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Q&A with rakey

rakey is a Nashville-based alternative indie artist known for her ethereal production and introspective lyrics about everyday life, the existential, and mental health. Rooted in singer-songwriter, her eclectic catalog also features indie-pop, folk, synth wave, and rock tracks. She is currently wrapping up production of her debut album which she plans to release in 2024.


You’d previously been releasing music under your full name, Rachel Honza. What made you decide to switch to using “rakey”?

I had a nickname given to me about a decade ago by a friend of mine’s little sister. And it was a total joke. For whatever reason it just ended up sticking with her and then sticking with a couple other friends. And before long, it was like my name on social media and the way many people knew me. It came from a part of my life that I once protected as being kind of inner-circle, casual, and intimate. So the switch to using “rakey” was an intentional one. It sort of symbolizes the way I have changed a bit of my mindset, sound, and what I write about to bring people in even more than I did before. And not out of obligation, but hopefully out of a space of generosity. I don’t really have as much to protect anymore as I do to share.

This was your first release after a two year hiatus. Why did you stop making music and what made you return to it?

You know, I guess I never stopped writing music. Doing that is a part of the way I process life. So in the private, personal sense, I didn’t stop making music. It just stopped being produced and released in a regimented way. Since music is primarily an expressive outlet for me rather than a full-time effort, I selfishly wanted to wait to release things until I had a group of songs that I felt were really meaningful. And now after two years of writing and collaborating on demos with my producer and partner Benja, I feel that the songs we’re bringing to life have so much more heart in them because of the time and care put in over that break. It feels like it was an important exercise in patience and trusting my intuition and the timing of it all.

What was the inspiration behind “The Ghosts I Know”?

This song, for me, came like many songs do – out of a moment of just emotional frustration. The first verse sounds kind of corny, but it’s just because it’s the truth of what I was experiencing. I had literally driven to this downtown area and I had pictured that I was gonna have this afternoon of self-care and journaling about all these new growth areas in my life that I had worked so hard to develop and cultivate. And as I started journaling, that’s just not how I felt at all. I felt constantly like I was just bumping into these reminders of the past. And it’s like, everyone is prepared for the late night reminiscing on things that went wrong after a fresh, horrible situation. You’re prepared for these late-night vulnerable, candle-lit memories flashing back. And what you’re less prepared for (or at least what I was less prepared for) is running into these ghosts mid-day when you least expect them. When you feel like you should be at your strongest. So yeah, I was just experiencing running into these little ghosts everywhere and feeling the irony of it being something that doesn’t happen at 3am during a witching hour, but sort of in broad daylight when you’re feeling great. I kept thinking this kind of cartoon-like thought of, “What do I do with this? What if I could switch places with you, ghosts? What if I could haunt someone? I mean, that might be fun. Then I could stop being on the receiving end of all of this.”


How do you feel your songs have changed since you started making music?

I guess I have to reveal that I started making music when I was sixteen. Back then, I was doing country/pop. Shortly after that, I got into writing and playing out more folk/alternative/americana songs, although I wasn’t releasing music at that time. And then I had a long hiatus. In 2020, I was making indie pop. It was way more synth and electric guitar-driven, upbeat, and had lots of ear candy. And now, here I am doing this sort of singer-songwriter/folk/alternative indie pop thing. So in many ways, everything has changed multiple times. But the thing is, I feel that the core of my writing has stayed the same from early on. The core process of me starting with a feeling and wanting to expand and narrow this feeling to some singular, compelling idea or theme has remained what motivates me.

What is your writing process like now?

I have always had a fringe experience when it comes to music. I haven’t really had a lot of close song-writer friends to talk to about the experience or process of writing songs. For me, it’s very much something that might happen anywhere or anytime. At a restaurant or while I’m falling asleep. There are times when I’ll be having a conversation with Benja and I’ll rudely pull out my phone and be like “hang on” for 5-10 minutes while I have to expand on this idea that I just heard in my mind. It’s very ‘notes app.’ I truly have so much respect for people who make a dedicated effort to write every day. But since music is primarily a personal expression for me, I think I tend to feel much more connected to the things that come up spontaneously. But at the same time, there’s always space to let go of old narratives and I try to challenge myself not to romanticize spontaneity.

Do you have a favorite song you’ve written?

Definitely. It’s the title track on the album, (which hasn’t been formally announced yet.) It started with an idea that hit me very very hard. And it felt like when it was done, it was something that helped me understand a feeling I didn’t know I even needed help understanding.

Your debut album is slated to be released in 2024. Can you give us some insight on what to expect from it?

I think people can expect a listening journey that’s kind of dynamic. Lyrically, the songs are threaded together by common themes of honesty, anger, strength, and courage. And in many ways, they’re pretty different from each other.

Who, or what, has most influenced your music and artistic style?


Gosh, there are so many people I have been influenced by in different seasons. The Paper Kites have been a band that I have looked up to for a long time for their longevity and how much they know themselves. I get the sense that it’s all about the music for them, and that’s a way of approaching music that I want to continue to lean into. Taylor Swift is an obvious influence for her attention to detail and excellence. Like her writing a secret love triangle into the Folklore album is the type of creativity I find so much fun in. And of course Phoebe Bridgers is an influence for the way she crafts and executes a feeling in a song. And over the past several years, Ed Tullet’s various projects have blown me away and influenced what Benja and I make.

In the end, there is no escaping your influences. But I made a choice to have fewer reference tracks throughout the production process with Benja as an intentional way of trying to create something that feels authentic.

What are you listening to currently?

Okay, I’m pulling up my ‘on repeat’ playlist on spotify, so this is an honest answer. “Tenenbaum” by the Paper Kites (which is on repeat year-round), “Decimal” by Novo Amor, “Saint Hank & Junie B.” by Timothy Edward Carpenter, and “Black Hole” by Boygenius.

Listen to rakey's single "The Ghosts I Know" now.


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