SCV: Tell me about your newest signee, Seth Glier. What is it like to be mentor to a young artist?
RS: Seth has a wonderful energy; he sings, plays the piano and the guitar. Part of what drew us to him is that he is, even at 20 years old, aware of how the business works. There’s definitely a balancing act between being a genuine, heartfelt artist and recognizing the need to work your ass off. It’s not always fun. We’re learning just as much from him as he is from us; his raw energy and excitement remind us all why we got into the business in the first place. It really is a balancing act, putting love and attention into your own work as well as someone else’s. If I were a person who required 8 hours of sleep per week, I could never do what I do.
SCV: Did you have a mentor growing up, or was your journey all about discovery in silent isolation and introspection?
RS:Every one of my achievements has come from a primal place, from desire. Sure, if I had been easily accepted, always busy with friends, I probably wouldn’t have felt like practicing the piano, singing to myself or writing poetry. Being a child in the 80’s was also influential; as a bisexual female it was moving to witness the struggle for identity in uncertain times. I had a crazy General Science teacher who was so eccentric, so otherworldly. I wanted to learn all I could from this guy; I thought “you know, I could give a shit about General Science, but this guy is cool.” You could tell that he was an enlightened person.
SCV: These ideas that you invoke of enlightened individuals, of life’s winding pathways and an ultimate destination point, are deeply rooted in Eastern religion. You recently toured in Japan and have been known to source personal style from India. What is it about these cultures that fascinate you?
RS: I think it’s the ability of the place to invoke an individual realization of how little we know about culture. We are all just empty vessels. As a touring artist, I am given many opportunities to integrate various aspects of culture into my personal consciousness. There are certain places in America; for example, the Deep South, where you can tell that there isn’t too much going on with the downtown art scene. There are a few Bohemian progressives who keep it alive, but that’s it. On the other hand, how can you get anyone’s attention in a city like New York, where so much is going on around you?
SCV: The quest for individuality is a physical as well as a mental pursuit. You hand paint your own clothing, along with your instruments, and you also designed the cover for “Chandelier.” Are you consciously creating a Rachael Sage brand?
RS: Yes, as far as graphic design is concerned. I try to take myself out of it as an artist. I look at what is going to grab a consumer. It is more critical than ever to effectively draw people in visually; everything has to look coherent, cool. We are all graphic design dabblers here. As far as personal style goes, I’m really fickle about that. When Gwen Stefani went Bindi I knew that my era for Indian influence had passed. I go through many phases, too many to keep up with.
SCV: You are playing at the Edinborough Fringe Festival for the first time this year. What has the process been like; do you feel pressure to reinvent yourself as an artist to appeal to a crowd who may not know who you are?
RS: A lot of what I want for my own show is that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. I want to create a theatrical collage, and hopefully I don’t blow it. I’m using a lot of Yiddish and hope that, even if the crowd doesn’t know what the hell I’m saying, they think that it’s really hip regardless.
Yes, it is possible to separate from dark feelings that are not our own. But what a blessing it is when becoming aware that our empathy is causing us to lose sight of ourselves.
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