Rachael Yamagata will perform at her first concert in Seoul on April 17 at M Theater at Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in Seoul.
By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
Her name might not quite ring a bell, but you might have already heard American singer Rachael Yamagata's soulful songs in movies like ``Elizabethtown" and ``Prime," and TV shows such as ``The O.C.," ``Grey's Anatomy," and ``The L Word." Fans of the Korean drama ``One Fine Day'' (2006) might even remember hearing one of her songs, ``I'll Find a Way."
Yamagata will hold her first concert in Seoul on April 17, as part of ``The Beautiful Singer-Songwriter Series at the Theater.''
``(Fans) can expect a dynamic set with a combination of ballads and pure anthemic rock songs. I'm bringing a cellist and the strings add so much! I'm so excited to be coming and will see all soon,'' she said, in an email interview with The Korea Times.
Yamagata and her twin brother Benji were born to a Japanese-American father and an Italian-German mother in 1977. As a child, she always sang and played the piano.
``I was constantly writing little improv songs. In high school I did a lot of music theater, and in college, while I was studying theater, I fell in love with a Chicago band and switched gears. All I knew was that I had to be up on stage with them and everything changed after that," she said.
She joined the funk-fusion band Bumpus as a vocalist. For six years, she wrote songs, recorded three albums and toured with the band.
In 2001, she decided to go solo and signed a record deal. It took a few years, but her first full-length album, ``Happenstance,'' was released in 2004 and received critical praise. Produced by John Alagia (who has worked with John Mayer and Dave Matthews), the album featured hit songs like ``Be Be Your Love," ``Worn Me Down" and ``1963."
While preparing for her second album, Yamagata spent nine months in seclusion in Woodstock, just concentrating on music, and writing some 160 songs.
``I loved doing it. I changed my schedule around completely. I'd chain smoke and drink wine and get up to write by candlelight at 4 in the morning. I'd work until about 11a.m. and go back to sleep for a bit. Work again and be in bed by 7:30 p.m., only to do it all over again. I was really influenced by nature and the seclusion. There was something about that quarantine (which) really let my imagination go," she said.
The result is a much darker album, ``Elephants… Teeth Sinking Into Heart," which is divided into two parts. ``The first is almost a film score ― very cinematic and lush with the vocals sounding like a secret. The songs are a bit poetic, with a lot of introspection and searching as themes. `Teeth' has more sass and edge to it, gritty pulp fiction/ surf guitar driven songs from a confident point of view of someone who's been run through the mill, but can stand through it and have a sense of humor on the other side. It feels like a more communal experience, while `Elephants' is a very solo one," she explained.
Considered one of the best singer-songwriters around today, 31-year-old Yamagata offered some advice for aspiring artists.
``Just make it your own…Whatever you are doing, use everything true and vulnerable and unique about you as YOU and it will shine. Lyrics ― don't settle for what's been done before. Twist the phrase a bit and find your own expression. As for the secret (to success)? I'd say, do what you love ― like everyone says, but it's true ― and everything else will fall into place," she said.
Even though her music has been featured in numerous TV shows and movies, Yamagata is still hoping ``Lost'' will use one of her songs.
``In fact, if they ever called and wanted me to wash up onshore and be an `other' ― I'd probably give up music,'' she joked.
Foreign and Korean artists will stage concerts at the M Theater, Sejong Center for the Performing Arts from April 16 to 26. Performers include Raul Midon, Lasse Lindh, Jang Ki-ha & Faces, Jung Jae-hyung, Zitten, Yozoh, Cho Kyu-chan, Kim Gwang-jin and Bulnabang Star Sausage Club.
Tickets for the concerts range from 44,000 to 77,000 won. Call 02-563-7110 or visit ticket.interpark.com. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
for English inquiries