This weekend, Philadelphians will be transported back in time musically when Lake Street Dive frontwoman, and frequent guest of NPR’s “Live From Here,” Rachael Price and her good friend contemporary composer Vilray hit the stage at the Perelman Theater. Price and Vilray’s songwriting style mirrors the nostalgic melodies and elegant essence of the ‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s era which is demonstrated beautifully in their recent album “Rachael & Vilray.” Price sat down with Metro to discuss her musical inspirations, the fun of performing as a duo and dive into more on what audiences can expect from the intimate show this Friday.
Get ‘contemporary nostalgia’ with Rachael Price and Vilray this weekend
How did you and Vilray start collaborating?
Vilray and I met in college, so the friendship goes back a long time, but the musical collaboration started about four years ago. Vilray actually didn’t really play music at all except in secret in his room, but after working in an office for ten years he started to busk in the subways — that sort of helped build up his confidence and his voice got stronger. Eventually, he started playing more gigs, and I went and saw him play, and I guess I hadn’t really realized the level he was passionate about the same type of music I’m passionate about, which is the songs of the ‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s. I just haven’t heard anyone represent that type of music the same way that Vilray is able to represent it. I don’t always get the opportunity to sing that style of music anymore so I asked him if I could do it with him for fun, and it grew from there naturally.
“Rachael and Vilray” just came out in October, what went into making that album?
This music style specifically captures a wide variety of human emotions. There is always a lot of humor and heartaches in the songs, but there’s a subtilty to them. It’s this style of lyrical writing that didn’t really exist past the ‘50s and it’s just what I grew up with. So I’ve always been drawn to it for that reason and I also think naturally my voice works with singing that style of music. What’s really cool about the project with Vilray is that he can write in this style, and he had originally written these songs in the hopes that people wouldn’t be able to guess that these weren’t old songs — he gave up immediately on keeping it a secret and told people he wrote the songs. But it’s cool, I get a chance to sing in this style which Vilray just writes perfectly for and at the same time I also get to act as a conduit for people to grow an attachment to these newer songs.
How was working with Vilray compared to other musical experiences that you’ve had working with a full band like Lake Street Dive?
It’s a completely new experience. A lot of it has to do with the fact that it’s a duo, there isn’t really a precedent for just two voices and a guitar in jazz music. For me, performing with a band and performing as a duo is just wildly different. The intimacy of just a guitar — it’s all on him, Vilray is the whole band and it’s really intense to have that dynamic. The tempo, the feel — he’s setting it all up, that’s a lot of responsibility and I feel that same intensity when I’m singing a song on my own as well.
What will the show’s catalog this weekend consist of?
We play songs from our album, other covers and we will play a few of Vilray’s songs that are not on the record. It’s really a nice setlist. I love the intimacy of this show specifically and the directness — I can sing songs at a whisper and they can still be heard. For a singer, that’s like a dream it really is just so fun.
Catch Rachael & Vilray at the Perelman Theater on Dec. 13