STORY WRITTEN BY CRAIG OSTROFF
For Digital First Media
“I might only have one match/But I can make an explosion.”
That line from Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” is proving to be quite prophetic. An emotional, uplifting ode to believing in one’s self — “Fight Song” was released as a single last June and garnered excited reaction from Platten’s devoted fans. Slowly but surely, though, the song reached new ears, struck a chord deep within many people, and with the help of word of mouth and social media, has blossomed and spread its positive and powerful message across the country and around the world.
On her current tour, Platten is using “Fight Song” to allow others to share their stories and their strength. Via Twitter (@rachelplatten), Facebook (facebook.com/rachelplattenmusic) and Instagram (instagram.com/rachelplatten), the Boston area native is looking for others to share their battles and their success stories (use the hashtag #myfightsong on Twitter for a chance to meet with Platten). In Philadelphia, that chance will come for ticket holders when Platten opens for Andy Grammer and Alex & Sierra at the Theatre of the Living Arts on South Street in Philadelphia on March 21. Check availability, according to http://venue.tlaphilly.com, the concert is sold out.
Platten performs with a passion and a pure, unbridled joy that has proven time and again to be irresistible to audiences wherever she plays.
Platten, who was recently signed to Columbia Records, took some time to speak via phone from New York about the effect “Fight Song” has had, her upcoming album, touring and more.
Congratulations on being signed to Columbia Records. Do you feel as though you’ve “made it” to where you want to be?
Rachel Platten: “Yes and no. This is definitely a dream-come-true, and it is incredible. It’s like having the wind behind your sails right now. But I still have huge dreams, a lot of things I’m hoping to accomplish. I’m in the position I want to be in, and I’ve been so impressed with the label and the support they’ve shown me. But I’ve still got work to do.“
Many musicians spend their careers looking for a song that really strikes a chord with people. You’ve done that with “Fight Song.” How did that song come about?
RP: “I actually wrote that song for myself. I was going through a really tough time. There were some doors that had opened for me after ‘1000 Ships’ (the single off the 2011 album ‘Be Here’ that reached No. 21 on the Billboard Adult Top 40) that were suddenly closed again. I wrote that song to remind myself that my voice was not small, it was powerful.”
Many of your songs have positive, uplifting, empowering messages. What did it mean to see “Fight Song” having such a positive effect on so many people?
RP: “It’s been the biggest gift, and I’m so grateful for it. To see the song affect so many people and to see how it was applicable to so many situations, it’s just amazing. I’ve gotten messages from girls with eating disorders or who were cutting themselves … this is real. People are struggling, feeling pain, and they’re able to feel some comfort from something I’ve written. I can’t believe it.”
The song appeared in “Pretty Little Liars” during the Christmas season. Is that when it started to reach people?
RP: “I had had a song appear on the show before, and it worked well. ‘Fight Song’ really resonated with one of the characters, Allison, and what she was going through. I had a feeling it was going to work. After that, things were normal, nothing changed.
“I had some things going on, I was on a house tour like I had planned to do, and I was literally driving in snowy Ohio and my manager called me, ‘A Baltimore radio station fell in love with the song and is starting to play it regularly.’ It happened so fast. It’s like my life changed (a few) weeks ago. The song was playing in Baltimore, reaching their top 10. And suddenly it was, ‘Get yourself to L.A., a lot of people want to meet you.’ I met with labels that had rejected me in the past, and it was ‘How does it feel to be the It Girl?’
“To be honest, I felt ready for it. I felt like this was a song that I poured my heart into and it was worthy of the compliments and the attention because it was reaching people and I could see that. To see that the song has a real shot now to reach more people, I don’t have words for it. It’s super-emotional.”
When you talk about “Fight Song” reaching people, there may be no more clear an example than the YouTube video about Christine Luckenbaugh.
RP: “In August, I got a message from Christine’s niece saying, ‘You’ve really changed this woman’s life and you should know it.’ She had been in remission from cancer and she sent out an email to her friends and family that her tumors had returned, but that she had found ‘Fight Song’ and had made it her personal anthem. She asked everyone not to feel bad for her but to feel strength and listen to the song. We wanted to do something special for her, so my producer, Jon Levine, planned with Living Legacy Productions to fly in a film crew, we got in a van loaned to us by some amazing fans, gathered this team and we surprised her with ‘Fight Song.’ She showed up at her church thinking it was a prayer circle, and all of her friends and family came out. Sadly, she passed away in November. On our tour in October, we got to visit with Christine’s family, and I feel so lucky to have known her. In no small way, she was a big reason why ‘Fight Song’ was successful – it is about reaching that one person. If you connect deeply with one person, you’ve won.”
How you changed your approach to the business?
RP: “I used to put in so much work in other areas – how to build a fan base, how to work with social media, things like that. My manager came on board two years ago and said, ‘I know you’re concerned with what’s going on around you. But let’s focus on building your own fire and letting people come to your fire. The way you do that is the songs. Let’s just craft incredible songs and let people find them.’ I’ve got a team of people that really helped me focus on how you connect with people. I think I have that now.”
We’ve gotten some new singles from you in the eight or nine months. How long until we get a full album?
RP: “Hopefully it’s coming soon. I can’t wait to share the new songs on the tour I’m about to do. I’m so excited for people to hear what I’ve been pouring my heart and soul into.”
A while back, you posted on Facebook, ‘I am making the album of my career.’ Do you still feel that way about the album?
RP: “I do, 1,000 percent. I said that at a time when I didn’t even know what I was creating. I’ve never worked harder. I think the bulk of the album is done. I’m really excited to get the music out. I can’t wait for people to hear them.
“But I hope to feel that way about every album. I have many, many more albums to come. I want to have a long, long career and to continue to grow as a writer and an artist.”