Rachel West is ready to take a chance. Her debut EP, Aurum, dropped in 2014 and received attention for her downtempo, electro-tinged R&B and soulful pop, featuring tracks reminiscent of Purity Ring alongside emotional ballads and childlike odes. Now, she's back with a worldly pop cut that brings together African and Caribbean influences, "one of the most musically complex and exciting tracks" she's ever created, West says.
Just completed on February 9 and with shades of Shakira inherent, "Run Run" embodies a sentiment of universal appeal—an Afropop jam fit to be the anthem of the next World Cup (or at least the next time an African nation hosts it).
"'Run Run' started as the sister song to a collaboration track I recored with African artist Yemi Alade," West explains. "She and I will be releasing a track together called 'Surely' later this spring. While I loved the song, it was so unlike every other song on my upcoming EP. I was inspired to see what else I could create that would fit the genre and appeal to an international crowd."
Based in LA since 2011, the genesis of "Run Run" began in the Northwest when the Portland-born songstress was home for Christmas. During the holidays, she started writing: "I used my lap as a drum and recorded a basic demo of 'Run Run' on my phone. I sent it to my producer [Tadjh 'BeatsByiTALY' Brooks] in Los Angeles and he was instantly taken with the track. As soon as I got back to LA we began recording," West describes.
The song is a burst of sunshine (especially compared to her previous work), and this radiance is exactly one of the reasons West was drawn to California. "My upbringing in Portland definitely shaped me as a person and an artist [but] I've spent the past five years in LA and in that time I've become an adult," West says. "There are so many opportunities in Los Angeles, but there are also a lot challenges to living in this city. All of it has only made me want to work harder."
"This has always been my dream and no matter where I go I will continue to pursue it," she says. "I credit Portland for having given me my start," and here at home West has had the opportunity to open for acts like Wale, Lupe Fiasco and Young Thug (check out a gallery of photos) at the Roseland Theater. "LA is where I live but I will always consider Portland my home," West says.
Stilling finishing her second EP, "which I intend to release later this spring," West is "so excited about the new music and I think that it is definitely some of my best work."
Much like "Run Run" below, expect a fresh "variety of sounds and songs" based on West's own diverse musical influences. Seeking "to generate emotion, I want people to be able to connect with me on a personal level and feel what I'm feeling," she explains. "'Run Run' is not something I think people will be expecting. It's so upbeat! It's a song that I think will get people smiling and that makes me happy."