Singa blog features guest posts from artists and other music industry experts, to share inspiration, ideas, opinions, and knowledge about music, singing, and what's happening around this funky industry.
This story is by a UK-based artist and a songwriter Rachel Rose (@rachelrosemusic), where she sheds light on different phases in finding your voice and style as a singer and a musician - and why it's better to stop looking for your big break.
"I started like every child my age did. Singing songs in the playground, making up dance routines and telling everyone I was going to be a popstar. I think even then I believed the words I was saying, but I didn't know quite what it meant. I always jest that I was a natural born attention seeker; putting on shows for my mum and her friends, getting on as many stages as I could, however big or small.
When I was ten I was singing the Thumbelina sound track with my friend in her garden, and her mum suggested I got singing lessons. So I did! I had singing lessons for six years, joined a choir for a further 7 years and performed with them as a soloist around the UK and Europe. This included performing at Wembley Arena, featuring in a TV documentary and recording at the iconic Abbey Road Studios.
Yeh you guessed it, all I could hear in the back of my mind was "Is this it?? My big break!?" I loved every teeny tiny second of these experiences and I felt I knew exactly who I was and where I was going I just had to wait for it to air, and the phone would ring... right?
As you can probably predict, despite all of this, the phone didn't ring. I was so upset. Why did no one want me? I knew I could do this, I knew I had the drive, the ability, and the talent. And please don't mistake this for arrogance at all, just a feeling in my gut, a sense of true self belief that fuelled me forward. So, the phone didn't ring, what was I to do next?
I left the choir and decided now was the time to give all of my energy to my songwriting and performing as an artist. I had been writing from a young age and decided it was time to record something professionally. I wrote, recorded and released an acoustic EP with the help of two amazing producers (Dan Weinberg and Loop Genius), which I worked on for a year or so. I knew that this wasn't going to be a break I needed but it gave me the material to start gigging and getting myself out there as 'Rachel Rose'. Whilst, I performed this EP on stage at a sell out show, I had a discovery; the sound was all wrong for me. I felt I was holding something back, it felt like I was singing with only a small section of myself. It was frustrating. I had just created a small body of work to push forward but it didn't feel like me. I had to start again.
This set me on the journey to my album, dying my hair pink and finding who I was as a musician. These were some of the biggest steps in growth for me. I poured my heart and soul into this body of work over the course of 2 years, alongside the two producers I had written the EP with; this time with a new sound and a new style. I have to give credit to Dan Weinberg (who is also my cousin), he never just told me it was ok, it was good, it'll do. He made me THINK about who I wanted to be, what I wanted my sound to be. Who was I? What did I want to say? What music did I love. And that was how I fell into step.
Who was I? What did I want to say? What music did I love. And that was how I fell into step.
Throughout these two years I gigged, performed, reached out to contacts, built relationships; I wasn't going to sit by waiting for something to happen, i was going to MAKE it happen. I learnt my stage craft, pushed myself out of my comfort zone and developed some wonderful musical relationships and collaborations along the way. This big break WOULD happen.
When the album was mixed and mastered, I went to my aunties house and sat with my cousin to listen. I couldn't have been more proud. That album was my baby, my heartbreak, my happiness, my story over the two years and we had done it. Independent musicians, working as a team. I was going to send it to everyone, perform it everywhere. Surely this would be it...
I was blessed with an amazing guitarist and a band who I toured the album for 3 years around the country . Taking me to places such as Glastonbury, support on Ray Quinns UK tour, Capital Summer Time ball Vodaphone Big Top 40 stage, Kiss 100 music cube, Sennheisers 70th anniversary party, and so many more. Even though there was magic happening all around me, experiences, gigs, collaborations, I was still waiting for this big break to take me to the top, what could I do next?
I was approached by The Voice and decided after discussing with people I trusted that maybe it was something I should just try (X factor had appraoched me a few times in previous years which I had turned down). I had always wanted to do it the organic way, just work until your dreams came true, but the industry was changing so much I thought I would give it a go. I made it through the early stages to the televised audition and I was elated. I was having so much fun with rehearsals, meeting new vocal coaches, training, travel, I didn't want this journey to end. I was on the way... this was it. It had to be it.
Disaster then struck. I didn't get a chair turn. I was devastated. I really truly believed that THIS was going to be my moment. I couldn't believe I was getting in the car and going home. Heart broken and defeated I will be real with you, this was the first time ever in my career I felt "How can I keep doing this? I know I have the talent. I know I can achieve why will no one give me a chance? What the hell am I going to do now? Do I have to start all over again?!". I was exhausted.
When the audition aired I had an outpouring of love and support, which lifted my spirits. I sent my audition to every connection I had ever made along the way and once again the big break did not arrive.
I hit the musician depression. When the wave has crashed out, things go quiet, and you have to find your new buzz. After some down time, I picked myself up. No matter how many times this big break didn't arrive, no matter how many times the industry kicked me down, I loved this game. I loved singing, I loved writing, I loved performing and nothing in this world would ever match that.
So I started again.
I wrote a new single, got my first professional music video shot with backing dancers and everything, childhood dream come true! Not only that, but I had an amazing back catalogue of people I could get involved from meeting and connecting over the years. This was going to be good. Everything was in my favour. What I couldn't have predicted was my personal life was about to fall to pieces behind the scenes. Dramatically. I had to promote this single whilst everything was crashing around me. What happened with this single was actually quite magical. I got playlisted on spotify by the senior editor, I got radio play, I got amazing feedback from artists that I loved and respected. The single was doing well. And for the first time I wasn't looking for a big break, I was just trying to survive.
After this, I had to take some time out. I couldn't write, I was blocked. I couldn't sing, I would choke. The thing I loved the most in the world was taken away from me and I had to take some time to heal myself. After six months I found myself on a beach in Thailand to get some time for myself. To heal, to breathe, to live. One morning I woke after a bad dream that I couldn't shake. I carried it with me all morning and the only way I knew how to cope with how I felt was pen to paper, I had to write it out. I was in paradise, crying my eyes out allowing this pain to flow out of me onto a page. I was unblocked. I was free. When the crying and writing got too much I took myself for a walk along the beach alone. Just walking and crying. After a while everything calmed, and I was able to take in the utter beauty of my surroundings. I was in paradise. It wasn't so bad.
After this moment, the words have flowed out of me with ease. I don't think, I just write. I can tell my story, their story, your story. I can write to brief, I can write in jest, I can write for humour. It's become so second nature. And you know what else happened? I stopped looking for the BIG BREAK. When you have become so low you can't do the thing you love the most, you appreciate it more than ever when it comes back to you. I was so focussed on the end destination I forgot to love the journey. I forgot to just enjoy every day, every achievement, every experience. I have fun in my challenges, I don't look for whats next, I just feel grateful for right now.
Since my mind set has shifted, the things that have happened to me have been nothing short of incredible. I have composed music for film, I have written a concept EP and a short film to accompany it, I have landed a part in a film, shooting in LA, I have management in China, preparing for a tour and not once have I thought "Is this my big break?" I have just taken a moment to feel blessed for every opportunity.
So in short, I want to tell you something about looking for the 'Big Break' - it never shows up when you think they will, it doesn't work to your time scale, and sometimes big breaks show themselves in a slower, more gradual process.
Hard work, passion, self belief and a series of many, many small breaks has developed me into the musician and the woman I am today, and I wouldn't change that for the world. "