Artist Spotlight: Rachel Rufrano
Photo by Will Bater
- Who are you and Where are you from?
I’m Rachel Rufrano (she/her) from Long Beach and Westminster (divorced parents, that’s how it goes). I write songs. Anything else I would say to describe myself would be hypercritical in a not-endearing-way so I’ll save myself the panic attack and go to the next question.
- How did you get involved in the Long Beach Music Scene?
I came in cold. I couldn’t think of anything more horrifying than going out alone to be around strangers, but I started by going to shows by myself. Kendall Brinkley (of the now defunct Lazy Mary) was the first person to come up and talk to me and she played a big part in giving me the confidence to start playing music live.
- What are some of the bands you’ve played In the past? And of course, what’s your current band?
I’ve mostly only played my own music—Rufrano. For a brief period of time I played guitar with The Nectarines and I’ve been lucky to sing back-up for friends like Dustin Lovelis.
- What is the writing process like? How do you flush out your ideas?
My process is mostly just picking up the guitar and playing around. I try to get into a flow state and from there I just try to entertain myself. Most days are unproductive, but if you keep going you can break through into something that sounds good. Some songs come very quickly and others take years.
- Do you self record / self produce? Have you collaborated with any songwriters, engineers or producers that you’d like to mention? If so, what was that experience like?
I have self-recorded, but not very well. I’m pretty terrible at collaborating because I like to write alone to be free to play with all my worst creative ideas. When I record I always turn to J.P. Bendzinski and/or Dylan Wood. I owe a lot to them and their skills. The studio can be a really intimidating space for young women and both JP and Dylan gave me a lot of confidence and freedom when I was new to recording to create without judgment, pretentiousness, or condescension.
- You put out “Soft Nature” just a few months into the pandemic. What was it like sitting on a record and trying to decide whether to put it out when everything was so touch and go?
I don’t know if there’s a right time to put anything out, so it seemed as good a time as any. It was already 5+ years old so if I waited any longer I might have never put it out. Like everyone else, I start hating my songs after a certain amount of time. It ended up being the right time to release it because my dad got to hear it before he passed and I got a really great compliment from him. He was notoriously not easy to impress! I will always be grateful that I had that moment with him.
Photo by Will Bater
- Most dreaded question every band has to answer, how would you describe your sound?
I think it’s like rock, folk, singer-songwriter? I just really enjoy the basics of a pop song structure and admire all the obvious songwriters like The Beatles, Elvis Costello, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, etc.
- Who has influenced your songwriting the most? - what song are you most proud of and Why?
My dad was a real music nerd and he showed me so much music when I was young. That had a big impact on me. It was like growing up in a record store—just a wall of CDs to listen to and he was always playing music (loudly) in the house. Rock, country, folk, pop, world, classical, everything. I’m usually most proud of the last song I wrote.
I used to play with a Princeton amp, but had to sell it when I was broke. Now all I want is to buy another one. I want anything that sounds like Joni Mitchell’s Hejira. I’m really into cheesy adult contemporary rock sounds right now—like aging rockstars were using in the late 80s and early 90s. Really gooey bass tones and glittery guitars. Like Lindsey Buckingham’s solo stuff. I change my mind so often though, so I never know what gear to commit to.
- Do you have any long term goals for your music?
I’m about to release a bedroom recording EP that I wrote during lockdown called White Herons. Its all pretty sad girl stuff and me working through grief and the dissolution of a long relationship. I think it’s my best work so far, though. I joined a really amazing songwriting workshop during lockdown hosted by Lizzy from Cardioid and it was such a beautiful group of people. Lizzy is now starting her own label, Doe Records, and I’m going to be releasing that EP there. I’m super excited to be working with her and it will be my first time releasing anything through a label so it’ll be nice to have someone like her to help me navigate that. That album should be coming out this summer (2022).
My goal is always to become a better songwriter. The older I get the less ambitious I am to be successful in a monetary way and lockdown taught me that what I really care about is making good music and improving as a songwriter.
- What do you feel is most unique or special about the long beach music scene?
I’ve always thought the beach was such a good metaphor for the city. It’s all locked in and there’s no waves and you can’t even swim in it. There’s only potential for it to be a real beach. It sounds like an insult, but it’s what I really like about it. I’ve seen so many mind-blowing shows in this city and there are so many talented musicians and creatives, but the scene remains very small and for the most part very kind and supportive. The scene itself always feels like a secret and makes it feel special, like it belongs to us. It’s a good safe space to test out new material before taking it to LA or on tour.
- Do you want to Shout out to anyone special In the community?
- any advice you want to give younger musicians getting started in the music scene?
I don’t feel wise enough to give good advice. The younger musicians, especially women, are so much smarter than I ever was. I should be asking them for advice! Don’t change your music to please others. Have confidence in your vision. Practice and listen to a lot of different music. Check the toilet seat for pee before you sit down.
- album: Budget Alchemy - The Lentils
- local band: Very Crush
- local restaurant: Shady Grove
- local bar: Vine
- spot to play: Vine