A knock at the dressing room door

Seen & Herd welcomes Rachel Lee Walsh to the launch of our first official posting. Seen & Herd is a fashion and culture blog inspired by the handiwork of fashion guru, Kelly Horrigan and her line of one-of-a-kind leather accessories, Kelly Horrigan Handmade. We will be featuring bi-monthly postings for your viewing pleasure. The basic premise: find someone we love and appreciate, dress them in a KHH original, take some cool photos and find out more about the person and what makes them tick. Lee Free will conduct the interviews and craft the text. This month’s photography credit goes to Kelly and a random i-phone. Here we go…

Click here to play “She’s Not Waiting” by Rachel Lee Walsh:

S&H:  Rachel welcome to Seen & Herd, how would you describe both your music and fashion style, both on stage and off?

Rachel:  I would describe my music as soulful, country-ish, folk music that tells a story. My fashion style off stage is pretty, vintage, a little quirky and comfortable. My on stage fashion style is amped up just a little to tell more of a story.

S&H:  Nice, Who are your biggest influences? If you could meet one person who’s already moved into the great beyond, who would it be and where?

Rachel:  I’m influenced by all sorts of artists all the way from old blues guys like Howlin’ Wolf to current musicians and songwriters like Lucinda Williams and Amos Lee. The songwriter nearest and dearest to my heart that I’d kill to hang out with would be Patty Griffin. She tells stories the way I like to write and her voice always sounds like she’s crying and wailin’ in a way that cuts right through me…the way her voice sounds so honest and real, like she’s really reliving the story she is telling.

S&H: I’ve been thinking about the photos of you in the “patent leather collar”, you look totally transported. There could be so many possible stories for the woman in the picture. Kelly says the piece is inspired by film noir. The genre always had a cynical tone, an anti-hollywood, unhappy ending twist. This is similar to the stories you tell and the stories you’re attracted to. Do you approach each song with a story in mind? What is your relationship to the haunted?

Rachel:  I’m definitely haunted. No doubt about that. I think the design by Kelly and the photos really picked up on the dark, cynical, anti-norm side of me and my music. I do approach each song with a story in mind. I love trying to write a great melody and trying to find the perfect chord, but it’s really the story, the lyric, that makes it all happen for me. People’s stories are what get me writing in the first place. About my relationship to the haunted, I’m going to go on record saying this…it’s possible that I see dead people.

S&H:  Is there positivity in spookiness?

Rachel:  I think the dark side is where it all gets interesting… Trying to tap into that more all the time. Positivity in spookiness? Yes. Isn’t that why we have Halloween?

S&H:  Totally!

Rachel:  important to have fun with the dark side, no?

S&H:  Well i guess there’s just so much fear around situations like seeing dead people, dead people talk to me, I don’t mind listening but seeing them would really freak me out, how do you deal? Besides writing songs for them…of course

Rachel:  I actually find them comforting. They guide me, warn me, show me around the place. I also serve them a little tea and sing them a sweet lullaby.

S&H:  Incredible!

S&H:  Okay back to the present dimension. You’re a southerner who migrated to NYC. What keeps you here? What’s your take on all the urban country music popping up?

Rachel:  I was reading the novel “Motherless Brooklyn” by Jonathan Lethem today. There was a line in it that described New York City as an “amnesiac dance of renewal”. I love that feeling. I feel like I can grow old here because I’ll never grow old, being here. My take on all the urban country music popping up…Aren’t they all copying me? (laughing)

S&H:  Snap! Do they know about your urban rap sheet too? Not too many country singers getting arrested for making human chains around NYC in the name of radical queer politics!

S&H:  I’m just saying you’re going to make it hard for them to be as bad-ass as you.

Rachel:  Ah Yes! The good ol’ days. I could do for a little chaining myself up to a bunch of other people, lying down on the streets of Manhattan. Although, I must point out that most of the great country musicians historically have been rabble-rousers! Willie Nelson has always given them hell.

S&H:  Your definitely part of a great history. Is this the cross section of your politics and southern sensibilities?

Rachel:  I would say so. I know there are a lot of ways that I’m a northerner and I’m not saying it’s just a southern thing, but I think there is a great tradition of writing and telling the truth in storytelling that comes from southern culture. Maybe it’s because of all the struggles that exist there? I don’t know, but I do know that I’ve always had a story to tell and I’ve always found it easy to do it through music. I’m pretty sure that’s common in southern culture. Music soothes the demons and the ghosts.

S&H:  Last Question: Seen and Herd is a play on that “old saw” A Woman should be Seen and Not Heard. All this talk about story telling makes it clear to me how women’s history has survived. Where would you like to see fifth/sixth wave feminism take the next generations?

Rachel:  Thanks for saving the hard question for last… I feel like even the word “feminism” has become…Dirty…even amongst progressive people. I’d like to see that change back to a time when even men called themselves “feminists”. Women are always making strides, but I think we’ve backed down a bit because of the progress. Certainly the conversation about the inequalities women face is always changing, but I’d like to see more outspokenness, more rabble-rousing, more laying down in the street, chained up for change.

S&H: Good fielding that one (more laughing). Thanks for taking time to talk with us Rachel. We look forward to hearing more from you, When can we expect the full length?

Rachel: My goal is to have the full-length done by Feb of 2011.

S&H: Update us when it’s done.

Find out more about Rachel Lee Walsh at www.RachelLeeWalsh.com.


Visit www.KellyHorriganHandmade.com to view this and other products featured on Seen & Herd.


About KHH

Kelly Horrigan is a fashion designer and educator. Through her company KHH | Kelly Horrigan Handmade she creates one-of-a-kind leather designs that combine old-world techniques with modern aesthetic. She earned her BFA in fashion design and has since been a professor at Pratt Institute’s fashion department. Her work has been worn by Janet Jackson, featured in the pages of the Fader, Surface, Fiasco Homme and Velvetpark Magazine, The New York Times and seen on NBC's The Voice, here!TV and Bravo TV. For more info visit www.kellyhorriganhandmade.com
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