For Rachel Platten, there is no hiding.
Within her lyrics, “I turn my fear, my insecurities and my demons into strengths by addressing them,” the 36-year-old singer exclusively tells Us Weekly. “That’s what people find empowering. These songs are rooted in a place of real emotion. It’s not me trying to cheer you up. It’s like, ‘Hey, I face all this too.’”
Though known for her inspiring anthems — including “Fight Song,” which became the unofficial theme song for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign — Platten admits her songs are not always rooted in a place of confidence. “I write what’s honest in the moment,” she reveals. “It’s amazing that the songs that have been successful so far have shown that part of me that’s on top of the world and feeling good, but they also come from a place of vulnerability.”
On her upcoming sophomore album Waves, set to release October 27, she’ll expose even more of herself. “These newer songs to to darker places because that’s what was in my head,” Platten says. “I don’t think I’m always the person to look to of confidence.”
Just moments before she surprised breast cancer patients with a voice lesson through Ford Warriors in Pink on September 26, the pop star sat down with Us.
Us Weekly: Why is it cathartic you to pour all your emotions into your music?
Rachel Platten: The songs I write heal me. Writing my own songs is the most important piece of me. If someone told me I was not able to sing anymore or perform anymore or play piano anymore, OK. Songwriting is the thing I could never let go of.
Us: How do you handle writer’s block?
RP: Writer’s block is too real. I just know now that I cannot wait for creativity to hit. I think writers think you are supposed to wait for inspiration. But that is not at all the case. You actually have to set some boundaries around your creativity and say, “I’m going to show up on the page today. If you want to join me, creative Gods, awesome. I’m here.” And my iPhone is a crazy person’s thing! My notepads are thousands of pages long with weird phrases and I have weird voice memos of me on planes just whispering little strange melodies.
Us: How is your sound evolved since your first album?
RP: I experimented a lot on this album. I felt like I didn’t have any rules and like I was a little kid in the sandbox playing with sounds. It’s definitely more pop but I also drew from how much I love gospel music, indie folk and Motown. People are asking me now, “Did you feel pressure to follow up your album and your singles?” The truth is I probably should have, but I feel like I was really successful in not getting in my own way.
Us: Do you turn to other artists for advice and inspiration?
RP: Absolutely! I’ve had amazing conversations with Haim and Kesha and Taylor [Swift], asking them about how they navigate their way through these really tough situations, especially as woman in the industry.
Us: “Broken Glass” was inspired by the Women’s March in January. Why is it important for you to rally women together through your music?
RP: I feel like there was something that happened this year that was really special. There was a lot that hurt that we all felt as women. But there was also something special that was going on and that was that we were connecting with one another. I didn’t feel that sense of competition. In the words of Nicki Minaj, as a woman, it’s really tough. You’re encouraged to be tough but sweet, a boss and dope but also kind. If a guy is being assertive, he’s a boss. If a girl is being assertive, she’s a bitch. It’s really important for me to use my stage and my microphone to say, “Hey, you too can use your voice. You don’t have to be afraid of anyone judging you. You can be honest about who you are.”
Us: What message do you want young girls to get out of your music?
RP: I think social media is really tough these days. It encourages us to make our feeds highlight reels and that instantly makes you feel insecure and shameful when you’re scrolling. But you don’t need to present a perfect self to the world. I think when we expose our shadows and the darker parts of us, the parts that hurt, that’s when we can really connect with one another because we let go of the walls that build up around us. I think my message is just be yourself. You’re good as you are.
Watch Platten surprise breast cancer patients in the video above! Her second album Waves drops Friday, October 27.
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