Rainsford is living the good life. She is officially our new chosen one we are loving, collaborating with photographer Byron Spencer on a trip to Sydney (see images below). Based in LA the singer/songwriter/actress/dancer/woman of many wonders is casting spells and making music, singing oh so smoothly in her honey-like voice about romance (and loss of it). And she looks good, real good.
Rainsford Qualley grew up in North Carolina dancing, learning to play the piano and writing music. Werking that creativity: “Both my parents are pretty artistic and put me in piano when I was a kid but I pretty much always knew I wanted to be a singer and to write music,” she says. “Then in high school I got into poetry and really loved E. E. Cummings. I was a pissed off depressed teenager! I moved to New York when I was 19 and started actually writing and recording songs for the first time.” Oh, the drama of it all. In the last year she’s released an EP ‘Emotional Support Animal’ and most recently, the single ‘Passionate,’ a nostalgic dream of soft simmering synths that successfully shows off Rainey’s range. The kind of song you can dance, cry and laugh to. We like those. “I started working with this new producer Cameron Hale like five months ago. He’s really, really talented. For me it’s super rare to connect with someone and trust them implicitly. It’s the start of the next era for Rainsford, she’s been in the studio, forming the beginnings (40 songs down in five months) of her first full-length album influenced by ‘80s and ‘90s pop. Prince and Kate Bush are also noted as influences. Her writing process is simple: “I think my best work is when I’m actually in the studio with someone and we can capture it in real time. With Cameron, for example, we’ll talk about what we want to write about and then he’ll start playing something and I’ll start writing a melody and lyrics.” Those lyrics for the debut album will be heavily dominated by heartbreak: “I went through a breakup recently so I wrote a shit ton of songs about that. At the time I was super miserable and now I’m glad I was able to release it like that. Writing a song for me is both a release but also encapsulates a moment. When I listen back to stuff I wrote two months ago I’m like fuck, I was so depressed. I’m so happy I’m not feeling that anymore. At the time it’s very visceral and honest.”
Just home from a trip to London where she played her first show outside of America, Rainsford considers the show as probably the best moment so far on her journey: “I’ve definitely become much more comfortable on stage. I used to be so nervous and stressed before every show and it would take me two songs to actually relax and enjoy myself. Now I’m good to go, I get butterflies. I just played my first show in London outside of the states. I played Hoxton Square. I was so scared no one was going to come but it was super packed and people had my merch on.” The merchandise that she has designed is a small collection including a psychedelic band style t-shirts and clever cat collages on hoodies and boxers. “It’s fun for me, like a little art project to make these collages that I thought were cool and funny. I did dance competitions growing up and we’d design our own costumes so I’ve always liked doing stuff like that.” She’s building a relationship with Chanel and her wardrobe is made up mostly of vintage finds as she figures out what she feels good to move in on stage, often silky slips, booty shorts and chunky sneakers. “If I wear something that’s too costume like or too far from what I normally wear I don’t feel comfortable. I try to wear something I’d normally wear but makes me feel confident.”
Living in LA with her younger sister, actress Margaret Qualley her mentor and “support system” she’s learning lessons and holding solstice ceremonies in her backyard. As one does in LA: “I guess I’ve always had an interest in fairytales and witchcraft and ghost stories. I moved to LA and started buying witchcraft books and casting my own spells. I started going to see psychics. I mean there are some psychics that are baloney but I think some people really are gifted. When there’s a full moon I will have little bonfires in my backyard and a spell kit. We don’t really know what we’re doing but we write down what we want to release and burn it in the fire. I really do believe the energy you put out and the thoughts that you have ultimately lead to the life you live. Whether witchcraft is real I think that works.” Putting out good energy and moving through the music industry with a fiery confidence. “A big lesson I’ve learnt is just because someones older than you or has been doing something longer than you, doesn’t mean they necessarily know better than you. For the longest time I would do things because I thought I was supposed to and was trying to please someone else or trying to make someone else happy. That means you’re not being true to yourself or true to yourself as an artist. It took me a while to learn but ever since I’ve been doing what I love and saying no to shit I don’t want to do. It’s become a lot easier and become more in line with want I want to be like.” Yes, she holds herself well with an air of no bullshit around her. You don’t want to mess with Rainsford.
by Roxy Lola
Photographs by Byron Spencer