Rachel Platten Interview

Live at Irving Plaza March 10 & 11thrachel platten (credit- harper smith)


In the course of one year, Rachel Platten has gone from relatively unknown singer-songwriter to musical role model–  to women, to young people, to musicians.

After making her rounds for years in Greenwich Village clubs, the Boston-area native (who calls New York home) catapulted to stardom with her empowering self-worth anthem “Fight Song.” The song has proved to be bigger than most songs can be, taking on a life that has inspired in commercials and most importantly reaching fighters around the world battling their own problems and illness. Rachel has already proved her longevity as an artist with new song “Stand By You,” another uplifting anthem exposing both her vulnerability and strength at the same time.

New York City Monthly spoke with Rachel Platten recently about her “squad” status playing alongside Taylor Swift, how “Fight Song” connected with so many and why New York City was the best place for her to grow as a musician…

New York City Monthly: You lived in the Village for years, playing in a Prince and Sly and the Family Stone cover band called Dayz of Wild before doing solo shows around NYC and then touring the country. What were the days like playing some of those critical, fan-building NYC hole-in-the-wall clubs?

Rachel Platten: They were a blast, NYC (and the Village in particular) were kind of like my music education. I learned so much from being in that scene and playing those small clubs from 1:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. Our motto was that the party was always on stage. If anyone else in the bar wanted to join, hell yeah, but our love of playing was never diminished by the crowd’s energy or lack of.

NYCM: Did you enjoy living in New York and if so, what do you miss the most?

RP: I absolutely loved living in NYC – I lived in the Village on Macdougal Street for six years and then down in Battery Park for the past three years. I’m now out in Santa Monica near the beach and though it’s amazing, nowhere on earth has the energy that New York City does. But, I’m back so frequently and touring so much that it doesn’t feel that different – I still see those lights and feel like I belong to something bigger than me.

NYCM: “Fight Song” was one of the most widely heard pop songs of 2015, in a Ford commercial, heard on American Idol, in a “Rise Above Cancer” Susan B. Komen commercial airing on WWE (yes, World Wrestling Entertainment) and in various TV shows. Did you ever think this song would resonate with so many, not just as a personal anthem but reaching sports, personal achievement and even those battling disease?

RP: No, not in my wildest dreams. It’s crazy and beautiful to me that a song I wrote to help me continue to believe in myself has resonated and done the same for so many other people. I’m blown away and very grateful.

NYCM: You surprised concerts-goers at Taylor Swift’s show last year in Philadelphia, you have now collaborated with the very talented Andy Grammer (“Hey Hey Hallelujah,”) took the stage during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and now you have your album Wildfire out for the world to hear. What will fans gather from your live show when you play two nights at Irving Plaza?

RP: Well, I just found out that both nights at Irving Plaza are sold out – What?! I used to walk by that venue on the way to the subway when I lived nearby and envision my name on that marquee and think to myself – when I finally play there, I’ll know I’ve made it. After years of opening it’s gonna be great to have time with the audience to craft the night and take them on a ride. I will have a full band, enough time to play a bunch of songs from Wildfire, some old songs, covers, lights, some surprise guests even! Every crowd brings out emotion for me, and things change every night based on that energy; so with this being my hometown, the shows will be pretty special.

NYCM: “Fight Song” and “Stand By You” and really all of your music is inspiring, introspective and empowering. Your song “Beating Me Up” is yet another song that makes your music and aura seem relatable, like the girl-next-door, or shall we say down the block. What are some of your favorite things to do in NYC when you are relaxing, catching up with friends, checking out live music or getting some eats?

RP: Aw, thank you! Yes, you pretty much nailed it – I love going to the small venues I used to play at, like Rockwood [Music Hall], The Red Lion, The Bitter End, Prohibition and seeing live music with my friends. I also love going out to eat in NYC. My favorite spots are in the Village: Joseph Leonard, L’Artusi, The Grey Dog. I also just love strolling aimlessly and walking for hours with no plan at all. Just drinking in the sounds and sights and vibe.

(Photo Credit: Harper Smith)