Published: 17/09/2012 17:00 - Updated: 17/09/2012 15:11

Rachel makes album debut

Rachel Sermanni releases debut album 'Under Mountains' this week.
Rachel Sermanni releases debut album 'Under Mountains' this week.

WHILE her every growing legion of fans wait excitedly for the release of Rachel Sermanni’s debut album "Under Mountains", the young Carrbridge singer-songwriter is focusing on other matters.

"It is very exciting, but feedback is already trickling in from people who already have the album, so I feel in some respects that it’s out there already," she said.

"I have to wait and see how it goes publicly, but I suppose my focus now is on the tour side of things, which is something that I can actually contribute to whereas the album is fully fledged and there is nothing else we can do to push it.

"I’m really, really happy with it. I’m very satisfied and very proud of everything and everyone that has come together to make it because it is a very large project."

The album was recorded early this year at Nick Turner and Mary Anne Kennedy’s Watercolour Studios in Ardgour, so was this a deliberate decision by the young Highland artiste to make her album on home turf?

"It was a definite choice to make it in a place that didn’t feel like a studio so much, but just a really nice environment," she said.

"I couldn’t have asked for better from the people involved. It was almost like we were a big family living in the same place for a wee while and did what we set out to do, Even when we weren’t recording we were still playing music."

The recording did not go entirely to plan, however. Sermanni and piano player Jen Austin went into the studio a day after their return from playing a series of dates in India. The strain of the trip told in her voice when she and producer Ian Grimble (Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Manic Street Preachers) listened back to the recordings.

"Fun as it was to record, it could be heard in my performance that I was quite tired," she said.

"That was the hardest part. We didn’t do all the vocals again, but we did have to re-record some of them."

Though only 20, Sermanni had plenty of material to pick from for her debut album.

"We recorded in some form every song I’m willing to release," she revealed.

"I had quite a few acoustic songs, but the only one we put on the album was ‘Marshmallow Unicorn’. The others didn’t fit the mood of the album, but it’s really interesting that once we put all the songs together we had this amazing feeling that they just flowed together.

"There was another song we had, ‘The Circus Song’, which is just bonkers and fun. I’d love to get that out to people in some way."

With songs drawn from across her writing career, putting the album together might have also offered Sermanni a chance to consider how her writing has changed over the past few years.

"I kind of do see a progression in how I write the songs," she said.

"I’m probably more self-conscious and musically aware nowadays and that’s probably because I’m spending so much time with other musicians.

"The younger songs are probably more fearless, content-wise. A song like ‘Black Currents’ probably has darker thoughts and more anxiety than some of the older songs, but the older songs are still a joy to play live, even if they might have changed in the way that I perform them."

The summer has given Sermanni plenty of opportunity to play those songs live with lots of festival appearances, among them

"It’s been really fun this summer. It’s gone really fast and there have been so many beautiful gigs," she said.

"Lots of festivals at the weekend, but that’s been nice because it means I’ve been able to have a few days at home in between and get myself ready for the tour.

"I went to Norway with the band and that was a really lovely experience and the people great fun. I won’t forget that. There were also a whole lot of tiny festivals down south. That was one of the fun things about this summer, exploring tiny corners of Britain — mainly England because I haven’t been down there so much. There was one particular festival in England, the Larmer Tree Festival in Wiltshire, that I really enjoyed. It’s been going for more than a decade, but it’s not lost its intimacy or it’s creativity. We were three feet deep in mud, but that didn’t matter."

Sermanni’s solo tour begins today and runs until 15th October when it finishes in Edinburgh, though she will fit in a return to the Highlands for an in-store performance at HMV’s Inverness branch next Saturday before heading on to Ullapool for the Loopallu Festival.

"That’ll be nice because there isn’t an Inverness gig on this tour," she said.

"I love playing in Inverness, but it is a wee bit strange. I think I get a bit more nervous for these shows closer to home where people know me already as a person and don’t know me so much as a singer."

The Speyside singer’s home territory album launch will take place on Saturday 13th October in what is probably Britain’s highest venue, the Ptarmigan Restaurant on Cairngorm, where she will be joined by some of band and have support from a Gaelic choir.

First though, comes that tour.

"We have been deciding how to make people more comfortable," Sermanni said.

"Maybe taking rugs along for the smaller venues or take along some nice lighting for the places that are more garish. I want to have as good a tour as possible."

• Rachel Sermanni’s debut album, "Under Mountains", is released on Monday by Middle of Nowhere Records.

Sermanni will be performing in-store at the Eastgate branch of HMV on Saturday 22nd September at 1pm. This will be the last chance to see Sermanni live in Inverness this year.

"Under Mountains" gets its Speyside launch on Saturday 13th October at the Cairngorm Ptarmigan Restaurant near Aviemore. Tickets, priced £15, include return funicular journey. The first train departs at 7pm, last train departs at 8pm from Cairngorm Ski Area. Return trains depart between 10pm and 11pm.

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