Beyond the Music, Just North of Ordinary: Rachel Gollay
Denton has been a hotbed for local musicians since the University of North Texas College of Music Jazz studies program began in 1947. Norah Jones studied jazz at UNT, and Eagles singer Don Henley was also a student. Many other legends have come out of Denton, including Grammy award-winning Brave Combo, Midlake, the Eli Young Band and Sarah Jaffe. There is truly something for all music tastes. Denton is still churning out brilliant local musicians and drawing in artists from all around the Metroplex and Texas. The local music scene has something to offer everyone, of all types, preferences and ages.
Featured Artist: Rachel Gollay
This week’s featured artist is Rachel Gollay. Rachel is a must-see musician. Rachel has been a part of the Denton music scene for the past 3 years. Eli Cumpton, who sometimes accompanies Rachel in performances, joined us in the interview.
His Girl Friday: You’re a UNT grad student. What are you studying? What degrees do you have?
Rachel: I graduated with a double major in English and Radio, TV, Film from Texas Christian University. I have a Master of Arts in Communication and Culture (which is basically media studies) from Indiana University. And I am now pursuing a Masters in Library and Information Sciences from the University of North Texas.
His Girl Friday: Where are some places that you’ve performed in Denton?
Rachel: I’ve played at Art Six a few times and Andy’s a few times. I did the open mic night at Andy’s a couple times which was a lot of fun. I have to say the crowd at the open mic was the best crowd I’ve ever had at an open mic. They listened, they were very respectful and everyone talked to me afterward. It was really nice. It’s a nice music scene in Denton.
His Girl Friday: What’s your favorite part about preforming in Denton?
Rachel: Denton is very hospitable to independent and local music. The booking agents at all the venues in Denton really make sure to have a good presence from the local bands and local community. It’s a cool place to be if you’re a musician. It’s a cool place to be if you like to listen to music, too.
His Girl Friday: How did you get started preforming as a musician?
Rachel: That’s a good question. I’ve always played music growing up. I took piano lessons when I was little, just like most kids do at one point. Their parents put an instrument in their hands or sit them in front of a piano. But I enjoyed it. I was in band in high school. I was a band nerd. Then I met a good friend in college who really pushed me to start writing my own music. He was really instrumental and helped me get out there to start preforming and doing my own material. I would say that a combination of pier pressure and interest in music has sparked my interest in preforming (*she said giggling).
His Girl Friday: What type of music/genre would you say you play?
Rachel: This is also a really touch question. I think it is for a lot of musicians. If someone was listening to my music, they might say it sounds “indie” (*she said putting shy air quotes around her word) or folk by virtue of the fact that I have a mostly acoustic act. I get up there with my guitar and sing. It’s very folksy in that regard.
Eli: I’d say it’s indie folk.
Rachel: Indie folk is a great label but my musical influences are from all across the board, all across the map. And I really envy hip hop artists and wish I could do something as great as rap. I really do love rap. People sometimes are surprised to hear that. (*the room laughs) But alas my music is not rap. It’s indie-folk (*she said laughing then room laughed louder).
Eli: I think you should do a rap song.
His Girl Friday: She has done a few, acoustically, if I remember correctly.
Rachel: I’ve had a few free-style moments. I need to have a certain level of inebriation with my inhibitions lowered before I can break into the free style. (The room laughs again.) For now, indie-folk, but stay tuned for my hip hop side project.
His Girl Friday: How would you describe your fans?
Rachel: My fans? My fans are mostly… my friends (*the room laughs).
His Girl Friday: That’s not true. You definitely have some followers.
Rachel: It all started with my close friends and people I know. I started to hand people a CD or send them a link to my music. My music is very word of mouth. Some fans of my music have said that they appreciate how vague my lyrics are. My lyrics and my songs are cobbled together from a lot of different influences, emotions and states of being. My music is a hodge-podge of experiences. I’ve been told that my music is hard to pin down. I guess that’s why I have a hard time putting a label or a genre on my music. I use an acoustic guitar and I sing but I try not to the assumptions of what indie rock is. And I know that sounds really pretentious (*the room laughs) but so be it!
His Girl Friday: What’s it like being back in the area after moving to Indiana for school?
Rachel: I’m really excited about getting back into the Denton music scene. There are so many local artists that are doing so well and making a name for themselves. And also, I’m going to be working on my rap. (*the room laughs) If I’m going to distinguish myself from other indie folk acts, I need to have an edge, and maybe that edge is a cover of Snoop Dog. I really do like Snoop Dog (*laughter again).
His Girl Friday: What direction do you see your music going in since your…
Eli: Rap (*he said with a joking smile bringing laughter from the room yet again).
His Girl Friday: I mean, I know you’re in school. Do you plan on pursuing music as a career?
Rachel: That’s a really great question because I think that a lot of musicians, especially local bands in a college town, studying and playing music on the side, it’s really their aspiration and dream to just play music for a living. That’s definitely something I’d like to devote myself more to. A lot of people wish they could just make music their full time job. But I want to do everything I can to work hard and encourage my friends into writing more music, preforming more and hopefully making it a reality to where we can just be creative for a living.
His Girl Friday: So your dream job is to be a full time musician?
Rachel: Yes, my dream job is to be a musician.
His Girl Friday: After you you get every degree offered (*laughter)?
Rachel: Exactly, I do love school as well. It can get in the way.
His Girl Friday: One last question. If you could only pick one musician/band as your #1 idol.
Rachel: That’s so difficult because I have several that I breakdown into era. For Denton, I love Midlake. They’re awesome. But if I had to pick only one, Neko Case, because the stuff that comes out of her brain is amazing.
Rachel and Eli played a song just for us. Check out the video.
Want to know the best places to catch music in Denton?
Andy’s Basement Bar & Grill
122 N Locust St.
The Boiler Room
101 W Hickory St.
103 N Industrial St.
600 N Locust St.
122 W Mulberry St.
Rubber Gloves Studio
411 E Sycamore St.
208 W Oak St.
219 W Oak St.
J&J’s Pizza On the Square
118 W Oak St.
106 N Locust St.
Sweetwater Grill & Tavern
115 S Elm St.
Texas 8 Ball
218 W Oak St.
Art Six Coffee House
424 Bryan St.
Cool Beans Bar & Grill
1210 W Hickory St.
The Denton Garage
113 Ave. A
Check back next week for more information on the local music scene and another featured artist.