Rachael Sage, the eclectic singer/songwriter, poet, actor, visual artist and MPress Records founder, is flying high with a new muse these days. And we’re not talking about a new main squeeze for the self-described “crazy, artsy, Jewish girl” who sings of enduring passions on her newest album, Haunted By You.
The passion at play in Haunted, the artist’s tenth CD in 15 years, takes many forms. She writes about breaking up a four-year relationship, “which is like 40 years for regular people, since I usually average about only six months,” Sage laughs. “Though we remain good friends, I was fed up with the stagnancy of the relationship”—and sought a new outlet for her emotions. Longtime Sage fans will recognize the stream-of-consciousness honesty in her lyrics; the intensely personal musings zero in on love’s foibles and overlay dreamy, layered instrumentation on the album’s ten songs.
“I lost track of who I was, or who I was changed into; and I got clearer about what I will not compromise and what I will not change about myself for others. I’m a poet and I look for meaning in everything,” she says. With the tendency to see metaphor everywhere, Sage admits that “in seeking purpose, you can go too far and get lost in adventure, and in the process lose yourself.”
For this wide-ranging artist, who says she gets bored if she’s not engaged in a creative way, the process of developing the songs that would comprise Haunted By You was fueled by loss as well as a sense of liberation. Says Sage, “When I was filming the video for [the lead track] ‘Incredible Light,’ I was working with a debut director who…tried to get me to articulate the actual person who is a soul mate, and I was having trouble doing that. [That person could be] a presence or muse who allows me to just be me without restrictions—equal parts soulfulness and being true to who you are, and just letting feelings happen.”
Haunted By You brought Sage back to herself. She composed the cello-embellished melodies over mid-tempo rhythms on guitar, an instrument that the keyboardist said she hadn’t touched for more than a decade. “The guitar is something I only knew about six notes of like 15 years ago, so it was a real challenge,” she concedes. “It was in the corner, just sitting there looking and me and beckoning. I took it as a challenge, an opportunity for a much-needed change.”
Sage’s NYC show on July 26 at M1-5 Lounge is part of RAW: New York City presents MIXOLOGY. Her good friend Marvin Miller approached her to get involved in the series, and she jumped at the chance. “It’s a show with visual and musical media, and each performer has half an hour on stage,” she says, and promises the possibility of makeup artists and filmmakers taking part too. “M1-5 is a vibe-y and spacious venue, and I’m always grateful to be turned onto new spaces in New York City even as other performance spaces are dwindling.”
A longing for the past and anticipation of the future are the themes threaded through Sage’s latest opus. And, after several months of touring and performing the complex music from Haunted, she is beginning to find her way back to herself.
RAW: New York City presents MIXOLOGY at M1-5 Lounge, 52 Walker Street (btw Church & Broadway), Thursday July 26 at 8pm. Tickets: $10. Rachael Sage & The Sequins perform at approximately 9:45pm. Cocktail attire is required. For more information, see rawartists.org/newyork/mixology.