Rachel Chinouriri’s ‘Better Off Without’ is exactly what the world needs right now: a beautiful blend of sombre, electronic-infused instrumentals, stunning vocals and poignant lyrics. The four-song EP debuts a refreshed Indie-Pop sound for the Croydon singer-songwriter.
I spoke to Rachel on the day of her concert at Hyde Park Book Club about the EP, her life right now and everything that’s coming her way.
So, Rachel, new EP, ‘Better off Without’, how are you feeling about it?
I’m feeling very excited, it’s obviously just come out like just 2, 3 days ago? And the reaction has been incredible, so yeah, I’m just loving it.
What was your songwriting process for this? Did you have a big bank of songs and you just picked in and out what you wanted?
I’ve kind of had a big bank of songs, but in the last like 8 months I was going through a breakup, and in the loop of all of the big bank of songs, I was making the odd one or two heartbreak songs, and I think these four definitely just naturally gravitated towards each other. Now the whole EP’s literally about my entire breakup from beginning to end, so I think it kind of just naturally came together.
What’s your opinion on how social media, specifically TikTok, is affecting the music industry these days?
I think it’s kind of a blessing and a curse. As long as you use it in the right way it feels okay. At one point I was thinking that in this day and age you can’t get a career unless you blow up on TikTok, but if you find a way to use the app in a really healthy way, it can actually benefit you a lot more. We’ve all seen people like PinkPantheress, she got on it, she got on TikTok early. It’s unlikely that that will happen again with another artist, but the app has very clearly got a great success rate of discovering new music. So as long as you get your music on the app and use it in a really healthy way, I think it’s great, but it does give the pressure of, if your stuff doesn’t blow up, you feel like you want to take it down and I’ve learnt over time that is not the case. It’s given people so much access to doing whatever music they like; there’s no formula of what songs should sound like.
It’s not common for black artists like yourself to use a pseudonym. What’s your opinion on pseudonyms and names and how they play a role in representation in music?
That’s something which I didn’t notice as well, cause when I first started, they were like ‘oh what do you want to call yourself’, and I was like ‘er, Rachel Chinouriri, like what else am I meant to be called?’ I don’t feel like it’s fair that I have to then compromise that to be understood as an indie artist. There’s plenty of people from the places I’m from who listen to that kind of music. And yeah, I feel like I’m proud to keep my name, and I hope that my name, me keeping my name and getting into the indie world will have some sort of effect on how people look at artists and their names and the heritage and where they assume music can come from.
So, you went to the BRIT school for musical theatre, didn’t you? What were your original career plans before musical theatre and music in general?
Yes, I did. Erm, criminal psychologist.
Bit different, isn’t it?
Yeah, it’s quite different! But if you ask anyone, I’m always watching crime documentaries, investigation documentaries. I feel like I would have loved to have been a detective. I think that could have also been my destiny, and it’s probably telling in how many documentaries I’ve watched. But yeah, I just like the idea of figuring out how people’s minds work.
You can listen to the full interview here