HER LIFE IS HER ART
Photos Kristen Gallegos | Words Tamara Rappa
Born in New York City and raised in North Carolina, LA based singer/songwriter Rainsford also co-produces all of her material. Her music is a sultry hybrid of pop and soul, with lyrics that linger long after the songs ends. Her attitude is daring, and her style is too. Her given name is Rainy Qualley, a moniker as wonderfully moody as her music. Rainsford is an authentic; "one to watch", as they say. Not because she's at the start of a successful career, or because she grew up surrounded by stars and star quality, but because at the age of 29 she's got so much depth---and even more to say. The stunning beauty with piercing blue eyes has already appeared in multiple fashion spreads and her Spotify listens total almost 4 million. We talked to her about the intimate qualities in her work, how style and comfort go hand in hand, and got deep about death.
What are you working on right now? I'm working on finishing up my first album. I'm usually really selective about the producers I work with. Everything I've put out so far, I've made with my best friend. For the past four months I've been in really intense writing mode and I've been working with a new producer, Cameron Hill. One day I was collaborating with him and two others and we wrote a song that was cool. But then one of the guys left to get something to eat, and Cameron and I wrote a song while he was gone. From that day on, we were in the studio all the time. We've written about 30 songs. We have a good "problem". We were in the studio yesterday and were meant to just rehearse, but we ended up writing two new songs.
How do you get your best ideas? All of my songs are deeply personal. I pretty much write about whatever I'm going through in my life. A lot of them are relationship based, whether I'm falling in love or breaking up.
Does that make you feel vulnerable? Yes, especially when my songs come out. I have lyrics that are so specific that the person listening to the song will obviously know it's about them. I find the more specific you are in your lyrics, the more people can connect to them. You can't be too vague. The more genuinely honest I am, the more people can connect.
Have you always been drawn to music and writing and seeing the world through song? I started dancing when I was two and that was my primary focus, and I still love to dance. But I think that has influenced me as a singer, because I was constantly listening to music and interpreting music with my body. I studied piano and violin. I always loved to sing, and I always knew I wanted to be a singer. I always felt that it was the thing that I was best at. But I didn't focus on it in high school as much. I always sang, but I was shy about it.
What do you do when you are stuck? I'm always taking notes for lyrics ideas on my phone, there are melody ideas I'll record. I have this stockpile of ideas. And then of course there are times, especially if I'm working with a producer I haven't worked with before and I don't have a comfortable relationship with them, where I just feel like I'm grinding out a song. I'm halfway through the session knowing that I'm never going to use it.
What is your "uniform"? Lazy! And cyclical. I'll go through phases where I wear the same thing every day for a couple of months, and I'll move onto another thing that I'll wear for a couple of months. My recent phase consists of wifebeaters. I've been wearing them every day, for weeks. I draw on some of them, like this one I'm wearing. I bought it at Target. People will comment and say "I've been looking for a tank top like that!" And I'm thinking, "it's Fruit Of The Loom!" I'm too lazy to change my jewelry every day. I keep these earrings in all the time, but I'll switch up the necklaces. This one I love, I just had a birthday and my friend Chelsea gave this to me. A few months ago, I was pretty much only wearing vintage slips. I think everybody has things that make them feel better about themselves. So I'll find a thing that I feel comfortable in, and decide "I'm going to wear this every day!"
Are you afraid of anything? Dying! (laughs)
What is your most amazing recent discovery? Actually, on the subject of death...for as long as I can remember I've been an atheist. Ever since I was 9 years old I was like "wait, this doesn't make sense". But then one of my friends told me to read this book, Many Lives, Many Masters, which is all about reincarnation. I feel like I really connected with it and the way that it lays things out. It's the true story of this psychiatrist and his sessions with this woman. Usually, he uses hypnosis to regress patients back to their younger selves, but the women started regressing to all her past lives. He's written several books since that explore the past life experiences of other people. When I was reading Many Lives, it was the first time I found myself not so cripplingly scared of dying. It changed my mind and made me open to the idea that maybe when you're dead you're not just getting eaten by maggots! I always had a black and white perspective on death until I read this book. The book made me feel happier.