Yamagata journeys around the world and back

Pop sensation Rachael Yamagata comes to the Triple Rock Social Club on Saturday, Oct. 17.

Musician Rachael Yamagata makes a stop in Minneapolis on Oct. 17. Yamagata’s music has appeared on several television shows, including “How I Met Your Mother” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Laura Crosta

Musician Rachael Yamagata makes a stop in Minneapolis on Oct. 17. Yamagata’s music has appeared on several television shows, including “How I Met Your Mother” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Paul Patane, Sports Editor

About to release her fourth studio album, indie pop singer-songwriter Rachael Yamagata preps for its release as she hits the road with a new U.S. tour. On Saturday, Oct. 17, she’ll make her only Minnesota stop as she’ll headline at the Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis.

Yamagata’s first studio album, “Happenstance,” was released in 2004 and she’s since released two additional studio albums, four EPs and had her music featured on countless television shows, including “How I Met Your Mother,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “NCIS: New Orleans.” When she’s not recording, Yamagata travels the world playing everything from small venues to concerts for President Obama.

We caught up with Yamagata to talk about her upcoming concert tour after she returned to the United States.

Oracle: You just got back from a lengthy tour overseas. How was that for you, and how do you have the energy to immediately turn around and begin touring the United States?

Rachael Yamagata: [Laughter] It’s because I’m crazy. The tour was awesome. It was seven countries, fourteen shows in about 19 days. So it was a whirlwind, but we had a great time. I got to play in some places I’d never played, like Italy, and Spain and Switzerland. It was incredible. I haven’t been there as much as I’d like, so it’s really fun to go and build an audience over there and meet new people. The travel is extensive and a little nuts; just experiencing that many cultures in such a short period of time is like a crash course in humanity. It was really exciting; we came back and two days later started rehearsals for the U.S. tour. It’s definitely a grueling grueling schedule; but you get into a rhythm and expect to just have four hours of sleep a night; it’s certainly very exciting. During the European run, I was going as a duo and I had some friends who were support. This run in the U.S. is a full band so it’s a bit of a bigger production. It’s a fun gang to be around. The songs can really jump to a really lush level with everybody. That keeps me going, but it’s definitely not for the type of person who needs a lot of naps [Laughter].

O: Your tour is named after your new album, “Tightrope Walker,” which is scheduled to come out soon. What can your fans expect from the new album and tour?

RY: The tour is going to be a lot of new songs. The last tour that I did was sort of testing out some of the new songs, just seeing and experimenting with arrangements and seeing how the crowd reacted. Now that the album is finished, we’re really diving into great expression of all the bells and whistles that we did on the record. So the tour will be a fuller expression of what’s to come on this record, as well as to staple sort of over my past records. What’s fun about this band is there’s a lot of backup harmony; there’s like six people singing so there’s really an epic sound to go with a full-fledged band with a rhythm section plus piano. I’ve been experimenting with some samples and electronic elements. It’s a big show, it’s definitely not singer-songwriter in terms of what you might expect; I’m excited about that. The new record is somewhat of a departure for me. I think a lot of people know me as a heartbroken ballad girl. This definitely has an electric energy to it— it’s almost angular. I would say it’s more a David Bowie-Tom Waits production, more than maybe what people are used to from me. It’s a little hard to explain. It’s got this dark and eerie vibe. I think it’s going to be very cool.

O: You’ve traveled the world and are no stranger to the Twin Cities. Do you have a favorite Twin Cities concert memory you can recall?

RY: I always loved playing with Dan Wilson. He’s one of my favorites and he’s of course from there. So I would almost say just anytime he gets to hop on stage is always my favorite time. We were just talking about how we’ve done a couple versions of this song “I Want You” that we’ve sung together—this was probably a couple years ago. I used to write with him a lot when he was living there. He’s in L.A. now, but he would pull me around the city and find great coffee shops and restaurants and we’d hole up at his house and just write songs.

O: A lot of your music stems from a very personal place, involving difficult themes such as heartbreak. At the same time, you don’t seem to take yourself too seriously and know how to have fun. How do you find that balance?

RY: I think it’s because I get to write these songs. There’s a point where you feel like, okay, I said it, I released it, I articulated it. And writing on those things almost gives me a head start to release something. For me, intellectually and emotionally, when I get to express it then I don’t have to hold onto it anymore. I think a lot of people have the challenge of becoming locked or obsessed in heartbreak, or in something tragic, which we all do; it’s natural. But I almost have the advantage of being able to tell the story every night, so there becomes a point where it’s like it doesn’t plague me in the same way because I’ve gotten to share it. So that’s how I can be free of it, in a way. Certainly when people tell me they’ve gone through the same thing or they were helped by a song of mine then that always makes me feel like there was a meaning to it all. That helps me get through it as well.

O: You’ve been at this a while and are established. However, you’ve taken a very nontraditional path, having worked with multiple labels and eventually creating your own. How hard is it to go it alone, even when you’re an established name in the business?

RY: It’s very tricky. It’s a lot of work. We were just talking about it [when] I made a group breakfast before we started rehearsal today. It’s definitely not easy in terms of the business part of it; and keeping that functioning at a good level, and moving forward, as well as balancing the creative side of needing your time as a writer to sort of stare into space and be alone and wander and get inspired and live life so that you have something to write about. It’s very time consuming and extremely challenging to sort of self-discipline and navigate those waters. It’s incredibly gratifying. You know, it’s hard to live as a musician or as an artist and pay rent and have food and all of those things. The financial realities of it are tricky so artists are really figuring out creative ways to kind of continue making a living with music. That part is definitely not easy. But it’s nice to basically run your own company; there are a lot of advantages to that. I could never see myself working for someone or being in a nine to five job. I think I would rebel too much. For me, I take the challenge because it ultimately serves my spirit, my passion, a little bit better.

O: Your music has an uncanny ability to wind up being used in film and television shows. From “The OC” to “How I Met Your Mother” to “Grey’s Anatomy,” what’s it like to hear so many of your songs utilized to help share narratives for other stories?

RY: I love it when the right song gets played for the right film or television piece. I think it’s a magical partnership and that when it’s done effectively it can really elevate the scene as well as the song and they have this mutual relationship. I’m really grateful for the opportunities I’ve had in that world. A lot of people found out about me through that. It’s definitely an artform in and of itself to find that right piece of music that really toys at the heart strings or just elevates the emotional content of a scene. I’m a big fan of that.

O: Compared to many musicians, you have a very loyal fanbase that seems to devour just about anything you create for them. Knowing you have that kind of built-in fan loyalty, why do you think that is and what does it mean to you?

RY: It means everything. There’s no way that I could be this creatively free, and sort of be living my artistic dream and experience and inspiration without them. It’s been phenomenal. That loyalty has always astounded me; the fact that people have stayed with me. For some people it’s been almost fourteen years; it’s been a long time. It’s a huge, huge deal. The hardest bar that I can set for myself is to be honest in whatever I’m doing and to really feel like it’s coming from the deepest part of myself. No matter if it follows the right move or the right genre or the smart thing, whatever it is. I think the people who tend to like and respond to what I do appreciate that. I think that I have a lot of leeway because they know that whatever it is there will be truth behind it.

Doors for Yamagata’s show will open at 8 p.m. before supporting act My Name is You takes the stage. For information about tickets and the venue, visit: http://www.triplerocksocialclub.com/event/973941-rachael-yamagata-triple-rock-minneapolis/