From Zimbabwe to England to Impending Global Stardom, Rationale is Ready

With a bevy of smash singles (like the thoughtfully infectious “Something for Nothing”), and a monster buzz in his native UK, Zimbabwe-born singer-songwriter Rationale is finally ready to breakthrough stateside. Thankfully, he’s come armed with a variety of upcoming dates nationwide, (including a June 2nd engagement at Los Angeles’ Bootleg Theater), and a smattering of celebrity co-signs (does the name Katy Perry ring a bell?) Here, The Hype presents the worldwide premiere of his viral track “Fast Lane” and chats with Rationale about his musical evolution, songwriting process, and what it’s like to be on the precipice of global stardom.

The HYPE: Thanks for chatting with us! Are you excited to come to the States?

Rationale: Yeah, it’s gonna be mega, man. I’m going to have a band, so we’re going to be playing all live shows. It’s going to be tiring as hell but really cool. I’m also going to try to meet as many people as I can who have helped us along the way. I don’t think we’ll have much time to be a tourist, unfortunately. But to come to America, as a person who loves American culture, it’s tippy. It’s been five years to be releasing music fro the internet to this. It’s been crazy.

I understand you were born in Zimbabwe and were inspired by your mother’s record collection, which ranged the gamut. Take me through your early inspirations.

I grew up in a household where up until 19 we didn’t have a TV, but we did have a record player and my mother had everything from Queen to Fela Kuti, and odd stuff as well like Meat Loaf. I got to a point where I would listen to songs and try to copy every part of the vocal and instrumentation, and that started the journey of me wanting to make music. I moved to England and carried that on. When I first started school I didn’t really fit in anywhere; I wasn’t socially capable I don’t think and found myself making good friends with the music teachers and playing around with guitars and technology, attempting to get to a point to try and master it all. But it’s all rooted back to my mom, though.

What prompted the move from your native Zimbabwe to London?

It’s the classic cliche. There seems to be a bit of a thing where the father might not be present, which was the case with me. So my mom was in a position where she was given the opportunity to go to England. We knew if we stayed in Zimbabwe, the way things were going we knew we weren’t going to have the easiest lives as it were. When we got to England we didn’t come into a lap of luxury or anything, but that move was the cleverest stroke by my mom, because when I look back at all of the things I’m doing now I would have never done any of them if we stayed in Zimbabwe. Though, I do love my home.

Did you have a moment to when you realized that music went from a simple hobby to a career. Like, “Wow, I can do this for the rest of my life!”

I don’t think I’ve had that moment in the first place! I always think it can all be over tomorrow. I kid you not. Ive been in positions were I think, “Wow, I got my first publishing deal!” And then as quickly as that comes, music is a business and and sustainability is difficult. As a songwriter, I remember getting a deal and not having a massive smash and not getting royalties. That taught me to be very humble. I make music because I enjoy it, and to make a living off of it is a bonus. I’d love to be running around in Escalades or whatever, but my one focus is to release records that stand the test of time. That’s the most important thing and it’s the hardest thing to obtain.

Right now on SoundCloud, your song “Fast Lane” has 1.36 million listens. Not bad! And we are so luck to be premiering a video for it for The Hype. So tell me a little about how the song came about.

The song originated while on a train on the way back from London to Essex when I was down on my ass with very little enthusiasm as to where I was going musically. Normally I’d drive around quickly as possible and I remember coming talking to the girl I was with at the time. I said, “Why do you spend time in any other lane other than the fast lane? What’s the point?” Then she said, “There is no fast lane, you’re being an idiot. Each lane is exactly the same speed.” I had thought that there was an actual fast lane since when I first got my license.” So I began thinking, “Everybody speeds in the fast lane, surely,” and the rest wrote itself really quickly.

WATCH THE PREMIERE OF FAST LANE

Wow, so it didn’t even start out as a metaphor. It’s about an actual highway?

Yeah, totally. The metaphor naturally came. The guitar lick wasn’t even something I had in mind, it actually came about by me getting frustrated and accidentally fucking up, and I played it back and it just made sense.

It must be so exciting to be at this point in your career where you have this buzz and things are just starting to pop off. The right people are fans of you and things are only going to get bigger from here. Do you ever think about your future in music and where things could go?

In the beginning of the process I’d look at the listen counts all the time. I think it’s great, but I also think it’s dangerous because you start to believe your own bullshit. Numbers are an interesting thing, but the most important ingredients are what makes you happy when listening to music in the first place. Writing honest songs that make me feel good, that’s what I want to do. It’s those timeless records that smash through barriers and allow you to not only have a career, but gain respect amongst your peers. When I think about the future, sometimes I want to get there now. But the whole process is actually is quite fun to get there. If an artist tells you the industry is great and high fives all the way, that’s bullshit. Nine times out of ten, you think your work is awful and then you do it again, and then you do it again and again, and sort out what’s good and bad. It’s that process that I live for. You tinker away and then people finally start reacting to it, that’s what’s great. That’s why I can’t wait to play live. I’ve got big ambitions to put together a show the way James Brown did, where it’s like the record, but better and a different experience. That’s exciting to me.  |H|