3 quick questions . . .
with Rachel Alena
Rachel Alena is the lead singer/keyboardist for Rachel & The Ruckus. The band is prepping for the upcoming release of a new single “Bounce”, off their titular debut disc Rachel & The Ruckus. This is a follow up to their premiere single titled “Romeo”. The CD itself is a six-song EP featuring Rachel Alena (vocals and keyboards), Darcie Bessel (backing vocals), Alec Sims (guitar), Kyle Comerford (drums and percussion), Vincent Carmellini (bass and organ), Andrew Vogt (tenor sax) and Max Reed (alto sax).
Here are the three questions asked of Alena:
1. Do you remember your first paid gig and what was it like when you first decided you wanted to be a professional musician?
Alena: My first paying gig was a session singing job when I was 14 years old. I sang on a children’s fantasy album called Toad, playing the part of the female lead, Penelope. At the time, I was also performing the lead role in our high school’s musical of ‘Carousel’ and my voice teacher recommended me for the job.
I knew that I wanted to be a professional musician ever since I was a very young child; in fact, I have no memory of wanting to do anything else as a kid. An example of my calling towards it was when I was 12 years old; I walked to the little brown church next door to my dad’s condo in Los Angeles where there was a group of women singers. I’d heard them doing barbershop and asked them if I could join. I became the youngest member ever (at the time) of the Los Angeles chapter of Sweet Adelines and I traveled with them singing harmonies.
You know, I grew up hearing my dad on the radio. I’d hear him playing when we were in the grocery store or at the mall or wherever. He played guitar, before I was born, with classic Phil Spector produced bands such as the Ronettes and the Crystals on popular songs like ‘Da Do Run Run’, ‘Be My Baby’ and on the Christmas album. I was always inspired to someday hear myself on the radio.
2. What’s it like being an attractive woman in the music industry? Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
Alena: Well…that’s an interesting question and very nice thing for you say! Of course, it’s always about the music for me first and foremost. Am I writing good material?
Does the band move people? Does it make them feel something just a little deeper or, maybe stir an emotion within them? Have we helped them to laugh a little more?
It’s a curious thing, the way things go based on your gender and how you look. I’ll tell you a story. This happened to me when I first went on the road to Kodiak, Alaska. At the time, I was a struggling session singer in Los Angeles, just barely surviving. I was flat broke, had a warrant out for my arrest and was being evicted from the place I was living.
I literally had nothing but an ancient piano, some clothes, my bed and my cat, Simon. I got a phone call inviting me to go on the road, leaving in three days, to this tiny island off the Aleutian Chain, where I would make enough money to pay my warrant off and get back on my feet. So, I put my stuff in storage, left Simon with a friend and went.
I took two flights to get there, traveling through the night and with a long lay over at the airport in Anchorage. I was wearing sweats and my glasses, so I could be comfortable for the long travel. When I arrived, the first thing I was told is that I was never to look like that again.
I was expected to be made up at all times when I was in public and to dress sexier. I was then asked if I’d be willing to take off my shirt during the shows because the crowd would like it.
Now, remember, I was far, far away from home and very young (I’d just turned 21 a few weeks prior). I knew nobody. I had no money and now, I’m on this freezing remote island in the middle of winter where these people are my life-line.
I told them I would look my best whenever I was in public. I also told them that I’d happily take the next flight home if they ever asked me to take my shirt off again. They never did.
So, I say this, to any young girl who might be reading this interview. No matter what your goals and dreams are, yes, it feels great to look good, so go for it! Be beautiful inside and out! But, don’t ever do anything where the price of admission is higher than you can afford to lose.
3. What’s next?
Alena: Well, I’m just finishing a job narrating Cinderella for a Disney storybook toy and am about to start on another voice job for a company called Night Ize, out of Boulder, Colorado. Doing voice over work has been very good to me and I’m looking forward to continuing on that path.
I’m also super excited about Rachel and the Ruckus’ upcoming release of our new single ‘Bounce.’ It’s a song about the power of being positive in the face of adversity and negativity. It’s about how people are prone to saying one thing to your face, but then secretly want to see you fail (or at least trip and stumble in your process). It reminds us that in the end we all need to ignore the naysayers, focus on the good-give love and be positive to stay resilient in this world.
Also, the band has a nice schedule of live shows coming up in the next month or so, including headlining at the Colorado State Fair in September. We love interacting with fans, so we’re looking forward to more good times ahead!
So there you have it, boys and girls, 3 quick answers from Rachel Alena. Hopefully, you found these 3 quick questions entertaining and interesting.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.