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Published on November 5th, 2012 | by Ballard Lesemann

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Rachel Kate’s Debut is in the Works

Charleston-based songwriter Rachel Kate Gillon (formerly of rock band the Shaniqua Brown) spent much of her summer and fall traveling around the Southeast with the literary Unchained Tour alongside fellow Lowcountry musician Joel T. Hamilton. She sang and banged around town plenty with twangy string combo the Local Honeys. But she also made time to record and mix 10 new songs for a debut solo album as well.

“I felt like I needed a release from these songs, literally and figuratively,” Gillon says. “I didn’t want to have them pent up. It’s a real growing experience for me, getting to write and record like this. I treated the Shaniqua Brown songs and these songs like two totally different entities. I’m not really conscious of how they might have influences each other. I learned a lot through recording traveling and selling merchandise with that band.”

Rachel Kate Gillon (photo by J Forest Photo)

Rachel Kate Gillon (photo by J Frrest Photo)

Last July, Gillon spent a full week recording the basic tracks and vocals at the Jam Room studio in Columbia with engineers Jay Matheson and Jamey Rogers at the mixing board. She enlisted drummer Steve Sancho (of Columbia band Say Brother), cellist Diego Villena, singer Sarah Bandy (of the Local Honeys), and upright bassist Brad Edwardson (of the Local Honeys, the Flat Foot Floozies, and the Royal Tinfoil) to provide the instrumental backing for the sessions.

“I formed a little group to perform on a bunch of acoustic songs I wrote years back, before the Shaniqua Brown got together,” Gillon says. “The songs have changed over the years. I wanted to get back to them. I put a little bit of accordion on there, and we added the instrumentation on there with a collective effort. I’m really pleased with the way it turned out.”

Musically, the collection is a departure from the punkish, guitar-driven thrash of the Shaniqua Brown and the sunshine-pop sensibility of the Local Honey’s ukulele-based ditties.

“There’s a minor-key, depressing thing going on, which is funny because, personally, I enjoy being a happy person,” Gillon says. “But when it comes to writing songs on my own, I tend to use them as an outlet to say things I wouldn’t otherwise say — things I want to get out and not ever deal with again. I don’t know how people are going to place me [when it comes out]. I listen to all sorts of music, but I feel like my lack of knowledge on ‘how to build a song’ sort of lends itself to my songs. I might now know what something is, but I know when I like it. I guess you can’t classify my style, from music to clothing to whatever, because it’s all over the place … maybe you can, but I just don’t see it.”

As of now, Gillon has no affiliation with a label and no official release date for the album. She’s not worried about any of it all. Stay tuned for more.

Rachel Kate is on the bill for the annual Jailbreak at the Old City Jail on Sat. Nov. 17. She shares the stage with Slow Runner at the Circular Congregational Church on Sat. Dec. 1 at 8 p.m.

The Local Honeys are set to perform at the Halsey Institute’s eighth annual Honey Moon membership party at the CofC’s Cato Center for the Arts at 7 p.m. on Fri. Nov. 9.

Visit facebook.com/rachelkategillon for more.

Photos by J Forest Photo/Justin Nathanson.

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About the Author

Ballard Lesemann

is a musician and writer. Born and raised in Charleston, S.C., he spent years playing in bands and working for Flagpole Magazine in the bustling music town of Athens, Ga. He returned to his hometown and served more than seven years as the Charleston City Paper's music editor. He's better at drumming than he is at playing guitar.



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