“Brother” – Song For Harry…PREMIERE *
Rachel Wilkinson leads a double life. The talented 29-year-old UK singer-songwriter, pianist/guitarist is also an in-demand commercial model.
Add to that her skills as a photographer and videographer – but this is no ‘jack of all trades and master of none’, as the saying goes. No sir! But music is her burning passion and where her heart is.
Rachel has already performed more than 100 shows across the UK and in Poland in a previous duo format “Ivy & Gold”, but today she is re-invented under the guise of “Zeplyn” and really going for it as regards a solo career.
Her debut gig as Zeplyn scheduled for 18th April in London. Two acclaimed singles out there so far – “Folded” and “The Only One” both released last year. Both had support from BBC Introducing.
Her new one “Brother” drops tomorrow (Friday 28th February 2020) and with it, a classy promo video Rachel created herself, which we proudly premiere.
The song has a hugely emotional backstory to it. In tribute to her beloved step-brother Harry, who passed away suddenly in October 2018 following a freak, bad weather road accident. He was 20-years-old and an A-star student, studying civil engineering at Bath University. A big Oasis and West Ham F.C. fan.
As part of her grieving and healing process, Rachel sat down and wrote down her feelings and how much Harry meant to her after 10 years in her life.
She wants the song not only to pay tribute to her sibling, but also to give comfort and strength to others who have suffered a bereavement and may be struggling with their emotions.
The Hertfordshire-based artist spoke exclusively to Music Republic Magazine about her loss, about the song for Harry and about her desires for it to help others. “I guess my only way to deal with it was through music. Harry had been in my life for over 10 years and we were close.
“The most important line in the song for me is, ‘you might not be in my blood, hey brother doesn’t matter, it was always enough.
From the heart…
“I wasn’t really thinking about genre, or if it matched well with my other tracks. I just wanted to do something completely from the heart. I’ll admit it took me a year to finish, as it was probably the most difficult song I’ve written – a real labour of emotional love.
“I want this song to be for anyone who has lost someone. I want it to help in some way or at least to help someone not feel so alone, which loss certainly makes you feel.
“Harry was a massive fan of my music, and his friends have all told me he would always be so proud. So, I just feel grateful that I have the chance to have written a song about him that people will get to hear.
“I’m just sad he’ll never hear it. But it’s certainly a comfort for my other step- brother Jack, my step-dad Paul and Harry’s friends”.
The strength of the song writing and the sheer impact of Rachel’s beautiful vocal performance stand alone, even without the emotional real life story of what influenced the song.
She is one heck of a singer. Rachel has a secret weapon in her armoury too. Her co-writer and producer and good friend since she was 14, Dan Lancaster.
The Grammy-nominated producer and writer has worked with a who’s who of bands and artists, including Bring Me The Horizon, 5Seconds Of Summer, superstar Japanese band One OK Rock, Lower Than Atlantis, Don Broco, Blink 182, Fickle Friends, Good Charlotte, The Hunna, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes and many more.
He has worked on multiple platinum and gold-status albums, and had number one albums in the UK, US, Japan, Canada, and Australia and been involved in records with more than 800 million Spotify streams. He has written, produced and mixed at least eight Radio 1 A-listed records in the last two years.
Dan and Rachel’s musical collaborations are a wee bit of a dream team, judging by the results. If his pedigree and contacts, and Rachel’s voice and obvious songwriting skills do not bring her a decent label deal and big success, then it’s all just bonkers.
So, as all at Music Republic Magazine tip Zeplyn for big things to come – but we’d suggest dropping the Zeplyn moniker and go with Rachel Wilkinson – lets delve a bit deeper and find out who she is and what makes her tick….
Earliest memories of first live performance: I have a video of me singing a Christmas carol at my primary school in front of all the parents and teachers. However, playing and singing Vanessa Carlton’s “1000 miles” in front of my whole secondary school rings a bell. Talent shows came after that. My first main part performance was Eponine in Les Misérables (2004) with the Saturday school, in front of 700 people.
“My first public performance in a professional sense was with my old band, Ivy & Gold. We did a few shows to start with, and our manager at the time would make us perform at Kings Cross Station (with those pianos they have there) which was quite embarrassing. But actually made a massive difference confidence wise.
“Especially as our subsequent shows were supporting Paolo Nutini at the Bristol Harbourside (5,000 people), playing in Abbey Road Studios, The Great Escape festival and the Lovebox festival on the main stage.
“We sold out a show at Kings Cross Old Church, and we sold out the lower room at The Roundhouse. We played at the Off Camera festival in Poland. We also performed in front of Lord Alan Sugar”. She’s not fired!
Weekend sessions with her Dad playing his vinyl records at the family home sparked Rachel’s interest in music, but the song and artist that really lit the flame was Jeff Buckley and “Lover You Should’ve Come Over”.
She has a vast array of favourite artists and songs, but “forced” to choose a few of her “main influences” results in these names: Jeff Buckley, BANKS, Verite, Stevie Nicks, Rationale, Charlotte OC and her mate Dan Lancaster (check out Dan as a solo artist, aside from his star-studded work with others…..that is one awesome voice he has).
But if she was stranded on a desert island, none of those names feature in her choice of songs and artists to keep up the morale. Instead we get: The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” and John Mayer’s “Love on the Weekend”.
Talking of songs, the first stuff Rachel wrote as a youngster of 10, was about the first cat she lost! The second one a year later, “Life, Like A Road”, about “how scary life can be, with twists and turns and not to wish it away”. “I was quite an anxious child, so I guess that’s what would have inspired it at the time”.
She describes her musical style today as “alternative pop with an ethereal vocal style”.
So why the name Zeplyn? “I was scrolling through Facebook and one of those silly articles came up… With the image I could just see ‘Zeplyn’ and that was it. I am also a massive Led Zeppelin fan, which helps”.
The day job has seen Rachel turn her hand to working at a garden centre, numerous pub and bar jobs, recruitment and now part-time modelling and her photography and videography business.
A-Lister faux pas in an LA elevator…
She is well travelled, and perhaps one of her numerous trips to LA sticks in her mind the most, after an embarrassing episode in a lift, or as they call ‘em over there, the elevator. Over to Rachel to tell this one…
“I was staying at The Sportsmen’s Lodge in LA and one evening when I was particularly drunk, I got into the lift with my boyfriend, not really noticing that there was someone else there.
“I turn around and see a guy wearing a Fedora hat, and I start touching it saying, ‘Oooo, I have so many of these, but they wouldn’t fit in my suitcase, but yours is well nice’.
“I kept touching it… all the while my boyfriend keeps accidently making the lift go to the basement. Eventually the guy speaks and says, ‘Hey, are you guys meaning to keep heading to the basement, or what?’
“We then both realised it was Bill Murray! All three of us stood in silence until we finally got to our floor, and I literally crawled out of the lift!”
The idea behind the video Rachel shot for “Brother”, featuring male dancer Thomas Razey, was of just her and Harry being in the same room but in a parallel universe where they can’t see each other – but they can feel each other. “He loved white T-shirts and jeans, hence the attire”.
Rachel has produced a line of merchandise to go with the single, where profits will be donated to the Cruse Bereavement Care charity: https://www.cruse.org.uk and this is the store: https://zeplyn.teemill.com/
A question we ask all interviewees who appear in our “Undiscovered Zone”, will finish off this profile on Rachel aka Zeplyn – who we believe is destined for big success – given a dollop of luck and the stars aligning, if there’s any justice.
A question which very much takes on a new poignancy, given the circumstances and background to Rachel’s new song, “Brother” and her family’s tragic loss.
Q: If you believed in reincarnation; who or what would you want to come back as?
Rachel’s answer comes direct from her broken heart: “I’d love to come back as my step-brother, so he had the chance to live his life again”.
Watch the video here:
Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/artist/6pO3oPUcd3S321ZqRPQWql?si=q6doLDxIQKKwyi-yJx3MSw
Instagram – www.instagram.com/zeplynofficial
Twitter – www.twitter.com/zeplynofficial
SoundCloud – www.soundcloud.com/zeplynofficial
YouTube – www.youtube.com/zeplyn