The 27 year-old Nashville based musician, Rachel Baiman, is not holding back on her new album, Shame. It's politically charged and motivated; she wants listeners to feel empowered to advocate for themselves and others. Released via Free Dirt Records, the album focuses on themes of love, sex, and abuse in relationships. In a general press statement, Baiman remarks that "I wanted to write about reality, in all of it's terror and beauty.” She certainly did. Baiman worked with Mandolin Orange's Andrew Marlin on production of Shame, and is currently on the road for a few more summer tour dates (they are listed below her interview). We chatted with Rachel about her new album, her work with Josh Oliver and Marlin, and the response to her music.
AXS: You're currently on the road, promoting your new album, Shame. What's that been like for you and your bandmates?
Rachel Baiman: It's been really cool - when you work so hard on something and there's this long drawn out lead time (which happens with album releases), it feels so good to finally just hit the ground running, drive around the country, play the music for people face to face and see the response. I get tired of tour sometimes, but I'm truly addicted.
AXS: With Shame, you took a new sound and vision from your work with 10 String Symphony. Let's talk about that...what led to this new overall sound?
RB: I think when I wrote the song "Shame" it just felt so personal - it was a song that I really wanted to put my own name on. And after that came another song that I felt really personal, etc. eventually realized that I was working on something separate from the world of 10 string symphony. In 10 string symphony we are always trying to push boundaries, do the unexpected and create really original work. I thrive on that, and I love it, but there's this other part of me that just wants to say it really plainly, tell it exactly how I see it. And I think that's part of me that created "Shame."
AXS: You worked with Andrew Marlin and Josh Oliver (who's also done a lot of work with Jill Andrews). How did you get involved with both of them?
RB: I met Andrew and Josh at a show in North Carolina and we did some jamming backstage. Andrew is a super social guy and always wants to pick tunes so he's to befriend. I became a real fan of Mandolin Orange and that led me to check out Josh's album (produced by Andrew). I totally fell in love with the soundscapes that Andrew was producing and both Andrew and Josh were playing on, and I thought, if I want that why don't I just go right to the source. Out of the blue I contacted Andrew and just said, I really want to make a record with you - not really having any idea what the project would be or how I could actually make it happen, and he said "a record doesn't have to be as far off as you think." So that was the open door I needed, I just went for it.
AXS: Shame is socially and politically charged. How has the positive response encouraged you in your pursuit of writing and recording music?
RB: I think it's a sudden realization that I can work for change through a medium that I already have. I've gone through these anxious bouts of time where I thought maybe being a musician isn't really doing anything positive for the world, maybe it's just feeding my ego or it's just my own passion, maybe I need to be a lawyer or join the peace core. I think this album has been a realization of how I can best create and feed that need to work towards a social and political change at the same time.
AXS: What do you hope listeners walk away after hearing Shame?
RB: I hope that anyone who listens will feel comfortable and inspired and ready to say all those things they've been holding out of a desire to avoid conflict, pushback, pain or of course, shame.
Remaining tour dates:
July 1 - Alpharetta, GA - Matilda's Music Under the Pines
July 2 - Decatur, GA - Eddie's Attic
Aug. 12 - Pinedale, WY - Soundcheck Summer Music Series