Rachel Rolleri

Q&A: Bay Area Local Singer-Songwriter Rachel Rolleri

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When did you first become interested in playing music?
Growing up, there was always an inclination towards music. It always settled just right and sounded different to me than it did to my family. But when I was thirteen— that’s when I picked up the guitar. I just listened to a Beatle’s record and I came out of my room and told my parents that this what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I had no idea it would turn into what it now is, but I love it.

What’s the strangest or funniest thing that’s ever happened to you at a show?
Probably the time when I was in eighth grade singing a solo for my middle school choir concert. It was in front of parents and faculty and students, and you know, eighth grade is a period of “transformation”, so I overestimated my vocal ability while aiming for a high note and my voice cracked horribly. I was shocked and said straight into the mic “oh SH*T” and we were all dying laughing. Like to this day, I’m not embarrassed, it was just a classic moment. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

What are you listening to these days?
These days it’s mostly Kanye’s new album. I just think he’s putting out some stellar sounds, and he’s got this new freedom that he’s tapping into that I can’t get enough of. Also quite a lot of Bill Evans.

Rachel Rolleri
Rachel Rolleri

What are some of your favorite Bay Area music venues?
My favorites are the Great American Music Hall, The Fillmore, and I love the Masonic. Those are my go-to’s. I’ve been lucky to witness some incredible acts there, and even play GAMH.

What are some of your favorites hangs in the Bay Area and why?
Honestly, I don’t go out much, I tend to save most of my energy for performing, whether it’s in the studio or on stage so it’s rare that I make it to places to hang. But there’s a couple spots on Polk street I dig, and my favorite restaurant is Nob Hill Cafe, where you can sit by Grace Cathedral or walk up Taylor to a scenic view. And I love a visit to the MoMA.

What’s your favorite neighborhood in the city and why?
Favorite neighborhood in the city is probably North Beach just because I know it so well. But Marina District is always fun because you can typically run into loads of people and kind of shift plans depending on who you want to run with that evening.

You were on Season 13 of American Idol. What’d you take away most from the experience?
With Idol, I learned how to hone in on who I was, and control and harness my energy in performance, and how much control I wanted over myself and my artistry.

What your fondest memory of being on the show?
The fondest memories for me came from the interactions with the crew. They really are the backbone of the show, and do so much for the contestants, the families, and the producers. They operated with grace under pressure and took great care of everyone.

What does music mean to you?
Music is an opportunity to spread peace through sharing the not-always-so-peaceful-things in order to create a more loving, empathetic, and peaceful society. Whatever scale it’s listened to on, someone is receiving those vibrations and sending out whatever transmuted vibration from there. It’s infectious, and while it can be so lovely, it can also be dangerous.

What inspires you to write?
People mostly inspire me. I’m not interested in writing just to write. Human behavior is the most complex and diverse thing in the world, and I’ve always been interested in reaching an understanding of my experiences with it, including my own behavior. Hugely inspired by love and its nuances. My first album was entirely about a single relationship I’d had, and it was such a wildly powerful thing to experience, so I explored a different facet of it in every song. Like it’s truly a fascination at this point.

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to find out about you?
Probably that I’m not all that sad in person. Like my music can come off as very dark and chilled, but I’m actually quite cheery and warm. I save my misery for writing. Mostly.

Is there anything you’d like to plug?
I don’t have many, just give “Black Book” a listen, share it if you dig, hit that like button on Facebook, and a follow on Instagram & Twitter & Spotify.

An avid drummer whose discography includes albums on Digital Nations (a Steve Vai imprint), music critic Louis Raphael has always kept a pulse on the San Francisco music scene. After many years as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he decided to start Music in SF® as a way to showcase what the San Francisco music scene really has to offer.

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