Mixtape No. 21

Only You

Photos: Kate Berry
Words: Emily Draznik

Sometimes you can’t help but feel giddy when you stumble upon a gem that you were blissfully unaware of. This was my case with Rachel Fannan’s band, Only You. Her brand of fem-rock seamlessly blends her psych rock roots with sultry powerhouse vocals. There’s a quality to her voice that personally transports me back in time, back to the college days that had me basement show hopping through Chicago’s underground music scene. Her dreamy rock vibes sound effortless, but are executed by someone with undeniable talent. Only You’s under the radar sound is one of the LA music scene’s best-kept secrets. Flashbacks aside, we got the chance to chat with Rachel about her background, California and what’s on the horizon both for her band and her blossoming career in rock.

How did you get your start? How old were you when you first picked up the guitar for the first time?
My uncle had given me an acoustic for my 16th birthday. I was stoked. It was around then that I started practicing and writing little songs in my room. However I got my start in Santa Cruz. I was at a Devendra Banhart concert and he asked the audience if anyone wanted to jump up and play a song. He picked me.

You seem to have a lot of things going on at once. What are you currently prioritizing? What’s coming up for Only You?
My eyes are much bigger than my stomach. I love being busy. Right now I'm trying to keep my focus on songwriting. I'm working with this radical upcoming producer named Harlan Silverman. He's the shit.

Do you have a particular process for writing songs?
Personally I just sit down and whatever comes out gets slowly hashed out. I'll pull lyrics from my journals. I keep dozens of journals going at a time with ideas, words or phrases I like, stuff I hear people say in conversation, etc. I'll open to a page and see if I can sing the words along with the music I'm working on.

Your music on the whole feels rooted in a vintage sound. What music did you grow up listening to and who are your major influences?
Well I grew up listening to a mess of stuff. My dad was a prolific pianist, so I listened to a lot of romantic classical. My mom used to sing me anything from Skeeter Davis to the Everly Bros. There was A LOT of romantic throwback in my childhood. But I think artists like Bjork, David Bowie, and Chrissie Hynde have most influenced my personal sound. I love rock-n-roll androgyny. I love a powerful vocal. I love music that grabs you by the hips.

You recently directed your own music video for Let Me Burn. Was it difficult to balance the responsibilities both behind and in front of the camera?
You know, that video was a happy accident. So no I didn't find it difficult. My friend Mark Roe was shooting me for the track and wasn't crazy about the footage. It was dark and cold out, the camera motions were jerky and swirly (however I was stoned and spellbound). After some conversation, Mark was sweet enough to throw me the takes I wanted and from there I edited along with the music. It's definitely something I would love to do more of.

You were previously with the SF-based band Sleepy Sun, but are now based here in Southern California. What do you feel are the main differences between living up north versus in Los Angeles?
It's way easier to get around in the Bay Area. It makes me sad. If LA had what SF has, as far as public transportation, game over. I'm not talking about just a train you know? But we [Los Angeles] have the weather, man. We have this heavenly dream weather that just makes everything alright. And it's a little cheaper to live down here.

Could you name off some of your favorite live music spots in LA? On the other side of the coin, where is the favorite place that you’ve ever played?
I really like to attend shows at the Palladium and the Greek. The Fonda, even the Roxy. Outside of LA my favorites to play are Le Botanique in Brussels, Liberty Hall in Kansas and the Jackie Gleeson theatre in Miami. Great American Music Hall in SF is killer. There are a lot of beautiful venues out there.

My eyes are much bigger than my stomach.
I love being busy.

Throughout your career, you’ve worked with a lot of different musicians. What have you found works best for a new band to gel both creatively and professionally?
That's a good question. Don't be afraid to scrap an idea that's not working. Follow the flow, play what works is a good strategy. If everyone's starting out at ground zero I mean. If you're in a room of pros -- your options are limitless. Let ideas get thrown around. Think outside the box here and here. Most importantly, remember to have fun.