Musician Profile: Rae Sterling


Get your ears ready, Leakies. Today’s Musician Profile is Rae Sterling, a vocalist from LA with one seriously powerful voice. You might recognize her from our Rockingjay round-up, where we included her rendition of “The Hanging Tree.” Check out our exclusive interview with Rae below!

LeakyNews: First of all, how did you get started playing music? How long have you been performing? What instrument(s) do you play?

Rae Sterling: I’ve been singing since elementary school, but I only started writing songs in college. I found out that a friend in my a cappella group wrote songs and after I was through being blown away by her talent, I started thinking that maybe it was something I could do, too. When I moved to New York after college, I decided I needed to learn how to play the guitar so I could accompany myself at open mics. I owned a guitar from back in high school, but never taught myself how to play until I was motivated by songwriting. I got a ukulele for the holidays a couple years ago and learning how to play it was a cinch after the guitar! My first real show was on February 8th, 2011, so it’s actually only been about a year and a half since I started performing live, though it feels like much longer than that! If you count YouTube videos as performances, I’ve been performing a little longer, but we’ll get to that in the next question. :)

LN: How did you get involved with the online music community?

RS: I started making YouTube videos in 2010. My sister, Sarah, convinced me it was a good idea even though I was worried my guitar-playing wasn’t up to my performance standards yet. I was also a little overwhelmed by the thought of putting my songs up for everyone to hear (and judge) and also by the sheer number of people already putting music on YouTube – it seemed like anything I might want to cover had already been covered and the chances that anyone would discover my original songs were slim. I got over my hesitations, though, and just started going for it. I think I’ve grown a lot since my early videos, in instrument-playing, songwriting, and video-making. I’m lucky to have had so much support and encouragement from family, friends, and other YouTubers.

LN: You do both covers and original music. Any plans for an album? What are you future music plans?

RS: I have so many plans! Probably too many plans. But the plan most likely to come to fruition soon is something I’m calling my “Ukulel-EP” which is going to be 5 or 6 original ukulele songs. I do all of my recording myself, so it’s been a slow process, but the songs are basically ready. I’m having some trouble letting go of them – it’s difficult to say they’re “finished” but I think I’m approaching the time when the desire to share what I’ve done so far will outweigh my need to keep working on them…

I’m also experimenting with turning another set of songs into techno-pop remixes.

On top of all that, I never stop writing new songs! I wrote three in the last week and now I have to decide whether they’re good enough to swap into the Ukulel-EP or to turn into techno-pop remixes… ;)

A music video for my song “Owl Girl” is currently in post-production, too! So to recap, things to look forward to include: Ukulel-EP, techno-pop, and an “Owl Girl” music video. :)

Oh! And if you’re in the LA area and over 21, I’m playing a show at El Cid in Silverlake on Sunday, July 29th at 8:30pm – come hear some of those new songs I was talking about!

LN: What is your favorite song to perform?

RS: My favorite song to perform is the one I’ve written most recently. :) But I know that’s a non-answer, so I’ll say “Thin Skin” is my favorite song to perform because I’m proud of the lyrics (a part of songwriting I don’t usually consider one of my strengths) and I like how fast I can sing them.

LN: Who is your favorite musician/group of all time?

RN: Of all time?! That’s a tough one – I’ve been in love with Florence + the Machine for a long time now and more recently became obsessed with Robyn. But of all time… Queen? Closely followed by The Mamas and the Papas? It’s really too hard for me to decide.

LN: Because we’re getting into the Harry Potter mood here at LeakyNews (less than a month until LeakyCon!), and you’ll be there – do you have a favorite Wrock song? What’s your favorite Harry Potter book?

RS: All these questions about favorites! :) I’m an indecisive person when it comes to these things and I’m also worried I’ll make some of my friends angry with me if I don’t choose one of their songs… I think I’ll just answer by saying I’m a true Hufflepuff and I won’t risk hurting a friend’s feelings by declaring my favorite Wrock song.

As for my favorite Harry Potter book, I’m going to go with book 6… No, Book 7. No, 6! Gah!!

LN: We feel you – that’s a tough choice. Thank so much for talking with us!


If you’re going to be in the Los Angeles area later this month, be sure to check out Rae’s show at El Cid! In the meantime, you can find her on YouTube, Bandcamp, Twitter, and Facebook. We’ll keep you updated on the latest with Rae, including the release of her upcoming Ukulel-EP!


[Photo Credit: Julie Sterling Photography]