Artist Interview: Rachel AO

Rachel AO is currently based in Los Angeles and performs all around LA. She invites people in with her charismatic attitude and passionate music. Keep reading to learn more about Rachel and her music.

Q: How would you describe your sound and musical style?

A: It’s definitely piano driven because that’s my main instrument. [It’s] singer/songwriter. I have a lot of different musical influences, so [it’s] very eclectic. There are elements of pop, there are elements of soul, there are elements of folk, just the way that I story-tell.

Q: What got you into music?

A: I was really young when I started doing music. I started doing musicals at church and I started piano lessons when I was six. Then I started doing voice lessons when I was in elementary school and I was in choirs all throughout my life. I’ve always been singing, performing and also dancing. I was doing these performances at pretty big venues for a little kid, like they seated at least 2000 people. I’ve always been into the arts, the stage and performing.

Rachel AO performs her original songs at the North End Bar in Hollywood on Feb. 13. Photo by Kate Kotlyar

Q: How did it feel to release your debut single, “Perfect,” earlier this year?

A: It felt great. I wrote it during the pandemic when I was going through a really hard time in a situation-ship. It’s definitely a song from the heart. It felt good to release it and get it out. My cousin produced it […] and when he sent me the first draft, he just understood what I wanted the song to be and I cried when I heard it. It was good to release it and let it out there in the world because I feel like I was holding on to it for so long. 

Q: Can you lead me through the process of creating your upcoming EP?

A: A lot of the songs I wrote during the pandemic and a couple of them during quarantine. [One of my songs,] ‘Can’t Handle,’ is going to be on there, which I also wrote during the time where I wrote ‘Perfect.’ Those are kind of about the same situation. Then I wrote ‘Demons’ while I was here in LA, which was one of my first songs I wrote here, since moving from Michigan. And ‘Completely Complete,’ I wrote that for a friend’s wedding. Now I’m just in the process of getting everything mastered and polished up. I just write as situations arise in my life. For example, ‘Demons’ was about a love situation here in LA that went wrong and ‘Can’t Handle’ was about another situation. ‘Completely Complete’ is more of an uplifting and happier song that I specifically wrote for my friend, Emily, for her wedding and I performed at her wedding. I can’t wait to release that because it’s for [the couple], it’s for her. 

Q: If you could describe your EP in one word, what would it be?

A: Well, it’s called Closure. I think that a lot of these stories that I’m singing about, I’m reflecting [on them] and it’s time to close the chapter on that. For me, as an artist, I can move on and I can write other songs, maybe not specifically about love, but other topics. So, it’s kind of like I’m closing that chapter and going forward with other things to write about.

Q: Which song on your EP do you think you relate to most and why?

A: I would say ‘Perfect,’ for sure because I think we can all relate to not being perfect. We’re all human, we’re not perfect and everybody has healing and learning to do in life and all we can do is just do our best. I think that’s really what ‘Perfect’ is about, just doing the best you can and realizing that I’m not perfect either and we’ve got a lot of learning to do. That’s kind of my motto in my life, I’m not perfect, I have a lot to learn and that’s just how life goes.

Q: Is there a moment in your musical career that stands out most to you?

A: I’ve had some good times being on stage doing musical theater. I was in Jesus Christ Superstar, I played Mary Magdalene and she has this epic solo. Every night that I would sing that song, the crowd would just go nuts and  I felt so special. Another one would be when I was on stage, singing with a full orchestra in my hometown. It was my very first solo moment. I had this blue sparkly dress on and I was singing ‘Home’ from The Wiz. It was so dramatic with the lighting and the orchestra. Then when I was done, I didn’t know this, but people were standing, everyone was on their feet. When I got backstage, I collapsed because the adrenaline was pumping so hard in my body that I literally fell over. Knowing they’re standing up for you [in] moments like that, where you pour your heart and soul on the stage and people recognize it, they appreciate it and they’re touched by it, that’s cool.

Rachel performs at the North End Bar in Hollywood on April 10. Photo by Kate Kotlyar
Rachel performs at the Mint LA on Aug. 16 where she sang songs on her upcoming EP. Photo by Kate Kotlyar

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

A: I will say that it’s not easy being in LA and doing this. This industry is not easy and it’s a lot of hard work. You really have to play the game and put yourself out there, which is also scary. Putting yourself out there in front of strangers and singing the songs that are deep within your soul and hoping that it resonates with somebody, it can be really hard to do that, especially when it doesn’t resonate. I always say that not everyone’s going to understand your art and your music, but there are people who will and who do. You just have to keep going and keep pushing forward because you will find those people who [your music] touches and who it resonates with. You really have to just focus on your talents, your gifts and your art.

Check out Rachel AO’s music here

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Staff Journalist | Photographer

Kate Kotlyar is currently a student at CSU Northridge studying Journalism in Public Relations. Kate is passionate about music and is able to express her passion through concert photography and music journalism. She listens to almost every musical genre, however, her favorites tend to lie in rock.

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Artist Interview: Rachel AO

Rachel AO is currently based in Los Angeles and performs all around LA. She invites people in with her charismatic attitude and passionate music. Keep