Sassy country-rock sweetheart Rachele Lynae talks about her latest single, “Guy in the Sky,” and its new music video.
In a market like country music, what makes an artist stand out? For Rachele Lynae, the answer is simple: Write what’s true to you.
And then sing your heart out.
What’s true to Lynae is equal parts grit and grace. And she’s got the pipes to back up anything she might care to write.
With several powerhouse singles and her 2014 self-titled debut album to her credit, Lynae has already opened for big-time artists like Keith Urban, Kelsea Ballerini, and The Band Perry.
“Rachele’s voice was made to sing country music,” declared Country Music Matters. “Whether she is singing a ballad or a boot stomper, her vocals effortlessly rise to the occasion.”
On the rowdy gutsy-like-Carrie Underwood side, Lynae’s made a mark with dynamic songs like “Party ’Til the Cows Come Home,” “Fishin’ for Something,” and “Quicksand.” On the gentler side, her new single, “Guy in the Sky,” puts her personal faith and passionate songwriting at the forefront.
Written in response to the spate of recent natural disasters — especially the fires plaguing the West Coast — “Guy in the Sky” delivers a message about prayer and faith that is both rousing and gentle. Acoustic pickings, whimsical harmonizing, and Lynae’s crisp, emotional vocals provide an intimate setting befitting the emotional needs of a song.
The song’s personal for her beyond her spiritual beliefs. Raised in the wilds of Kodiak, Alaska, Lynae has extended family in California and wanted to help raise money for wildfire disaster relief.
Recently, Lynae released an inspiring video for “Guy in the Sky.” The visuals shift between portraying individuals and their personal connection to God and Lynae performing on a rooftop. It’s moving and uplifting — and more proof of just how gifted — and earnest — an artist she is.
We talked with Lynae about “Guy in the Sky,” her songwriting, and what’s next.
Cowboys & Indians: You have a new single out, “Guy in the Sky,” inspired by the natural disasters and, particularly, the fires in California. …
Rachele Lynae: Last year around this time, there were just so many wildfires going on and some fairly close to where I have a lot of extended family. And I just wanted to do something to try to raise funds. And I have this song that I had written with Patricia Conroy and Danick Dupelle, and it’s just a special song. We knew it when we wrote it … it’s a song that is about all of the crazy things that go on and how we’re all just asking God for help and in the midst of all of our craziness and in the midst of all of our requests how God is still faithful. How we’re not alone when we’re going through these things, hence “Guy in the Sky.” … When we first recorded it, we were thinking, This is just going to be a nice song to put out as we encourage people to give toward fire victims. We did that over the holiday season and it was cool. You always wish you could do more, but as we put the song out there, we started realizing that people really loved the song. I really love the song. It’s very special to me. So more recently we decided to actually put it out as its own thing, in addition to the way that we had put it out before. It was really an interesting connection with that.
C&I: What do you hope your fans will take from the song?
Lynae: I hope that it’ll make people think. That’s what it does for me. It kind of makes me just remember to try not to treat God as a vending machine. I also hope that it will help people realize that they’re not alone and that in the middle of absolutely all the craziness, they can always pray and God’s there for them.
C&I: You mentioned you co-wrote the song alongside Patricia Conroy and Danick Dupelle. What was that process like? Did you guys start with the lyrics or music first?
Lynae: We started with the title first. Patricia had actually been sitting on that title for a while and she had mentioned it to us before, but we just hadn’t been in the headspace to write it yet. So we had written another song before. Typically in a songwriting appointment, you kind of go around the room with ideas, … [but “Guy in the Sky”] was a song idea that she threw out and it made us think and we got excited about it. … Danick started playing something on the guitar and Patricia and I started working on what we say about the guy in the sky. It honestly made us all think. It was like this world-problem-solving/therapy session.
C&I: You just released a music video for the track. What was it like to take those words and bring a visual representation to it?
Lynae: I think we’re at a really visual time right now. I mean, when I hear a song, I’m always excited to see the video, whether it’s a lyric video, full-out video, or a creative live video. So it’s always cool to add that visual element to it. It was really exciting to get that done.
C&I: You were on a rooftop. …
Lynae: Oh, that was definitely Nashville. We filmed it on the top of an apartment building in Nashville.
C&I: What inspired the rooftop scene?
Lynae: I think, honestly, when I picture what kind of visuals go with this, the song is wistful and, as we’ve talked about, it’s very thought-provoking. I think a lot of us, when we think about reaching out to God and praying, we think of Him as being higher and being someone who does see all of this going on. We just felt like that visual of being up there, on the skyline, looking out at the open sky was a really good place to reflect on what the song is talking about.
C&I: Any fun memories from during the filming?
Lynae: It was one of the more simple videos that I’ve filmed. I think, for me, one of the fun things about it was, for the video I actually learned [the guitar chords]. On the recording, Danick is playing that acoustic guitar part that is so prevalent in the track, but for the video, I learned how to play that acoustic part, and it kind of spurred me to learn it more specifically. I play guitar, but I just don’t know if I would’ve learned it quite as precisely if there wasn’t going to be something filming my fingers, you know? So it was really cool for me to prepare for it.
C&I: The track is a follow-up to your acclaimed self-titled album. Can we expect another album in the near future, maybe one that’s faith-based, like “Guy in the Sky”?
Lynae: Well, there are not plans for a faith-based album. The truth is that I have always believed in writing what I know, whether that means telling my stories, telling my friends’ stories, connecting with emotions that I really connect with, or, in the case of “Guy in the Sky,” connecting with my deepest root, which is my faith. It’s at the core of everything I do, so it has been really special to me to be able to put out a song that is faith-based. On my album, you’ll notice there’s a couple of faith-based songs, like “Words in Red” and “Clean” that do talk about that. So is it likely that I’ll be putting out more songs that talk about my faith? Oh, yeah, absolutely. I’ll never stop writing about what is important to me.
I’m actually going to the studio at the end of this week to start working on an upcoming project. I’ve been writing a ton and I’ve been trying to narrow down a list of what I want to record. We are finally reaching the recording process and I finally, literally last night, nailed down which songs we’re going to hit in these first couple sessions. I don’t have a date for you yet, but I’m really excited.
C&I: Since the first song you put out, how do you think you’ve evolved as an artist? And with these upcoming new recordings, are you going to try any different sounds, styles, etcetera?
Lynae: Yeah. I’ve evolved a lot, I think. I feel really blessed to be able to honestly say that I’m really proud of everything that I’ve put out. … I’m not saying that we don’t evolve; we change and we grow. With this new project, there’s going to be different sounds. You’re going to hear a little bit of a turn from that. I’m not going to give anything away, but I just can say that it’s definitely going to be new and fresh.
C&I: Can we expect anything in terms of touring coming up?
Lynae: I certainly hope so. Right now, it’s creating time.
C&I: You’ve toured with so many high-profile acts: Keith Urban, Kelsea Ballerini, The Band Perry. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from touring alongside artists like that?
Lynae: You know, I haven’t been on a consistent tour with them. I’ve opened for all of them and honestly the biggest way that I have learned is by standing side stage, watching the way that they craft their show, watching how they make certain moments happen with the crowd, and saying, “Oh, wow, they do that a little better than me. I should work on incorporating something like that into my show,” and just seeing whatever creatives come up with. It inspires. It’s like anything. As a songwriter, it’s really healthy for me to go listen to a bunch of different people’s music. It’s healthy for me to go to songwriters’ rounds and hear other writers. … Other people’s creativity inspires creativity and I think opening for some of these Class A acts gives you the opportunity to see how they do it and learn from them.
C&I: You were born in California but raised in Alaska. …
Lynae: Yeah, I was born in Northern California — my parents grew up there and I still have a lot of family there. But I grew up in Kodiak. It was my childhood years. I didn’t ever go out on a boat for 30 days or whatever, but I spent a lot of time fishing, for sure. When I was a kid, one of my best friends, their family had a set net site out on the other side of the island, so in the summer if I wanted to see my friends, then we had to go out to the set net site. We would go out and go on the little skiffs and take the fish out of the nets.
C&I: Did any of those experiences influence some of your music?
Lynae: Well, I have a song called “Fishin’ for Something” [which] I think was inspired by that experience. Honestly, growing up in Kodiak was really good for a creative because, as a kid, social norms really didn’t exist. It was such a small community. I didn’t know what name brands were. I was free to be as weird as I needed to be.
I feel like that’s really valuable as a kid, especially as a creative kid. Being able to just do whatever you’re inspired to do and be who you’re inspired to be and who you’re meant to be without feeling pressure from anything else. I think that’s probably what influenced me the most is just being able to be free, creatively, growing up.
C&I: What’s the music scene like there? Is it mostly country?
Lynae: No. Country came just because of my dad. That’s really where my love of country music came from. He would get out the guitar and play mostly country music every night after dinner, and so I just grew up loving country music. There’s just a lot of creativity. I wouldn’t say that the music scene’s really big because it’s not. There’s just not that many people, but it is a very creative scene and I did get to grow up being part of a girls’ choir, and so the people around me had a love and appreciation for arts and music.
C&I: Do you have a favorite place to visit when you go back home?
Lynae: From Alaska, we went to Washington State. So my second hometown is in Washington. Honestly, I haven’t been up to Kodiak in a long time, but whenever I go back to Washington, I’m like, “Okay, get me to the ocean.” There’s actually a place in Bellingham where there’s a little boardwalk and I go and get coffee and walk that.
C&I: What’s something that fans might not know about you?
Lynae: I’m super short. I’m 5 feet tall. A lot of people seem to be really surprised by that when they meet me in person. “You don’t look short in your video.” … It’s a trick. I also love animals. I have a cat and a dog. And I actually married my drummer — that’s kind of a fun fact.
For more information on Rachele Lynae, visit her website.