Rachel Loy: Biography
You can hear it in her songs: Rachel Loy feels right at home with life’s contradictions. In fact, you might say she’s a bit of a contradiction herself.
Hard to pin down, and hard to forget, Rachel Loy has always had it both ways: she’s a sweet, petite blonde who sings heartrending ballads with an aching vulnerability, and she drives her electric bass like it’s a pack of pit bulls. She works incredibly hard, but she makes it look easy. She rode the fleeting fame train with a major-label, Billboard-charted hit single at the ripe old age of nineteen, and now, three years after making her mark, she’s ready to be discovered—again.
In the late nineties, Rachel Loy made a precocious debut at the age of thirteen, playing bass and singing with her sister for standing-room-only crowds at the renowned “Babes On Sixth” club in Austin. They held the Friday night slot for almost four years. “By the time I was eighteen I was already sick of the downtown party scene – just when all my high school friends were discovering it!” she says.
When she went off to college, Rachel did that her own way too: on a full-ride electric bass scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music, in Boston. While there, in 2003, she won national attention with her song “The Same Man,” which she wrote for a friend shipped off to the war in Iraq. Epic released the song, and in no time Rachel was performing on The Today Show and CNN. She graduated Berklee with honors.
It’s safe to say she was the only college student in the country who got to team up on songwriting with heavy-hitters Clif Magness (Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson), Steve Kipner (Christina Aguilara), Billy Mann (Pink, Ricky Martin), Victoria Shaw (Garth Brooks), Larry Seyer (Asleep at the Wheel), and Patrick Leonard (Madonna, Jewel).
Fruitful and fun as that was, Rachel says it seems like a long time ago. “I remember how badly I wanted to be Pop, and I wanted to be clever, and I wanted to hear my music on big radio with a big record deal,” Rachel says. “I also wanted to express myself. And I did. But now that’s the main thing. With the musical and personal changes I've gone through in the last few years, I have completely new things I want to say.”
In 2005, having somehow eluded the fickle attention of the major labels, Rachel moved back to Austin and released her first album, “Love the Mess,” a gorgeous set of original songs produced by Texacool producer/engineer Carl Thiel (Bob Schnieder) that quickly became the most popular album in its genre on Download.com.
Better still, in Austin, Rachel found kindred souls, she says, “a community of great songwriters with a free-spirited attitude towards making music—and making it in music.” She tapped right into the heart of that community: soon after hitting town, Rachel was accepted into the competitive Austin Music Foundation Incubator Program (www.austinmusicfoundation.org), an eighteen-month fellowship created by Nikki Rowling that provides three promising local musicians mentoring on both art and business, and financial assistance in recording and releasing an album.
“Tongue and Teeth” is the product of that Austin stew Rachel’s been simmering in. Full of anthems, grooves, and quiet poetry, the album occupies an exotic island of musical real estate somewhere in the neighborhood of Rickie Lee Jones, The Cardigans, and Shawn Colvin. It’s the product of her unique history and her unusually expansive musical experience. And it’s the product of some recent personal upheaval. After twenty-two years as a devout Christian, Rachel has lately struggled with her faith.
“In about three months I went from being a hard-core fundamentalist to a total atheist,” she confesses. “Now I dwell somewhere in the middle. But in the process, my family treated me like they treat all non-believers. So I lost the only two things I had ever really relied on: Jesus and my family. When I finally started writing songs again, I had a huge shipwreck inside of me that I was trying to clean up.”
What is a young woman of contradictions to do? Love the Mess.
“All I had was a collection of songs that I knew I loved. I loved them because they accurately expressed what I was going through when I wrote them,” Rachel says. “My band and I recorded the tracks practically live. I wanted to hear the musician’s fingers on the strings. I wanted to hear each one of their personalities in the parts.”
With hard-earned, heartfelt things to say, the honesty to say them, and the talent to make listeners feel every last corner of it, Rachel Loy is bound to be discovered—again and again—as the generous and gifted artist that she is.