Sometimes in life you have to burn everything down to get a fresh start. This is true of local musician Rachel Lynne, who moved to Pittsburgh from Georgia on a whim several years ago.
In her early twenties, Lynne was in a long-distance relationship, a sort of pen-pal endeavor with a person she met on Myspace through a mutual friend. They spoke on the phone and via messenger for a year. She started visiting him in Pittsburgh and grew to love the city more with each visit.
“The last time I came out here from Georgia, I decided I would overpack in case I found a job,” says Lynne. “I brought my guitar and a suitcase and found a job within a couple of days.”
While it was an exciting fresh start, Lynne found the experience to be more overwhelming than she’d anticipated. She’d sold her car to move and was in a brand-new city far away from her family.
“It turned out to be more than I signed up for, but I was here. And it took me a few years, but I powered through what it mentally did to me,” Lynne says. “We broke up eventually, it didn’t work out. But I made friends and I was working and it was too late to turn back at that point, so here I am.
“And actually, it’s all been really inspiring, all the stress and stories. So, I’ve managed to find myself by moving here and meeting the right people somehow. It’s all been really scary, crazy and wonderful. I like to shake up my life. I find it very inspiring.”
All this stress, experience and heartache resulted in the collection of songs on her self-titled debut EP, a reverb-soaked, dark and dreamy voyage with alt-country tinges and plenty of emotive lyrics and big musical movements.
“I think I really hit rock-bottom moving here, just because I was so alone, and I didn’t realize the toll that would take on me,” says Lynne. “It really inspired me, all of that pain. I’ve been able to create something that gets me through it.”
On the five tracks of Rachel Lynne, she bares her soul about heartbreak and uncertainty. The ache is audible in Lynne’s beautiful vocals, in the quiet breathy moments and soaring croons.
“I’ve always struggled with anxiety, so [music is] kind of my way of communicating and connecting to other people. If people seem to relate to what I sing, it feels like a real moment,” explained Lynne. “I love being really personal and sharing that with other people.”
In Georgia, Lynne played the open-mic circuit in Atlanta, but when she moved to Pittsburgh, the music part of her life initially took a back seat. After two relationships had ended, Lynne rediscovered her love of writing music and got back into the scene. She met Donny Donovan, of Hearken and Dinosoul, with whom she shared her Soundcloud. Donovan was immediately supportive and encouraging.
“One night I met Donny at Spirit, and they said, ‘I was going to play this show, but I can’t play it anymore. Would you want to play it?’ And I said, ‘I don’t really have a band, but yes,’” laughed Lynne.
“It was a month away, so it gave me a month to put a band together and practice and play the show. Our first show, I called us, ‘Rachel Lynne and the Last-Minute Band,’ because it was like we had three practices and that was it,” said Lynne. “But it was so well-received, and I was like, ‘Holy shit, I’m supposed to be doing this."
“Had [Donny] not asked me to play that show, I might still be sitting in some corner sad, trying to figure out what I’m doing with my life.”
Wasting no time, Lynne and her newly formed band recorded the EP at Mr. Smalls with Nate Campisi. The EP came out at the end of October and she has since released a mini-EP of dark, dreamy covers of Christmas songs with another musician, Vacancy.
As the year slows down, she’s had time to reflect on the EP and sharing her music. “Getting [the music] out there, getting it out of my body? That’s been amazing. Finding out that I may have a purpose, it’s been a good feeling to have a light switch on and be like, ‘Go. And don’t stop.’ I’ve never felt that way, you know? It was like waking up.”
“What I’m most looking forward to [in 2018] is seeing where this goes, figuring it all out. I’m learning so much, and I’m looking forward to learning so much more about myself as an artist.”