this difficult time. And we are very much looking forward to what 2023 has in stock for Rainlights