We interviewed singer Rachel Platten at Sony Music offices in Manhattan recently. Her song "Fight Song" is one of our favorites.
Was there a specific moment in your life when you knew you wanted to become a singer?
Yes. I played piano growing up. I played classical piano since I was 5 and I sang in choirs, and I sang in plays and musicals. But I didn't really think that music was a possibility for me. I didn't think I was talented enough and I didn't think I had enough connections. When I was in college, like in my sophomore year of college, I went away to an island in the Caribbean and when I was there a friend's band needed a backup singer. . . . And I was like, "I'll do it, it's going to be great." The first show was in front of 80,000 people. And I remember thinking on stage, "This is exactly what I'm supposed to do with my life. I need to try and figure out how to get back to this crowd."
We love your song "Fight Song" -- what message does it tell?
It tells a message of believing in yourself no matter what. To remember that you can do anything and not to listen to the mean voices in your head that tell you that you're not good enough, or you're not cool enough, or you're not tall enough or short. None of that is true. The only thing that matters is what we believe and that's what the song talks about.
What do you do to get ready to perform?
Well, I have a big makeup and hair team. It takes hours. And after that my manager usually comes in and says everybody go away and Rachel is now going to relax. And then I have a drummer who is my best friend and we've been playing together for nine years. We started playing together in the city at really small clubs. So before a show, no matter how big, we kind of just look at each other and we try to make sure we laugh and giggle. We like to get silly and be lighthearted. And then we take a moment for just gratitude and think how lucky are we that we get to do this.
If you could do a duet with anyone in the world, who would you choose?
Great question. I really love Mark Ronson, "Uptown Funk". Do you know who Amy Winehouse is? She did two records about maybe seven years ago. I just fell in love with it and it really inspired me.
Has your fame as a pop star changed you at all?
I don't know if I'm famous. No it hasn't changed me because I don't really know if that's true yet. But I guess I've gotten recognized a couple of times and when it happens I'm always just really surprised that they would know who I am. Someone asked me one time, "Did you know you look like Rachel Platten?" I was like, "No one's ever told me that before. I guess I am her." So no I don't think so.
What is your biggest fear and how do you try to overcome it?
My biggest fear is that I'm not good enough. I have this voice in my head that I've been battling for years that says, "You're not really talented enough. You don't really deserve this." And I think that's what made my career take so long in a way. It was like working on believing that yes, I could. I could do this. So it's my own mean voice in my head.
Do you find you have more friends now that you're famous?
You know Jim Carrey said at a graduation speech this amazing thing. He said, "I feel so lucky that I chose this career where everyone presents their best self to me wherever I go." And that couldn't be more true. Wherever I go people are so kind and so lovely and so warm and show their best self. So I feel very lucky.
Have you ever been on stage and forgot the words to your song?
Totally. It's really embarrassing when it happens. All the time. I have this album I did a long time before another came out. And then fans would say, "Oh, could you play this old song?" I would be like, "If you know the words I'll play it."
Can you share with us a piece of advice for someone who wants to become a pop star like you?
Please work harder than you've ever worked at anything, believe in yourself, do not listen to anyone that tells you you're not good enough. It's not true. And know that the impossible is possible.
In the future, will your kids follow your career?
Yeah I hope so. I am married and my husband sometimes says, "I'm so proud of you. I'm so proud of you for what you're going to do for our future kids. Like they're going to get to look at their mom and say, "Wow mom did a lot of good in the world."
Did anyone inspire you to become a singer?
I don't know if anyone in particular. I love . . . different kinds of music. I like classical music and pop music. I like alternative and I like rap, hip-hop and I kind of collected all these things that I love and they infused my sensibilities and I just wanted to sing because it felt like it needed to come out of me. It felt like it was inside.
What is the best memory of your childhood and why?
I love that question. I remember my family and I went on vacation one time when I was little. My parents are busy, they're like busy people and my sister's busy and I remember everyone being together for this vacation and all of us really enjoying each other's company. I remember a dinner in particular it was just really fun. I think I was 10 or something. It was just great. Any one of those.
Do you play any instruments?
I do. I play piano and guitar.
Do you have lucky charms that you bring with you?
Totally. I have crystals. I like to collect rocks when I go on walks on the beach and different crystals have different meanings and they're like supposed to give you different feelings. So I carry them. It's like super hippie of me.
Do you ever sing in the shower?
Yeah, and it annoys people. I warm up my voice in the shower every morning.
Who decides what outfits you wear?
Good question. Well I decide, but I have guidance. I have people telling me, "Well, I don't know if I would wear that." And sometimes I listen and sometimes I say, "Yeah, but I feel good in it." But also really it's me.
Do you have any hobbies outside of singing?
Yeah. I love eating out with my friends. I have a lot of friends and I love them and they're great people. So I like going out to long dinners and I like sitting at home with my puppy and taking long walks around the city with my puppy. I love doing yoga. I love skiing. I like playing sports. I play soccer, too.
Do you feel sometimes before a show you just want to go home and hang out with your friends?
You're so cute. No I don't. I love performing. I think when I'm home hanging with my friends I kind of wish I was on stage sometimes. But when I'm tired in the van after a show then yeah. Sometimes I'm like, "Oh man I wish I could just go to my couch, have my puppy on my lap and have my friends around." The sacrifice is I get to meet you guys and do this amazing job.