No, I haven’t gone mad – the title refers to the title of a new song by American singer songwriter Rachael Sage and features on the deluxe edition of her recent album, Blue Roses. The song is Coloring Book and is to be released in November – more of that to come later. Of course, if you’re one of my American readers, this spelling will be completely normal!
I first became aware of Rachael Sage when she was featured on the Angry Baby blog earlier this year and then happened to catch her on BBC Radio 2’s Good Morning Sunday performing another song from Blue Roses. The song was a cover of Neil Young’s Helpless and features legendary singer songwriter Judy Collins, with whom she is soon to support on Collins’ UK tour.
Ahead of the tour, I recently caught up with Rachael and amongst other things we talked about how the collaboration with Judy originally started. It turns out that five or six years ago, Sage performed at a music industry conference in France (she also runs her own record label) and was approached by Judy Collins’s manager who had noticed the similarities between the two (at the time, Collins’ was running her own label, Wildflower). One thing led to another and Sage ended up meeting Collins and performing at her Wildflower Festival. Of the experience, Sage says that Collins was “very warm and welcoming, she listened to my album and gave me feedback. We became friends and then she had me open for her at a lot of shows around the country and even in England and Scotland. Eventually, I felt comfortable enough to ask her to sing with me on my album and amazingly she said yes.” Endearingly, Sage recounts this with wonder, as if she can’t believe her luck.
The resulting song is a beautiful interpretation of the original, perfectly suiting both voices. A cover of another artist’s song is a rarity for Sage, her long back catalogue is mostly self penned but this was a great choice. Sage says that the recording process was “wonderful, Judy was so much fun, she’s hilarious. People don’t realise but she brings a lot of… almost comedy to the live shows.”
Collins is set to perform a few shows in across the UK in October, starting with Bristol on 20 October and ending a few days later in Cardiff (click here for more dates), with Sage in support. At present, the two will perform separate sets but when asked if they will collaborate on stage, Sage tantalises with a “maybe – her accompanist is always keen to do something, but she’s so busy it’s difficult to get time to sort anything out”.
Collins may be busy but the same can also be said of Sage – in addition to writing and performing, she runs her own record label. To the layman, running the business side of a record label at the same time as creating your own music would seem to require two completely different mindsets (hence the comment from Sage that one is “definitely work”). Sage says not signing to another label was a conscious decision after college, when she was discovering that the music she was creating was something that “I needed to self develop, to do it on my own. If I signed to a major label based on a particular sound and songwriting ability, I’m going to get hurt as they’ll tell me what to do”. Showing impressive self awareness at a young age, Sage decided that in order to have creative freedom, the only way was to go it alone, which she did, collaborating with the people who had helped make her first teenage demos.
As an interviewee, Sage was very giving and I had a lot of material so look out for more later in the year. She was also a lot of fun and loved the fact that our skype interview (a first for both of us) ended with a host of bubbles from my 9yo’s bubble wand floating across the screen – we ended with the quote “every interview should end with bubbles”.
Rachael Sage will be supporting Judy Collins in the UK from October 20 – 26. Click here for details.
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