Q&A: Rachel Goodrich

Rachel Goodrich: Rachel GoodrichRachel Goodrich: Rachel Goodrich (self-released, 2/21/11)

Rachel Goodrich: “Na Na Na”

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About two-thirds through her self-titled sophomore album, Rachel Goodrich devotes an entire track — 38 seconds to be exact — to boasting from the perspective of a thugged-out prehistoric reptile. “I was hanging out with my sister, and I had just got this T-shirt, and it had a dinosaur on it wearing a gangster chain,” the singer/songwriter says.

“So it became the ‘Gangsta Dinosaur.’ My sister was the first member of my band when I was seven years old. I don’t know, we like to mess around, so we kind of came up with that line: ‘I’m a little gangsta dinosaur,’ and she would go, ‘Bam ba ba bam ba ba.’ I just thought to myself, ‘That is brilliant.’ So I was home, bored, one day and turned on my computer and shuffled up a beat. It was awesome. Originally, it was just for fun, and then I showed [producer] Greg Wells and a couple other people, and they were saying, ‘This has to go on the record.’ And I’m like, ‘Nuh-uh. This does not belong on the record.’ And they said, ‘Yeah, we’re going to put it on there.’ I just went with it.”

Though a song like “G-Dino” isn’t the best of example of Goodrich’s typical vaudeville-pop aesthetic — which uses ukuleles, kazoos, whistles, xylophones, and rhythms that range from swing to mariachi and jazz pop — it adequately represents her playfulness. Having recently moved to Los Angeles, the former Miami native took a few minutes out of her day to talk about her Tinker Toys follow-up, ladybug costumes, and inspirational adventures.

How has living in LA been treating you thus far?

I’ve been here for about a month and a half. It’s groovy, you know. It’s not too bad. It’s a little cooler out here — less humidity. I love Miami, though; don’t get me wrong. I’ll always miss Miami. It’s a great place to go back to.

What prompted the move?

A really strong cup of coffee and good conversation. I don’t know. It was right before a rehearsal, and I was hanging out with my band, and we were just talking. We love traveling, and we love going on tour, and we were talking about just leaving Miami, and so we did it. We just decided to go.

Was the new album recorded in Miami?

Half of it was recorded here in Los Angeles with Greg Wells, and the other half was with a couple of friends of mine back in Miami. They helped me a great deal. We’d send the mixes over to Greg, and he would put them together. It was a combined effort between the Coasts.

That must have taken a while to get everything accomplished.

We started in the summer of 2009, and we really didn’t finish until the middle of 2010 — like eight months or something. I was touring in between, which was kind of cool. Last time, when I recorded Tinker Toys, it was just song after song, and this time, it was like I was breathing in between songs. There were a couple of fresh starts, I guess. This one was kind of planned out in a way where I knew what songs I was recording. I knew who I was going to record them with. I knew how I wanted to do them, whereas the first time around, when I did Tinker Toys, I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea what songs I was recording. I was writing new songs every day and laying them down. So I guess the biggest difference was [that] one was on a whim, and one was pretty planned out.

What’s behind having it self-titled, as opposed to your debut record, Tinker Toys?

I was toying with a couple of titles, but nothing really stuck with me. I don’t know — I kind of broke it down on this record. It’s more emotional for me, at least. It’s pretty straightforward. Here I am, I guess.

“Quirky” seems to be the word that pops in my head the most when it comes to your music.

What a compliment. Thank you so much. “Quirky” is fine with me.

Do you deny that you have a tendency to dress up in a ladybug costume?

Every so often. I’m working a frog suit. He’s hanging in the closet right now.

What aspects of your life do you find enter into your music?

I like hanging out a lot. I like going on little adventures. And I like singing in my car. And I like looking out the window. And I like watching cartoons. I like drawing. These are the kind of things that influence me. My friends influence me. They’re pretty interesting characters.

What kind of adventures stand out to you?

I used to walk through the forest a lot. I used to go with my friend Daniel, and we would play in the forest, and we would chase the dragonflies. And we’d come with stories in the forest. This is so interesting to talk about. So yeah, I’d go on those kind of adventures, and then there are adventures like getting lost in a city, attending random parties meeting random people, or, because I lived in Miami, congregating on the beach. Then there’s the Cuban coffee stroll in the morning. You grab your cup of Coolatta and see what happens. Sometimes it’s nice to walk around aimlessly with a guitar, too. That’s great.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about your music?

I think that people think I write happy songs. It’s really funny. I mean, because, if you listen to the lyrics and think about it, they’re not really happy songs. The music is real upbeat. It’s kind of like creating my own balance for my own nightmare.

How do you stay so upbeat? Who is it that you lean on for support?

I lean on my guitar. I’m kind of moved by that question. I really had no idea either, but that thing really keeps me going. I never really thought about that, ’cause I always feel okay going from town to town just with a guitar. I feel fine. I feel blessed.

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