In WHI Behind The Music we sit down with inspiring artists to get to know them a bit better and learn more about what drives them. This week, singer and songwriter of uplifting pop anthems, Rachel Platten.

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Rachel, we learned that you started making music at an early age. Were you always determined on being a singer?
I started taking piano lessons when I was 6 and I sang in choirs, a capella groups and school musicals but I didn’t start writing songs until college. Well, technically I wrote one song when I was 8, but it was about my dog and 45 seconds long so let’s not count that one. I absolutely loved singing but I honestly didn’t think I was talented enough to do it professionally, so to answer your question: not really.

What do you tell young people who dream of an artistic career in a broader sense when they’re in doubt of achieving their dreams?
You, yes you are a born artist and creator. We all are. Remember how it felt to create when you were little and there were no rules and you just made weird drawings, made up plays and dressed up in strange alligator costumes and tutus. Or was this just me? That part of you is still there. Someone along the way just shut it down and told you you weren’t good enough. And that sucks. We need more artists in the world and we need more of what you have to give - because you’re the only one who can provide that unique quirky point of view. So how dare you withhold that from us just because of a little fear? Doubt never goes away - I still battle mine daily - but I have learned not to let it steer the wheel anymore. It can sit in the backseat and make a fuss but I’m still gonna go where i want.

"Someone along the way just shut it down and told you you weren’t good enough. And that sucks."

Where does the biggest inspiration for your music come from? Who are your personal idols?
Musically, I used to be obsessed with Regina Spector. I loved how she sounded so effortless playing brilliant classical piano licks and singing strange words. She just felt joyful and free and she inspired me so much. I also love Lauryn Hill, Carole King, Jewel, Patti Griffin, Missy Elliot and actually all these strong women who speak their minds and sound so confidently and truly themselves. I tried imitating all of them at certain points in my career until I realized I needed to find my own voice. Now for inspiration I turn to books, podcasts, poetry, nature, life, pain, joy and the things I'm battling with.

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You just released a new album. What is the process of composing such a great piece of art like? Do you usually have a set idea of how the songs will go together or is it more of a journey and a progress over time?
I always set out to be super intentional about an album. Like it will have a certain theme and it will tell one story with different sides to it. It never ends that way though. Songwriting for me is how I process what I’m going through in my life, whether that be a super high high or a devastating low, or somewhere in the middle. I guess I feel things deeply because I'm so sensitive and sometimes my songs end up being my medicine. So at the end of writing a bunch of songs the album ends up just being a collection of the realest most raw songs I wrote over a period of time. They’re never what I set out to make, but they’re always better than I could have planned for.

"Sometimes my songs end up being my medicine."

Your stage presence is incredible! Are you by now used to singing in front of a big audience or are you still nervous sometimes nowadays?
Oh thank you! That is so sweet. I have always loved performing. It’s why I finally listened to that voice in my heart screaming you are supposed to be an artist, even though I didn’t think I was good enough to be. I just love the feeling when you are so truly you on stage and the audience is like “More of that please!”. I recently remembered that it’s when I don’t try too hard, just flow and let my voice carry and my body move as it wants to, that I really reach an audience. It's still hard to trust that sometimes, so I still do get nervous before big shows and over think and stress myself out. But honestly, once I step on stage it mostly goes away.

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It seems like you are living your absolute dream! But are there days sometimes where you are doubtful? And if so, what are your ways to stay positive and inspired?
Dude, yes! I get afraid and insecure all the time and it’s brutal and crippling sometimes. However, I also have a lot of awesome tools now to fight those demons. First of all, I come from a therapist and a psychologist for parents so I believe heavily in therapy. I have an awesome one I talk to weekly who really helps me. I also meditate every single morning and that is essential to me having a good day. If I find I've gotten fearful in the middle of the day, I try to step away for even five minutes to breathe and reset myself. I read amazing self help books, good for my soul podcasts and I return to them over and over for love and truth bombs. I have wonderful friends I call if I need a grounding reminder of how supported I am. I also have an unbelievably supportive, kind, loving and funny husband who usually just makes me laugh it off. If that doesn’t work, he dives in with me and we find reality again. I write in journals, I go on walks, I swim in the ocean regularly and I have an extremely cute _- not so smart - but super loving dog who I cuddle with. Basically I love this question and I could write a book on this one answer!

"I still do get nervous before big shows and over think and stress myself out."

Fight Song coincides with the empowering spirit of WHI so much, what was your inspiration and furthermore your motivation for the song?
I had been trying for 12 years to make my music career happen when I wrote that song. I was singing in small bars, touring around the country in my van and playing in living rooms - yes, literally. I was happy, but I was barely scraping by. I loved what I got to do, but I knew there was more. I kept getting rejected by record labels, agents and managers but I had this fire in me and just refused to give up on myself. I wrote the song at a time when I was as close as I’d ever come to losing that inner fire. It was like this decision and affirmation that I wasn’t gonna let the doubt win.

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As you are a truly aspirational person, do you have a last word of advice for our users on how to achieve their goals and to thrive in life?
Wow thank you. That is so kind and I don’t know if it’s true all the time, but my advice: do not let the mean voice in your head win. There is another one that’s quieter in your heart and it’s trying to get your attention and it’s saying "You can do this, you are good enough!". You are enough, period. It’s hard to hear but if you can find a way to get quiet - whether that’s through any of my tools or your own - it will speak to you. Trust it, and be brave and courageous and give the world what you uniquely have to share. We need it.

@rachelplatten just realeased her new album Waves. Check it out on Spotify here: https://app.weheartit.com/hhMb/cYw689wCXH