Exclusive: He Is We Open Up About 'My Forever,' and No, They're Not Dating
He Is We have just released their debut album, 'My Forever,' but while their loyal fanbase is enjoying their catchy new songs, singer Rachel Taylor wants to set the record straight. She and her bandmate Trevor Kelly are not dating, and he does not sing on the record. Period.
The Tacoma, Wash. natives met while working in a music shop in August 2008, and built a huge following by posting songs and demos on sites like Purevolume, on which they have amassed over 2.6 million plays. The melodic duo soon signed to Universal, and released their new album on November 22. It quickly hit No. 4 on the iTunes Pop Album chart as well as No. 6 on Billboard's Heatseeker chart.
But Rachel and Trevor's relationship is strictly a super tight friendship. Sorry uber fans, but Rachel actually just got engaged and Trevor has a girlfriend. Check out our exclusive interview in which the charismatic singer dispels rumors, talks about He Is We's single, 'And Run,' what it was like collaborating with The Almost's Aaron Gillespie and what her advice is for aspiring musicians who want to stake their claim in the music world.
JSYK: Hi, Rachel! First of all, we want to say congrats on the success of 'My Forever.'
JSYK: We read that you and Trevor met at a record store back in the day. Was there any initial attraction between you two?
Rachel: No, not even remotely. He's really small, no offense. He's not a bad looking person, don't get me wrong, but I felt more of a connection when it came to our humor. I had just moved to Tacoma and I didn't have any friends, so the last thing I was looking for was a soulmate. To me, when I saw him, I was like, 'Oh my gosh! A friend!'"
JSYK: I'm sure people think you're dating.
Rachel: Lots of people do, and I have a promise ring and everyone thinks I'm engaged to Trevor. They're always kind of intimidated to come and tell us how great we are, or whatever, because they feel like we're dating and they don't want to make the other person mad. I just really want to clear the air and let everyone know that he's got a girlfriend and it isn't me.
JSYK: Love is a huge theme on your debut album. What else inspired the songs on 'My Forever'?
Rachel: Life in general. A lot of it was definitely growing into my own skin, becoming independent and deciding that I'm just going to do this for myself. I don't need anybody anymore. I'm 20 years old right now, so it was just one of those moments in my life where I felt grown up. That's kind of where 'And Run' came from -- this huge liberating feeling of I don't need anybody. I'd love to have people, but this is my destiny; this is what I want to do. So, the record is definitely just about me having love, losing love, realizing what love really is and then finding it. It's just my journey from teenage ways of thinking to adulthood.
JSYK: How did your collaboration with Aaron Gillespie come about?
Rachel: I worked with a producer in Seattle, his name is Aaron Sprinkle, and I wrote a song on guitar called 'All About Us' and then showed it to him. I told him that it's kind of got this duet vibe and he agreed, and was like, 'I'll contact a couple friends.' Silly me, I didn't quite put it together what 'a couple friends' meant. I'm thinking old buddies that karaoke or something, and then he told me that Aaron Gillespie is on board. Of course, I freak out. I'm like, 'Oh my God ... good-looking, red-headed drummer man.' I'm a huge fan of Underoath. The Almost is awesome, don't get me wrong, I love it, but Underoath is what got me into harder music.
JSYK: Trevor sings on the record, too, right?
Rachel: He doesn't sing at all. That's all me. Everyone says that and he thinks it's the funniest thing. You should hear him sing. It is the funniest thing I've ever heard in my life. On the song 'Radio' that we did, we had him do harmonies just as a joke, because everyone kept asking, 'Does he sing?' He does the high, high harmony on that song, and that is the last time he ever did harmonies.
JSYK: What other musicians inspire you guys?
Rachel: I'm a huge fan of Kid Cudi and Eminem. Lyrically, they both really intimidate me and inspire me to be better. The flow that they have when they perform, that's exactly what I'm striving for in the future. As far as writing goes on the guitar, I love Eisley so much and Jimmy Eat World, and just a bunch of '90s stuff like Alice in Chains and Nirvana. I'm in Seattle, we grew up with grungey awesomeness.
JSYK: The Internet had a huge hand in helping you reach fans and ultimately got you a record deal. Do you think it's easier for bands to reach their dreams because of sites like Purevolume, Facebook, Myspace and Twitter?
Rachel: Definitely, yeah. It could either make or break you. The Internet has definitely opened the eyes of a bajillion more people than you would have in a coffee shop playing your music. But like I said, make or break you. There are bands online that are huge, but when they play shows they don't draw at all. It's just very interesting. Being an Internet band kind of has this weird stigma to it in the music world, so I definitely say that it helps you, but I don't know how long it'll help you.
JSYK: What's your advice for young bands who are trying to "make it"?
Rachel: I always tell people, 'Don't try.' Don't make it that the music that you're writing is just to make it. Write the music that you love and be genuine about it, and people will be attracted to it. Don't try to be too cool. People will just naturally be attracted to the stories that you tell and they will be able to relate if you're genuine.
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