In 2012, she became diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis and underwent chemotherapy in order to combat its effects. Simultaneously, her band He Is We began touring and writing a record with their new singer, so Rachel did what she does best!
Rachel started feverishly writing songs in between her treatments and took to YouTube to communicate the truth to her fans. That music captured her fire in the moment, and she burned brighter than ever in the face of all this adversity. At that point, the singer and songwriter reached out directly to the label, sending the new tunes and her story.
"I told them, 'Whether or not anyone likes it, I'm making music. I'll do it with or without support, but I wanted you to know my story'," she recalls. "They sent me an email with a ticket confirmation to meet and, a week later, I started working on my solo EP. Music is the reason I survived. It's the reason I continue to do what I do."
It's the best reason as well.
Rachel's 2014 debut EP, Come Alive, for Republic Records echoes the "darker side of pop", as she likes to call it, siphoning strangely melodic hooks through a haze of intense production. She's equally likely to name check influences as wide-ranging as A Perfect Circle, Alanis Morissette, and Imagine Dragons, but this is a decidedly personal affair for her.
"It's reality," she affirms. "It's the part of ourselves we hide from. I gave no shits for this one. I can talk about personal things that might make some people uncomfortable, but it will help someone out there. I know that. These lyrics and melodies come straight from my heart. This is my vision. This is my diary. This is my autobiography of what I've been through."
She doesn't pull any punches either. A sexual assault survivor, she confronts that harrowing experience on "Silence Looks Good On You". In the aftermath of her own trials and tribulations, she communicates with fans who have also survived on Twitter and even plays benefits for other survivors.
"I never call them victims," she says. "I call them survivors. If you're not a survivor, you're dead. 'Silence Looks Good On You' was very difficult and therapeutic. It's about facing anything you feel controls you that you're scared of."
Then, there's the first single "Come Alive". It builds from a synth swell into a heavenly and hypnotic refrain, showcasing her dynamic voice. "I was fresh out of a very hard marriage," Rachel goes on. "The song is that idea of finding someone who could potentially understand even the crazy parts of me. It's that little bit of hope deep down that someone will get it. It doesn't matter how weird you are or how creepy you think your past might be, you'll find that person. The fans are my silver lining and truly made me come alive when others abandoned me."
Rachel's built quite an impressive legacy already. He Is We toured tirelessly and moved 60,000 records in the U.S., building a diehard audience in the process. Those same fans have stuck with her, and Come Alive and impending album speak directly to them loud and clear.
"I want them to walk away with peace," she concludes. "I want them to know they're not alone. I want them to know, even when they feel silence, somebody is giving them a voice. I can't wait to see them on the road too. They've been more loyal to me than anyone in this world except my dad."