Artist of the week: Jeannie Rak

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Seattle may be known for its niche cafes and quaint waterways, but locals know it’s also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is full of artists that we love to feature every week on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at [email protected] And if you are wondering what constitutes art, this is the beauty of it; It’s yours! Discover all our artists from the past week in our dedicated section.

Seattle Refined: How long have you been writing / acting?
Jeannie Rak: I’ve been writing music since I was 15 (that’s when I learned to play guitar on my own). I also started playing that year! However, my adventures as a busker started in 2017, and that’s when I felt like I had really started to step into the real world.

Tell us about the artistic process and the different stages that go with it.
Every song I’ve written begins the same way, just with a feeling. Then I try out a myriad of techniques to try to coax that feeling into a physical representation of itself – to try to distill the emotions. Most of the time the words come first and the melody / guitar chords / accompaniment come second, but the main thing is the same. I ask myself, “What’s the emotional journey that I want people to take? Then I try to use all the tools I have to communicate this trip to the public.

Where does your inspiration come from? Which artists have influenced you?
Oh man. I am launching an atypical range. Elvis Presley and Bill Withers were my first loves, but then I moved on to Maroon 5 and Sara Bareilles. I challenge anyone to listen to “Secret” from Maroon 5 without remembering that they were a bunch of killers back then! Also, Jason Mraz’s “Butterfly” has basically nothing to do with “I’m Yours” and has directly influenced some of my more jazz tracks. Oh, and Justin Timberlake. Do I have to say more?

What kind of genre is your music? What kinds of things do you write about?
I tend to have three modes: sad and tragic, groovy and feel good, and * hella sappy. * The two originals I’ve released so far fall into the first category, but an upcoming release will definitely do you dance celebration of life.

Do you have a song that means more to you or is extremely special to you?
Not really. All of my songs also serve as a time capsule, each representing a specific period in my life. I can’t pick a favorite because I consider all of my life experiences to be equally formative!

What experiences in your life have shaped your music?
I’m a male-introduced lesbian, an Asian immigrant who was the first of her siblings to move overseas, and a nerdy kid who was heavily bullied for two years in high school. It’s a fun jumble of identities that puts me in a position to empathize with a wide variety of humans who come into my life, however fleeting! I love to think deeply about the human experience and how I fit into the stories of others – all of this inevitably impacts the way I think and write about my music.

If we want to know more about your work, where do we go to find it? What about upcoming shows (virtual or in person)?
I’m on every music streaming platform you can think of (Spotify! Apple Music! YouTube! You can even use my music in your Instagram and TikTok posts!) And I have so many shows in the Greater Seattle area. Visit www.jeannierak.com/calendar to see what’s coming! You can also book me for private events; I have performed at a number of weddings and birthday parties … these tend to be my favorites due to the privacy and special nature of the gatherings.

What’s next for you? Something that you are working on right now that you are really passionate about?
I’m super excited to shoot a number of the videos. One project involves a Tiny Desk-esque series, and another is a bigger budget clip that I’ve never done before for the upbeat release I talked about above. I’m trying to evolve the way I present my music visually, and these two projects will help me take it to the next level! Oh, and merch is a goal for the end of the year.

Finally, how do you take your coffee? We ask everyone!
I happen to be a barista as well (thanks to Ghost Alley Espresso), and my current favorite coffee drink is a white chocolate mocha with hazelnut syrup. But at home, I always have my (Moka pot) of black coffee.

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